Wildflower Country - Mullewa to Northam

Friday, Sep 04, 2009 at 11:17


Back to previous chapter - Carnarvon to Mullewa

From our flower bedecked camp at Mullewa we explored the local area, finding new delights at almost every turn. The tiny village of Canna has a signposted wildflower trail around its water tank (or dam) where we found 8 different kinds of ground orchids, and the by now familiar carpet of everlastings. Near Gutha we found some wreath flowers in bloom, interesting but not really on Val’s top 10 wildflower list.

Then it was across to the Coalseam National Park where the lookout area was densely carpeted, although there were few flowers at the camp area. The lookout gave extensive views showing the vast extent of the flowers, and a welcome sight of hills.

Mingenew is WA’s largest inland grain terminal and the endless tapestry of green and gold – wheat, lupins and canola – suggested that a bumper harvest is on the way. Locals are worried there won’t be enough trucks to transport the harvested grain to the huge rail sheds. Mingenew also boasts an excellent bakery, among other shops, where the pies and muffins are superb.

It was about here that a legacy of the corrugations earlier on in the trip became all too real. Our inexpert trailer packing had resulted in several containers coming open, with a resultant mix of dry pasta, peanuts, milk powder, muesli,…. in the bottom of the trailer. At the time we cleaned it out as best we could, but as it was all dry we weren’t too fussy about removing every last bit. Several weeks later, add condensation and some water spill from the sink and you can imagine the mess below the false floor! So the whole trailer had an unscheduled but thorough clean-out. Next time we will pack much more carefully.

And so our progress continued through Koolanooka Springs, Morowa, Perenjori and Buntine – mostly not much more than a name on a map and a huge grain shed or three. At some of the sheds the grain bunkers from last harvest were still full. The flowers continued as did the wheat and canola.

At Buntine Rock the weather turned miserable so we hunkered down for a couple of days and enjoyed the company of Robyn and John whom we had met two or three time already along the way. The short walk up to the rock was lined with a variety of ground orchids and the view from the top over rolling green country was a great sight.

From there we headed west towards Watheroo National Park and the Jingemia Cave, through more wheat country, although the effects of salt in the creeks and drainage lines was plain to see. Although the vegetation in the park was drab looking heath, suddenly we found a whole set of new flowers. There were blue lilies, and big masses of blue Dampieras – not just any blue but a piercing electric blue. Coupled with some creamy wattles and ti trees they made a beautiful sight.

From Watheroo we took a loop to the west, after hearing that the Lesueur National Park was a sight to see. Travelling through the southern section of Watheroo NP revealed yet more new flowers, but when we pulled into a lookout Val’s day was made when we spotted a Eucalyptus macrocarpa in flower. Its giant flowers were about 6cm across and a delicate pink shade. The road for the next few kilometres was lined with these curious tumble-down “trees”but there were few flowers.

The lookout commemorated the opening up of the local land for selection and agricultural development – in the 1950s! The transformation from heath to fertile cropping and grazing land is now complete after just half a century.

Jurien Bay is a small coastal community doing big business from tourism. From there we explored the Lesueur NP, and found a few new flowers, including a blood-red feather flower and more kangaroo paws. And the beautiful orange and pink candles of Banksia prionotes lighting the way along the roadsides.

The coastline here is dominated by low limestone cliffs, and an off shore reef, so there is not much surf. The sand is a brilliant white and in places piled up into huge active dunes. Sunlight turns the water a brilliant turquoise colour. There are a couple of lookouts giving a view over the coast, but to our eastern Oz eyes (watering in the never ending wind) the rolling sandhills and low heath are not particularly picturesque.

Down the coast to Cervantes and beyond, to the Pinnacles, that mysterious collection of rock pillars in a desert setting, yet within sight of the ocean.[Image not found]After looking through the no-expenses-spared interpretive centre we set out on the 1.5km walk through some of these pinnacles. There were occasional light showes that kept most other walkers indoors, [Image not found]so we pretty much had the place to ourselves, except for the vehicles cruising through on their longer loop.

Finding a campsite that night was a bit of a challenge as the local council has closed some excellent and well appointed reserves to overnight use. But the provision of an excellent amenities block at Dandaragan, complete with hot showers, almost made up for the closures – but not quite. It seems a pity to waste the investment already made in these sites, on the alleged grounds that overnight users will make a mess. Perhaps there is another agenda?

By now the weather had turned wet and windy, good weather for travelling and getting away from the coast. So we turned east towards the Wongan Hills, which promised much but where we saw little in the way of flowers. Access into the various reserves seems to be quite limited. But the presence of real trees across the landscape somehow reassures us – it almost feels like home. Even so the wheat continues and there seem to be even bigger areas of canola here.

It’s time to head south, brave the rain and cool weather, and find some really big trees.

Forward to next chapter - Northam to Albany

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
Lifetime Member:My Profile  My Blog  Send Message
BlogID: 1305
Views: 25918

Comments & Reviews(1)

Post a Comment
Blog Index

Sponsored Links