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Day 7 Queensland to Western Australia

Pildappa Rock @ Minnipa to Ceduna, South Australia

Pildappa Rock - What a great place to greet the sunrise! We had a good nights sleep and were in no hurry to leave this lovely campground. A donation was asked for which we were more than happy to put in the donation box and to sign the book. We head back to the Eyre Highway the same way as we came in. Across the Highway is the Apex Park where the famous "Crappa" Toilet is located.

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We travel through more of the same scenery until we reach the small township of Ceduna located beside the Indian Ocean. We book into the Caravan Park that has ocean views, then go for a walk to check out the town. As it was Sunday, nearly every shop was shut and the town was dead, only Tourist's walking the streets.
There isn't a lot to see here, but I did like the esplanade walk where the Norfolk Island trees lined the edge of the road and the longish Jetty stretched out into the sea.

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Ceduna foreshore & jetty

From the foreshore I could see Silo's in the distance which were at the Port of Thevenard, 3kms from Ceduna.

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Thevenard

In the centre of a cross-road in the town centre is a sign post with umpteen mileages to many places around Australia and the world, quite interesting seeing how far we are away from these places as "the crow flies."
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TOMORROW - We begin our drive across the Nullarbor Plain to Western Australia.

Posted by balhannahrise 05:10 Archived in Australia Tagged hiking scenery rock camping free pildappa monolith Comments (0)

Day 9 Queensland to Western Australia

Nullarbor Roadhouse, S.A to Caiguna on the Nullarbor Plains, Western Australia - 22nd July

Our campsite was great! We didn't hear the traffic as we were back from the road, this gave us a good nights sleep. The morning was sunny but quite cool. Back on the road early and it is mainly Semi-trailers on the road.
Travelling this section of road, we find tourist signs to look-outs along the cliffs. We drive into Stop 1 and soon put on Beanie and gloves because of the cold wind blowing from Antartica.

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Brr! It was cold!

The cliffs were great, but a little dull looking in the morning when the sun wasn't hitting them, would be much better with the sun on them. Still, it was worth a stop as it has proper viewpoints and information boards.

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Stop 1

Some wildflowers had already begun to flower in this area.

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Stop 1

It was here we met a Victorian couple from Geelong. We kept on meeting them at every look-out, our last time was at Eucla, then we didn't see them again. This is the good part of travelling!

We went into all the stops and found each one to be a little different. I was a little disappointed that we didn't see anymore Whales.

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Stop 2

Border Village is where we cross the border into Western Australia. Here is a notice sign beside a picnic area which has distances to all places around the world. Next to it, is a giant Kangaroo which I took a photo of.

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We had our morning tea break and enjoyed our break watching the road-trains pulling in and out of the roadhouse.

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After morning tea, we make our way to the border crossing [Quarantine checkpoint] where we are stopped and asked if we are carrying any fruit & vegetables, honey and other products. We had already got rid of ours, but it you haven't, then you have to surrender them here. The Officer in charge had a look through our car and caravan and gave us the all clear to enter Western Australia.

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At last we are here!
Eucla, home of the old Telegraph station. Fuel is a little cheaper here. LPG is $1.27 litre & unleaded Petrol $1.98. I thought Eucla had the nicest and cleanest looking Motel on the Nullarbor. On this side of the border there is a giant Whale.

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Eucla

We took the drive towards the coast and to the old Telegraph station, must say I was rather disappointed as it was half buried in sand.

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Historic Telegraph station

Of more interest were the monuments at the top of the hill that we stopped at on the way back.
One is the Eucla War Memorial that consists of two granite boulders. It commemorates Australian servicemen and women who have served in all wars and conflicts.

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Eucla War Memorial

A cross next to the War Memorial is in memory of the Christians and other people who helped build the new highway.

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The last Memorial in this area is to Edward Eyre & Wylie who camped in this area.

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Along the highway we see a sign with a Plane with R.F.D.S. Airstrip. This is here to notify people that the Royal Flying Doctor Plane is using the Highway as a landing strip when attending an accident in the area. Of course, people will we be at each end of the strip to notify travellers on the highway that it will be closed for a while. I think we saw five of these signs along the Eyre Highway.

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As we have been travelling along the Highway, the Fraser Range has been to our right. Now were are going up and over the Madura Pass which is our way through the Range. It is getting late, so time to look for a campsite. Once again, we found a good free camp away from the highway at Jillbunya Rockhole. We quickly set up camp and we finished just as the first spots of rain began to fall. During the night it rained quite heavily.

Posted by balhannahrise 00:15 Archived in Australia Tagged outback road camping trip free plain nullarbor Comments (0)

Day 11 Queensland to Western Australia

Norseman to Burra Rocks, Western Australia 24th July

Most of the Caravanners were leaving Norseman today, just as we were. I think this Park is used mainly as a base for an overnight stop before and after crossing the Nullarbor Plain.
Today, we are heading north towards Kalgoorlie. On the highway out of town, we pass by a Motor cyclist who has broken down. Poor bloke looked quite dejected that nobody was stopping to help him, we were going to, just had to find somewhere we could turn a car and caravan around. He was happy to see us arrive and was really lucky that Ian could fix both of his problems and get him on the road again. A abusive Caravanner pulled alongside at one stage, I thought to give a hand, not the case, only to shout abuse about not getting off the road completely! How ignorant, stupid and inconsiderate this person was, as if either of us had gone off the road any further, we would have been bogged in the soft soil from the heavy overnight rain. Neither of us were blocking the road. In these outback locations where there isn't a lot of traffic, it is common courtesy to stop and give help, a pity this abusive person didn't do this!!

Some towns out here have really unusual names, like Widgiemooltha. Cobb & Co coaches once changed horses here on the Coolgardie to Norseman run.

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Once a thriving town, now just a Roadhouse and a replica of a large gold nugget. It was in 1930 when a few nuggets were found near Widgiemooltha sparking Western Australia's last great gold rush. Times were tough during the 1930’s depression years, so unearthing a massive 38.4kg nugget was indeed a welcome find.

It was the biggest nugget ever found in WA and they called it the Golden Eagle as it resembled an eagle in flight. It still holds the record today.

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Replica of the "golden eagle" gold nugget

At Widgiemooltha, we turn off the main highway and follow a dirt 4WD road through the Cave Hill Nature Reserve.

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Road to Cave Hill Nature Reserve

Arriving at the Cave Hill Nature Reserve, we found a very nice picnic and camping area complete with toilets and fire pits, not bad in an isolated area!

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Cave Hill picnic & camping area

A little further along the road is the area where we can park and walk to and on the giant granite monolith.
It is where I find a large cave created by erosion. The colours were beautiful!

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I was amazed to find shrubs growing out of the rock!

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Shrubs growing in cracks on Cave Hill

After viewing this amazing cave, I continued walking on this granite outcrop incase there was anything else worth seeing - sure enough there was!
On this part of the monolith, I found some more interesting caves in ochre colours.

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Cave Hill

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

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Cave Hill

Also on this side, the rock walls were shaped in a wave formation, coloured dark brown and orange. When it rained, many waterfalls would be tumbling over the sides.

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Wave shaped rock walls

It was late July and the start of the wildflower season. A walk along the nature track which winds through the reserve is where I saw a few of the beautiful wildflowers.

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Wattle

Still in the National Park, we follow the dirt road until we reach Burra Rocks where there is another lovely campground that is free to camp at. Toilets, a fire ring with a bbq plate and a nice flat area to park the Caravan. Ian went and collected some wood for the fire so he could cook some damper and our dinner.

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Dinner

I went for a walk on Burra Rock. This is another large rock monolith, but quite different to Cave Hill. Climbing the rock I come across a stone wall which was built by early settlers to collect water and to make a dam on the actual rock. Clever!

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Dam wall

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Woodline Dam

As I make the short climb to the summit of the rock, I pass by many interesting boulders precariously balancing on the large rock surface!

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Burra Rock

How on earth do they sit here and don't roll away!
The wind has created many shapes.

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Burra Rock

Once at the summit I have a great view over woodlands where salmon gum, gimlet and redwood are growing. I can also see another monolith in the distance.

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View from the top of Burra Rock

Back to camp for dinner under the stars. It is us and the Kangaroos in the middle of nowhere, so peaceful!

Posted by balhannahrise 04:37 Archived in Australia Tagged nature australia road camping western trip free wildflowers reserve australia. monolith Comments (0)

Day 22 Queensland to Western Australia

Mullewa 4th August

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We stayed at the council run Mullewa Caravan Park, located on Lovers Lane on the edge of town.. It's a very popular park as it's very cheap and well maintained, so you want to get here early, as if you come late there may not be a spare spot. Bookings are taken at Yarrumba Service Station & Deli, in Jose Street, so go there first otherwise you will have to come back.

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If your not sure, check at the Information centre located in the Town Hall across the road
Staff were helpful, supplying me with free tourist drive maps and marking on the maps where to find certain wildflowers. On the ceiling were dozens of wildflower bunches hanging upside down to dry.

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We decided we would follow the southern circuit tour map I had previously picked up at the Tourist Information centre. You can make the tour shorter or longer, it is up to you! The complete circuit is 145kms, which began in Mullewa and followed the sealed Mullewa-Mingenew road. Not all the roads are sealed, although we did find the gravel roads in very good condition. We allowed a full day for exploration.

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Wildflowers

The first marked stop was the Mullewa Cemetery, stop 2 was Devils Creek Hall, we didn't stop at either, instead we drove on, amazed at the sight of thousands of everlasting daisies creating fields of colour, in pinks, mauve, yellow, white and lemon. There were plenty of native shrubs in flower too! This was our first good sighting of wildflowers, I couldn't get over the incredible display.

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The sites are very easy to find, all you have to look for is the Brown tourist sign that shows you the way to the site, where I found a wonderful rusty steel cut-out of what the area is known for.

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Beside the rusted steel cut-out was an information plaque with the story.

It says..

"Hey - Stop that! Your cutting down my home!
Do you humans ever stop to think that you may not be the ones that have a use for a particular tree?
There are so few big Gum trees left out here, and these days we have to squeeze into hollow that are really too small for us. Or we have to fight with the budgies for them - or with those horrible smelly Bats...."

The cut-out is about the human population that has kept on cutting down trees for their fires to cook or to sit beside and keep warm without a worry about the consequences. The Aboriginals only took what they needed, but when the settlers came to this area, land was cleared for agriculture, impacting on the remaining natural environment.
It was good to see that Farmers these days, are re-planting quite large areas with all kinds of trees, making it much better for the environment and even the birds will be happy again!

The Reserve is home to 68 different bird species that rely on this native vegetation that has been saved from being cleared for growing wheat. The Eucalypts here provide nesting hollows for the Parrots and Cockatoos, they are even used by small Bats and Reptiles. I heard plenty of small twittering Birds in the denser scrub, just couldn't get a photo of them. Species who live here are Red -Throats, Thornbills, Babblers and Scrub Robins.

We are back on the road again and have to stop for a long Ore train at the railway crossing. Our next site was Tardun, all that remained here was a house and old Hall.

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Tardun Hall

The cut-out told the story of this town that was established in 1913. It contained a general store, post office, telephone exchange, bakery, church, town hall and a garage, nearly all of these have gone.

There was a school established outside of Tardun, run by the Catholic organisation called the Knights of the Southern Cross. Disadvantaged and Orphaned Boys aged 14 and over were brought here to learn farming for a period not supposed to be more than 2 years, some stayed longer

The town of Tardun was run by the Catholic Brothers as the administrators and the students as the general population. The bakery produced enough bread and rolls every Saturday morning to meet the school's need for the rest of the week.
The farm had orchards where they grew Oranges, Lemons, Limes and Mandarins, and a vegetable garden where all kinds of vegetables were grown, enough to feed the staff and students. Sheep were slaughtered in the schools killing shed, and every Saturday, the Chicken House with its hundred or so chooks produced enough eggs for daily requirements, a herd of Cows provided enough milk for the school.
The kitchen was equipped to feed an army and an industrial laundry was big enough to cope with all the washing . On site were fully equipped workshops and machinery storage sheds.

For recreation there was a great choice. A squash court, cricket nets, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts and a full size football oval meant the boys were spoilt for choice. On the grounds was a chapel bigger than most rural churches.

A fun day was a Sunday afternoon when Brother Kelly would start the old Ferguson tractor and put a cart on the back, then load the kids and take them somewhere on the farm for afternoon tea. Ones that couldn't fit on the cart would be riding horses beside the cart. What an adventure it was!

In 2009, the school closed and all of this came to an end. So it turned out that even though there wasn't much to see here anymore, there was quite a bit of very interesting historical information to learn about the town and school of Tardun.

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Steel cut-out

Still at Tardun, I found a couple more steel cut-outs, these were about the railway.

The first plaque read....

"Come on Giuseppe - knock that last spike in and let's get out of the sun. Even this Beer is getting warm too quickly - we never had days like this back home.
But I'm not going to go play cards with the others and you'd be a fool if you did again, too! How are you ever going to save money to bring that girl out from Italy if you keep on gambling all the time?"

The cut-out was about the many migrants that came out here from southern or eastern Europe. Most of the Railway gangs were made up of these men. Some married local girls and others bought land and settled in the area. These people helped shape the land I was seeing today.

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Steel cut-out

The other cut-out was about illegal gambling that went on in these places.

It read
"Hey Fred - I'll raise ya' twenty bucks - I reckon ya' bluffin', ya' big boof head! And if ya' not, I might as well go down in a screamin' heap.
Anyway, who's got the next case of Beer? And who's keepin' and eye our for the coppers - Gazza reckons someone's dobbed on us, and they're jus' waiting to nail us all to the floor."

It is believed that when the Tavern closed, a group of local men would get together and play cards under the tree where this cut-out was located. It was a hot and thirsty life out here, one that brought on loneliness and depression - Gambling was an outlet.

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Steel cut-out

Whilst we were out this way, we decided to see if we could find the famous Wreath flower with the mud-map given to us at the Mullewa Visitor centre.
The Wreath flower is a native of south Western Australia, preferring climates with dry summers. On the Morowa - Yalgoo road is where we found the Wreath Flower, a piece of pink ribbon had been tied on a nearby post, evidently this is what the locals do when they find interesting wildflowers in bloom. It is quite easy to find as it likes to grow in the sandy gravel on the roadside. We were looking for something round, and sure enough we spotted some green circles, some were more advanced. It turned out we were a little early, they were just beginning to flower. The flower forms a complete circle, hence the name wreath flower. Flowering occurs in late winter and spring, better option is September to October when they will be at their best.

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Wreath flower

This concluded our day, it was time to return via a different road to Mullewa in search of more wildflowers.

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Watch out for wildlife, as even though it was the middle of the day, a big Red Kangaroo hopped in-front of us, eventually veering off the road and into the scrub. You don't want to hit one of them.

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Posted by balhannahrise 03:23 Archived in Australia Tagged landscape australia road camping western trip free wildflowers Comments (0)

Day 31 Queensland to Western Australia

Coalseam National Park

Today is a short drive to Coalseam National Park, no getting lost today as I have a map from the Mingenew visitor centre to follow. We had no trouble finding the park today.

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Driving through Coalseam National Park

Campsite

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I had read about Coalseam Conservation park and all the wildflowers and was thinking at the same time how nice it would be to camp there. To get a site it was first in best dressed and if the Miner's campground was full, then you could stay at the Breakaway Campground.
We were only coming from Mingenew, approx. a 30minute drive away, so we knew we would be fairly early and likely to get a good site.

Volunteer Rangers greeted us and booked us in, as we were early we could choose our own site and tell them the number later. Already campers were here, the lucky ones had stunning river views!

We chose one amongst the wildflowers, a nice flat area with room to sit outside the Caravan. Most of the sites were taken by the end of the day.

This is bush camping where both caravans and tents are permitted. Sites were dirt and set overlooking the river or in-between the wildflowers which is where our site was. There were toilets, bbqs and picnic tables, but no drinking water, not a problem as we always carry drinking water.
It wasn't crowded, but on weekends it's extremely busy in wildflower season, and a 3 night stay limit is in force between late July and October.

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Picnic area @ campground and Galah

What a stunningly beautiful area to stay, so peaceful, the quietness only broken by the Galahs squawking as it was their nesting season!
I rode my bike to some places, others were close to the camp so I walked, and some sites were further away, so we drove to them.

River Irwin and Fossil cliffs

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Thousands of fossils can still be found at the fossil site. We drove to this site, then walked down into the sandy, pebbly River Irwin. There was only a little water running in the river, although enough to make it difficult to cross without getting wet feet. A short walk and we found a crossing that led us to the high cliffs on the other side of the river. It is in these cliffs where the marine fossils are embedded, left-over from the Permian sea that once covered this area. The fossils are small and can be found, actually quite easily once you have found one and have an idea what to look for.

Views from Irwin Lookout

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On the same road was Irwin Lookout which had an off road car-park and a track to the cliff edge where we had magnificent views of Breakaways and over the cliff edge to the Irwin river below.

After enjoying these views, we followed the 560 metre loop trail to another area for more great views, and then back to the car park, via a track through the bush where I found some wildflowers. An interpretive board informed me Peregrine and the majestic Wedge Eagles are seen soaring around here, none were around at the time.

Wildflowers

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Across the river from our campground was the Johnson mine shaft and viewing platform, located along the Miners walking trail. The old mine shaft is fenced off for safety reasons, but you still can see way down the shaft and take photos through the wire.
Signs tell me the shaft was sunk in 1917, and that if I looked hard, I should be able to see some of the coal seam at the bottom of the shaft. The shaft once had timbered sides that went down the mine for 15 metres. Above, was a tall wooden headframe. Good coal was found here, but the seams were too thin to be mined economically!
I believe this is WA’s first coalmine.
The Miner's walking trail is 700 metres return and is estimated to take 30 minutes.

Irwin River walk

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On my bicycle was how I reached River Bend. Leaving my bike by the ford, I was able to walk along the nearly dry river bed to River Bend on the Irwin River. I loved the cliffs along here, the colours in them and the shapes carved by the wind. It was interesting seeing what type of flora could manage to grow out of them and survive!

Irwin river & cliffs

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Along here, the rock layers are exposed. I could see quite a large volume of water came down this river at various times because of the way the trees had been swept and the rubbish caught in them. This is how people get caught out, and then washed away.

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I knew no rain was expected anywhere, so it was ok. If you know storms are around or in nearby areas where the River Irwin runs through, do not walk along the river bed.

A lot of the wildlife at Coalseam is nocturnal, so is only seen at night. Animals that live here are Echidna, Euro and Red Kangaroo. Reptiles found are Stumpies or Bobtails, Sand Goannas, Western Blue Tongue lizard, Western netted Dragon, Mulga snake and a few others. How-ever, I found the birdlife to be plentiful and readily seen. It was the Galahs who were most prevalent. Coalseam has a lot of dead trees which many hollows from where branches have fallen. This is the perfect place for a Galah to nest, which is what they were doing at this time of the year.
Mum, Dad and baby Galah could be seen sitting on the dead trees, and sometimes a head was poking out from one of the hollows.

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If you couldn't see them, just head towards where the squawking was coming from. Honey-eaters love the wildflowers and I saw many of these, too hard for a photo though! Red Robins, Ringnecks, swallows, cuckoo shrikes, bronze winged Pigeons and many other birds are found here.

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Coal seams in the Irwin River

A walk alongside the Riverbed near our campground was different to the one I did at River Bend. Once again there are plenty of interesting shapes and rock, but it is the cliffs that have changed. Here, they are not the red/orange colour, but a dark brown with plenty of coal seams that can be easily seen. This rock strata includes glacial rocks which were laid down during the Permian Ice age, estimated to be 250 million years ago. During the ice age, glaciers carried huge blocks of rock gouged out by the ice and deposited them hundreds of miles away.

Irwin River

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It was another interesting walk that was worth doing.

This is one of the top places to find wildflowers in Western Australia, but the ones that put on the biggest and best show, are the Everlasting Daisies.

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These are everywhere, and are so attractive that I had to stop myself from taking too many photos. Tracks weave their way through them, a carpet of pink, gold, cream and white everlastings transforming this area to one of exceptional beauty! Look out where your walking, just in case you run into a snake!

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This Conservation Park, is among the most botanically diverse areas in the northern Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. Woody heath plants flower profusely in spring along with the spectacular everlastings. (dependent on rainfall to how good they flower).

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After a full day of walks I was ready to sit outside the caravan and enjoy the colour. This was a wonderful National Park, really, it had a little bit of everything!

Tomorrow, we are heading to Perenjori to see more wildflowers

Posted by balhannahrise 21:14 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds cliffs park walking australia national camping western trails fossils Comments (2)

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