Ellendale Pool to Mingenew
Today was one of our lazy days as we knew we weren't travelling far.
We had a good night's sleep at Ellendale pool, so I was up and on my pushbike cycling alongside the Greenough river. It was so peaceful in the morning, just the twitter of birds breaking the silence and the smell of campfires and cooked breakfast.
Beside Greenough River
Australian Ring Necked Parrot
When I returned to camp, I went walking amongst the shrubs trying to find some more orchids and the smaller birds that frequent this area. I did find some of both and a Ring Necked Parrot too. This took me to the upper part of the campground where our friends were camping, so I stopped for a chat and said good-bye to them. It was late morning by then, so I did my part of packing up the caravan and we were soon on our way to Coalseam Conservation Park.
As it happened, we were on the wrong road, the one we were on was the Depot Hill road to Mingenew. Oh well, we decided we would stay at Mingenew tonight and drive the 12kms back to Coalseam tomorrow.
It was along Depot Hill road where we saw the Brown tourist sign for Depot Hill. Lucky there was plenty of room to pull off the road with our car and caravan.
At the parking area there is an interpretive board that tells of the Gregory Brothers finding this place in 1846 and burying their supplies here. Depot hill was used by explorers and coal prospectors and was an important stock grazing area as it had year round water from the Irwin river.
During World War 2, it became an important Army Firing Range, now there is a 1.5 km return trail for the public to walk to the old historic Firing Range. It is a fairly easy walk, you may see mounds used for exercises before reaching the firing range. Local residents tell of seeing Tanks embedded in the earth on Depot Hill! There were plenty of armoured vehicles here and this was the location where extensive training exercises took place between 1942 - 1944.
Before I walked the trail, I took a look at the rusty steel cut-out and read the board about what went on here.
The heading read....
"Come on - look smart you fellows! Gerry's not going to give you all day to get a bead on him. And keep your damn silly head's down or you'll get hem shot off...
By crikey - I knew they were sending me a raw bunch but I imagined you might have known how to reload by now! Take that long in a scrap and you'll be in real strife."
The cut-out shows the Sergeant bellowing out these orders to his young Soldiers. Usually the Officers were older men who may have served during WWI. They pushed the young Soldiers hard and demanded discipline, finally turning them into excellent Soldiers.
It was time for the walk, only 30mins to the old firing range.
This area was covered in 1000's of Pink Everlasting Daisies, what a picture they made! Along the trail were quite a few garden seats, these were appreciated on a warm day. I was extremely happy to find my first Cats Paw here, a brightly coloured dwarf Kangaroo Paw.
Dwarf Kangaroo Paws
There was more to see, like the stunning blue Dampiera, some Cowslip orchids, pretty Thryptomene and others I need to identify some-time in the future. The floral emblem of Mingenew is the Bird Beak Hakea which grows wild here along with many species of Orchids.
On arrival at the Mingenew Spring council operated Caravan Park, we found nobody at the office, so we chose our own site as we were told to do by the notice on the door.
We were happy there were plenty of gum trees for shade and nice green lawns as the weather was quite warm, even though it was August and Winter. The caravan park is located next to the original Mingenew Spring which is now dry.
The Park was smallish, clean and tidy with 35 powered bitumen sites and non-powered caravan & camping sites. If you haven't your own accommodation, there are en-suite self contained units, semi-self contained rooms, a double cabin with en-suite and on-site caravans. and several self contained units.
There is a camp kitchen, BBQ area, small Laundry with 2 washing machines and one Dryer, costing $4 for a wash in 2014. There were a couple of outdoor clothes-lines. There are amenities for disabled people. The Showers and Toilets were clean, but the shower area and drying area was so small, I couldn't dry myself in there, not good! A large person would find this small space extremely difficult. I had to have the hot water on full to be able to have hot water!
The park did advertise meals which would have been nice only I think the days were Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights only.
If the shower block was upgraded, then this would be a really good park, as it is, even though everything else was good, because of the showers I
Murals at Mingenew
The area where Mingenew is situated was first explored in 1847 by brothers Augustus and Thomas Gregory when they were looking for some good grazing land for their cattle. Settlement was in the 1850's then the Midland Railway opened in 1891. It took until 1906 before Mingenew became a town.
Mingenew was named after Mingenew Spring, an Aboriginal word meaning either Minganu "the place of many ants" or Mininoo "the place of many waters, today it's known for sheep farming and growing of wheat and lupins. As Mingenew is known as "The Grain Centre," I wasn't at all surprised to find prominent features of wheat around the town. The Mingenew Co-operative Bulk Handling is the largest inland grower receival site facility in the Southern Hemisphere, with a holding capacity of 403,000 tons.
Tourist Information Centre
We went for a drive around town, first beginning at the Tourist Information centre located in the historic old Post Office building & residence built in 1894. As this centre is run by volunteers, it is only open limited hours, and some days it is shut. I was lucky to find it open and to have a chat with the friendly local lady who was only too happy to fill me on where the wildflowers were and to give me a map. This isn't a large centre, but it still has all the info you need for exploring Mingenew and area. There was a small section of souvenirs and arts and crafts and jams the local people had made. I even picked up some free magazines from here that local people had donated for giving away to tourists.
Wheat sculpture ( Big Ears)
A short walk from the centre was the giant wheat stalk in Cecil Newton park, no prizes for guessing what the locals call it "Big Ears!"
Our next stop was at " Drover's Rest" located at the base of the hill that is the town look-out.
This area is known as Drover's Rest, as it was here the Drovers stopped with there stock to give them a well earned drink from the water troughs. The water was piped from Mingenew spring to here. A Rain-water tank at the rest stop has a good collection of old work boots strung around it, looks like anybody can add a boot if they wanted. A few pieces of old farm machinery and a cut-out cow made from corrugated iron are at the site, as well as a Picnic shelter and picnic bench. There is plenty of room to pull up with a car and caravan. You can walk a track to the top of the hill, or drive your car which is what we did.
Mingenew hill was discovered by the Gregory Brothers in 1846 who described it "as a remarkable ironstone Hill." In 1901, it was made into a reserve.
View from Mingenew Hill
Even though Mingenew hill isn't that high, it's high enough for good views over the surrounding plains where fields of wheat were growing. We could see the road we came into town quite easily and also the town and some industries. Some yellow Everlasting daisies were flowering, evidently it gets quite pretty when they are all out! Quite good for viewing the countryside!
Old Railway station.
The old Railway Station, built to service the new Midland Railway line that opened to rail traffic in 1894, was an important station and the main depot on the line for the Midland Railway. The Railway Station and residence were built of stone, had a iron roof with a breeze-way between the buildings. Barracks, Station master's house, small signals shed, goods shed, timber yards and trucking yards were all built. The 'Goods shed" was where the engine could be parked for maintenance by the team of men from Walkaway. Many of these buildings have been demolished.
Since 1975, when the last passenger train went through, the building has been leased to the Shire and the Arts Council and now is used by the Mingenew Art & Craft group.
As with many of these small country towns, they are trying to attract the tourist $'s by making the town more attractive. I think they are doing quite a good job.
I read Mingenew had 5 murals, all part of the "Painted Road" trail. The "Painted Road” trail is a series of murals along Midlands Road, I missed a couple but saw some extras, so I think there may be more than five. The idea of the Murals is to capture part of the local scenery & history.
The first one I saw was "The Droving Scene," which takes you back to the early 1900's. It shows a Drover taking his herd of Longhorn cattle to the Lockier River for a drink, another was the Centenary mural painted by local school children & members of the community. A good one on the wall of the machinery shed in the Museum, is " Hope’s Wheelwrights Shop Mural." Samuel Hope & Sons operated a wheelwright & blacksmiths shop near the Mingenew Spring. They were such excellent wheelwrights, that teamsters always came back to them for wagon repairs. The Westrail bus shelter in the Main street has local scenes of wildflowers, gum trees & windmills, but the one I liked the bestl was "the Emus" painted on the Toilet wall at the Tennis club.
There is a story about the mural that goes something like this.....
Long ago, there were a lot of Emu's that frequented the Tennis courts in Mingenew, enjoying a game of tennis on the lush green grass. No tennis racquets, not a problem as they used mallee sticks as tennis racquets. The Emu's haven't been seen for ages, but ghostly forms have been seen where the Tennis club now stands.
It was decided to paint this fun mural in honour of those Emus! Now they stand guard forever and oversee the goings on at the Tennis courts.
Located at the western and eastern ends of Mingenew, the local Shire has erected banner display paintings which represents many of the important events and landscapes seen in and around Mingenew. They include landscapes of wildflower scenes, sporting events such as the Races & Polocrosse Carnival, Expo, historic churches and the Universal Space Network which gives access to children all around the world to space programs.
I just had to stop and take some photos of these, at the same idea thinking this was a go-ahead town!
That completed another good day of touring.
It was time to settle down and make plans for our stay at the Coalseam National Park tomorrow.