Leonora - Sandstone Western Australia 1st August
31.7.14 - 1.8.14
Extra wide load
We hooked up the caravan and were on the way again, but first I walked Leonora's main street as the sun was in the right direction for photos I couldn't take the day before.
As Leonora is the largest commercial centre north of Kalgoorlie, it offers many services and facilities for travellers and the locals, so we took advantage of this and filled with fuel and topped up our food supply here. We had only been on the road a short time when we met some huge wide loads carrying mining equipment up north. There was plenty of room to pull off the road and let them pass.
As we travelled north along the Goldfields highway towards Leinster, we noticed the lovely Rest area of Sullivan's creek. There is plenty of room to pull off and to be able to turn around. This site has lovely gum trees for much needed shade and a permanent water hole. An Iron cut-out and some information boards are at the location. A great spot for rest and to have morning tea, lunch etc, OR STAY, AS THIS IS A FREE CAMPING SPOT AND A REALLY NICE ONE.
You need to be self sufficient as there are no toilets or showers, but there are picnic tables and pets are allowed.
Leinster was the next town we came across, it was named after the nearby station of Leinster Downs Station. It was first established in 1976 as a company town where the Miners from the nickel mine of the Agnew Gold Mining Company could live.
There isn't much in the town, but outside it are the "Breakaways," a formation of small cliffs in colours of red, orange and white. The wind had created interesting shapes, even some honeycombing and caves - I had fun clambering around seeing what I could find. This area has plenty of room to pull off the road to stopeven larger vehicles are catered for.
We arrived at Sandstone from Leinster and found another old gold mining town which hasn't quite become small enough to be known as a ghost town. The boom town was established in the 1890s and had become a virtual ghost town by the end of World War 1 as many of the miners went off to serve overseas and never returned.
Today, Sandstone is a sleepy little mining and agriculture town with a population of around 50 people, most work for the shire or are retired pensioners that do a little prospecting around the area.
Sandstone is still rich with gold and the wildlife in the surrounding area is abundant. August and September is the ideal time to visit for the beautiful wildflower displays in the outback.
Even though the town isn't much, we found Sandstone had a Tourist Drive, only dirt and quite narrow, but worth following to see interesting formations.
We stopped at London Bridge, one of the main attractions in Sandstone, and so it should be! I have seen a few London Bridges' in my time, this one is up there with the best.
The colour of the rocks in this area is a brilliant orange, really very pretty. The Bridge itself is approx. 800 metres long, varying in height from around 3 to 10 metres. It was formed from weathered basalt believed to be about 350 million years old. Rocks of the Sandstone belt are close to 2 billion years old. Astronomers believe the age of the earth itself to be 4.6 billion years, so the Sandstone strata are little less than half the age of the planet.
At London Bridge
Over time, the bridge is getting thinner and thinner and will eventually fall. In the early days, the Bridge was strong and wide enough for a Horse & buggy to cross, since then it has eroded away, so now there are signs warning not to walk on and over the Bridge as it may collapse, a warning we heeded. A pity another couple didn't do the same!
There are many great photo opportunities from ground level.
There is plenty of area for free parking and turning around, some picnic tables and information about London Bridge.
Also on the same road as London Bridge was the remains of a Brewery, there is nothing at first sight to indicate a brewery was here, only a sign!
In 1907, Irishman "J V Kearney", decided to provide Beer for the many miners working in the area, so he built a Brewery on top of a breakaway, (rock formation) close to where the cliff drops some 30-40 feet. I followed the rough dirt trail to the top and found where water was pumped from a well. It was through gravitation that the water flowed down to the coolers (which were provided with fans in the hot weather) and to two large vats on the main floor. From there it went to the cellar, which was the sizeable tunnel I had first seen. The cellar was originally cut out with dynamite, and the material out of it, was made into a loading ramp so that the wagons could drive up to the door to load the beer.
The Sandstone Brewery cellar kept remarkably cool in the hottest weather by means of a hole bored through the ceiling of the cellar up to the top of the breakaway.
The liquor from the Sandstone brewery was sold to the surrounding hotels until the railway line came to Sandstone, then regular supplies of beer came from other Breweries, thus the Sandstone Brewery closed for business.
Views from Peter Denny Lookout
Leaving Sandstone behind, we travelled 36 kms on the Sandstone-Leinster Road, stopping at the Peter Denny Lookout, named after a former Shire President who was tragically killed in an accident on the Mount Magnet-Sandstone Road in 1977. Located on the edge of the highway, it overlooks stunning Breakaway country. It was getting near the end of the day, so I didn't walk down to the breakaway formation and explore caves there. The views from the top are of orange cliffs and a endless sea of flat spinifex scrub extending out to the horizon, complete with Wedge tail Eagles circling overhead.
Peter Denny Look-out
It is a very nice area for a picnic and has picnic benches, rubbish bins and fire pits. It is a FREE CAMP area. As it was on the edge of the highway we decided not to stay here, but moved on further where we could free camp well of the road.