Ninghan Station 25th Anniversary

Trip Leader: Paul and Matt Ryan

When: 3rd to 6th June 2011

Location: Ninghan Station WA

Participants: Ryan, Perry, King, Archer, Weldon, Jones, Bignell, Harrison, Brinkley, Byworth, Tooke, Marmoy, Lehmann, Gilbert, Johnson

 Friday 3rd
We were due to meet at the Caltex Stratton but Craig made a suggestion to change it to 500 metres north at a parking bay. This allowed us more room and taking off on the correct side of the road come departure time.
I might add we didn’t get away on time!
Nothing unusual for a Ryan trip you might say?…but it was not my fault.. this time. The Byworth’s were running late due to a traffic bingle that brought the whole of Roe highway to a standstill.

Then Craig sensed a burning smell coming from his caravan. Further investigation showed the hand brake adjustment was a tad tight. Surgical gloves, spanners, a jack and lotsa grease soon had the offending brake back at it’s rightful level of adjustment. Away we went sans the Byworth’s… though by Goomalling for morno’s they’d caught us up. Frantic searches for a shop that sold morno type refreshments went unfounded for some of us… some intraclub bartering took place with the King’s providing the much needed Iced Coffee to satisfy the trip leader’s cravings.

Departing from Goomalling we then heard the Weldon’s over the UHF coming up behind.
They stopped for a cuppa but caught the convoy at our lunch stop at Dalwallinu. From then on it was a rather pleasant and uneventful drive with hardly any oncoming traffic. Also in Dalwallinu we came across the TrackCare group heading off to Warriedar Station for the Station Adoption and Restoration project.

Then when we were nearing Ninghan turnoff, I became aware part of the highway was missing!

Closer inspection & I realised the highway was now… a mine site!! and the highway realigned. It’s quite incredible to see a full mine site popped up out of nowhere since this time last year. They are also building a feeder road to Perenjori to meet up with the railways. Don who runs Ninghan later told me that they will be mining for Iron Ore and Magnatite and this is actually on Ninghan Station.
We arrived about 3.30pm and announced our presence at the homestead then two of us drove off to suss out a new area I’d found on Google Maps with more space.

We were expecting 17 campers in total and I thought the usual site would be overcrowded. It turns out the site I had picked was inaccessible . There was a fence in the way !! So? Google Maps didn’t show that…fortunately.. as it proved later we would have been sitting in a quagmire!
Although a lot has changed since last year, there was plenty of space for us to fit in our usual spot, comfortably, and after a group of chainsaw wielding Mucho Men had set about collecting a good selection of firewood for the evening fire, we were settled. Weather although overcast was lovely. We were expecting the arrival of Michael and Marion but by midnight and no sign of them, we assumed they’d stopped over in Wubin with Guy & Wendy.

 Saturday 4th
The ” Early morning Up and at ’em” breakaway group of adventurous souls decided to climb Wathergabbing Hill.You can imagine our surprise when we looked back down on the campsite and noticed a lone camper only about 50 metres to the South of the main group…..you guessed it Michael and Marion. They came in after midnight and couldn’t find us in the dark, so they camped where they thought we would be then they could find us in the morning…
“So near yet so far….close enough is good enough….!!!”  (I’ve got a million of them).

The camp oven cook off’s were in full swing after the hill climb and first cab off the rank was Piers’ Beer Damper, hmm it was good but more about that later. The heavens opened up soon after morno’s and didn’t let up for the rest of the day. According to Don (Station Owner) we had 11mm of rain. Ninghan has had a total of 220mm for the year so far, wettest since 1999 and it will be a bumper crop of wildflowers later in the season. Anyway dust turned to clay and clay turned to slop. Most of us decided the only thing left to do was go for a drive to the top of Mt Singleton. What a drive…. hill climbs and slippery mud… we all enjoyed it but the scenery was an absolute pearler! Some made comments that we could have been in the Avon Valley or the Scottish Highlands, it was so green and lush. Not to mention foggy.

By the time we got back to camp we now had small rivers running through the campsite, waterfalls outside people’s campers and trenches were being dug to divert the natural water courses. The only ones missing still was the Johnson clan. They were due Saturday afternoon, by now it was dinner time and still raining. They finally arrived amidst dinner preparations and were immediately deluged by willing assistants as well as heavier rain. Paul and his family were soaked from head to toe. There was water inside their tent, clothes, shoes, socks and no doubt Paul’s jocks as well.
Half way through the erection of their tent, Paul made me a cash offer of $50,000 for my caravan!!
I thought for a minute… looked up at the skies… and promptly turned down his offer.

Sunday 5th
Still raining, more camp oven cook off’s… and Paul Johnson’s offer for my van had now increased to $100,000!!! A group of Pajero Owners decided to head off to Warriedar Station and catch up with the TrackCare guys and see what the station was like and how much restoration was required/ intended. They reported it would be worth a trip there sometime, especially since it is only about 30km from our Ninghan campsite. Maybe that can be part of a wildflower trip later this year, one never knows.
Some very yummy dampers, cakes and scones were coming hard off the fire that was never allowed to fizzle out.
Still raining.
The silver headgear competition was held Sunday night. Amazing things were paraded balanced on heads… complete with flashing lights and glowing coils. An etched silvery insert from a Dubai construction helmet… Even a replica silver camp oven with food .
Bruce was named winner with his Ned Kelly helmet… innovative, bush, Australiana … and his big smile (which no one could see?) I think the last of us finally left the campfire about 1 am. Who cared that it was still misting! The fire was still going.

Monday 6th
We all started for home for our various schedules or maybe just slower pack up rates. Last of us leaving about 2.45pm. Clean campsite. Fire out. Someone put out the cat… we hope.

Things I learnt at Ninghan this year:
    •    Always go that little bit further (especially when you are looking for the main camping group)
    •    Red Dust + Rain = SLOP
    •    Paul Johnson has an incredible amount of patience and resolve.
    •    Sonia Johnson has even more patience and resolve than Paul
    •    Bum warmers are worth it
    •    Weatherzone.com gets it wrong sometimes
    •    It is impossible to overcook lamb shanks in a camp oven
    •    The camaraderie of the Mitsubishi 4wd Club is second to none

Paul Ryan

Impressions of Ninghan
Guy & Wendy Lehmann
A relaxing stress free weekend. No phones, radio or TV.   Good to get out in the open and have to be self sufficient and not be reliant on services being provided.  True “Australian Outback” bush that can be unpredictable (rain when is shouldn’t) but diverse and interesting.  The company of like minded people.  The great camp fire and the pleasure of sampling the many culinary delights that come out of camp ovens.  That is about it for us, when is the next camp out ?

Michael Gilbert
For me Ninghan is all the people. Big camp fires and the food.   Lots of food continually coming out of camp ovens! just talking and eating with friends.   Ninghan Station itself reminds me very much of the Pilbara, an area I fell in love with on a trip last year. The stark contrast of the red dirt, blue sky and bush.   Ninghan is just a fantastic place for me.

Bruce and Judy Brinkley
The paragraph following is part of the blurb I read recently repeated in many internet sites re Ninghan Station as a tourist/ accommodation destination…
Ninghan Station is a working sheep station situated approximately 360 kms from Perth on the Great Northern Highway. Ninghan Station covers an area of 206,787 hectares.
The homestead is set in an oasis of green lawns and shady trees nestled at the base of Mount Singleton. Ninghan Station has abundant bird life (100 species identified) and animals such as kangaroos, emus, goats and goannas. “

This is not the one we go to, surely?

Our Ninghan is better than that…
It’s red mud… or red dust…!!!   green lawns ???  Hello? Where?
it’s NO other people than us,
it’s a big campfire that doesn’t go out even if it is raining,
it’s restaurant quality taste, out of camp oven cooking (note I don’t mention  ‘presentation’),
it’s finding other parts of the acres we haven’t seen or driven around yet,
it’s possibilities for many more visits of discovery.
That’s our Ninghan

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