Back outback and gladly going north

This is the progress covered by the story below – cheaply taken from Google Maps – ignore everything except the route

26th May, 2021, to Moorine Rock Hotel: It’s east again now, to avoid the coastal, urbanised, holiday resorts to the north of Perth  – rather back into the glorious outback, red dirt again, the soft blue/gray/greens of saltbush, mulga trees, the occasional eagle.  The vista is broken, though, where colonists prevailed, with vast wheatfields, square mile after square mile of treeless plains.

Moorine Rock Hotel is a welcome stop overnight – we love pulling up behind these roadhouse hotels for the night, melting into the local pub social life for dinner.  When we arrive at this one I am doubtful, though as it looks abandoned – broken chairs on the verandah covered in dust, fifty years at least since it was painted, but by nightfall, the locals have arrived and the smiling publican is everywhere and welcoming. 

Is it abandoned! Are you sure this is where we intended to stop?

27th May, to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie:  Coolgardie is the site of one of the most daring feats of mine rescue ever recorded, when  back in 1907  after a storm burst and flash flooding, Italian miner Modesto (Charlie) Varischetti was trapped in an upward slanting shaft, ten levels below ground.   A miner who just happened to be an experienced deep-sea diver reached him after five days with food, water and an air pipe.   After nine days of draining the water out of the mine the water level was low enough so that the 160 miners who had escaped safely were able to help him walk out. With the technology of 1907, it was a near miracle – such an extraordinary story that Italian film makers made a film about it, which explains the Italian used in this diagram – but you get the picture.  Coolgardie’s buildings reflect the colour of the landscape and the impressive museum, their pride in their mining past, in the ‘slide show’ below – click the arrows.

It’s a wonder they didn’t call Kalgoorlie Hannantown. Paddy Hannan discovered gold here in 1893 and just happens to be Ted’s friend Jack Hannan’s grandfather. There’s the main street, Hannan Street, then there’s Hannan Hotel, the Hannan Club, Hannan statue, Hannan plaques everywhere, the Hannan Mine, even Hannan beer. The next slide show is all Hannan memorabilia:

All the old iconic buildings are still there, hotels, brothels (well, historic – if there are real ones they’re well hidden from tourists like us) and pit heads of mines across the horizon.   But ya’know, it’s freezing still and the rain keeps falling.  We hunker down in the warmth of the van, get on our bikes when the sun allows to visit the amazing Kalgoorlie mine museum – but can’t wait to go north into the warm! Another slide show below:


1st June, 2021, North to Wiluna and Peace Gorge: Ah we’re driving north through the wild garden again but with no Western agriculture. The ‘red’ dirt plains are many, many colours between black and white – purple, orange, cream, kaki, burgundy, salmon pink, neverendingly changing.  Sometimes there are fields of yellow grass, then great plains of white gibber stones, shining in the sun. Again there are empty red-dirted lakes, then low saltbush so prolific that there’s no ground visible of any colour – then the bushes turn into trees and the yellow grasses come back.  The beauty is impossible to catch on camera – at least by us!

However, the road trains are 60 metres long, longer than I’ve ever seen, scary, thudding the air against us as they pass, seemingly way over the speed limit, and we ride for minutes in the dust of their passing.

Wiluna is a mostly indigineous town, with wandering dogs and broad dusty streets. Years ago, my daughter’s friend emerged from a car one day during a land trip into one such town accompanied by her small fluffy dog, which was dead within 15 seconds of the car door opening, so we’re very wary.  Everyone’s friendly, but warn us that the road towards Meekatharra is mostly dirt and ‘broken up by them road trains’.

The local art gallery is stunning – I want to buy three paintings at once, and so does Ted, but a different three – his expression says he hates mine and I think his are boring, so we buy some postcards and leave. It’s time to hit the dirt again, this time literally, no bitumen!

Peace Gorge, previously called The Granites, is so-named for the soldiers who didn’t come home from the First World War. What a memorial to those unworldly volunteers, spirited volunteers, who died so ingloriously in the mud of the trenches.

We wander in awe among these red granite rocks, resting where they fell, millions of years ago. One of the greatest campsites we’ve had on the journey. Ted collects dead mulga wood for the fires we have each night.

Ted and Charlie, Kings of the Granites

… but the local ranger warns us (again) about the dangers of 1080 poison to little dogs, so it’s either teach our 11-year-old Charlie never to eat anything that is not in a plate or a hand, OR we bring out the muzzle we have been saving for this area of the world. What to do!?

“Mum and Dad, what is this thing on my nose? I think I’m gunna eat mud!” One very unhappy little dog…

Goodnight all – it’s off to Meekatharra in the morning!

%d bloggers like this: