Thursday, 29 August 2019

Elachbutting Rock Trip–Day 3

Last night was considerably warmer that the first night when I almost shivered in my thick Fairydown Everest model sleeping bag. I bought this bag before we were married and usually I overheat in it, but nights in the desert can get bitter.  The dry air and lack of vegetation allow the daytime heat to rapidly dissipate.  I also tend to rise at first light in an effort to cook and eat breakfast prior to the arrival of the flies.  Yes… I don’t like sharing my breakfast!  Of course that means dinner is usually eaten after dusk.  So two meals a day! 

Today we visited three different rock locations.  The largest and most interesting was Baladjie Rock beside Lake Baladjie.   Rather than take all three vehicles I travelled in my brother’s Toyota.  He could scratch his paintwork bashing through the scrub Smile


The first feature had some interesting gnamma holes.  A gnamma hole is a cavity formed in hard rock which can sometimes contain water.  The Australian Aborigines would know the locations of the holes and use them as a source of drinking water.  Something the early European explorers and settlers adopted.


This particular rock wasn’t particularly high but then the terrain was so flat it still made an acceptable survey point.


Looking west back towards the pastoral land


And to the east vast areas of not much


Various interesting rock formations create by wind and rain



Lake Baladjie is a salt lake.  In the winter it contains water with a significant level of salinity, whilst during the summer it would be a sea of white salt


Janet went rock climbing


On top of that large boulder held in place by weight and friction.


More interesting shapes and colours in the rock formed by the climate.


That evening I managed to give myself food poisoning….. Have I mentioned I’m a rotten cook?

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Elachbutting Rock Trip–Day 2

An opportunity to explore Elachbutting Rock today.  It’s sandstone like Uluru (Ayres Rock) but is much smaller and not a monolith (one piece).  The rock changes colour with the sun and rain. 

There is a 4x4 track to the top which eliminates the need to climb.  From the top there are 360 deg views of the surrounding area.  To the west and south are wheatfields.


The pastoralist to the west has planted one field with rows of trees.  One assumes it’s either a strategy to reduce salt contamination or perhaps he’s earning extra cash being paid for carbon sequestering.


The view to the south. 


Australian flora has to be particularly hardy as rainfall is very infrequent.  Vegetation was growing on the top of the rock in the shallow crevasses formed by erosion.


These prickly orange plans were hanging on to life along the edge of the natural drain


On the west side of the rock is a track to Monty’s Pass and the ‘Wave’.


Monty’s Pass is a tunnel through the rock formed by a huge chunk of the rock breaking away from the main formation sliding down to create a gap.


Jenny stands in the entrance

The tunnel is approximately 30 metres long with some smaller broken pieces at the far end.


It’s only once you’ve scrambled out of the far end you look up and notice Guillotine Rock hanging ominously above your head.  



All the sandstone rocks in this part of Australia appear to have numerous cracks and I suspect these are what causes large portions of rock to break away from the main structure.  Infrequent rainwater would leak into the cracks and the freeze during the bitterly cold nights.  The expansion would create sufficient force to break off sizeable portions.

Janet found a natural seat


Just me unsuccessfully attempting to be “arty”


The other notable features on this side of the rock are the caves and the wave formation formed by the wind an rain.



And the ‘Wave’.  not as big as the Wave at Hyden but much less visited.


I cooked dinner that night.  My plan was to use the camp over to cook a pork roast with roast potatoes and corn on the cob.  The first step was to get a fire going for some embers.


I lined the oven with foil and fitted my home made trivet in the base.  It was only when I placed the pork in the oven I realised there wouldn’t be room for the vegies.


The solution was to individually wrap the vegies and add them directly to the embers.  The port stayed in the fire for three hours which was probably 20 minutes too long.  It was just starting to get a little dry.  However the crackling was crisp and tasty.


The vegies also turned out well.  I’ll have to attempt this again. 

That evening John gave me a photographic lesson.  He was a professional photographer before retiring and I want to attempt some shots of the night sky.

The Milky Way. The bright star in the bottom slightly right of centre is actually Jupiter.  you should be able to double click this photo to see it’s original size.

IMG_3902 Yes… I need more practice!!!

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Eastern Wheat Belt Trip – Day 1

Well I’ve managed to safely return from my latest camper trailer trip but not without managing to somehow give myself food poisoning.  I really am an atrocious cook!  It’s taken me four days to recover and only now have I felt like writing a post.

It was about 375km from Perth to Elachbutting Rock which we used as a campsite.  Camping was free but there was no water or showers.  However the local shire has installed a ‘long drop’ toilet for visitors.


It would have been rather boring taking the main highway east so we went by secondary roads to the very small town of Mukinbudin.  This is the last piece of civilization where there is a shop and fuel.  From Mukinbudin we travelled on well formed gravel roads to the campsite.  I was under the impression we would camp at Elachbutting Rock however the others pressed on beyond the rock looking for somewhere remote.  Eventually the track reached the State Barrier Fence which runs north to south for 3256km.  It is also known as the Rabbit-Proof Fence, the Emu Fence and Vermin Fence.   Completed in 1907 to keep vermin from the east reaching the West Australian pastoral lands.   Quite amazing to think those early English settlers bought 24 rabbits and rabbits being rabbits there are now billions of them. 

We discovered that whilst there was a gate in the fence the sign advised there was a $10,000 fine per person for unauthorized entry.


The fence


My sister-in-law Janet standing beside her friend John & Jenny’s Toyota.  They were towing an Australian made “Kamparoo” hard floor camper trailer.


I was bring up the rear trying not to eat the others dust!

We opted not to risk the fine and returned to Elachbutting Rock and camp.



My brother who was towing a soft floor camper trailer with his Toyota

The first thing to do is get a fire going an the billy on for tea


I was caught in the act of erecting my camp


My single person stretcher tent fits nicely under the awning yet still sufficiently light to move around should I need to free up more shelter under the awning.

You can just see the solar panels to the right of the photo.  they produced enough power to keep the trailer battery full.   That night I discovered one problem.  The Engel freezer ran continuously!  It was a very cold night and the freezer motor should have been cutting in and out.  It’s something I will need to resolve.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Stone Stomper fitted and now for the trial

The trailer and 4x4 were coupled this afternoon enabling me to do the final fitting of the Stone Stomper (SS).  I’ve already identified one potential issue.


I’ve used a couple of pieces of different diameter scrap pvc pipe (orange & white) as a temporary support in the middle of the span between the trailer and 4x4.   My modification to the trailer jockey wheel securing it in the horizontal position appears to have worked.

Ground clearance under the mesh looks OK.


The potential problem is the gap between the SS bar and the rear of the 4x4.


Stones flicked by the tyres might ricochet up through the gap either hitting the trailer or rear door on the 4x4.  I could bend the ends of the bar reducing the gap but that would create another potential issue.  The canvas flaps on the bar only just overlap with the SS mesh when the bar is in it’s current position.  Bending the bar towards the vehicle will create another gap between the canvas flap and the SS mesh.  More thinking required!

So today the trailer was prepared for tomorrow’s outback trip.  I’m going to the edge of the western desert with my brother and wife.  We’re heading for Elachbutting Rock Nature Reserve some 375km east of Perth.  It straddles the boundary between the eastern Wheatbelt and western desert.  Almost all of the route is on bitumen which means the SS will have a very limited test.

Obviously no blog posts whilst I’m away however there will (hopefully) be some good photos on my return.