SW Western Australia 20 - 22 Oct 06

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 2volts, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. 2volts

    2volts Rocket Surgeon

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    316
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia.
    I had been unable to do anything other than some day rides over the last few months so I decided to head off for 3 days while I still had a chance before starting work again. My intention for the weekend was to get away from Perth and see some places I hadn't yet visited.

    I left Perth about 10.30am Friday with the intention of camping overnight in the Stirling Ranges National Park and then heading east to Fitzgerald River National Park for Saturday night, then heading home on Sunday. My riding mate Robin was away in Sydney until Saturday night, but we arranged that we would meet at Kojonup on Sunday at midday and we would ride back to Perth together in the afternoon.

    After a run down the freeway, then across to Pinjarra, first stop was Dwellingup. We normally get to Dwellingup coming down through the bush, but the intention of this trip was to be a bit more relaxed, stop and see the sights, take lots of photos.

    Dwellingup is an old timber town.

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    Old timber jinker

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    Woodchopping is still a sport in these parts. These poles are set up for "tree felling". The axeman starts at ground level with three boards about 6 feet long and six inches wide and an axe, and has to set the boards in turn into the pole like a widely spaced spiral ladder until he is standing at the top. He balances on the top board and chops through one side of the block, then has to descend and do it again up the other side to complete chopping the block all the way through. Not easy. You can see the remains of the block on the top of each pole.

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    The classic WA timber is jarrah, a hard eucalypt. Much of the forest in these parts is regrowth of various ages.

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    Another big industry in this area is bauxite mining and alumina production. When we ride off road around here this is what we are riding on. We call it pea gravel.

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    This is a test quarry called Pavins Pit, just east of Dwellingup, where initial exploration was done in the 60's.

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    I headed east toward Boddington.

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    There's good farming country here, but first you have to collect up all the rocks.

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    The top of the hill has been stripped for bauxite mining.

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    The bauxite gets carried by a 51km long overland conveyor to the refinery. Conveyor travels at 24km/hr and carries 2,700 tonnes/hr.

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    It's the longest of its type in the world.
    #1
  2. 2volts

    2volts Rocket Surgeon

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    316
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia.
    I continued down towards Darkan. By this stage I had got to ride some gravel roads, but it's funny how when you get to a shire boundary, the road surface can change completely. In this case from gravel to sealed.

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    Just as the road changed, there's this old building called 6 Mile Cottage. Stone chimney and slab sides.

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    South of Darkan is Lake Towerinning. I stopped here for a late lunch.

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    I wasn't towing a speedboat and I didn't have any water skis so lunch was all I did there.

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    I passed through Kojonup about 4pm. Kojonup is prime wool country. Towns these days seem to have a need to express themselves by building some oversized monument to times gone by. In this case, it was an oversized dray loaded with oversized "wool" bales. Kojonup was also the first shire in WA to have a sheep population exceeding 1 million.

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    I'm sure the pioneer pastoralists never thought they would end up diversifying from merinos to exotic South American creatures such as alpacas.

    Shortly after I took a dirt road diversion instead of the direct route and eventually ended up at Gnowangerup.

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    Yes, another homage to the past, outside the shire office.

    It was getting late so I pushed on to my campsite for the night at Moingup Springs in the Stirling Ranges National Park.

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    There was only one other camper when I arrived. We had a good chat. He was on an extended trip from Tasmania. He'd left there mid July in his Toyota 4WD, been up in the Kimberleys for a few months and was slowly heading back east, for a mid November homecoming. He'd been a Parks Ranger in Tassie for 12 years amongst other things. Very interested in flora. He said he had about 2Gb of photos of interesting plants he seen on his trip.

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    Dinner. Paella and a cup-a-soup.

    It was threatening to rain and around 2am I was woken by thunder. This continued until daybreak, around 5am. However, the thunder was geting closer and I didn't know what to expect.

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    By 6am the storm was very close and I cooked breakfast in the vestibule of the tent.
    The rain started pouring down and the lightning strikes were a bit close for comfort. Would a 1200GS parked 2m away be a good lightning attractor? I hoped not.
    After about 30 minutes it had all passed. As soon as I heard all the birds start to sing again I knew it was all clear.

    After breaking camp, I saw the ranger to pay my camping fee. Normally they come round to collect them, but she had headed out very early to check if the lightning strikes had started any bushfires in the park. There were no fires burning.

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    In the park.

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    Very exposed hillsides so very low and hardy vegetation. Lots of grass trees.

    My camera batteries went flat at this stage but Mt Barker wasn't far away. A fuel and battery stop, then it was east toward the Porongorups.

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    16km east of Mt Barker is Maleeya's Thai Cafe. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday for lunch and dinner. I didn't stop on this trip, but I've been there before with the family. An excellent but simple restaurant along way from anywhere. Well worth a visit.
    #2
  3. Eaglebeak

    Eaglebeak All roads rider, West Oz.

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,128
    Location:
    Perth.
    Nice to hear you're back on the bike Pete.
    Any soreness in the shoulder, shorter days on the bike for a while ?

    I'm hoping to get out with Mrs Beak next weekend, heading east a bit, temperature dependant.

    Andrew.
    #3
  4. 2volts

    2volts Rocket Surgeon

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    316
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia.
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    Looking north toward the Stirling Ranges. Vineyard in the foreground. No shortage of them in these parts.

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    Gibraltar Rock, Porongorups.

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    Looking south back toward the Porongorups.

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    A Mars Bar stop here. I think they make more money from their liquor license than the single petrol pump.

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    The Kambellup hall.

    I turned off onto the Chillinup Road soon after Kambellup and headed east again.

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    Small lake in Chillinup Nature Reserve with Stirling Ranges in background. Water here would be very saline.

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    Wheat bins, waiting for the harvest.

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    A bit further up the road. Farmers moving equipment, preparing for the harvest. Mobile storage silo, for temporary use.

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    This lizard was on the road. By the time I stopped he scurried to the nearest cover he could find and wouldn't budge.

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    Further on up the road. Bungarra.

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    Wheat field north side of the road.

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    Canola field south side of the road.

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    Pallinup River.

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    Junction of Chillinup Road and Borden-Bremer Bay Road.

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    A nice bit of work.

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    Christmas tree farm. Lots of tree plantations in these parts.

    A bit further along, I saw Paperbark Road signposted. According to my map it went down to the lower reaches of the Pallinup River. May as well have a look.

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    The river is a bit more impressive down here.

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    Trouble was, I hadn't bought a sixty metre fishing net, so it looked like fishing would be a waste of time. Sixty metres and minimum mesh size seventy six millimetres? What are they trying to catch down here? Whales?

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    Some of the track was a real pain. Soft sand, I could only ride in the ruts and no clearance on the side from the scrub.

    Further on down the road, I turned off to Millers Point.

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    The end of the Pallinup River.

    Then it was off to Bremer Bay for fuel and a snack before heading into the Fitzgerald River National Park.

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    Information board at Bremer Bay.

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    Mouth of the Bremer River.

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    It turns out you can drive across the sandbar to the other side. That's a BMW 530i, a well known off road vehicle.

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    This crusty old gentleman was about to do a bit of sea kayaking. He was just launching himself onto the water here.

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    Bremer Bay wind turbine.

    I left Bremer Bay behind and headed for the park.

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    What's for dinner? Lamb chops or mutton?

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    Mt Bland, Fitzgerald River National Park.

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    Bushfire burning east of Thumb Peak. Would have been started by a lightning strike.

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    Beach at Point Ann. This is a good whale watching location in July - September when the whales come to calve.

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    Whale watching lookout.
    #4
  5. Eaglebeak

    Eaglebeak All roads rider, West Oz.

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,128
    Location:
    Perth.
    Great pics Pete. I've paddled the full length of the park, from Bremer Bay to Hopetown in Jan '96. The coast there is fantastic. Been about 30 metres from a whale and calf just off Point Ann on another trip.

    Keep 'em coming. :thumb
    #5
  6. TouringDave

    TouringDave Tri Moto Veritas

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,265
    Location:
    Frankston, Vic, Aust.
    Pete, nice pics and beautiful countryside.
    #6
  7. davorallyfan

    davorallyfan Commonist

    Joined:
    May 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
    18,240
    Location:
    Capitalist
    Very nice pictures.

    I have seen the Stirling Ranges from a distance and plenty of times from 30.000 ft always wanted to go there. Somebody told me once that they sometimes get a dusting of snow? T or F:ear

    I flew over that area again this year - a myriad of tracks - an area I really want to see from ground level.

    Another part of WA I'd like to see are the tidal waterfalls up north - maybe one day.
    #7
  8. 2volts

    2volts Rocket Surgeon

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    316
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia.
    The 23km 4WD track into Fitzgerald River inlet was a bit tougher than I expected. More very long rutted sandy sections that really had me cursing.

    Anyway, I got there eventually. I came to a sign indicating camping, it was still very sandy. The area wasn't very big, perched near the top of a rise. The track kept going, I supposed it was down to the river.

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    Fitzgerald River at sundown.
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    I got the camp set up then went for a wander down the track.
    About 200m along and down, there was the proper campsite! Anyway, I couldn't be bothered moving. My Tasmanian friend from the night before was also there, along with another couple in a Toyota 4WD ute. I chatted briefly and kept moving.
    I cooked dinner and watched the electrical storms to the southwest as I ate. I was in the tent pretty early and had a reasonable nights sleep.

    At daybreak I was awakened by a cacophany of different bird calls, welcoming the new day. I can't think how many different calls I heard.

    I cooked breakfast and started to break camp. Muesli with dash of condensed milk and a cup of tomato cup-a-soup. Works for me!
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    Packing up.
    At quarter to seven I was on the track again and heading out.
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    More soft sand to look forward to. I dropped my pressures down to about 14PSI and that helped a bit.

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    It wasn't all tough going.

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    Looking southwest across the Fitzgerald River inlet.

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    Water crossing. If you were out there and there was a lot of big rain overnight, it would be impossible to get out. The track winds for a couple of km across very low lying country getting from the east to the west side of the river.

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    The end of the road at last. It took 45 minutes to do the 23km.

    I took a break then headed north, still in the park.

    I came to a turnoff for a place callled Twertup (10km) so off I went. This turned out to be a very interesting place.

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    Breakaway country.

    When I got to Twertup, all was revealed. It had been a quarry from 1967 - 1973, operated by Horace and Doreen Worth.

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    This is the house they built from the rock they quarried. The rock is called spongolite. Its a fossil rich siltstone containing remains of sponge organisms.
    The building is now the base for scientists and researchers who visit and study things in the park.

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    In the quarry. The spongolite was cut by circular saws.

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    My macro photo skills are not good, but if you look closely you can see a Bulldog Ant. It's about 25mm / 1 inch long. They are one of the most primitive forms of ant found in the world. It's the largest biting and stinging ant in Australia.

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    This small scruffy looking tree is called Moort (eucalyptus platypus). presuambly so named because of the duck billed shape of the leaves.

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    Another view of the spongolite breakaway. It was formed from clay and sponge skeletons on the floor of an extensive shallow sea which covered the area about 40 million years ago. When the sea fell, rivers cut into the spongolite creating the wide gorges that are typical in this park.
    The upper 0.5m - 1m has been laterised to form a hard ironstone cap.

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    On the track out, looking east to the mesas near Twertup.

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    If I had been more diligent, I could have photographed hundreds of different wildflowers throughout the weekend, but I didn't.

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    Northern access to the Park.

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    Time to pump the tyres back up.

    I headed for Jerramungup for fuel and a choc milk. Then it was a steady run to Kojonup to meet Robin at midday. I got there a few minutes before midday. No sign of Robin though. I checked my phone for messages, sure enough, a sms saying he would be late leaving, then another one saying because he was late could we meet at Darkan about 11am. That didn't make sense, how could I go another 100km and get there an hour earlier?
    I checked voicemail, yet another message, saying he had left Darkan and was heading for Kojonup. Eventually he arrived, it turned out he thought he needed to be in Kojonup for 10am!

    We hit the road again, backtracking Fridays route.

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    We called in at the Quindanning Pub for a late lunch but the kitchen was already closed (2.30pm).

    We decided to move on and head for Dwellingup via the old railway bridge and some back roads.

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    That's the WEST AUSTRALIAN version of the Murray River there!

    Long Gully Road has been totally ruined by bulldozing for access for burning off. We got onto House Drive and then Driver Road, where we stopped at Muddy Landing to boil the billy and have a snack.

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    Robin.

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    Your correspondent.

    We left a bit after 4pm, I ate dust until Dwellingup, not too happy with my tyres, pea gravel and sealed road tyre pressures.

    From Dwellingup, down Del Park Rd to North Dandalup, where we stopped for fuel.

    There was a mini bus parked there, as I was getting fuel I recognised some one from work. I called out to Mick, he took a double take before recognising me. Some others came out of the bus, Bruce said someone in the bus asked who Mick was talking to, someone else said "some hard core biker guy"!, then Bruce realised who the hard case was! So now I've been busted, now they know what I look like when I'm not a work.

    Anyway, I was home at 6.30pm, as grubby as can be, with a pretty good grin on my face. Wife and daughter wouldn't give me a hug after they realised I'd been wearing the same clothes for 3 days (ADV rider t-shirt included of course)

    All in all, a good weekend away.

    pete
    #8
  9. 2volts

    2volts Rocket Surgeon

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    316
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia.
    Andrew - I thought of you when I saw the bloke with his sea kayak.

    DavoRallyFan - T - The Stirlings do sometimes get some snow.

    pete
    #9
  10. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,034
    Beautiful pics and ride report! Tell us a bit about the bike setup. What tyres are those and about the home made pannier mounts... :thumb

    Thanks for posting!
    #10
  11. mike cramb

    mike cramb Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,312
    Location:
    Perth
    Excellent stuff I am glad you are back in the saddle .

    MIKE:D
    #11
  12. 2volts

    2volts Rocket Surgeon

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    316
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia.
    The tyres are Heidenau K60's. They seem to wear well but the tread is not aggressive enough on loose gravel (which we have a lot of) for my liking unless the pressures are very low.

    Yes the racks are home made, the bags are AndyStrapz expedition panniers. The racks are too big for the panniers, I made them last year when I was just using canvas duffle bags. This was my first trip with the panniers, they are great, dustproof and easy to use. They hold their shape when empty, at night I can put my helmet and gloves in one along with other junk so the tent doesn't get so full. I'll modify the racks eventually.

    The bag on the back seat is an Andy Strapz A Bag. That's my pantry and store for the odds and ends you need quick access to. The bag is waterproof and has an over flap thats easy to open and get to, that's where I would put my wet weather suit.

    Thanks for your interest

    pete
    #12
  13. Zollo

    Zollo Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,416
    Location:
    CA
    A most excellent ride report! Thank you for sharing.

    Zollo
    #13
  14. motoxusa

    motoxusa Biker Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    253
    Location:
    Clermont, FL
    A great ride story....brief, but informative. There's a lot to see in that part of Australia, and your pictures are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
    #14
  15. Uncle Larry

    Uncle Larry The most suave of stooges

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2003
    Oddometer:
    15,024
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    Excellent tale!

    I went to the Guildford Grammar School for a bit way back when.

    I do like Western Australia.
    #15
  16. gothamAlp

    gothamAlp happy to be here

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    805
    Location:
    flagstaff and/or tucson, az
    a+ report and pix :thumb

    and your landscape descriptions allow a fella to infer that you might have taken a few geology classes in your time...

    in any case, nice going.:deal
    #16
  17. nevgriff64

    nevgriff64 .

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
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    19,961
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Very nice photos and report there Pete..

    Thanks for sharing..:thumb
    #17
  18. Eaglebeak

    Eaglebeak All roads rider, West Oz.

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,128
    Location:
    Perth.
    Thanks Pete, great shots.

    Andrew.
    #18
  19. Boxall

    Boxall Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    99
    Location:
    Northwest Georgia
    Thank you for posting! I would love to see Australia!
    #19
  20. sidetrack one

    sidetrack one Chief Tiddler Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
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    hole shaven area
    That ranks right up there with the best Pete. those pics are awesome.:clap :clap :clap
    #20