23/07/16 From Cue, we backtracked south to Mount Magnet and went a further 20kms west to Boogardie Station to catch up with Janet and Paul Jones, relations of friends of ours back home. The van was set up next to the shearers’ quarters and the old shearing sheds at the old house, and Paul took us out to have a look around the property. Well, bits of it anyway, as it’s about 374,000 acres in size.
Paul is an avid bird watcher with an expert knowledge of the wildlife on the property, and took us to a Malleefowl nest that the bird was readying for the new nesting season, then on to see Aboriginal rock art on overhanging surfaces of the nearby breakaways.
The tour was finished off with a circuit of the farm storage dump, comprising acres of car and truck bodies, farm machinery in various states of deconstruction, stacks of steel and sheet metal, rows of washing machines and other assorted whitegoods, tyres and wheels, and lots of other assorted stuff. I was in bloke’s heaven, and thought of taking a stroll around the collection at my leisure. The only foreseeable problem was that it was so spread out among the mallee trees, I could easily become disoriented and lose my way back to camp, never to be seen again, lost but happily browsing the artefacts.
That night, we joined Janet and Paul for a lovely meal and good conversation at their house.
Boogardie was settled by the Jones’ in 1880 and is one of the very few properties to have remained in the same family to the present day. It is still a working sheep station.
The next day, we headed off with Paul to Woaran Rock, their local version of Uluru and a distinctive navigational landmark in this flat country. Next stop on the property was Pretty Rock quarry, the world’s only site for orbicular granite of such high quality. We would love to have a kitchen bench made from this remarkable granite.
Dodging many goats and emus on the bush tracks, we stopped at Congoo railway dam on neighbouring Munbinia Station to see the engineering marvel comprising a low stone wall that entirely surrounds the base of a large granite outcrop to capture and direct rainwater via a stone channel into a nearby dam. It was built to provide a water supply for steam trains on the Mullewa to Meekatharra rail line that opened in 1898 and closed in 1978. The dam was completely covered by an open-sided roof structure to minimise evaporation of the precious water, but the wooden structure has since collapsed into the dam. It’s clearly evident how effective the engineering was as it’s still working to keep the long disused dam full of water. The stone wall was constructed to a high standard, and shows no signs at all of deterioration.
During the course of the day’s drive, we called in to meet the folks at three neighbouring properties of Murrum, Munbinia and Yoweragabbie, for a hot cuppa or a cold beer.
The following day, Di did some more exploring with Paul, while I took the Landy to Geraldton to have its transmission serviced. Four hours’ drive each way made for a long day, but I got some good photos of the rising and setting sun along the way.
On our last day, Paul took us and another small group of people to see a wedge-tailed eagle nest, high in a tree. I followed Paul in his well-used 80 Series trayback, with Di and Sister Gerri on board, and the dog Mallee reluctantly relegated to the trayback. Using a long extension ladder to inspect the nest, Paul found it to be active with two large white eggs. Nearby was a very large eagle nest that Paul knew to be at least 30 years old. We had lunch and boiled a billy before heading back to the homestead.
Another couple, Graham and Wilma, were regular campers on Boogardie, relaxing and doing some gold detecting. They shared a meal with us at Paul and Janet’s place and offered to show me their metal detectors the next morning before we headed off. I quickly found a nugget – the one that Graham dropped to show how the detector worked. Hmmm, I can see a new interest growing here…
Despite our protests, Janet and Paul had us over for dinner most nights, with Janet producing delicious meals virtually out of thin air. They were wonderful hosts who made us feel very welcome and went out of their way to make sure we had a good time and saw as much of their beautiful property as possible.
“Make new friends, but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.” – Joseph Parry
16/06/16 We’d only just finished saying in the previous blog post that we hadn’t yet seen an elusive Malleefowl, and, lo and behold, on the way to Wandina Station we saw two of them, separately. We’d joked that with their camouflage colouring, they’d just about have to throw themselves in front of the car to be seen, and that’s almost what happened. Each was standing just off the side of the road at the edge of the scrub, looking at us. Only quick glimpses as we drove by but Di was thrilled, regardless.
Wandina is a 240,000 acre property about 120kms north of our camp at Canna. On my maps the Carnarvon Mullewa Road was shown as being unsealed, but from Mullewa north it was a good sealed highway, courtesy of the Tallering Peak Mine, as far as the mine turnoff anyway. Beyond that was a further 20kms or so of good unsealed road to reach the station.
After unhitching the van, we headed out on farm tracks, following a mud map provided by Kylie, the manager, to see some recommended features on the property. The 4WD tracks took us firstly to Drovers Pool on Bangemall Creek, 18kms from the homestead. It is spring-fed and provides a good year-round water source in this dry country.
A few kilometres downstream is an area called Waterfall Rocks, where the creek has eroded deeply through the surface rock shelf and drops into a long waterhole which snakes along between weathered canyon walls.
A further 12kms along a fairly rough track, the highlight was Wandina Gorge, with its stunning breakaway views and landscapes.
When we decided to visit Wandina Station, we had no idea they had such picturesque places on the property. They are a very well-kept secret. A 4WD is definitely required to do the full loop drive as some eroded, or rocky or muddy sections and some dry creek crossings. Good fun.
Of course, there were many stops along the tracks to birdwatch, especially the numerous Red-capped Robins whose darting movements and flashes of bright colour in the scrubland caught the eye.
It was an early start the morning of departure, with a quick shower after stoking up the hot water donkey with fresh logs, and some more bird-watching on the way out of the property.
“I’m going to stand outside. So, if anyone asks, I’m outstanding.” – Anon