Monthly Archives: September 2016
Along Butchers Track
Well we are now off to Shark Bay along Butchers Track. Why is it called Butchers Track, we don’t know. Maybe it’s because a butcher lived here ages ago, was he (or she) a meat butcher or a human butcher, we don’t know and as we set off we didn’t really want to dwell on the matter. All in all its 144 km along the usual gravel red dirt road to the North West Hwy which then connects off to Shark Bay.
It’s a modest drive along a good road. A little way into it a vehicle charged past us van in tow, a 100 kph or so compared to our modest 85 kmh. They disappeared into the distance. Half an hour later we pulled past them busy changing a blown tyre and not requiring any assistance. Allthego, always willing to help, found this a blessing and quickly moved on. Homealone in her usual style warned Allthego about being half smart. Speeding rat bags etc etc. A bit later someone came along the other way. So they wouldn’t have been left stranded. Was the Butcher watching? They were the only people we saw on the track.
The track winds its way over a vast sandy plain with sand dunes cutting the road as we progress west. The road rises from a low point of 134 m to a high point of 324 m. It’s actually like sailing along, up and over the dunes. All the time we are surrounded by wildflowers in full bloom. Just amazing! At this stage we are not sure what the name of all these flowers is, so have just called them ‘Flower 1’, ‘Flower 2’ etc
It was a great drive.
We have arrived at the beginning of the Shark Bay World Heritage Drive and that is where we will pick up the story next time!
We set off from Cue for the Murchison Settlement along another back road heading north by north-west, it’s about 220km of good gravel. The scenery though is becoming a little repetitive. Red dirt roads, red dirt road verges, red dirt dust, red dirt covering car and van and red dirt getting in the van. But there are lots of wildflowers to be seen. Homealone has just about had the red dirt but not the wildflowers.
Along the way we crossed the Murchison River. This point is roughly about half way along its length. It has its source in the lands to the north of Meekatharra and flows south-west into the sea at Kalbarri, through the gorges in the Kalbarri National Park. We will be having a few days at Kalbarri later in the trip.
A storm was gathering and we needed to hurry along to keep ahead of it. We managed to do this and arrived in Murchison Settlement late in the afternoon. This is a small little ‘settlement’ of 20 or so people. But a great caravan park, plenty of green grass surrounded by red dirt. The red dirt in this case are polo fields. It seems that people regularly converge here for the sport. All in all there are about 120 people in the whole Shire of Murchison (49,500 sq km) and the Settlement is its hub. The rest of the people are out on the surrounding properties.
We had a day of R & R here in the shady grounds apart from a short 15 km trip out to Errabiddy Bluff which is the major nearby attraction.
A small error has been noted in the last blog, many of my readers will have also picked it up but are to kind to correct me. It was not Jimmy Stewart who starred in Hitchcock’s North by North-West but Cary Grant. As always this blog is E & O E!
We now head west, to Shark Bay. But we have decided on another shortcut along the Butchers Track route. One can only speculate on why it’s called the Butchers Track. We will see!
Cue is an interesting little town. There used to be about 10,000 people in this area back in the late 1800s early 1900s. Now 500 tops. This is one of the things that has struck us in these travels, the de-population of the east (not the west!). The people in these small towns we have traveled through rely on frozen bread and meat. There are no frock shops for the girls, maybe it’s now done online. Bells Emporium sells everything you could want in the way of groceries and bits and pieces. It’ all on the shelves behind the counter, like in the good old days. A few freezers are there though with the meat, quick meals for the prospectors in town, ice creams etc.
Always a pub. But their trading hours are from 4pm on and they might sell groceries as well. And there are no frock shops out here! Haven’t seen a hairdresser for the girls either, Homealone must be getting edgy!
We had dinner at the pub. We hadn’t had a steak for some days so both of us were attracted to the T- Bones. These were quite large and covered with sauce, the chips were pretty good too and the chief thought we needed potato salad as well. It was a substantial meal.
The town is also proud of its old stone buildings. They are among the best we have seen on the gold fields.
The old Bank of NSW building is for sale, not sure who owns it but hope it’s not Westpac! The old 1880s Gentlemen’ Club is now the local Council headquarters.
Steel cut outs are the go out in the west, I mean the east, for the tourist displays. Every town has them. There must have been a special on steel a few years ago. Murals are also big. The one in town at the Civic Centre was a little different, it was all about people now and not historical depictions.
We enjoyed our stop here but now move back to the west, maybe it is North by North West, to Murchison Settlement. But it is Allthego at the wheel not Jimmy Stewart!
The road to Cue
Leaving Yalgoo we headed north-east along a back road to Cue, from memory about 160km. It was good gravel and clay all the way. Along this stretch of road there were some interesting old mine sites and an abandoned homestead and woolshed complex. It was surrounded by an amazing carpet of violet wildflowers. Homealone also spotted what we think is young kite sitting in a dead tree beside the road. It kept a keen eye on me as I tried to creep closer, eventually flying off in a rush of feathers to safer places.
A special place down a side track is a small meteorite crater discovered in 1920. It is apparently the smallest authenticated site in the world and is about 20 metres across and 5 metres deep; comparatively young at about 3,000 years. The meteorite people believe it was made of an unusual rock type and because of its small size would have buried itself on impact then exploding, creating the crater. Quite a sight no doubt to the local indigenous people at the time.
Closer to Cue we come to Walga Rock. This is the second largest monolith in Australia after Uluru. It is a place of special significance to the aboriginal people of the area. A large cave has a series of fairly weathered paintings. There is also a sailing ship outline on the rock wall that seems of much newer vintage. There is debate about who has painted it. It could be that it is not in fact aboriginal in origin but done by an early settler. There appears to be some lines of scraggly writing underneath it, maybe arabic. Perhaps an early Afghan camelier has left a mark!
The wildflowers surrounding us on the roadside continue to amaze in their diversity. Wattles in full bloom are every where, with splashes of everlastings and other ground cover type species. We have been able to identify a few of the more common ones from our small guide books.
We arrived in Cue late afternoon to settle into the very comfortable Council run Cue camp ground for a couple of nights. Cue is midway between Mt Magnet in the south and Meekatharra in the north. The delights of Cue need to await the next blog!
We are actually going east to Yalgoo. Back tracking a bit because we have adjusted the itinerary. But also because in going east this is the way all the gold explorers did back in the 1800s, as well as the early explorers. Unlike in the USA where they went west. There is a Village People song that goes something like
Life is peaceful there
Lots………….. I can’t remember the rest……
Well it’s certainly peaceful out here and after going east for a bit we will turn back west, after going north to Cue. The Mullewa Show was a great day out despite the rain. Here are some pics of the things mentioned in the last blog entry.
It was only 150 km back to Yalgoo and we stopped off in a very neat little caravan park, only about 10 established sites circling a grassed lawn (which is pretty rare out here). Expansion is on the cards as another 10 sites are just being opened up, but all on red dirt. Nearby Yalgoo is Joker’s Tunnel, carved out by early gold explorers. Homealone had a good look in. It was an eerie sort of feeling walking through it. The tunnel walls are not weathered and the different rock strata are a multitude of colours. All done by pick and shovel and some rudimentary blasting. It’s about 100 metres long. A big effort!
Monsignor John Hawes was also in these parts and this Chapel was also designed and built by him. Although in part restored it is no longer used and is fenced off.
Yalgoo has this enormous race track. The start is on the far side and you can barely see the little set of starting gates. The annual April 2016 race day was postponed, by wet weather it seems. A revised date is not advertised so I expect it will be delayed till April 2017.
The internet has been dreadfully slow over the last week and we are now at Shark Bay and will be trying to catch up over the next couple of days.