by Lurline Penny
Day one: Sunday, April 10: Meet at Bakers Junction.
Riders are Des Gaze, Frank Cooke, Ian Alexander, Andrew Haydock, Ray Macneall, Warwick Jones and Phil Penny. Ladies in luggage wagon: Helen Cooke, Sue Haydock and Lurline Penny.
Morning tea at Pingrup, then direct to Newdegate and east to Lake
King and lunch. We took group to our old farm and first taste of
gravel, 20kms. We all fuelled up at King and onto Hyden, our overnight
stop. Did the tourist bit and some, managed to “surf” the Rock and Phil
and I enjoyed seeing Hyden sculptures in the main street.
Day two: Direct to Marvel
Lock, 100kms of gravel. Reason for this section was to check out the
1944 WWII Vultee Vengance crash site. After some confusion with maps
(Andrew you must throw away that map!) we eventually found it.
The story goes like this - a pilot “bailed out” of the plane after
being lost in a storm and had insufficient fuel to return to base near
Perth. The pilot landed safely by parachute, east of the “then” Rabbit
Proof Fence and was rescued four days later.
His co-pilot bailed out before him but unfortunately he was never
ever found. It entailed searches by planes (the biggest in Australian
history), soldiers from Northam Camp, police on horses, volunteers and
so on to try and find the missing person, but no luck. However today,
numerous crumpled, mangled pieces of wreckage are all that’s left from
Lunch at Southern Cross, lovely with beautiful gardens and lawns. We
then proceeded east to Karalee Dam which was for railway steam trains.
The usual set-up was of stone wall around rock to channel water to a
wide, overhead flume, this was some distance to a magnificent size dam
(bigger than most farm dams). Remember there were no tractors in those
Next we were at No. 8 Pump
Station (Dedari) where Trendy, the caretaker, opened up for us. This is
the only station that has most of its original boilers etc intact
(other stations have been stripped well and truly). In time, with
upgrading and TLC, we will see this pump station open to public. Oh
dear, its getting dark, arriving at Coolgardie with lights on.
Day three: Left Coolgardie
Caravan Park and headed southwards for a further 130kms of gravel.
Lunch was at Burra Rock. Explored that, with its stone wall and dam
before proceeding onto Cave Hill. It was an awesome big rock complete
with stone wall that channelled water into three dams.
I felt too hot and didn’t go over to the cave, but judging by the
wonderful photos Andrew took of it, it looked spectacular! The history
of the rock is that years ago timber cutters, some with their families,
lived and moved about in many places, including Burra Rock, cutting
timber and loading it onto trains each day.
The timber (cut green) was needed for desalination of water for the
mines and possibly for water pump stations and other uses. The children
had their education onboard the train in those days. Oh dear, a storm
was brewing and we got to get moving fast. It was to our concern that
we try to get to bitumen quickly — and fortunately we made it, with
only one shower of rain, to Widgiemootha. Proceeded on to Norseman to
Day four: A lot easier on
the bitumen road and we had lunch at Salmon Gums at a little park
We then headed onto Esperance. We decided to take a ride to Cape Le Grande National Park, and later onto Lucky Bay which is such a beautiful place.
For tea that night we went around to where Ray Macneall was staying
with his son, Kevin, and Rachael Sealey, his partner. We were made very
welcome and thoroughly enjoyed fish and chips there. Kevin is a local
fisherman, Rachael does beautiful bead and shell jewellery.
Day five: A few of the men left early to head back to Albany, those left went for a short drive, while us ladies went shopping! We arrived at Ravensthorpe just on lunchtime when it was busy with aged people off a bus. Afternoon tea was at Wellstead and later we were home. It was a wonderful trip.