Wildflower Weekend to Moora & Surrounds

Trip Leader:  Bob and Bridget

When:  7th – 9th September 2007

Location: Moora 

Participants: 7 Cars

Seven vehicles attended and we had a great weekend.  Whilst ‘wildflowers’ was the ‘theme’ for the weekend – ‘country hospitality’ has to be an ‘equal ran’.   
We were overwhelmed at the generosity and kindness of the residents in the area.
Friday 7th September
McPhersons were last to arrive at Pioneer Park in Dandaragan.   
Kings, Brombergers, Belchers all arrived earlier to set up in daylight.   
Weldons came down from their trip to Kalbarri..   
An invitation had been received by the earlier arrivals, for us to retreat to the bowling club for our evening meal and drinks.  So plans to cook were quickly shelved and we had a lovely homemade two-course meal cooked by the local ladies as a fundraiser – this they do every Friday night.   I can’t quite remember who had two helpings of the apple crumble, cream and ice-cream but there were a few who couldn’t resist!
Everyone in the bar made us feel welcome and many asked about our plans for the weekend and offered suggestions.  Graeme Betteridge extended an invitation to visit his wildflower farm on Sunday morning. As his farm is not open to the public we felt quite privileged.   Lyall Gardiner suggested areas to visit and gave us directions within walking distance of our camp to see a patch of donkey orchids.
Saturday 8th September
Piers and Wendy, Ray joined us this morning and we set off via Prices Road to Rhonda Tonkin’s Western Wildflower Farm at Coomberdale, enjoying some scenery on the way.   At the WW Farm we were taken on a tour of their drying sheds and given a short talk on their wildflower business and exporting of dried flowers around the world.  This was followed by a cup of coffee, a short video on the farm and WA wildflowers in the area.   By the time we had all browsed through the souvenir shop and taken advantage of the cheap prices it was 11.30am and time to move on.
We headed up Midlands Road through Watheroo (and gave silent respect to John K’s granddad who was killed on the local railway here!) – left onto Eagle Hill Road to Jingemia Cave.   We found many colourful and different wildflowers in this area and Stella was able to name and identify a lot of them for us.   A few of us climbed down to the cave entrance and others walked around to the top of the rocks, giving a great view of Watheroo National Park, and also the unusual rock formations around the cave.   By this time the weather had well and truly cleared up and we had lunch.
Setting off again up Midlands Road, we took the Gunyidi/Wubin Road past the salt lakes.  This was a very picturesque route 2 months ago, but now with the addition of colour along the way it really was lovely.  We stopped and admired several ‘patches’ of yellow and white everlastings.   Ray also checked out a bobtail for ticks, which he apparently removes on a regular basis from the bobtails on his property, luckily for Ray or the bobtail this one was tick free. 
Down Masons Road (for future reference we found out that camping is allowed at ‘Little Salt Lake’, a shady spot for bushcamping), back along Carot Well Road.   
Bob and Bridget decided to try and impress with their pre-tripping research and stopped to see the only ‘patch’ of Rose Mallee in the world, a rare and endangered species.  We had all pulled up and out of our vehicles to admire these rare specimens when the local farmer and his wife pulled up. 
Having been confronted by a farmer and his flock (?) of pigs on our pre-trip when we took a wrong turning up in Watheroo National Park – we thought “uh-oh here we go again!”   However Geoff and Tina Milstead couldn’t have been kinder or friendlier and said if we hopped in our vehicles and followed them, they would take us to see the ‘real’ patch of Rose Mallee which is endangered (we were just testing to see if everyone was on their toes!!).   They also took us to see a Monks Well on their property built in stone by the New Norcia monks which they used when moving livestock through the area.   Geoff and Tina spent nearly an hour with us answering our questions and giving us an insight into their lives on the farm.
Heading back down the Old Geraldton Road, we wound our way back to Moora, passing the Historic Berkshire Valley Farm, which could be worth organising a visit to on a future trip.  At Moora we stopped for a few supplies and quite a few of us enjoyed the obligatory icecream.  
Happy hour back at Dandaragan with all the ‘nibbles’ almost got us out of cooking for a second night.   It was quite cold and those under canvas gratefully accepted Denise and Peter’s invitation to eat in their van.   Afterwards we managed to squeeze all 13 of us into the van for a nightcap.
Sunday 9th September
A late start on Sunday morning gave us a chance to appreciate the park we were staying in, lots of open grassy, shady areas, spotless showers/toilets, free gas bbq’s, several gazebos with one large and covered.    $15 a night and an honour system of ‘send in the money’ has to be worth a revisit.
Lyall (from the bar on Friday night) called by to see how we were faring and, if we were visiting Graeme and Sue at their farm, we could also collect some free oranges from his property.
The Betteridge’s wildflower farm is only 5kms out of Dandaragan, and I think we were all so appreciative of the way Graeme and Sue welcomed us and gave of their time and kindness in showing us around, insisting that all the ladies pick armfuls of flowers to take home.   They had large areas of beautiful flowering shrubs and Graeme gave us a demonstration of his huge (and very noisy) wind machine, used to blow the frost off the plants in winter.   
We were also shown where they kept the picked flowers in cold storage until collected by the exporter.  They have 9 local women working for them and fresh flowers are shipped from July to November to USA, Europe, Japan as well as the eastern states.   Packed in boxes and kept in cold storage they can last up to 3 weeks.   
We reluctantly took leave of them as they had work to do, but not before collecting bags of oranges that Lyall had dropped off for us to take home.
Back at the park before lunch and packing up we decided to take a walk across the road and alongside the golf course to find the donkey orchids we’d been told about, we found quite a few and also many cowslip orchids.
End of a lovely weekend with good company and not too much of a journey home.   
Dandaragan is known locally as ‘Dandy’ which was very appropriate as our weekend turned out to be just …………….!
Bridget & Bob

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