Friday, 27 September 2019

Holland Track Trip – Day 6

Those high winds during the night (which I slept through) were the leading edge of a major storm potentially heading in our direction.  Bob had been listening to the radio weather forecast and alerted us to the possibility of some serious rain.  Did we want to continue camping in miserable weather and would a heavy rainfall make extracting ourselves on the dirt tracks rather difficult.  We decided to move north away from the storm front.

40km north of us was Burra Rock.  Yes another rock!  This location proved to be rather interesting.  After walking up the first part of the hill I was surprised to discover a large body of water.  You can see in this next photo that Europeans have constructed a stone wall around the circumference of the rock to capture the rainfall.  This is very similar to Wave Rock at Hyden


What I hadn’t anticipated was the volume of water that had been collected.


The rocks have the same rain and wind weathered shapes as I saw at Elchabutting Rock. 


What was more interesting was the rusting farm machinery.  Why would someone drag this old machinery to such a remote location?  Well the answer is in the early 1960’s a family attempted to establish a farm here raising grain crops.  They used the water from the reservoir on the rock to irrigate the crops.   It must have been a hard and remote life and the venture must have eventually failed


Ken thought the hill in the next photo was Cave Hill Rock but I suspect it’s too close


We continued north towards Coolgardie.  No need for the sand flag so I took the lead leaving Ken and Bob to eat my dust for a change.  Suddenly I noticed a few wild flowers on the side of the road and stopped for a quick photo.  The wild flower season is very brief occurring after the spring rains.  One day I must make a specific trip to see the more impressive wild flower displays


Coolgardie was established in 1892, a year before John Holland blazed his track.  The goldfields in the east of Australia were almost exhausted when gold was discovered in the Coolgardie area.  Thousands of miners flocked to the region in a new gold rush.  By 1898 Coolgardie was the third largest city in western Australia.  Today it’s a tourist attraction and ghost mining town! 

In the early 1890’s the only way to reach Coolgardie was either on horse or by foot.  Most of the miners walked pushing a wheelbarrow of supplies.  In march 1894 "’Afghan’ cameleers successfully crossed the deserts from central Australia with 46 camels.  These were used to transport supplies Coolgardie.  Eventually the cameleers numbered around 300 and the town had a number of mosques.  However there were no muslim women and no marriages, births or burials.  With the arrival of the railway from Perth most of the cameleers moved to Perth.

The sudden increase in wealth meant there were funds to build some large, ornate and interesting buildings in the town.  I managed to take a passing photo of part of the Goldfields Exhibition and Museum. 


This used to be the courthouse for the goldfields mining warden.

What I particularly wanted to find was John Holland’s grave.  I’d read it was located in the old settlers cemetery in Coolgardie.  Whilst we were refuelling at the Caltex service station I noticed a road sign pointing to the old cemetery.  We followed the sign eventually turning onto a dirt track which took us to the cemetery.  It looked rather abandoned.


There were only two headstones with the rest being unmarked graves.  The headstone in the far left corner was John Holland’s grave.



Bob & Ken


Bob & Tom.   Yes I have been eating well!

I was saddened to read John’s wife, Agnes died in 1894 a year after be blazed the track.  John live until November 1935 aged 80.


Now we face a 560km drive back to Perth.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Holland Track Trip – Day 5

Cave Hill Reserve is known for it’s cave and granite hill.  No surprise there!  It’s claimed access is restricted to 4WD vehicles but having travelled the road I believe it would be possible to reach the reserve in a 2WD vehicle.  The camping area is well laid out with long drop toilets and camping tables.  There is no water and no rubbish facilities. 


Ken cooked the evening meal (actually he reheated it) of pasta and mince with veg.  A good evening sitting beside the fire sinking beer and solving the world’s problems.                  


There was a storm during the night which woke both Ken and Bob.  They got up to resecure the tent whilst I slept through all the excitement (one of the few advantages of being deaf).  They both slept in whilst I woke and went for an early morning walk before the flies started to move.


There was very little firewood around the camping area which suggested to me the location is well used. 

After breakfast we packed the vehicles and drove to the rock.  It was a 300 metre walk from the car park to the cave which was large but not particularly impressive.


Ken and I then walked to the top of the rock.


Not a particularly steep climb

Endless native vegetation in all directions


With signs of the usual water erosion.


Bob thought he heard cattle lowing during the night but Ken thought it was camels.  It appears Ken may have been right as we came upon fresh camel droppings up on the rock. 


Why were the camels up on the rock?  There’s no vegetation so they must be searching for water.   Then I came upon a sign with a map, the contents of which surprised me.  I had assumed this area had been largely uninhabited.  It was quite a surprise to read the entire area around Cave Rock and as far north as Coolgardie had contained a network of bush railways.  These railways were used for two purposes.  The first was to cut timber for firewood which became the fuel to power the steam engines at the water pumping stations alone the pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorie.   The second purpose was for the collection and transportation of Sandalwood.  The timber is native to India and Australia.  In the mid 1800’s the oil from West Australian Sandalwood was more precious than gold.


The majority of the workers in these mobile logging crews were Italian or Yugoslav migrants.  Single men were housed in tents and families in small timber shed mounted on rail wagons.  The rock hills in the region were a source of both drinking and washing water whilst also providing water for the steam locomotives.   Today the region has returned to native flora and the railways have been removed.

Mick, you are correct.  Fuel in the UK is approximately twice the price as Australia.  Over here the vehicles tend to be bigger with larger engines so they use more fuel.  The UK would pay approximately the same base price for oil as Australia so I suggest it’s the government taxes that make UK fuel more expensive (don’t miss the opportunity… blame the EU!).  Of course if you go to Saudi Arabia you can buy a litre of petrol for 19p Smile

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Holland Track Trip – Day 4

We must be around the halfway point because we came upon the visitors book beside a wrecked and abandoned ute.


The book was inside an old rusty metal case on a post.  Actually traveller had left all sorts of interesting things inside the case.  I didn’t trust the bottle of beer and limited myself to entering our names, the date and the direction of travel.


At the base of the post was a lost pet


Adjacent to the post and mounted on a piece of basalt was a commemorative plaque


Back on the move and more mud holes.


Some two hours later we reached Agnes Gnamma holes.  This is a large area of open granite containing numerous Gnamma holes. 


The aborigines would cover over the holes to both reduce evaporation and prevent animals from falling in.  Some of the holes were quite large and a number had tadpoles swimming around.  One assumes this occurred because of the recent rainfall.


John Holland actively sought these Gnamma holes knowing they would be a source of water for travellers using his track.  Can you see the tadpoles in these next two photos.

Agnes was the name of John Holland’s wife so one assumes he named the location after her.



Back on the move and we are heading to Thursday Rock


By now you will have realised the exposed granite areas were likely sources of water which is why the track passes near them.


Yet more Gnamma holes


Only another 30km to the end of the track.


Made it!  It’s another 80km to Coolgardie but we have decided to take a detour and head 55km SE to Cave Hill.

And the wildlife Irene.


It’s a ‘bug’…. A big one… about the length and thickness of my thumb.

A blurred photo of a 3ft long lizard rapidly making his escape before he ended up on the menu!


Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Holland Track – Day 3

Early to bed… early to rise!  I was up before dawn and would claim it was to beat the small but persistent bush flies.  However it was more a case of old mans bladder!  There was still warmth in the embers of last night’s fire which made lighting it much easier.


I went for a local walk whilst the lads slept on.  You can see the sleeping arrangements in the above photo.  Ken and I are in single stretcher tents whilst Bob is on a stretcher under the red tent.  I guess we all snore but then we’re all slightly deaf so they cancel each other out.

Ken cooked bacon and eggs on his frying pan for breakfast.  His clever technique is to slightly toast buttered bread before placing the bacon and egg in the middle to make a sandwich.  This avoid the need to use any plates eliminating dirty dishes.  By now the sun was up and we had to eat fast otherwise the flies would have got the majority of the food.

With the camp packed we decided to drive to the top of Mount Holland.  This proved rather interesting as the track was steep and rocky in places requiring us to get into 4WD low range.


Beginning of the track to the summit


Good 360° views from the top but everything does appear to look the same.


By 10am were were back on the Holland Track finding more deep ruts.  We’d travelled 100km on the track and the ground was noticeably drier.  However we were still mostly using the chicken tracks.


More running repairs on Ken’s sand flag


It’s an essential piece of safety equipment as visibility can be quite poor with many blind bends.  Moreover the flora was frequently higher than the vehicle so a bright orange flag waving on the move might alert an oncoming vehicle to our presence.  I have a sand flag but currently don’t have the means to fit it to the front of the Isuzu.  This meant Ken was always in the lead and I ate his dust Sad smile

We made a 2km side trip to Diamond Rock where we ate lunch.   There’s nothing special here.  Just another rocky clearing.  There were obvious signs it had been used as a campsite and whilst it wasn’t particularly interesting to us one could imagine it would have been a good resting point 100 years ago for those miners walking to Kalgoorlie.



You can see how the effect of water and rain splinters the granite.


Two hours later we met two traveller in a large ute which had dual rear wheels.  This made the vehicle wider than normal which had resulted in them having two punctures.  They had swapped the inner and outer tyres and I suspect it would be the last punctures they get on the trip.  The exposed roots are capable of penetrating the sidewall of a tyre like a hot knife through butter.


For about 5km we followed the State Vermin Fence.  It runs the full length of the State from North to South some 3200km.


Shortly after this we came upon a 4WD towing a ‘pop top’ outback caravan.  God knows how the driver will cope with some of the sections behind us.  I was so astonished I forgot to take a photo!

Marilyn we’re driving the track for the challenge and isolation.