Trip 44 – Practice makes perfect

SPOILER ALERT – Jules and I have an 8-month holiday coming up in a couple of weeks! Yep, that’s right, we’re off work and hopefully enjoying life from mid-May through to mid-Jan’25.  “How”, you ask. Well grab a cocoa, settle into a comfy chair and I’ll spin you a yarn.

See, we’ve both been working since we were 16. And whilst we have enjoyed plenty of annual leave and holiday trips, we’ve realised we’re not getting any younger. And we’ve both noticed that some of our family and friends aren’t as spritely as they once were, in fact, a few of them are pushing up daisies now. So, an extended holiday has been bubbling away in our brains for the last couple of years. We weren’t sure when and how, but there was an intent. Then, I (Tony) found myself in the midst of another Kinetic IT transition, this one a 12-month gig with the ATO, and as always, I find transitions incredibly taxing (please excuse the pun, but it’s true) and stressful. So, with my head full of transition’ey things and my focus well and truly on doing the “work thing”, rather than on my family, friends, and general life thing, we decided there’s no better time than now. Fortunately, I have a bank of annual and long service leave in my pocket, and work very kindly allowed me to take that leave at half pay, meaning I double the time off resulting in us being able to book 8 months of leave.

Our plan for the next 8months can be described in two bullet points:

  1. Drive until we get tired or bored, then stop and camp.
  2. Stay at the location until we get bored, then pack up and go back to step 1.

So, with that firm and detailed plan in mind, Jules and I have reviewed and tuned, then double-checked and repacked both the car (Sir Gwavin) and the caravan (Goldy) and we’re ready. But to be doubly, triply sure, we managed to pop away for the ANZAC Day long weekend (as I had the Friday and following Monday off), and we took a quick practice camping trip, back to one of our favourites, Dryandra National Park.

We managed to get away on the Wednesday arvo, arriving at Dryandra in time to set up before dark. Early dinner and an even earlier bed, I think it was lights out at 7:30, and we were up at sunrise for homemade baked beans, freshly ground coffee, and no plan for the impending day. Jules pre-cooked our dinner, a lovely beef and mushroom ragout and chucked it in the thermal BillyBoil to slow cook during the day.

Day1 – the bike ride

For our upcoming big trip, we’d recently purchased foldable e-bikes, so out they came and off we went. Meandering down the many tracks within Dryandra, we rode just over 30 km, using the battery-boosted drive on the hilly bits. A beautiful ride on a beautiful day in a beautiful part of WA. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any Numbats, but we did encounter 5 echidnas along the way. Great day on the bikes but our arse bones were a bit tender by the time we got back to camp as the e-bikes don’t have any shock absorbers and most of the tracks are pretty corrugated.

Dinner was our ragout and some Cold Fashioneds (50:50 Whisky and Coffee Liquor) which tasted great but unfortunately meant we were pinging on a caffeine high all night.

Jules’ snap of me preparing dinner with a wine on the first night
Our E-Bikes and the track. They’re not really designed for this type of riding/road, but they did well
The track around Dryandra
Our 2nd Echidna
Closeup of Echidna spines (hair)
Our 1st Echidna
Our 1st Echidna

Day2 – the road trip

To give our arses a break, we opted for a more leisurely drive out through the countryside today. Taking in Wickepin, the location of our famous Albert Facey’s relocated homestead, with Normans Lakes being the actual home and original location of Albert Facey’s home. And, then out to Dongolocking, yep, you heard right “Dongolocking”. When I saw the name Dongolocking on GoogleMaps I just knew it was a place I needed to visit. As expected, there’s no town at Dongolocking anymore, like many small towns it’s been torn down and faded away into a sad memory of our colonising pastoralists, and all that exists now is a rebuilt town hall with a quirky toilet blocked with the gents and ladies renamed as Beryl and Neil.

It was now getting towards midday and lunch was calling so it was off to Dumbleyung for lunch at the GODI, the Grande Olde Dumbleyung Inn (the local pub). A nice old country pub, with lovely managers and a beast of a hound puppy. In the pub office there was a behemoth of a dog and at 17 weeks old, would already put many a lion catcher to shame. Part Bull Mastiff and part Great Dane, this lightly coloured puppy with green eyes and paws the size of dinner plates was all wobbles and cuddles. Then lunch was a traditional beef burger washed down with a pint of beer before we checked out the Blue Room at the pub. The room is a memorial to the Bluebird and Donald Campbell who piloted the Bluebird speed boat to a new world water speed record of 276.5MPH across Lake Dumbleyung in 1964.

Taking the circuitous route home, we drove out to Dumbleyung Lake where fortunately there was water and no wind meaning the combination of salt plains, and algal multihued salt water made for some amazing views and pics from the drone.

Dead trees on the edge of a salt lake

Salt plains

Lake Dumbleyung
Lake Dumbleyung
Lake Dumbleyung
Lake Dumbleyung
Lake Dumbleyung
Lake Dumbleyung
Lake Dumbleyung
The dunnies at Dongolocking town hall

Day 3 – Dryandra National Park

An easy day today as we motored around the many tracks of Dryandra at 15kms per hour looking for the elusive WA fauna emblem, the humble Numbat. A lot of driving, but we did manage to spot two of them. Unfortunately, no pics though as the little buggers scampered for the hills pretty quickly. But whilst waiting to see if they would show up again, eagle eyes Doolygirl spotted her first Mardo in a log just in front of the car, so we watched that for 20 minutes or so. Other than the beautiful woodlands we only managed to find another echidna on our drive, before finishing the day with champers, bickies, and cheeses as we settled in for the arvo and evening.

A handheld snap of the setting moon in the early morning sun. This was shot at 560mm using my 400mm lens and a 1.4 Teleconverter
The Mardo Jules spotted
A Purple Crowned Lorrikeet
Robin around the campsite
Robin around the campsite
Robin around the campsite
Not sure what birds these are, but I like the action shot

Day 4 – Moorumbine and Cuballing

Whilst browsing WikiCamps yesterday, I came across the old town and a heritage trail at Moorumbine, east of Pingelly and only 50 km away. Settled in 1864, Moorumbine was the first town in the area but gradually declined into a few old buildings and the church when the railway siding was placed at Pingelly in 1889. The church was consecrated in 1873 and still stands and is in use today.

The heritage trail itself is pretty disappointing with only the church and cemetery still accessible, with a few other old buildings now renovated into farmhouses and used as private residences. Still, it was a lovely drive out through the farmlands, once again following the back, mostly gravel roads. From Moorumbine, we headed Southeast to Cuballing for a lunch pub meal, and we weren’t disappointed. The Cuballing Inn is a typical, but clean country pub, with the new (since 2019) managers being super friendly and putting on a great feed. This was evident when we pulled up and noted about 15 cars and a similar number of motorcycles out front. Luckily, we both ordered a “small” meal as Jules had pre-cooked a Chicken Curry for tonight, but boy were the small meals generous portions, and very tasty.

En route back into Dryandra, we did the park loop drive again, hoping to spot another Numbat but alas we went Numbat’less. Jules did spot a cute and small, we think juvenile, Echidna who posed for a couple of photographs though. That makes the tally for this trip 7 Echidnas, 2 Numbats and 1 Mardo so all up not too bad for wildlife. And that’s not counting the numerous Woylies that hopped through the campsite every night. The cheeky and somewhat annoying possum who decided to try and raid our rubbish bag twice during the night, some campsite kangaroos and a curlew that decided to wander through at 5 am one morning and was snapped on our trail camera.

The old rail masters cottage in Popanyinning
The church at Moorumbine
The results of farming and land clearing. A lonely tree in the middle of a bare paddock
An overhead shot of our car
Old building at Arthur River, processed to look ye olde style
Old building at Arthur River, processed to look ye olde style
The baby Echidna Jules spotted

Day 5 – All good things must come to an end

We’re off home to clean up the van and make a few minor adjustments we noted on this practice trip. Getting ready and super excited now for our upcoming longer trip, which is now less than 2weeks away!

2 Replies to “Trip 44 – Practice makes perfect”

  1. What a weekend!! Seems our paths nearly crossed too. Jo and I have bought an old (1930) house in Dumbleyung and are gradually working on it (weekend by weekend)… We were in town Thursday (ANZAC) day until Saturday. Love your lake pictures. Also, the old “Dongo” Hall is the scene of many a great Christmas party, 18th Birthday etc…
    Thanks for sharing your adventures. Looking forward to the “big one” and all the pictures and anecdotes.

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