Boddington for the 4th to 6th November 2016
The original plans for the weekend involved Sandy Cape and the beach and kayaking. Then The Newby spotted the Boddington rodeo and suggested that in light of the fact that I missed the rodeo while I was on the road with The Piper last year, we head here instead. This event runs on the first Saturday in November each year and this year it was the 40th anniversary. So we booked up our camp site and headed on down to Boddington ready for a great weekend.
The trip to Boddington is an easy hour and half from home and we arrived in town, through a swarm of bugs, just after dark. Checked in, we had a little bit of trouble finding our site but we got there and set up in no time at all, including the shade gazebo, while enjoying a Matso’s. That done I set to and cooked a yummy chicken and noodle dinner, although apparently it didn’t quite compare to the similar meal I served up in Kulin. While we are on the subject, the menu has become somewhat of a feature of our trips and this weekend was no exception, including our after dinner mojitos mixed and served in old jam jars (you need to buy Martin Dorey’s book for this recipe). Our timing for the evening didn’t quite coincide with the Friday night festival but it looked impressive from our site by the river.
Saturday morning dawned early, thanks to the sunlight flooding into the camper, something I am not used to. The disruptive neighbours overnight contributed to our tiredness but we got going in time for the street parade. It’s always lovely to see a small town celebrate its people, industry and uniqueness. Boddington was no different, proudly showing off its Ride on Racing Mowers Club (yes, you read that correctly) and Playgroup (“dads were busy 9 months ago”). The shady spot I secured was better than the hot café The Newby was in, trying to secure coffee for us both.
Next stop, the sheep shearing where we watched 5 shearers compete over 20 minutes to shear 6 sheep each. The Newby thoroughly enjoyed the show and it even kept The Boys still. Watching it I was wondering how shearers worked for hours on end, for weeks at a time, with non-mechanised shears, in times gone by. It looked impossibly hard for the modern shearer … The winning time was just over 13 minutes with the longest time closer to 20. In bulk terms, 30 sheep shorn in just 20 minutes. What were the times a 100 years ago with hand operated blade shears? Apparently the record was set over 120 years ago, here in Australia, when Jackie Howe sheared 321 sheep in 7 hours 20 minutes. That’s 1 minute 25 seconds per sheep for over 7 hours. I hope someone bought that man a beer!
With a break in the searing planned we took the opportunity to heads over to the rodeo to sus out the heats and the options for the main event later in the day. The Boys lasted just 20 minutes, complaining about the heat but really hankering to ride their scooters and head to the pool. The weather prediction for temperatures greater than 35 Celsius was well on track so we watched a few events from the shadiest spot we could secure, before heading home for a delicious chicken salad, enjoyed in the shade, surprisingly devoid of flies, and a cold ginger beer. The heat even seemed to have taken the flies by surprise, which was a great surprise for us!
Post lunch we wandered back for the main event; an afternoon of dirt, dust and heat watching cowboys and cowgirls ride horses and bulls. “I’ll tell you what” the action was fantastic from our vantage point in the shade on the crest of the hill, just to the right of the gates. The Newby’s favourite event was the barrel racing that was almost spoilt by a dramatic fall. The rider was doing a good job of holding the horse at the start, walking it backwards, when it reared and fell sideways onto her. She was completely covered by the horse, which appeared unable to get up. It was a very nerve wracking wait while every person in the arena ran to the action, right in front of us, and dragged the horse off of her. She emerged apparently unscathed, calmed her now standing horse, mounted and rode the event to the cheers of the crowd. One very brave lady.
My favourite event was the people watching. Being a city girl now and a coastal country girl in a past life, cowgirl fashions haven’t featured highly in my wardrobe. Who knew cowgirls were into so much bling on their belts and jeans? You just wouldn’t get away with it the city but it looked great in the dirt and dust of the rodeo arena. The other thing I really enjoyed was the commentary. “I tell you what” the jokes were bad but the spirit was high, and the description of the event was fabulous. As The Newby said, it was just like in the movies. Unfortunately it was all over too early and we headed home for a wash, dinner and an early night. The party goers stayed out late at the ball, enjoying some live music that we could hear throughout the evening. A perfect end to a great day.
Sunday morning was our usual slow start, but we didn’t have anywhere to be except home, so why rush? We decided to have a look at Tullis Bridge, built in 1912 to take timber from Narrogin to Pinjarra (check out the date carving in my picture). There’s only each side left now, after some campers set fire to the middle many years ago. Pretty spot though and a great opportunity for The Newby to do another lying-on-the-tracks photo. Silly boys stayed in the car on their devices and missed the chance to wade in the river. Camping tuckers them out. Next stop, St Albans church, Marradong, which I have now added to Wikipedia as one of the worlds many St Albans churches. Although there hasn’t been a service there since 2012, the door is always open so we went inside and had a look at the beautiful stained glass and the attendance records dating back many years. No one went to church the day I was born in 1968 but only because it wasn’t a Sunday! We spent a while looking for Arthur Batts grave, just to see if he made it on time to his funeral, after his son had to open the church officially when dad missed it for no good reason. Lucky they shared the same first name and the stone didn’t need to be changed!
Our last stop on Boddingtons list of must do things was the bauxite mine conveyer belt. I hear you asking why, so here’s the answer … Boddington Bauxite Mine is officially recognised as having the world’s longest and second-longest single conveyer belts, with a 31-kilometre-long (19 mi) belt feeding a 20 km (12.5 miles) long belt, feeding bauxite through the difficult terrain of the Darling Ranges to the Worsley Alumina refinery (thanks Wikipedia). Now this information is publicly available on the information sign but it’s not in many other places. Possibly because they don’t want you to know just how much bauxite they are taking from the ground each day, and that’s because bauxite takes a million years to form. In just a century or so it will all be mined, manufactured into drink cans and recycled or dumped in landfill. A great sight, but in my opinion a sad story.
Eventually it was time to head for home but not before lunch in Dwellingup and a ride in the skate park for The Boys. We enjoyed the (unsuccessful) search for a cache at South Dandalup Dam, before the last part of the journey into Perth. The story ends this week with a clean car and camper, having finally washed off the Nullarbor sand deposited on the camper when it was transported here. I can’t wait until we get to put the next load of Nullarbor dirt all over it … see you out there. SA.