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TOWARDS WILUNA, MEEKATHARRA

July 3, 2013

SATURDAY 29.6.13
We left Niagara after a very relaxing week beside the dam- well, relaxing after washing etc & Bruce got the van & car back to their original colours after the Great Outback Way! Our first stop was in Leonora for supplies, fuel, water & visit dump site. We might have free camped at Malcolm & Niagara dams but we left nearly $500 in the town! I am sure many other travellers so the same, what with food the price that it is as well as the fuel. We expect prices to be high in these outback places but I thought that $1.90 for 1 litre milk rather high, loaf of bead $6.80!
At least we got nice mandarins & bananas on special which was a bonus.
It was well after lunch when we left Leonora so only travelled up to Ford Run Rest Area # 268 in Camps 7 to stop there for the night.

This rest area, with tables & BBQ pits is right beside the road but we drove further in off the road as there were many road trains speeding past.
The small enclosed area looks as though it could have been a sheep holding pen. Had old water troughs which would have water pumped into them from the Fibreglass tank in the background.
The site of the windmill- had to drop a tiny pebble down where the shaft would have been- took about 4 seconds to hit the bottom- not water either.
We could believe the size of this van being pulled by a sedan, maybe a falcon.
the road trains did not bother us during the night. As we got closer to Leinster and as we had spent 2 nights there in 2010 we bypassed it & went up to Wiluna, stopping for a cuppa at #273 rest area.

These were 2 of the road trains which went past with in a couple of minutes. the only vehicles on this road that we saw were theses truck & mine utes.
Morning tea was raison toast.

There was also spinifex everywhere again & now it is in seed.

These roads are just so smooth to drive along you could sit a vase of flowers on van table & it would not move.

Every few klms there are signs at turns into various mine sites. Information from Shire Office when we got into Wulina is that this is a Nickel mine.

The country changes so suddenly- there are a few breakaway sites, then salt pans, then open plains with huge mullock heaps.

Pulled into Wiluna information Bay then had a quick drive around. There were only a few children riding bikes but no other folk to be seen. Read about a rock water hole 20ks out which is good for camping so decided that would be good for this evening. Went 10k up the Canning Stock Route then turned west- another 10k. The road became a track which was not a problem but we were soon stopped by mud holes.

As we were considering what to do a couple came out from the pool in a land cruiser ute. They said that overhanging limbs would be a problem when going around the wet section & Bruce did not want to get vehicles muddy again! We decided to stay right where we were for the night & head back into Wiluna in the am & have a better look around.

MONDAY 1.7.13
After a very quiet night off the Canning Stock route we headed back into Wulina to attend to some phone calls & emails. Went into the Shire Office for some info as to what is mined, especially the big Mt Keith Mine which we passed. it is Nickel but there are-were – 2 gold mines with one in receivership. A mining company got the “go ahead” a few weeks ago for Uranium mining.
While in Wulina we noticed that there were two groups of travellers getting ready to head up the Canning Stock Route.
The Shire office is what used to be the Hospital.

We went back to the Information board which is on the southern entrance to the town.

There is a story about the Canning Stock Route as well as a dedication to the explorer.

There are many signs indicating what used to be on the sights. This is just one of them.

This is also at the entrance with the Info Board. What a wonderful story.

Wulina is also the start of the Gunbarrel highway which goes east towards Alice Springs

We now headed west to Meekatharra- on dirt roads again but assured that they have just been graded since the wet 2 weeks ago- fingers crossed.

This road was sooooooooooo good with only a couple of spots that had obviously been water holes. There are also 5 stretches of about 5ks which are used as passing lanes, instead of trying to pass a vehicle & blinded by dust at the same time. ( this is also the situation when travelling up to Cape York QLD)

We only stopped for fuel at Meekatharra – and some hot chips!
This was another huge mine site on the south as we drove out.

We spent the night at Lake Nallan, #448 in Camps 7. which is 20k nth of Cue. Five other vehicles pulled in but we never had a chance to speak to them. They were only very loaded vehicles with tents etc, so they were probably heading up the Canning or maybe Gibb Road or maybe both.

TUESDAY 2.7.13
Into Cue & this was the first thing we saw- a very small breakaway as well as many tiny mullock heaps.

A blurred photo as no where to pull over. Sorry!
Went to the info centre to be greeted by a friendly, very helpful lady with a wonderful smelling sausage roll- fresh from over the road!. She gave us a mud map & some things see.
We wandered up & down the main street- which is the Great Northern Highway on which, in a week, about 1000 road trains pass through!.

Bell’s Emporium building is the local IGA which bakes various goodies daily- to-day it was pies, sausage rolls & pasties.
We had a look at the jail which is in the caravan park.

This is the old Masonic Lodge building- note the corrugated side wall.

We left Cue for the night & headed out to visit the Ghost town of Big Bell then onto Walga Rock for the night. Once again these dirt roads were great, even though dusty.

Big Bell, 1937-1955
This used to be a thriving community but with the War and changing fortunes in gold, this lead to the closing down of the mine in the 1950s. By the time mining was reinstated in the 1980s Big Bell had become a modern ghost town. There is one impressive old building still standing, even though in “tatters” & that is the Big Bell Hotel.

It is possible to drive around all the streets where concrete slabs show evidence of previous buildings, with only about 5 which have small parts still standing.

After a good look around BIG BELL we headed down the road to Walga Rock which the Information person told us was the 3rd biggest in Australia, but, we had been told previously, that Kokerbin Rock which is west of the town of Bruce further south, was the 3rd? it is 5ks around the base of Kokerbin & this one is apparently 2ks long!

This stitched photo has not even got half of the length of the rock! This is in an enclosed area to keep animals out so we were told.
There in a smaller enclosure at the base of one part of the rock which is the first site you come to. The painting/carving below of the ship has us wondering how on earth the inland wandering tribes would have seen a sailing ship from the oceans to know what they looked like- maybe I am being a sceptic!

This cave with the paintings is in the small enclosure with a couple of walkways.
After viewing this we went for a drive around the base.

By the time we had got around to the front of the rock the roos were much more visible. Two different species.

They even posed for me! A little further along we came across a herd of goats on the side of the hill.

This is our camp for the night- dam clouds, so no sun shining on the rock at sunset.
An hour later we decided to take a walk up one of the easy walks up one part of the rock. Patience is a virtue! the sun managed to get through the clouds for a few minutes just before if vanished again & no sunset photos.

First photo taken on automatic & the second with the sunset setting- so different.

WEDNESDAY 3.7.13
This morning still cloudy but sun shining. Looked out the window to see all the goats lined up across the top of the rock, much further up than we were yesterday.I would hate to get caught on the end of the horns so they must be rather old goats!

Decided to go for another “rock” walk before leaving as the information lady had told us that the far end was an easy walk up to the top- which it was. Almost 360 degree views with water holes, one hole with beautiful green grass fertilised by goat poo! Some very tiny flowers as well.
Someone has started the usual rock pile so we also added tiny stones to the top.

There are quite a few holes with water, some we saw are numbered 7-10 – I wonder why. Were they put there by travellers or folk who look after the rock.

Have stitched as few photos together to show the expanse of “nothingness” if that is a word.
The photo below is looking towards the west & Geraldton.

The above photo is looking south towards Mt Magnet.

We are not back in Cue filling water tanks and having lunch before heading down to Mt Magnet then west to Mullawa.

[camps Australia,Wiluna,Canning Stock Route,Meekatharra,Cue,Walga Rock,Big
Bell ghost town.]

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