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August 2006 Club News

Vintage MX | Numbat | Forts | Holland Track |  Calendar

The Holland Track and Other Gravel Highways

by Lurl Penny

Holland riders and support team

Gathered together at Bakers Junction 8am: Riders - Ian Alexander, Andrew Haydock, Ray Macneall, Russell Killick, Frank Cooke, Garry Blake, Phil Penny, Bob Sutcliffe, driver of Ray ‘s vehicle and trailer, Helen Cooke driver of 4WD and Lurl Penny. When we arrived, Julie, Raelene and Judy were sheltering in a phone booth from a slight shower of rain, these ladies had come to see us off.

Morning tea was at Pingrup, lunch was at Lake King Footy Oval where we enjoyed the nice warm sun, then we were on our way to the Penny’s farm. We then proceeded on through the Vermin Proof Fence and onto the 90 Mile Tank, reaching there at approx 4pm. The big concrete tank, which was fairly full of water, had a huge roof, (for water catchment) it was erected possibly in the 30’s, providing water for travellers. There was once upon a time a horse trough nearby, but that disappeared in the 70’s.

Oh dear, to my embarrassment, Russell found both Phil and my signatures on the side of tank! I reckon that it was done in 1989, two years before we both left Lake King. The roof provided good shelter and soon tents were up and the fire going. It was quite cosy sitting around the fire having tea, before going to bed.

Wednesday: Was a cold morning, with fog and rather wet with dew. Packed up and on our way again to Peak Charles. From a distance, the peak looked magnificent with the sun shining on it (and colourful) but by the time we arrived at its base the sun was gone and we had a shower of rain. A few attempted the climb, but only went part of the way up.

Continuing on, we had our lunch at Bromus Dam on the Esperance/Norseman Rd, plenty of water in dam from recent rains. The purpose of this dam was for the steam trains years ago. Stopped at Norseman for fuel and drinks to quench our thirst. Arrived at Coolgardie approx 4pm, which was good as we were a little tired from the travelling. It was good to relax before we all “toddled” off to the pub for tea.

Thursday: Set off north - saw the Kunanalling Hotel Ruins and read its history, sad to see its remains. It had a couple of arches, and was probably a lovely building in its heyday during the 1890’s when the gold rush was on. Ventured on to Rowles Lagoon - it’s a red coloured lake, due to red soil there. Its been upgraded with picnic facilities and toilet and waterskiing is now allowed. Helen wonders if this could be the same lake which was probably known as the Red Lake when she lived part of her childhood in Coolgardie.

Next we are at the notorious Ora Banda Pub! Its being renovated and we were told that work should be finished and it will be opened in the following month, May. We had our lunch under the pub’s verandah, right next to where the wall was blasted by a bomb, connected to the murder!

Friday: All keen and ready to go to see the historic Holland Track. First we visited Gnarlbine Rock and the nearby well which has now fallen into disuse, but was an vital necessity in the gold rush era. Victoria Rock was next and other similar flatish rocks further on, each had rock holes with water from recent rains. We then grouped together for photos at the beginning of the real Holland Track. Quite challenging! So narrow! So twisting!

Black sticks on the Holland Track

Masses of mainly burnt trees were so close to the track, it was very hard to find a place to get off unless one was near patches of tall timber. It’s so winding, forever changing directions and the ruts in places were quite deep. Being with Helen, I noticed that she either had to judge whether to drive the 4WD to the left or the right or drive through the ruts because of the closeness of the trees.

Besides this, there were the sandy bits! We witnessed Frank coming off his bike. He was quite nimble the way he jumped off quickly but his bike got buried in deep sand! Well with so much of lurching and Helen constantly braking and changing gears I had it so easy, just holding on. This is what we all came to see, didn’t we? It is a track - so this it! On the brighter side, the track was reasonably dry.

But was it good for the riders? Unfortunately Ray came off his bike and sustained abrasions to his arm and a bruised hip. His bike was put onto trailer and he joined Bob in the vehicle. Found an excellent area to camp. Tents went up, fire lit and enjoyed a BBQ - steak, sausages and vegies for tea. Tired after tea and a long day we all crawled into our tents. It was a perfect evening, with no wind, therefore it was a warm night (and no dingos came howling!) -joking!

Saturday: Bob decided to leave early for Albany, taking Ray, who wasn’t feeling too good, with him. Ian left as well. We all hoped all goes well for them. The rest of us got going later but unfortunately came across Garry, he had fallen off his bike and onto a stump causing pain in his rib area. With the trailer gone, (Bob had taken Ray’s bike on it) it was lucky for us that Frank had a frame, that could take Garry’s bike!

The frame had to be unpacked and assembled, but it was so ideal! Inside, the 4WD had to be rearranged so that Garry could fit in. Later we came to The Bounty Gold Mine, we drove around the area for a look. It was stony around here but before long we came to Mt Holland. More photos were taken when we drove to the top.
Everyone made it safely to the bottom and we headed off on our way.

We then came to the Vermin Proof Fence (part of) and a wide open road leading to Hyden. Raelene and son, Patrick, were there to meet Garry. With the Cooke’s, Andrew and us Pennies, we booked into the Resort nearby. A resort thats in the middle of a salt lake! Its surprising that tourists want to see a dry salt lake with dead trees!

Sunday: Last look at Resort, very nice units, lovely native gardens, airstrip next door. Yes, there was a small aircraft there. On our way home now, Russell said goodbye to us at Pingrup. We were plagued with grasshoppers, messy sods they are! Had scrumptious cakes to eat and coffee at the Lilly near the Stirlings.

Oh, something must be mentioned about Phil — getting back to the Holland Track when Garry got hurt, Phil also got hurt. He was behind all of us and came to grief, busting his boot somewhat. Being last he had to pick himself up and catch up with rest of us and when he discovered that Garry was hurt, he decided not to let on, knowing that there’s no more room on board the 4WD. Phil still has a swollen ankle but is able to walk. Hope Ray and Garry are now fully recovered.

We’re grateful to Frank and Helen for providing the 4WD, spaces for our goods, space for me and for the journey - good driving Helen. That date cake, donated, was yummy, the relish and honey, much appreciated.
Thanks to Ray for his vehicle and trailer and hope that all the riders enjoyed themselves and may there
be similar trips planned in the future.
(Thanks Lurl for this article, I couldn’t fit it in the last magazine but all the group have recovered from their injuries and are looking forward to the next one).

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