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.
Mullewa Information centre.
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.
Drying wild Daisies
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.
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.
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.
Beside the rusted steel cut-out was an information plaque with the story.
"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.
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.
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.
The other cut-out was about illegal gambling that went on in these places.
"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.
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.
This concluded our day, it was time to return via a different road to Mullewa in search of more wildflowers.
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.