Koorda, Wheat Belt, WA

Trip 1 – September long weekend 2021

The Koorda Rose (Darwinia Rosea)

Day 1 So we have been looking forward to the opportunity to do the Koorda self drive 3 day weekend for a while and now we are on our way! Our first stop was the lookout over Toodyay, somewhere we have never been despite our many trips there. We took a wander around the gorgeous everlastings before heading into town for a coffee. Our next stop was meant to be Wilbinga Reserve but our friends would not have been able to turn the caravan around so we kept going and stopped instead for lunch at Goomalling. After lunch we called in at Minnievale to look at the bakery before keeping on to Koorda caravan park. Now the park is currently a bit of a gravel pit but don’t let that put you off. Here’s what I wrote on Wiki Camps, which gives away a bit of what we got up to over the weekend. 

We spent the long weekend here with another couple and explored Koorda and surrounds. The facilities in this park are outstanding. Ensuite bathrooms, including 1 disabled and 1 family. Still some capital works to do, but everything is accessible. Did the CBH tour, ate at the pub twice, walked the full length of town, reminisced at the drive in, explored Koorda Flora reserve, Gabbin ghost town, Mollerin Rock, Newcarlbeon Tank and Redcliffe. Definitely recommend . Will be back for a movie at the drive in and a swim in the pool in summer. Thanks Koorda Shire!
After setting up the vans we took the opportunity to have dinner in the pub. While it doesn’t look that great, inside or out, the service was friendly, the pub grub was good and the drinks were flowing. There is also a dart board (it’s hard to know who won) and a pool table for another night. 

Day 2

One of the must do’s in Koorda is the Cooperative Bulk Handling (CBH) receiving depot tour. The CRC organised it for us and we were there on time at 9am, ready to learn all about the grains from the wheat belt. Nick and his little bloke Blair were our guides who took us through the main office to the grain sampling office, the weigh bridge (collectively we weighed 0.34t) and finally the store areas. So this season, about to start, CBH is expecting to receive 16.8 million tonnes of wheat @ $380 tonne. Barley will fetch $1000 tonne. In this area, one third of the 2021 expected harvest was lost on a single night due to frost, with cockatoos helping themselves to grain as well! Once checked and weighed, the grain is stored in the round storage area you can see in the pictures, holding 26000 tonne while the 150m long storage area can hold three different grains if needed. If you get to town do what you can to do this free, informative and interactive tour. 
After our early start and excellent tour we needed coffee so we headed for the IGA which has a cafe. We picked up a few extra supplies and headed to the vans to plan the rest of our day. And what a fun, fun day it was. First we headed to the Koorda wildflower reserve. I think this would be a great place to stay! The stars at night here would be magical thanks to a light free sky. Unfortunately there were almost no wildflowers thanks to that same frost that killed part of the harvest but we did find a few Koorda roses. Our next stop was Gabbin ghost town. Along the way we persevered in our quest for wildflowers, with still very little success. We did find many a lazy lizard though. Back to Gabbin. Another great place for a stay with some excellent ablutions, including a shower! The town does indeed look deserted, except for the one place with the “keep out or else” sign. 
Eventually we headed back to Koorda to make sure we were in time for bounce down. On the way back in was called past the drive in. Oh my, what a blast from the past. My teen years came flooding back in full colour as we stood there soaking it all in. Koorda, I will be back to watch a movie and why aren’t you showing the footy on that big screen? Actually we thoroughly enjoyed watching the footy at home between the vans. After barracking for our respective teams, debating the refereeing decisions and lamenting losing (or boasting about winning) we took to our own game of Battle Blocks. The footy has nothing on us when it comes to competition. We barracked, debated, lamented and boasted as though sheep stations were at stake (not really). So much fun in a dusty, dry place, in the dark and cold. Nowhere else I’d rather be! 

Day 3 We always sleep well in Tas and so we had a lovely later start to our day than yesterday. After a leisurely breakfast we headed out in the cars to Mollerin rock, stopping to ohhh and ahhh over the blue cornflowers. We climbed all over the rock, looking for the birdies, spotting the lizards and lazing in the sun. Back at the bottom we tried to work out the remnants of a once popular golf course before a sudden down pour drove us under cover. 
On the road again we had another stop to see if we could find an orchid but there are definitely none out here. We did find a beautiful corner of Kings park-like roadside natives where we spent a long time just admiring their almost perfect but completely spontaneous presentation. Further down the road in our perennial search for future camp sites we headed into Newcarlbeon rock. If you go there, don’t be like us and try to find the attraction without reading the signs! We definitely made it a lot harder than it needed to be but did eventually find the very full gramma holes, complete with tadpoles, the stunning crimson chats, too fast to photograph, the zebra finches and the cheeky swooping swallows. Oh I love birdies! Back on the loop we passed and circled back to a fruitfully fruiting Quandong tree, something I was too excited to see. Let’s face it, it’s not that’s exciting but I thought it was awesome! The last part of our loop was out to Redcliffe salt lake where we launched the drone for a birds eye view. 
Our afternoon involved snoozing (not us) or walking the full length of town for geocaches (definitely us). There was one particularly good one in a most unusual relic at the museum (no spoiler) and one at the drive in (where we happened to have been yesterday). It was actually really nice to wander around the town and see things you miss from the car. After all that walking we needed a meal (hardly) so we all wandered down to the pub before solving the mysteries of the universe as presented to us on our huge sky tv, with Scorpio still there right above us. 

Day 4 Our travel mates headed off before us but we weren’t far behind them, swinging in to the CBH weigh bridge to see how much our rig weighs. I am known as the Weight Nazi because I am always worried about making sure we are and stay under our weight limit. My main reason is for our own safety followed by wanting to protect our vehicle and not void our insurance. It seems I don’t have to worry as we came in at 2.78t and we are allowed 3.4t. I have warned Mr P that he is not free to add to the load now! 
Down the road we stopped at Cunderdin Hill with everyone else to make a coffee and see the everlastings. They were nice but the crowd drove us away pretty quickly. On a quest to travel a road we haven’t been on before we came across a great site where the Meckering earthquake fault line is very obvious and well preserved. Awesome and tucked away on a back road (with a geocache). We made our way into York (via closed road, over eroded bridge) and on to St Rohan’s reserve where we finally were rewarded with some stunning purple enamel orchids. Good things come to those who wait! And almost no one here either. Then, to top off (literally) a great weekend we stopped at Mount Observation found a spot all to ourselves and had a Charcuterie board lunch and a cheeky little Rosé. Does it get any better? What a super weekend with fantastic travel buddies in an amazing part of WA. Looking forward to seeing you again Koorda. 

How to plan your own 3 day, self-drive tour of Koorda and surrounds.

Trip 2 – Valentines weekend February 2022

As I predicted, we are back in Koorda, this time to explore some of the things we missed before. We are also helping some friends to break in their new camper and experience some of the wonders of camping.
We headed out to Koorda after work on Friday. It wasn’t overly hot in Perth but the further east we got, the hotter it got out of the car, until it was pushing 40 around Northam. We missed a turn off and ended up heading out via Grass Valley to Goomalling along a back road, past a quirky looking property, complete with a resident wire horse. Man it was hot out there.
Just out of Goomalling the rain started to fall, creating wafting steam from the road. Summer rain has that really distinctive smell; hot tar, wet grass and expectation all wrapped into one. Fortunately the rain petered out by Koorda and we were able to secure our spot for the weekend. Not long after we arrived the Jayco family (Mr Jayco, Mrs Jayco and Little Jayco) arrived, so Mambo Man and I could sit back and offer words of wisdom and encouragement. At least that was our intention. In fact, Mr Jayco did a great job. I suspect he watched all available YouTube videos.
The rest of our evening was spent containing the excitement, staying out of the rain, eating and drinking, telling tall stories and generally relaxing. A lovely way to end the working week.

Saturday morning and the rain was completely gone. The sun was out so we grabbed the frisbee and threw it around for a while, before heading off to the hospital museum. I didn’t realise how much of an old nurse I actually am, until I saw equipment that I have used in my career now being displayed as museum artefacts! I nursed aged care and orthopaedic patients in beds just like those. I can’t be that old though, I never wore a veil or cap. The hospital museum also has loads of non-hospital stuff in it, including outdoor displays with farming machinery and equipment. There is something for everyone, but we still couldn’t find that pesky nano on the truck. Looking for it did get Little Jayco enthused with geocaching though.
Our next stop was the Military and Motor Museum. It is very small, and I found myself lingering in there just because the poor woman opened it especially for us. If you are an old Holden lover, a Peter Brock fan, or like rally car racing, then you will like the museum. As a mum and (ex)-wife of a mechanic, I have seen all of this sort of thing before. I also learned to drive in a HK Holden (not the Kingswood!) and we owned a EH station wagon, a Torana and a commodore. Outside the museum there is an interesting war relic, complete with a geocache, found by the Little Jayco. Out and about, we wandered to the shop for a drink and on to the war memorial to grab the cache, before heading home for lunch. The flies drove us into our respective accommodation, but overall they weren’t too bad across the weekend.

After lunch the 5 of us walked across the pool. This was a really fun way to spend the afternoon. The entry was free and as we arrived there was an inflatable in full swing, with kids have a fun time attempting to run the length of it. Apparently, they swap them among the pools across the region. Little Jayco had a go, but couldn’t master it. I was going to try but it got packed away before I had a chance (at least that’s my excuse). Instead, we threw the footy, did handstands, dived in the very deep end off from the blocks, and Mambo Man and Little Jayco bobbed on the Loch Ness Monster. Jay, the pool attendant should definitely be in the running for Koorda Citizen of the Year. The kids love him, and he runs the pool with just the right amount of fun and safety. He even breaks out the 10 cent pieces for diving practice and some zooper doopers to keep the kids hydrated. So much fun and so much like my childhood summer days at the local public pools. Eventually we were waterlogged, and wandered home for a rest.

The highlight of my weekend was the trip down memory lane to the drive in on Saturday evening. It was a beautiful evening to recline outside, with the gorgeous hamper, watching West Side Story. Little Jayco sat atop the tray of our ute, watching both the stars and the movie, like a princess. The almost-ruined drive in, transformed in the darkness to look magical, like it had leapt straight out of that scene in Grease. In fact, most of the speakers didn’t work but the radio tuned in just fine. The cracked screen still displayed the picture clearly, although I am not sure the film was projected via the old machine in the kiosk. What a fun way to watch a movie. I forgot how awesome the drive in actually is.
Back home we had a few drinks, enjoyed a calorie rich dessert from my camping cookbook and finally went to bed around about midnight. What a super day that was, jammed packed with fun things to do, all the way out in a lovely little wheatbelt town.

Sunday morning, a time to be lazy, except for Mr Jayco who provided a comprehensive tutorial to Mrs Jayco on how to pack up the Lark. Meanwhile we threw the frisbee around, flew the kite and had a game of Battle Blocks. The Jayco’s pulled out, homeward bound, just before us, no doubt dreading the homework to come. We on the other hand, headed due west from Koorda to Cadoux and on to Wogan Hills. We found a lovely spot for lunch at Mt O’Brien Lookout. I imagine the stars must be amazing from there when there is no moon or clouds. Perhaps we can make it back that way in wildflower season …

What a lovely weekend. We had a great time, enjoyed fabulous company, did some very nostalgic things and made great memories. Koorda, you once again out did yourself. I would like to say “we will be back” but I think we have experienced all you have to offer and more. We are constantly recommending our friends and family head out that way, and if you get a chance, you should definitely give it a go.

Trip 3

Well, well, well Koorda, what do you know? Here we are back again! Obviously you still have more to share with us. Friday afternoon after work again, we headed off through the peak hour traffic to start another fabulous weekend with friends, just a week after our Mellenbye trip. I was thinking as we drove home from Mellenbye on Monday that it was a bit close and all too much effort, but by Tuesday afternoon I was raring to go! The week couldn’t end quick enough. Given the distance, we arrived in Koorda on the lands of the Ballardong people, at about 6.45pm and stopped at the pub for dinner. There were a lot of cars there, and many people inside, causing us some concern that perhaps there may not be space at the caravan park! After a game of round the clock on the dartboard and a couple of drinks our dinner finally arrived. Our order was taken just after all those peoples! Eventually we headed out to the caravan park hoping to find a spot. Luckily there were a few to choose from and we set up on the corner, leaving room on our site for the Jaycos, who are arriving tomorrow. The cold kept us inside this evening. Perhaps we should have set up in the unpowered section and had a little fire.

Saturday morning and the fog was thick, soaking everything! After a leisurely breaky we headed off for a little drive, making it only as far as the first tourist board. I forgot my iPad but didn’t want to go back, and be forced to interact with the boring people camped around us. They all own the same caravan brand, have a flag declaring it, drive expensive 4wds and talk shit to each other at the top of their voices (just a couple of meters from our camper as we ate breakfast). One even said to the other, “so why are all those vans around yours so shiny, and yours isn’t?” I was surprised he didn’t get decked.

As it turned our, forgetting the iPad was a good thing because we had to drive past the information centre and saw a sign declaring there would be a corn dolly making demonstration at 11am. And it was 10:50! Meant to be! Kindly, Mr P humoured me and in we went to meet a corn dolly maker, hear the story of corn dollys in Koorda and see a demonstration of plaiting. We got lucky being early because the caravan club turned up not long after our personal chat with the artist wrapped up and we were able to make a quick getaway, but not before buying a corn dolly for posterity.

Back in the car, we rolled off to find Browns Well, without any luck. Perhaps the photo of the map in the information shelter wasn’t such a good idea. Before we knew it we were back in a Koorda, fruitlessly looking for orchids in the bush near the caravan park. With our finding skills in the toilet we decided to head back to the caravan park to see if we could find our friends. Indeed, they were there, having a bite to eat before setting up the camper. Something else we found was the sign saying the caravan park is full over the weekend! Oh dear, that means we are parked on someone else’s site! Nothing for it but to move before the people who have booked it turn up and rightfully expect their site. Luckily Tas is easy to load onto and back off of Maz, so we were all able to move to the unpowered section. Actually if we had been on our own, given how full the park was last night, we would have just gone straight to the unpowered section, as we don’t need power and didn’t bring a cord. Anyway, here we are now, away from the rows of vans, with room to move and have a fire!

All set up, we spent the afternoon chatting, looking for bottles in the bottle dump, eating cheese and drinking wine, watching the black faced wood swallows and sitting around the fire. Eventually I popped my pjs on, ready to head off to the drive in. Mr P had packed the essentials, a big doona and some gin and tonic, perfect for a lovely evening watching 2 great movies, Buzz and Elvis. Both were engaging movies, with Buzz making friends and not saving the world but saving the world, and old mate The Colonel taking advantage of Elvis. Pixar and Baz Luhrmann both make fabulous flicks. And Koorda drive in, “the drives”, are a great place to see them. Our hot chippies in the break were just the ticket, in the absence of a Koorda hamper. Back to the campsite late, we rekindled the fire for one last bevvie and gas bag before bed.

Sunday morning dawned damp from the rain, that annoyed the Jayco’s as they packed to head home. We were quite happy to dawdle, having a hot breaky under the awning. Packed up, with Tas back on Maz, we decided to head to the local art gallery, probably the only place besides the shooting club that we haven’t been. The gallery is in the old Anglican Church. It houses all sorts of art works including some from the local school kids. Well it is a gallery after all. I love to collect things from our trips so I was really happy to find a piece I like. It actually has pride of place at my front door, great img people as they come in.

We decide to take the long way home, heading further east and filling in a few more roads. We stopped first at Bencubbin, a tiny town, with a dilapidated pub, that fell victim the Cyclone Seroja last year. There is almost nothing else there, especially on a Sunday but there are some nice street art pieces.

Next stop, Marshall Rock, which has a picnic table on top! Great view of the surrounds and a nice campsite at the bottom. The everlastings are just starting to flower. From here we went further along the road to Pergande Sheepyards & Homestead. An interesting, derelict place, where the yards are made from plates of rock, extricated and transported from the rock behind the property. It seems like making those yards was a lot harder than it needed to be.

Our next stop was Wadouring Dam, a place that has a very small, but attractive campsite, that might be another good spot in the future. The dam itself was very full but fully fenced as it’s a Water Corp source of water. That must create some frustration on a long, hot summers day. Our last stop this trip was in Yelbeni, the tiniest of towns. We just stopped long enough to boil the kettle and finish the weekend with a piece of lemon brownie. It’s a couple of weeks now until our next weekend away. We are heading back to Dryandra, and this time we are booked to go to Barna Mia. I can hardly wait. Maybe we’ll see you there.

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