Trip 62 – Marshall Rocks and Wheatbelt Way

Trip Leader: Rick Ellis

Participants: Rick and Nancy Ellis and sons, Richard & Helen Kingston, Peter Cole, George and Linda Bickerdike, John & Lyn Byworth, Eddie & Robyn Chalk, Jon and Kath Standen and Jacob, Michael Gilbert, Peter & Lyn Fry.

Friday 26th September
9 vehicles met at Marshall Rock campsite near Bencubbin on Friday night.

By the time we arrived at 5.30pm some members were already there. Richard & Helen Kingston, Peter Cole, George and Linda Bickerdike, John & Lyn Byworth, Eddie & Robyn Chalk were all set up and the fire wood was stacked up ready.

Jon & Kath Standen arrived at the same time as us and Michael Gilbert soon after. Last to arrive (after having burgers for dinner at Bencubbin Diner) was Peter and Lyn Fry around 9pm. The campsite had great facilities with a chemical toilet and several fire rings. There was also a shelter with some very informative signs providing information about the local area.

We soon had the fire going and campers gathered around. There was another couple camped nearby and they also joined us.

Saturday 27th
The weather forecast wasn’t looking too good for today with strong damaging winds and rain forecast. As we contemplated this in the sunshine and warmth, it was hard to accept this to be true.

Some of us took the short (7km) drive to Bencubbin to see what the town had to offer on a Saturday morning. Peter Cole went on a mission to find a long lost family contact of 50 years ago. He was sent on a bit of a Wild Goose Chase by the locals and it seems that everyone knew “Jack”, but Jack was nowhere to be found.

Peter Fry had researched some local Geocaches, and some campers ventured off to locate these. One was at our campsite and another was in town.

By about 10.00 wind was picking up and the clouds above looked threatening, it seems that the forecast was in fact accurate. Awnings were soon rolled up and loose items put away. The wind gathered momentum by the minute and was soon quite fierce. Light rain came and went but the wind persisted all day.

Jon and Kath (& Jacob) decided this was all too much in a tent and were soon packed up and on their way home. We all spent the afternoon seeking shelter in caravans waiting for the weather to subside. The wind and rain kept us all inside until about 5 pm when it settled enough for us to venture out.

We soon had the firewood pile replenished and a good campfire alight. By 6.30 it was very still and you would not have believed the wind we had only an hour or so earlier. In no time we had all gathered around the fire and enjoyed each other’s company well into the evening.

Sunday 28th

Today was a slow start with a short day trip arranged for an 11am departure. Peter had time to go back to town to locate the elusive “Jack”. Alas ! He does exist and Peter was lucky enough to catch up with him at the Rifle range.

Vehicles formed a convoy and we headed off as planned at 11am.

Our first stop was at the Pergandes Sheep yards and abandoned homestead. The sheep yards are constructed from sheets of granite that have been stood upright in the ground to form fences and yards. Quite an amazing sight and very interesting place. From here we travelled around some of the local area before arriving at Koorda Reserve for lunch. Some people took the walk trails while others just chatted.

It’s quite interesting driving around some of these less travelled roads admiring the crops and other scenery. Along the way back towards camp we passed by a couple of historical sites and the abandoned town of Gabbin.

Last stop was to locate the Geocache hidden in town. It was well hidden though I was lucky enough to find it. We arrived back at camp around 3.30 where it was decide to light up the “Big Fire” tonight in order to produce enough coals for several camp ovens.

Again we enjoyed each other’s company, only this time it was around the “big fire”.

Monday 29th.

While the theme for the weekend was “No hurry” It didn’t seem too long before we were all packed up and ready to head off. Peter Cole and Peter and Lyn Fry were heading back to Perth while the rest of us (now 6 vehicles) were continuing on the “Wheatbelt Way”.

Farewells were shared and we were on our way by about 10.30am. Our next stop was to be Beacon, a short drive of only about 40km. We weren’t too sure what to expect at Beacon given that it was a Public holiday. Some had anticipated an ice cream, though this was not to be as nothing at all was open. I had prearranged a stop at the caravan park in order to use the showers, for which we were all grateful. All scrubbed clean and water tanks refilled, we were again on our way by about 12.00.

Our final destination for the day was to be the campsite at Elachbutting Rock.

Along the way we passed through the abandoned town site of Bonnie Rock and we stopped at Beringbooding Rock for lunch. Some of us ventured up onto this giant rock which had a rock wall around the base to catch the water runoff and direct it into a huge water tank built in 1937. We later arrived at Elachbutting Rock by 2pm and camp was set in no time. It wasn’t long before wood was collected and again we gathered around the fire. This is a truly magnificent Rock. It is huge and as the sun goes down the brilliant colours of the red earthed area emerge.

Tuesday 30th

As this was such an amazing place, today’s “drive” was converted to a “walk”. Most climbed and explored the rock. From up on top of the rock you get a true sense of its size and real beauty. Michael found another geocache at the rock which was in sad condition, so after some “maintenance” it was returned to its location for others to find.

In the afternoon we took a drive to the other side of the rock to explore “Montys Pass”, a 30m tunnel formed by a rock slide. There is a track to drive to a high point on the rock for those not able to otherwise climb it.

Wednesday 1st

We were packed up and on our way by 9.30am for the next leg of our journey to Mukinbudin where we were booked into the caravan park. On our way we stopped at Wattoning Historical Site for a short while before arriving at Mukinbudin late morning.

We were all impressed with the park and its amenities. We spent the afternoon at our leisure to explore the town, replenish fuel and other supplies as necessary. (and finally an ice cream) This night we enjoyed happy hour in the amazing camp kitchen and its facilities. Some other campers joined us for a while and a good social atmosphere was enjoyed.

Thursday 2nd

This morning 2 more campers departed the group as they had to head directly to Perth. Eddie and Robyn along with John and Lyn farewelled us. We left Mukinbudin at about 9.00am.

Our first stop was Mangowine Homestead near Nungarin. This site is under the control of the National Trust and is very interesting indeed. They were preparing for an annual concert the coming weekend which apparently attracts quite a crowd from far and wide. We all agreed that this is something worth looking into for next year. We then stopped at Nungarin where we visited the local museum. We were not aware of the significance of this area during the war.

We then went to McCorrys Hotel which is an old pub being restored as a B&B, such a majestic old building and loaded with character.

Continuing on, we later stopped at Trayning for lunch and soon after at Yelbeni museum. It was here that an engine warning light persisted in Richard and Helen’s BT50 causing the vehicle to travel only in limp mode (60km/h). We took an extended stop in Wyalkatchem to allow it to cool down and as we continued we all reduced our speed in order to stay together.

We arrived at Minnivale which was to be our final night for the trip. Minnivale is (yet another) abandoned town about 15 km from Dowerin. There is not much there but is appears to be a well-known stop over. This was evident by the number of caravans that were already there and set up by the time we arrived at 3.30pm. We soon found a suitable spot and set up for the night.

Michael departed here as he was heading to meet other commitments at Beverley.

So now there were 3…

It was quite windy so we decided against a camp fire and instead spent time chatting between ourselves and we were joined by another lady that had camped nearby who is from Brisbane and travelling alone. We all enjoyed a walk around the old buildings and pondered what would have been all those years ago.

Next morning we were soon packed and destined for home. Richard and Helen left quite early as they faced the trip home at 60 km/h which could have made a long day. Also keen to get to phone service at Dowerin early so they could make arrangements for repairs asap.

Then there were 2..

George and Linda and ourselves left in good time with a plan to arrive at Toodyay Bakery in time for mornos. We said our farewell to George and Linda in Toodyay and headed for home.

I thank those that joined us on this trip for their companionship and hope that they enjoyed it as much as we did.

Footnote:

Much of this trip followed the organised trail known as the Wheatbelt Way. Along the way there were many points of interest and a lot of information. It is very well signposted and very interesting to follow.

I recommend it to anyone who is interested is some of the WA pioneer history and enjoys a drive in the country.

A great free guide book and CD is available with plenty of information at www.wheatbeltway.com.au

Rick Ellis

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