Heading outback again

Our last night near the coast was a lovely free camp on the golf course at the historic town of Northampton, we then headed inland through the wheat belt. We stopped at a nature reserve for lunch and found the sign below at the lookout. It tells a story of what goes on quietly out here in these lands of drought.

wheat belt lookout sign

roadside beauty
Very tiny but very sweet side of the road wildflower
roadside fluffy
More leftovers from Spring on the side of the road.
the multicoloured bungle bungle termite mound
While we were about 1500km south of the bungle bungles, this termite mound reminded me of their beehive formations.  S
varigated fairy wren
Variegated fairy wren singing
wheat belt loading
A big pile of Wheat ready to load into a road train.
outback sign
Suddenly the wheat stopped and this sign appeared on the side of the road just in case we didn’t notice. The temp went from 23 on the coast to 34 before we knew it!

roadside beauty

yalgoo sign
We are on the Miner’s Pathway now and Yalgoo was hive of mining activity long ago.
grasstree sculpture
Yalgoo grass tree never needs water!
jokers tunnel free camp view
The view from our free camp at Jokers Tunnel.

jokers tunnel sign

jokers tunnel and maddy
Maddy making her way into the tunnel.  At this point she had not yet noticed what was on the roof just above her head…
tunnel crickets
…thousands of crickets.  It was rather gross.
tunnel redback spider
We also spotted this fine red backed spider specimen.
tunnel bat
Continuing on the gross theme, we then started to encounter hundreds of these little guys – microbats.  Their bodies are about 5cm long.  Individually they are actually quite cute.
But seeing them in these seething huddles turned up the gross factor again.  If you shone the torch on them too long they started to drop off and fly around.
big tunnel bat
We also encountered a few of these slightly larger but more handsome fellows
dr spock bat
Once they were flying around, the microbats would swerve just an inch or so before hitting you.  However this one seemed to have hit its head a couple of times too many and was sporting a few bald patches.  Maybe its sonar was not quite up to scratch.
bat swarm
Here a couple of the bats can be seen flying about.
exiting the joker
While it was an interesting experience it was good to emerge again as the sun was setting.  Despite the sign at the entrance, we never saw any snakes.
miners pathway
From Jokers Tunnel we drove back into Yalgoo for a quick look at St Hyacinth’s Chapel before continuing east.

St Hyacinth’s Chapel is a quaint little building – originally part of a larger convent designed by an interesting character called Monsignor John Hawes – an architect who became a priest, but used his prior skills to great effect in designing several interesting buildings in the area.

The next two days were spent covering kilometers in dry, mostly flat mulga country as we headed towards then into Australia’s gold mining region.  Of course we had cause to stop on several occasions to see the odd attraction, more wildflowers and to avoid a few grossly oversized vehicles.

Just south of a small town called sandstone are some basalt capped outcrops that were worthy of a small detour.  One such outcrop was used as a brewery with a hollowed out cave serving as the cellar.  A bit further along – a nice arch called london bridge.

peter denny free camp
Being in the middle of nowhere allowed for some amazing isolated free camps.   This site perched on the edge of another basalt capped outcrop gave great views over the endless mulga plains and at night some lovely dark skies.
magelanic clouds
A one minute exposure towards the south celestial pole with large and small Magellanic Clouds
jokers tunnel milky way
The milky way with the tail of scorpius and Jupiter setting behind the trees
jokers tunnel andromeda galaxy
The vertically oriented fuzzy patch just left of centre is the Andomeda Galaxy.   Lying about 24,000,000,000,000,000,000 km away it is normally regarded as the furthest thing one can see with the unaided eye.   It feels amazing to gaze on something so unbelievably far away and to consider that the photons hitting my retina and exciting the sensor in my camera left its stars at around the time that my Homo habilis ancestors were roaming around east Africa.
agnew panarama
Along the way we saw bits and pieces of old mining relics – like these at the abandoned town of Agnew.  However these were just a foretaste of those to come at the beautifully restored ghost town of Gwalia, which will be the subject of the next post.








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