The Great Eastern Highway to Kalgoorlie
The GEH (Great Eastern Highway) winds its way across the central wheat belt of WA. There is a lot of wheat grown out here, the fields just go on and on for ever. So do the grain trains at night. Rumble , rumble, rumble.
After leaving Jurien Bay we headed eastwards and then south to New Norcia. This is an old monastic town founded by Spanish Benedictine monks in the mid 1800s. They set up an entire community which at its peak numbered over 100 monks, today there are 11. The town now specialises in ‘hospitality’, which is a Benedictine tradition. So there are various sorts of live in accommodation, hotel, road house, education and training facilities etc. They also make some great hot bread each morning in their old bakery, olive oil (from 100 plus old trees) and a range of wines . Their port was quite good! We stayed overnight behind the road house. It was a good price too, $10 the night and $2.50 each for the showers!
Continuing on we reached Toodyay (pronounced Too-j) on the banks of the Avon River, we are now about 80 km east of Perth. Stayed here for a night, great little town. But, it was cold and got down to 6 in the morning with an accompanying morning mist……
We were off east. But not before getting some buns from the hot bread shop and some new lamb from the local butcher. It looked to be good stuff too, the butcher had his own lamb flock! This is the sort of town you could spend a few days in. But we needed to continue the journey east!
The GEH starts from Toodyay in earnest. We passed through Meckering, our most severe earthquake event back in 1968 when this whole town was virtually flattened by a 6.8 quake.The land in parts rose by a metre and half. Lots of memorabilia of the time is still around, including a ruined stone homestead. Then it was on to Cunderin. Here we wandered around one of the restored pump houses for the water pipeline. There were 8 of these along the route of the pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorlie. The pump stations were driven by steam power and operated as such up until 1970 when they were phased out and replaced by electrical stations. The one at Cunderin acts as a Museum piece telling the story of the pipe line construction.
A little further on we chose to stay the night at Merredin, a major wheat town. Some huge grain silos around these parts. Daytime weather continues to be great, blue skies but mid teens temperatures. Makes for great days but chilly nights and mornings!
Our next stopover along the GEH was Boondi Rock in the midst of the Goldfields-Woodlands NP. This is a special sort of place because we camped right up against the walls of a dam constructed in the late 1800s as a water supply point for steam trains travelling out to Kalgoorlie from Perth. The large granite rock formation acts as the water catchment area for the dam. Granite slabs line channels that divert the run off into the dam. Quite some engineering work here!
Had a nice fire going here and BBQ’d some Too-j lamb sausages for dinner! These got our vote so far for best sausages, even if they were lamb!
Next morning, the journey continued to Coolgardie, where we had a short stopover for morning tea at the Way Out West cafe and then onto Kalgoorlie in the mid afternoon.