A Travellerspoint blog

Day 19 Queensland to Western Australia

Menzies to Leonora - Western Australia 31st July

We awake to a fine, sunny, clear day. First up, we decide to make our way to Lake Ballard and see sculptures by world renowned artist Antony Gormley, at one of Western Australia's most unusual and remote locations, a large salt lake.

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Lake Ballard

The 51 steel sculptures standing on the salt plain of Lake Ballard are known as "inside Australia" Luckily, the salt lake was dry and easy to walk on, although I did sink into the surface in some places.
I didn't think the sculptures were much, what I did like were the patterns formed on the salt crust on Lake Ballard.

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One of the sculptures

Even though it was Winter, it was warm to hot out here, so I put my hat on and took a bottle of water with me. If you have a long sleeved garment, then I would wear this to help to prevent you from getting sunburnt.
Next problem is the salt lake surface. Wear your oldest shoes and old clothes in case rain had previously fallen, or if like me, you come across some patches that you have to walk across that are soft underneath. I found the mud stuck to my soles like glue and was hard to remove.
Insect repellent or a fly net attached to your hat (particularly in summer) is needed, also sunglasses for the glare.

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Lake Ballard

A few kms from Lake Ballard was Snake Hill. It isn't that high, but it does give wonderful views over Lake Ballard. It has a picnic shelter shed with picnic tables, information boards, and in August - wildflowers From here we had far reaching views of the lake and the surrounding landscape.

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Snake Hill

On our return to Menzies I went for a walk along the rather short, but very interesting main street. As it is now a fairly deserted gold mining town, the local town council has put a lot of effort into attracting tourists to Menzies. All along the main street are steel cut-outs where historical buildings were or where events once took place. I loved the cut-outs, they were so well done!

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Menzies

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Menzies

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Menzies

It was 11am before we hit the road again. We were now starting to see more and more wildflowers.

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

It is worth the short drive into NIagra Dam even if you are not going to camp there. Europeans came to this area in search of gold resulting in a town springing up not far from here. The Dam was constructed by the Railways Department between 1897 – 1898, the intention being, the dam would provide plentiful fresh water for the locomotives that would soon be steaming along the new railway linking the towns of Kalgoorlie and Malcolm.
The dam was named after the nearby town of Niagara, which was booming at the time of the dam's construction.
Toilets and picnic facilities are on site.

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Niagra Dam

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Niagra Dam

We had lunch here, then I went for a walk and found some beautiful wildflowers known as Mulla Mulla plants. These were the pink/purple Mulla Mulla, later I saw white and I have read there are around 100 species of varying colours. The plants were growing here as they love rocky, arid areas. When the Mulla Mulla is made into an Essence, it reduces the negative effects of fire and the sun's rays. This Essence was made up in Palm Valley where some of the oldest plants in Australia are found.

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Mulla Mulla

From Niagra Dam we went to the ghost town of Kookynie. I was disappointed as I expected to find a lot of old ruins, but instead all I found were information boards where they once stood

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The Hotel was a store and a Hotel.

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Kookynie Hotel

You wouldn't believe it, but here we were on a dirt road in outback Australia, and we have to stop for a Train to go past!

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Along here were white Mulla Mulla growing.

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Then a little further on, we came across many blue/purple flowers, these were a picture!

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We are going to stay at Leonora, but first we visit the old gold mining village of Gwalia. Located 5kms from Leonora, this village was very interesting as most of the old miner's cottages still stood. People are trying to restore them. Most we were able to go inside and look around.

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Gwalia

Underground mining at the Sons of Gwalia gold mine began in 1897, the mine becoming one of the largest Western Australian gold mines outside Kalgoorlie, and the deepest of its kind in Australia. Today, the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie holds that title.
During the time it was operating, 82.24 tonnes of gold was mined, in todays prices this amounts to billions of dollars.

In 1963 when the Mine closed, the 1,200 people living there left as fast as they had come, leaving a population of 40 living in Gwalia.

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Gwalia

The first mine manager was a young American mining engineer named Herbert Hoover, who later became the 31st President of the United States.

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Gwalia Hotel

Gold is still being found here. We could look through the fence at another open-cut gold mine.

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Gwalia open-cut gold mine

Back to Leonora where we decide to spend the night. The caravan park is quite full of people who come here and go fossicking for gold. Not an overly large town, we decide to have a look around it in the morning.

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Leonora's main street

Posted by balhannahrise 05:40 Archived in Australia Tagged sculptures australia lake road western trip salt gormley

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