Trip 17, part 1 – The Wheatbelt Way

Toodyay, Goomalling, Wyalkatchem, Trayning, Kununoppin and Mukinbudin, Aussie names of Aussie towns on the way out to the wheatbelt from Perth.  Unfortunately, many of the little towns out here have seen a dramatic decline in population since the mid-1900’s and what used to be a thriving community, with multiple pubs, churches and schools is now often just a roadside marker, sadly stating that this was the old school site.  In an effort to share what the area has to offer, and to help bring in some tourist dollars, many of the wheatbelt shires have banded together to promote The Wheatbelt Way.

The Wheatbelt Way

 

With the four day Easter long weekend on offer, Jules and I decided to brave the travelling hordes, but to minimise the chances of camper contention we headed east, inadvertently into The Wheatbelt Way, our destination Elachbutting Rock, around 360kms, north east of Perth.  Why there?  Well, most people have heard of WA’s famous Wave Rock, however, less are familiar with the numerous other rocks WA has to offer, many of which are in the wheatbelt.  Elachbutting Rock is nth east of Mukinbudin and aside from offering free camping, it has its own (smaller) wave rock formation, but even cooler is Monty’s Chasm, a 30mtr long cavern between two HUGE pieces of granite.

 

The campsite

 

Looking down on the campsite from about 2/3rds the way up the rock

 

Jules gathering her breath after the climb up.  It’s pretty bloody strenuous 

 

A little breakaway on the east face of the rock, above our campsite

 

Watching the storm fronts approaching

 

I’d seen the various wheatbelt rocks on maps, and we often pass the turnoffs to these places without ever visiting, so with a bit of Googling and the input of WikiCamps, Elachbutting Rock was decided as our destination, so leaving gentleman’s hours on Easter Friday, we arrived just after lunch.  Aside from a camper trailer at one end of the camping area and a Variety Kids sponsored group of about 30 at the other end, the middle sites were all free so we picked our spot, set the Goldy up and cracked a beer.  Good times were had and we soon discovered good timing also, as during the next couple of hours, the sites around us were also taken by like-minded travelers, however, the sites are spacious with plenty of cover so although we were sharing the area with others, we weren’t living on top on one another.  It was nice to see another Goldy Crown, an older model of our Goldy pull up next door and the neighbour related how they’d got lucky on Gumtree, picking it up for a good price 2nd hand, already fully optioned up.

Being ‘free camping’ things are pretty basic, with a single drop dunny which unfortunately was located smack bang in the middle of the Variety group, so we assumed it was well patronised (read “a bit whiffy”), and it also would have made the long walk in and out a bit conspicuous, especially when carrying your bog roll.  Suffice to say, we setup our own toilet (and shower) tent and worked out our own arrangements which I’ll spare you the details off.

On the way in, as we drove through Mucka, aka Mukinbudin, Jules got an SMS weather alert for a severe storm front approaching, with damaging winds and possible hail, which was a bit weird seeing as it was 37C outside and relatively clear skies.  So, after quenching our thirst on a beer or two, we hiked up the rock to check out the view which was pretty magnificent, but also showed the approaching storm front out on the horizon.  From our Titanic vantage point, we could see the various rain fronts, mostly slipping to the south with plenty of lightening firing.  You can’t help feel pretty special watching this type of display from the safety of your own rock viewing platform.  Back at the campsite a few hours later, the wind had died off and it was as still as still and very humid, then, splat, splip, splop, one, then three, then a dozen or so really fat drops of rain fell, so we stored the chairs and retired to the van.  Over the next couple of hours we were in for a treat!

It started with a puff, just enough to make the leaves waft lightly and for us in the van to go state, “oh, that’s a lovely breeze”. Then there was a push, the wind now strong enough to make the odd branch move and for us in the van to start hanging at the windows to maximise the now moving air.  Next, we smelt it. The unmistakable scent of rain in the air.  Then we heard it, the roaring of gale-force winds, bearing down on us at a rate of knots.  Being on the lee side of the rock meant we were somewhat protected as the sound got louder, the smell of rain more pungent and started chucking it down.  The wind gathered strength until it was roiling like a mini cyclone.  Our dunny tent collapsed, and we heard later that the Variety group had whole canvas tents that had their poles snapped like twigs.  In an effort to save the dunny tent, I undressed to my jocks, ran outside and tied it to the van so it wouldn’t do a Dorothy in Kansas on us.  Seeing as I was now ‘a bit damp’, I took the opportunity to have a free shower with the rain literally coming in from all directions and the very frequent flashes of lightening giving me enough light to wash by.  Jules thought it was piss funny, however didn’t have the guts to come join me, she claimed the neighbours were too close, however I’m sure they were probably holed up in their vans, praying for Noah to come save them.  But what started with a flurry, ended in a whimper, and the storm front moved on, leaving us sweating in the muggy and still conditions.  A bottle of wine, some rum and another two storm fronts later and we were off to bed, looking forward to see what day two would bring.

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