Monthly Archives: September 2022

Day 126 – Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Even though yesterday was warm and sunny it still got very cold overnight, and I am still using the electric blanket on one.

As we didn’t have far to travel from Mingenew to Carnamah today, we had a sleep in, but were still all packed up and rolling out of the caravan park at 9:55am, with five minutes of our allotted departure time to spare.

We took our time driving, enjoyed the changes to the scenery, and arrived just before 12 noon. This site has a lovely tree beside it that will provide shade during the afternoon, which will be good as this week the temperatures are expected to rise into the high 20s. Today it was already 24 degrees by 11:30am. Once the sun goes down (and it was red and glorious) it got very cold again.

We took a tour around town in the early afternoon and went out to the Yarra Yarra Lakes Lookout. Once a great river emptied into the Yarra Yarra Lakes system. Now with changes in land and sea level, and a drier climate, water collected from infrequent rains beyond Yalgoo travel along a chain of salt lakes to finally end here, evaporating in Summer leaving a shimmering expanse of salt.

The Yarra Yarra Lake covers an area of 119km², is 25km long and is 9km wide at the widest point.

A log causeway is approximately 25 metres long and is situated at the neck of the lakes, thus providing the shortest route across the water. The causeway is of bush timber construction, the timbers having been preserved by the salt.

The Log Causeway has considerable historic significance for its role in facilitating ease of transport across the Yarra Yarra lakes, and has further significance given its rarity, its preserved condition and the resourceful use of local materials.

We have not been able to find any further info on the Log Causeway, but will continue to look as it sounds fascinating, even if it ends up being closed now.

There are lots of interesting things to do in this area over the next fortnight.

The Shire of Carnamah covers some 2,800 square kilometres in the Midwest region of WA. It contains rich farming land, a wealth of history, and an abundance of flora and fauna in nature reserves and along the coastline.

The principal industries in the Shire are cropping, sheep and cattle farming, with mineral sands and gas exploration in Eneabba. Wildflower farming is also a growing industry within the Shire.

The population of Carnamah is about 270 people however, the area is strong in community spirit, and although there are no flash houses to be seen there is a strong sense of money endowed into the community.

Denise and her husband are managing the Caravan Park. Apparently they had retired after years of farming in the area and, as

raised their hand to manage the park when it was needed they find themselves gainfully employed here. The park is very neat, clean and tidy, and some forethought has gone into the arrangement of sites and the facilities. Believe it or not, but the use of the washing machines and drier are free!!!!!!

We went to empty the cassette only to discover that it was blocked, and the perpetrator of this crime had not reported it. Denise was not a happy camper when I rang her. The office at the time was unattended.

There are not a lot of people staying at the park now, but apparently they are expecting an influx of caravans and tents, and use of the accommodation units, over the coming days for the big local lawn bowls tournament, to which people travel long distances I have heard.

The park is nowhere near a main road so is very quiet. We also do not have to listen to the heavy rumbling sound that the train made at Mingenew each evening as it passed on its way from the mine.

Day 125 – Monday, 26 September 2022

We had a leisurely rise and shine today. All of our neighbours on one side of us have packed up and left leaving only two other camping pair on the other side of our van, so now there are only three groups of us enjoying the trees.

My eye has definitely improved but I will keep the hot compresses going until all the swelling has disappeared.

This morning we picked up the ground sheet and moved it upside down into the sunshine to dry before folding it and packing it away once more. We also packed away the awning after cleaning the leaves and nuts from its surface.

The chairs, table and camp stove were also packed up and placed in the back of the vehicle after Russ spent some time blowing all the accumulated dust from inside the canopy before re-placing items

carefully for travel. So then, we also finished the housekeeping inside the caravan ready to move onto Carnamah tomorrow for a fortnight.

After lunch we took a look at the schedule and have designated the areas of interest we most want to see on this trip as a priority so there will be a large chunk of the southwestern corner we will not see this trip. It just means we have to come across another time and concentrate on that part, such a hardship!

Once we had a plan firmly in mind I was able to ring ahead and make site bookings for us into the middle of November.

Russ is having some minor problems with his computer reading the SD cards from the camera and tablet so he has taken the time to research for his new computer which will be his Christmas present.

I concentrated on identifying the flower photos we took yesterday and will then re-size them ready to put up onto the website.

We have a bird outside the caravan in the trees, type unknow as we can’t get a glimpse of it at all, but its calling sign sounds like the old Scouts “Dib, dib, dib” without the “dob, dob, dob”.

Although a holiday in WA today the IGA was open for business, so we grabbed some more water while down the street.

Day 124 – Sunday, 25 September 2022

We had an amazing day communing with nature in the sunshine today, with the added bonus of new flowers, although the birds did not co-operate with photographs.

Before we headed out today, I did the washing and got it out on the line and Russ caught up with some housekeeping duties on the car.

We concentrated on Moriary Road nature strips which became fields of wildflowers, and only travelled a mere 88 kilometres. I do, however, have quite a few photos to identify.

Happy birthday to Stef, and we wished her the very best. She told me the household had treated her royally and she had a lovely day.

My eye, after many hot compresses with tea tree oil drops in the water, is steadily improving and I believe I felt it pop early in the evening last night. Today, some of the swelling has disappeared and it feels a lot more comfortable.

We talked to mum later in the evening. She admitted to a happy tear or two after the Cats won the Grand Final. On the other hand, I don’t believe Brett has come back down to earth as yet.

Day 123 – Saturday, 24 September 2022

My eye is magnificent – not! It is sore and I have swelling, all the way down over my cheek bone. I may have to visit the hospital at Dongara tomorrow to get some antibiotics. It is a super long weekend here in WA as Monday will be the public holiday for the Kings’ birthday, (doesn’t that sound odd?) and so the Health Clinic in Mingenew will not be open again until Tuesday.

We had planned on heading out for another excursion today, but the weather decided it was time to rain and become cold. Instead of travel, I have taken the opportunity of cooking some casseroles for future use, and of applying hot compresses on my eye in an effort to reduce the swelling.

We wished Brett and Janelle all the best for their team’s appearance in the Grand Final today. And it wasn’t until we were halfway through the first quarter listening to the game on the radio that I realised it would be on Free-to-Air TV. Russ got the telly out and set it up, so I was able to watch the rest of the match. I can’t believe Hawthorn traded Isaac Smith. He has been a great player for Geelong, and helped the team beat Sydney Swans.

By the time the game was completed here the sun had decided it was time to shine. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a much nicer day.

Day 122 – Friday, 23 September 2022

I didn’t sleep very well last night, and the bite is actually a stye, or more precisely, a chalazion (where the infection site is on the underneath of the upper eyelid).

We headed out on the other side of the Mingenew (pronounced Min-en-ew) on the Midlands Road to see the area between Three Springs and Morowa.

We stopped off at Yandanooka to inspect the stargazing site, which was interesting, but there were no wildflowers, just very large quantities of Cape Weed and Patterson’s Curse. I don’t believe I have ever seen such a large infestation of these two weeds.

Yandanooka is an Aboriginal name first given to a nearby water source. Its meaning is fairly flexible and can be ‘water in the hills’ or ‘plenty of hilly country in sight’, which is true in both cases.

The variations suggest that the original inhabitants of this area recognised its appeal – as did the early European settlers who quickly

saw the potential of the rich red soil of the river flats and appreciated the aesthetic beauty of the surrounding hills.

Thomas Whitfield was the first European to settle here, arriving in 1854 to take up a large pastoral lease and build a seven roomed homestead for his family, which is still in use today. (No, it is not open to the public unfortunately.)

Later in the 19th Century the area became known for several small copper and lead mines, both east and west of the rail lines. Agricultural settlement began in earnest during and after World War 1, when the district was one of many to host a ‘soldier settlement scheme’. The first returned servicemen arrived in 1919, and in all, about fifty farms were settled in this way during the following three years.

Sadly, some farms were too small to be viable, and many of the former soldiers were carrying either physical or mental scars – sometimes both -and life was tough for them and their families. Despite this, the soldier-settlers who came to Yandanooka are acknowledged to have made a great contribution to the community.

A caring and close-knit community developed with the focal points being the hall and the school.

The hall was initially a project of the local Returned Soldiers League (RSL) and was opened in 1923. It served as the community’s first school room for many years, and also as the local church. It remains the heart of this small community today, even if Yandanooka has now faded as a township.

After that we went onto the gravel back roads, which I can truthfully say are often smoother rides than the bitumen roads.

We stopped at Three Springs for a look-see, and they have lovely murals on the walls of the buildings near the Public facilities.

For millennia before the arrival of European settlers the area was part of the country of the Amanya people, who lived intimately connected with the natural world around them.

Lieutenant George Grey and his party passed through the area in 1839, and seven years later the Gregory brothers explored the area on a Government sponsored trip seeking new stock runs.

During 1867, while surveyor C C Hunt was undertaking a road survey he arrived at this spot and on his plans, at the place where the town is today, he recorded the words ‘The Three Springs’ because of the presence of three springs nearby.

The name began to appear on official maps from then on. In 1872 John Forrest surveyed a water reserve of the same name about one kilometre east of the town centre, yet strangely, when the surrounds were thrown open for agricultural selection in 1906 it was under the name ‘Kadathanni Agricultural Area’.

Soon after that the first families took up residence on their chosen farms and by 1910 the town was well on the way to being established with school, post office and railway station.

In 1908 the town was officially gazetted as Kadathinni, and it did not officially become Three Springs until 1946, although most of the locals had always called it that!

We had lunch by the roadside just out of town where I found several new flowers to photograph and following lunch, we headed northeast to see the Talc Mine, an amazing and unexpected sight.

WA’s first talc mine is located 1o kilometres east of Three Springs on the road to Perejori. Talc is also known as soapstone, and it was discovered here in the 1940s by a farmer who was drilling for a well.

The mine is now the largest in the southern hemisphere, and the second largest in the world, with an annual production that exceeds 240,000 tonnes.

Mining began in 1948, underground at first before switching to open-cut in 1960.

In underground work a machine called an ‘air leg driller’ bored holes for explosives and the shattered blocks of talc were then loaded onto box-like wagons and – mostly – winched to the surface on narrow-gauge rails. If the winches were out of commission the boxes were pushed by a team of miners to where it could be lifted out.

Drillers spent most of the day underground about forty metres, and many of the workers at that time were recent migrants from Britain or Europe.

Since the first mining the pit has grown and grown yet again. It has also moved as areas are mined out and back filled.

As of 2016 the current pit was over 1,400 metres long, nearly 500 metres wide and 75 metres deep. It is estimated that at the present rate of mining the ore body will last another forty years.

The talc rock is a soft white-to-green rock with a greasy feel, and aside from its well-known use for baby powder and other cosmetics, it is also found in items as wildly varied as animal feed, automobiles, chewing gum, fertilisers, paint, paper, plastics, tyres and ceramics.

Olive tree growers use it in processing the olive oil while orchards and vineyards use talc-based products to prevent sunburn and reduce heat stress.

At least 15,000 years ago cave dwellers were using talc in paintings and the Chinese were using it in glazed pottery by 600AD. The car you drive contains about 8 kilograms of talc related product in it.

Soapstone, whose technical Latin name is Steatite, is commonly found in regions throughout the world. It is very soft rock and can be used for carving. The statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro is carved from Soapstone.

It is also a good thermal insulator and, when used in construction, it is suitable for both interior and exterior applications.

Because it is resistant to heat, scratches, stains and bacteria, and because of its beauty, durability and ease of care it is often usedas a countertop material.

It is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of the mineral talc, with varying amounts of chlorite and other minerals. It was formed possibly millions of years ago and most often, is formed at convergent plate boundaries where broad areas of the Earth’s crust are subjected to heat and directed pressure and combined with the infusion of mineral-rich water and other liquids.

While we were at the mine we saw some very pretty butterflies, definitely not know to us. However, they earned the name of flutterbys because they sat still on any service long enough to focus for a photo.

From the talc mine we took several different back roads heading towards Morowa, a town in the Mid-West region of WA, located on the railway line between Wongan Hills and Mullewa.

The name Morawa is an Indigenous Australian name; it probably derives from the Morowar, the local dialect’s word for the dalgite (rabbit-eared bandicoot or bilby). The name was first used on maps of the area in 1910, in reference to a rock hole.

When the railway was being planned in 1913, it was decided to locate a siding at the location, and the name Morawa was chosen for it. The Lands Department then decided to establish a townsite there, and Morawa was gazetted in September 1913.

In 1921 the Railways Department decided that Morawa was too similar to Mullewa and requested a name change. In response, the town’s name was changed to Merkanooka in January 1922. However, the Railway Department did not rename the siding, and in June the town’s name reverted to Morawa at the request of the townspeople.

In 1932 the Wheat Pool of Western Australia announced that the town would have two grain elevators, each fitted with an engine, installed at the railway siding.

It is primarily a farming town, and the area supports a range of farming activities including wheat, sheep, cattle and sandalwood. The town is a receival site for Cooperative Bulk Handling.

The biodiversity of rangeland around Morawa has been reduced by land clearing, changed fire regimes, feral pests and weeds but pastoralism still remains an important characteristic of the region.

The Department of Environment and Conservation (formerly CALM) has undertaken a biodiversity survey of the area encompassing Morawa. Sporadic ranges of hills are separated by large areas of land, and many have evolved their own unique endemic species and biological communities. Some of these are associated only with the Banded Ironstone Formation rocks that are targeted for iron ore mining.

Due to renewed international demand for iron ore, and dramatic increases in prices being paid, the iron ore deposits around Morawa have attracted interest from junior mining companies. Midwest Corp has

spent several million dollars on infrastructure including roadworks to, and weighbridge facilities at, Koolanooka Mine.

5.1 million tonnes of haematite iron ore were taken from the Koolanooka Hills mine between 1966 and 1974.

Up to May 2006 it has been trucking out haematite fines (<6 millimetres particle size) left over as waste from the 1966–74 Western Mining iron ore operation. When the export to China of these several million tonnes is complete, Midwest Corp plans to exploit further haematite discoveries on their leases (pending environmental assessment and approval).

Substantial quantities of magnetite ore are also understood to exist on their holdings. Mount Gibson Mining also holds mining tenements at Koolanooka South, with reserves of magnetite ore.

The Karara Mining joint venture between Gindalbie Metals and Chinese steel producer, Ansteel, has substantial holdings 85 kilometres east of Morawa. The low-grade magnetite iron ore is processed on site to produce a high-grade concentrate for use in steel making.

Magnetite concentrate from the mine is hauled to Geraldton on a narrow-gauge spur off the Mullewa to Northam rail line. The tracks from Karara to the junction at Tilley siding, 3.5 km north of Mullewa, were laid with dual gauge sleepers.

There are two schools in Morawa, the K–12 co-educational Morawa District High School, and the WA College of Agriculture – Morawa, an agricultural co-educational college with boarding facilities, for students in Years 10 to 12.

Former Western Australian Premier, Carmen Lawrence, attended the Morawa Convent School.

While we were at Morawa I went into the IGA and grabbed some yoghurt for Russ. The store is a much larger one than the IGA at Mingenew.

Along the back roads before we made it to Morawa, we encountered several patches of wreath flowers on the roadside verges.

After the township we headed back towards the caravan and called it a day. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze was blowing, and the fresh air was wonderful.

We had fish and chips for tea. Carol from the Caravan Park does the cooking on Friday night.

Russ did some investigation of our photos and has found we have taken 49,849 photos. We have placed 1.509 of the very best aside for Mum to see, and these have been uploaded to the website. All in all, we have averaged 405 photos a day between the two of us. We have been busy.

Day 121 – 22 September 2022

This morning we woke up to a phone call from Robert who has spent some time in hospital with vertigo. He rang to ask about the history of my vertigo, which is Migraine Associated Vertigo, so I don’t get the migraine, I get the clamp around my skull instead.

Robert has been diagnosed with the more common, but no less debilitating, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo which means the tiny calcium crystals (called otoconia) come loose from the utricle (a sensory organ in the inner ear containing hair cells which send signals to the brain concerning the orientation of the head) and flow freely in the fluid filled spaces of the inner ear causing the spinning sensation with movement of the head.

He tells me he has some exercises to do (like throwing yourself back onto the bed in an effort to get the crystals moving and allow you to get

used to the vertigo motion) but he is responding well to the tablets they have given him. He had to wait three hours for the ambulance to take him to Swan Hill hospital.

While he was seeing the doctor, he also had the incision site looked over as he has a lump above the site. However, the doctor assures him it is all fine, and it is not causing him any pain. The doctor thinks it will go away once his muscles are back in shape and place.

I took the opportunity to ask after the rest of his family who had been unwell and he tells me that Jacquab is back at work from hi Ross River Fever, Lucus is back at school after his latest bout of Covid, and Tracey hasn’t been really good, but has certainly had to deal with some stress over the last few weeks. Leah appears to be doing fine as she didn’t get a mention.

The family was to travel to Bendigo to meet Harvey this weekend but that has now been postponed until next weekend as Robert is not allowed travel for four days.

I then realised that I had a very red and puffy right eyelid. I think I have been bitten by something and it is not pleasant. The skin along the eyelid is stretched tight, and very itchy as well. I took some Zyrtec and hope that this will assist with the swelling and itchiness.

Once we had showers and breakfast we headed down to the IGA and found it was open – holiday or not. We topped up our supplies of milk, water and some eggs and bacon, unloaded it all at the van, and then headed out.

We went along the Midland Road until we turned right onto Tabletop Road and Russ was slightly disappointed that it was bitumen. Once we got to Allanooka Springs Road we headed back to the spot where we first found our orchids and took some time to inspect the area more thoroughly. However, there was no new flowers to be seen at this location.

We then took a side trip down a 4WD gravel road and stopped about halfway down. We had our lunch and coffees here before checking out the bushland around us. I found several flowers that I did not have photos for and did not know what the plants are, so I have more investigation to do in my fu

We had a lovely time in the sunshine and fresh air. The temperature hovered around the 22-degree mark for most of the middle of the day so it was very pleasant out walking.

We pulled in to one of the parking bays on Allanooka Springs Road and got out for a look-see. We have named it the Cowslip Orchid Parking Bay as there were well over 200 of the little darlings clustered on the sides of the roadway.

Along the way today we clocked over the 13,376-kilometre mark for this trip. When Russ downloaded the GPS track of today’s trip it was to see that it looks like a map of Victoria. It is so amazing that I got Russ to take a screenshot of it so I can include it in the photos.

The total distance for the trip today was 123 kilometres. We climbed up to 274 metres above sea level before descending back to 129 metres above sea level at Mingenew.

Day 120 – Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Dr Indy was running a bit behind her schedule, so the phone did not ring until 7:00am this morning. She asked how the trip was going and then asked which scripts I needed. I told her all of them and hopefully I will not need to bother her again until after we get home.

We made it a very leisurely morning before hopping into gear. Unfortunately, we did not realise that the local IGA closed at 1:00pm until the start of October, so when we went down the street to post the diary letters, we were unable to get supplies.

We rang Trevor and wished him a happy 70th birthday, and then I stripped the bed and took the sheets, doona cover, towels etc to the

laundry. Upon my return I took the clothes off the line and folded them and put them away before being able to peg out the wet ones.

Reuss concentrated on putting the blog up to the website and sent out his weekly email. I still had the photos to complete, which I did eventually, and they were also put up on the website.

The housekeeping was taken care of jointly, so we have a fresh and clean caravan also.

New neighbours have moved onto the two sites next to us, but it looks like they are only staying overnight as they have not uncoupled their vans from their cars.

We love our little spot in the caravan park. It is well away from most of the sites which are all on bitumen. We sit under the trees and at the back of our van is the spring that Mingenew Springs is named after. It is a very pleasant site, and we can sit and listen to all the bird life in the trees around us.

Today the temperature rose to 24 degrees, and we had sunshine with a gentle breeze which contributed greatly to the drying of the towels

Day 119 – Tuesday, 20 September 2022

We were very surprised this morning when we awoke to find that the time was 9:36am. We had had a lovely catchup sleep-in.

Tomorrow morning, we will be awake very early as I have a telephone consultation with my doctor in Mildura for more scripts. She will ring me at 6:30am – 8:30 in Victoriia.

We left the caravan park at 10:38am with our coffees and lunch and went back down the Midlands Road towards Dongara and Port Denison. I had several stops along the way to check out the wildflowers and found several new ones as well as some more Daddy Long-Legs Spider Orchids and Donkey Orchids.

Russ didn’t do much about the wildflowers but swung into gear when we saw the largest flock ever of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos wheeling over the railroad track. We pulled into the siding at Irwin and had our lunch while we watched them.

After lunch Russ sidled over to the trees where they were perched and making a lot of noise. There were even more of them in the paddock behind the trees.

The day was humid and very overcast, so it was difficult to get any decent photos from the hundreds we took. I have managed to select a few but they do not do the birds justice.

After lunch and bird watching we went on to Dongara and re-fuelled at BP. I also managed to get Russ another long-sleeved polo in wick material which was on special.

We then headed to Port Denison for a sticky beak and ended up at the beach and the breakwater for the marina.

Port Denison is a town of 3000 residents in the Mid-West region of WA. Its local government area is the Shire of Irwin, and it is located 4 kilometres southwest of Dongara on the Indian Ocean coast.

Port Denison was initially known as Irwin Port in 1866 due to its position near the mouth of the Irwin River. However, when it was officially named and gazetted in 1867, it was renamed in honour of Sir William Denison. He was a former Governor of Tasmania who in 1851 had visited Western Australia in connection with transportation of convicts.

Port Denison is the home port of a number of commercial fishermen that catch lobster (known as crayfish locally).

We then went exploring in the car and found a Boardwalk and Nature Reserve with trails along the Irwin River where it meets the Indian Ocean. We have way pointed it and will try to get back here before we move on again.

There are some lovely houses in Port Denison, and obviously a lot of money has been spent on them. I think it would be a very popular holiday destination for Perth residents as it is not too far to travel.

We passed Fettler Street, and Russ questioned what a fettler did. After some investigation we discovered that a fettler is a person whose job is to sand and grind small imperfections from metal and ceramic castings for the railways. Who knew?

Which leads us to the subject of ferrets, because Russ read something about them and asked for clarification.

A group of ferrets is called a business or a fesnyng (pronounced fez-ning). Originally, they were referred to as a busyness because people who dealt with ferrets saw them as busy critters, hence business.

Intact male ferrets are called hobs, while neutered males are gibs. (I have no idea where these come from either.)

Unspayed females are called jills, while spayed females are sprites. And baby ferrets less than one year old are called kits, so now we all know something new.

We decided that we had taken a lot longer than planned enjoying our sight-seeing around these parts and it was definitely time to head back to Mingenew.

Once we arrived back, we had afternoon tea, I did the washing and got it out on the line as it is supposed to be cold but clear overnight, and a lovely 24 degrees tomorrow. Today, the top temperature reached 21 degrees for a little time before slowly getting much cooler.

Russ downloaded all the photos we had taken and then went to sleep while I chose the best shots for the website after I spend some time identifying the flower photos I have taken.

Day 118 – 19 September 2022

We had a very cosy lie in this morning for a while, and the heater was turned on. It rained on and off overnight and Mingenew had about 3 mm up to 9:00am. It is decidedly chilly.

When we left to visit the Canna Nature Reserve the temperature had hovered around 13 degrees, but any time it showered it plummeted to 11 degrees. It struggled to get to 14 degrees throughout the day.

We visited the reserve and found a variety of dampiera that we have not seen before. They were on red soil and surrounded by yellow and white flowers – so striking.

We then headed to Gutha to visit the local hall before heading to the Gutha Old Camp where we had lunch.

Gutha was founded in 1914, grew from a struggling ‘childhood’ into a vigorous ‘adolescence’ in the late 1920s, and reached its ‘prime’ from the 1930s to 1950s. It then started to fade and died with the closure of the last store in 1983.

The beating heart of the town was Gutha Hall, and it still stands, and is still part of the social life of the district with regular social events, dances and BBQs, of which the BBQs badly need some maintenance from what we were able to see.

The Hall is rectangular in shape, constructed of blockwork with buttresses to the side walls and front entry, The entire building is painted a light cream colour.

There is an open area adjacent to the hall for caravanners to park while enjoying the wildflowers of the area. The building is on the Heritage Council Register. There is a fabulous cutwork metal sculpture out the front.

When we arrived at the Canna Old Camp it was to find several others there. One camper van had stopped to have lunch, much as we had done, but there was a large bus which was in the process of setting up for the night. There was also a car and a caravan further into the bus area. As it was so cold, and about to shower heavily I did not spend a

lot of time walking around. I did go and see the remains of an old tin home of a man who lived there. NOTES

Altogether the drive around the countryside was lovely, even with the rain showers. If you only want to see the wildflowers, they are everywhere. Unfortunately for me, I want to be able to name the flowers I find as I go along and that is a totally different kettle of fish.

I love some of the road names we come across in our explorations. Today, it was Adji Badji Road, although I have been unable to find anything about its history. There is a suggestion that it is pronounced Argy-Bargy which would be a place of discussion for people who disagree about something. Perhaps I will never find that out.

We then stopped off at Bilya Rock and found some more Donkey Orchids, It is a very interesting place about five kilometres west of the turnoff for Gutha West Road.

It is a large granite outcrop, surrounded by bushland which makes it an enjoyable place to bushwalk or picnic in the winter and spring (just not today!). The origin of the name is unknown, but possibly derived from the Aboriginal language.

A cairn stands on Bilya Rock and is reputed to have been placed there by John Forrest as a trigonometrical survey point in the 1870s. A sheet metal sculpture of John Forrest, and his assistant Tommy Windich, is located beside the Name Sign.

John Forrest’s official report from hi 1869 expedition clearly indicates his respect for Tommy though history perhaps does not fairly apportion the accolades that flowed there-after.

Some historians have suggested that without guides like Tommy, men like Forrest would have struggled to survive. Others have noted how ironic it was that these Aboriginal guides so willingly aided expeditions that ultimately led to such a dramatic reshaping of the landscape of their people.

After a short stop here, to once again be interrupted by rain, we headed back to Mingenew. We took many back roads today and considering the amount of rain that has fallen in the area, the all-weather gravel roads are in tip top condition.

We turned onto the Mingenew-Morowa Road from the back roads and proceeded on bitumen, passing Mt Budd along the way. I can find no information about how it got its name, but it is a mesa stuck out in the middle of rolling hills and flat plains – a most unusual sight.

When we finally returned to Mingenew Russ decided we should try the Mingenew Bakery for our afternoon tea. They did not have a lot of items left by the time we got there so I ended up buying a mini mixed Danish box. I am not a fan of Danish with Nutella in the middle of it, but the apple and raspberry ones were lovely. Russ enjoyed the coffee scroll and an apple Danish.

We did ring Mum and had a catchup before tea.

I have spent the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up with diary entries and photos which Russ downloaded before he went to sleep. It is still really chilly, and the heater is back on, and I am sure we will both be using our electric blankets before the night is over.

Day 117 – Sunday, 18 September 2022

We took in the sights around town this morning. It was a fairly short trip.

Our neighbours left this morning taking their very noisy screamer with them. She is about three and has a Mummy complex, and screams when she doesn’t get her own way. Mum apparently has to lie with her as she falls asleep and she is very vocal while she calms down, and as their tent is just outside our window, it is an annoying occurrence.

Their camping spot was replaced by a couple in a pop out camper van, and they are blessedly quiet.

We went up to Mingenew Hill once we had toured the township. Russ tried to find a Geo Cache at the very top of the hill but was unsuccessful. I did not go all the way to the top as there was rock climbing to be done and the steps were too big for me, as well as having nothing to hold on to while you traversed the steep slope.

While he was away with the birds, literally, as he found a couple up there for photos, I wandered along the pathways around the hill and

looked at the wildflowers. There were none that we had not already seen, but the scenery was lovely.

After that we headed out to the Depot Hill Nature Reserve. The Depot Hill Firing Range was built by hand, by soldiers of the Australian Armed Forces from the Eastern states, who trained here before being sent overseas. Only the target trench of the gunnery range remains with its stonework, which can be seen when walking the paths through the Reserve. The walking track was relatively flat and easy walking with a slight incline.

During WW2 the Depot Hill area was a base for a substantial armoured presence, and extensive training exercises took place in many locations around the town and Shire between late 1942 and 1944.

Long-time residents who’ve walked the trail regularly tell of seeing tank tracks embedded in parts of the Reserve.

Ammunition shells from firing tanks are still being unearthed on farms over the hill. Mingenew was a large army area after Darwin and Broome were bombed, but only the untrained soldiers early in WW2 used this range

The area surrounding Depot Hill was first set aside as a reserve in 1893 as a ‘watering place, stock route and common for travellers and stock’.

This reflected its early history as a stopping place on the stock route that came down from the Northwest via Mullewa to connect with the Perth-Champion Bay (Geraldton) route.

With four kilometres of the Irwin River providing welcome water for animals on the move there is no doubt the Reserve fulfilled that purpose very well, right through to the 21st century.

The natural values of the 633 hectares were first formally acknowledged in the 1983 report for the then Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, which recommended that it be re-vested under the WA Wildlife Authority.

It finally became a Nature Reserve in 2011, recognising its ‘high conservation and recreational values’, and it contains the least disturbed habitat of one species of declared rare flora, the Long-flowered Nancy (Wurmbea tubolosa) and the mature river gums along the river provide

valuable nesting sites for a number of cockatoos and parrots. The variety of vegetation and landforms further underpin this new and important conservation status for what is now a very old reserve.

The Wilukardi (Wattandee Tribe) and Amangu People roamed the Upper Irwin before white man came. They used the caves at the top of the hill as birthing chambers according to one of the local Indigenous men we spoke to in the parking area. He said both his grandmother and great-grandmother were born in the caves, and he roamed freely about the hillside when he was a young boy.

In 1847 300 weight of coal, being transported from Coalseam by cart along the riverbed to Perth capsized at Depot Hill and was “much injured”. It required four days to effect repairs with York gums and jam trees, and the work party being “tormented by the flies”. The party finally arrived at the bay (Dongara) in December 1847 and sailed from there to Fremantle.

In 1850 Ewan Mackintosh, and his brother-in-law James Drummond Jnr, applied for leases – Victoria Plains 65 and 66. These were 20,000 and 16,000 acres on the Irwin River from Dongara eastwards. No 66 included the river flats of the Lockier River and land around Depot Hill.

Along the walk we stopped and chatted to several people also out enjoying a stroll. We saw a lot of wildflowers, but not many that we sis not already have. However, Russ did get some photos of birds while he sat on the seat and waited for me to visit the Firing Trench.

Tonight, I used the new camping stove for the first time. I am the person who admits that I am very vary of gas appliances, although I do think they are easier to cook with. The new stove made a few noises I was not happy with, so Russ interrupted his phone call with mum to calm me down while I cooked. I will admit it is much faster that the gas top in the caravan, and I am sure it won’t take me long to get used to it. We will ring Mum back tomorrow night.

We have a fledgling galah in a nest just out from the caravan. I was wondering what caused the strange flapping noise I could hear, and Russ realised that he was climbing to the top of the branch and practicing. I couldn’t see him from where we are but definitely hear him, I can