Moondyne Joe Country – Ladies Day

Trip Leader:  Diana Veitch

When:  Sunday 27th February 2005

Location: Avon Valley National Park

Tail-end Charlotte – Sue Bromberger

Since I’m writing these notes, it’s not hard to guess who turned up last at the assembly point. It was not through running late; it was because I … being a man… thought I knew everything and took a brief look at the trip instructions and saw the words “roadhouse” and “Great Northern Highway” and headed straight for a roadhouse that we last used as a meeting point for the Wildflower trip. Timing was perfect, we arrived there at 08:55am…trouble was, no one else was. A quick call to Diana to find out that we had gone just a little too far (about 25 kilometres). It was a quick dash back to Ginger’s Roadhouse in Upper Swan where everyone was patiently waiting.
Diana got the ball rolling by outlining the day’s activities. She then sprang a surprise on everyone by making all the men folk draw the name of the women out of a hat. It was a 4WD partner swap that, after a moment’s hesitation, became an exciting twist to the trip. So, with the men being allocated their new chauffer-esses, we all boarded the vehicles. (It was nice to see the majority of vehicles being Mitsubishis for a change. 5 Pajeros, 2 Challengers, 1 Disco and 1 Forrester) Diana led the convoy with Frith, her daughter, as navigator. For a 10-year-old, she has put many other members to shame, because they didn’t make one wrong turn on the whole trip.
The convoy proceeded in the following order.
I (Martin) partnered Linda
Chris partnered Wilma
George partnered Leigh
Roger partnered Karen
Gary partnered Rachel
Trevor partnered Jan
John (B) partnered Louise and
Paul partnered Sue (B)… tail end Charlotte.
Before heading off, Diana made a quick exit from her vehicle to chase an abandoned $20 note floating across the Great Northern Highway. Then after few minor problems with hand held radios, we headed north along Great Northern Highway. We turned off GNH at Bullsbrook to head northeast snaking up through the Avon Valley to the Lower Chittering Nature Reserve, which eventually became the Avon Valley National Park.
Morning tea stop was at a quiet location called the Plunkett Mill Site. A short bush walk lead to an abandoned timber-lined well. After morning tea, the men returned to the familiar surrounds of their own passenger seat. The women then drove on into Moondyne Nature  Reserve. A stop was made at Joe’s Cage, which was about 200 metres from the main track.  Apparently this was the remains of Moondyne Joe’s horse trap.
We then moved on further along Sapper Road through a gate and began the steep descent to Sapper Camp site situated on the Avon River. All the ladies handled the descent very adequately. This time of the year the track is hard and firm. It would be an interesting  location to traverse in the wet season. The surrounding valley and bushland would also look magnificent during the wet season, possible early spring. 
Sapper camp proved to be an ideal place for lunch. We all parked our chairs, under the shade, on the bank of the Avon River for a bite to eat. The weather was fine and mild making it a most enjoyable day relaxing in serenity of the wilderness. Amazingly, I didn’t even notice any flies. The peaceful surrounds suddenly erupted with the grinding and rattling of a large Kalgoorlie bound train rolling along the track just across the river. Another train heading to Perth followed this very closely. These small disturbances just makes one appreciate the peacefulness of the bush even more.
After lunch the ladies mounted their charges once more and began the climb back up the entrance track. There were several kilometres of gravel road before turning right onto bitumen (Julimar Road) to head towards Toodyay. The Bromberger’s experienced a little difficulty getting their Pajero out of 4WD. Paul assisted the Bs in demonstrating a few tips in how to disengage the electronic gear release. Then the convoy was up and running again.
A compulsory ice-cream stop was made in Toodyay town site before rounding everyone up again to head towards the old gaol museum behind the town. It was here that Karen and I had to leave the group due to a dinner engagement. We left the group, some of which decided to tour the museum whilst others relaxed outside. I wasn’t familiar with the town layout so I turned the Pajero in the direction of South-West using the dashboard flux gate compass. This led us out of town onto a gravel road. Karen became concerned, because she wanted to find a main road and get home. Trying to reassure her that we were heading in the right direction I maintained the southwesterly  heading. 
Eventually the road met up with the railway track before diverting off into the bush again. However, the road soon became bitumen again and took us straight to Toodyay Road. Who said that the compass display on the Pajero was only good for a conversation piece? Upon seeing Paul’s GPS trip map on the web-site, it appears that I had stumbled on the same route taken by the remainder of the group after we had left.
[Martin ARCHER]
Moondyne Trip notes – Part 2. After departing from the well-preserved Toodyay Gaol we headed off towards Perth. We ventured past some farms that looked desperately in need of the ever-evasive substance known as water; some of you may remember it well (!) but all the wells we saw on this trip were empty.
Next stop was the clay pit. We snuck in through the wobbly, but just as deadly, barbed wire fence and got a bird’s-eye view of very large, very deep pit that was virtually guaranteeing the demise of the hill it was on. George mumbled something like “seen one seen them all”. (He spends a lot of time in the pits, apparently). 
It became evident that the barbed wire fence was put there for our own protection, as the edges were quite soft.Frith (have-no-fear-explorer) ventured into the depths of the abyss, only to raise the blood pressure of our great leader just a little. Frith had to engage 4WD-low to get out of the pit as she chose the most difficult slope to clamber up (because she could).
Onward forth we went, this time stopping at Noble Falls which is located on the main Toodyay Road back to Perth. The remaining vehicles were lined up in order, all reversed in (well done Ladies) and voila’ – a photo opportunity evolved right in front of our eyes! All the Ladies had their group photo taken and also included were the vehicles. The men and children all wandered off to the playground (still wondering how all the Ladies managed to reverse in so well).
Thanks and goodbyes were conveyed, and generally a great time was had by all. 
Well done Ladies and well behaved Gents! [Diana has organised an article re Ladies and 4WD’s to appear in Rob Robson’s column in Saturday’s West Australian – keep your eyes peeled.]
[Paul Ryan] 

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