Yealering and Westonia along roads less travelled

What a tough week. Three days of work, three nights at home from Easter and we are off again for ANZAC Day. After work we headed off eastbound, to fill in some untravelled roads on the map. From home we headed out over the range to Yealering, discussing Mr A B Facey, with me confusing parts of the story with Alan Marshall. We arrived in town (for what that’s worth) and organised a spot in the caravan park, before walking back to the pub for dinner. It’s fair to say the food was average, but it was an interesting evening. We struck up a great conversation with the CEO of Corrigin shire and a woman from Essex. She knew what I meant when I said Day-gen-ham. “Like Tar-jay”. We would definitely recommend the pub. Even the publican warmed to us.

After a good night’s sleep, in a spacious spot (unlike Easter), we checked out the lake and croquet club and surrounding oval. There’s a lot of history in this small town, just like so many of these little places all over Western Australia.

To make sure we didn’t miss the supermarket (everything closes at 12 on a Saturday in the country), we headed off on a new road to Corrigin. We’ve stopped here before for fuel, which we did again after our interesting brunch. There is currently a camp here for BlazeAid, after the fire that devastated the area in February. I’d like to do something like BlazeAid in the future.
For now though, another new road to Narembeen, where we wandered through the Grain Discovery centre, admired the Hawk and Horse, as well as the Art Deco Town hall. Leaving town we drove up to and stopped at the AFLW’ers family’s property.

To black out a few more roads we criss crossed across the area (ok, I didn’t read the map terribly well), before passing the turbines, crossing the highway and landing up in Westonia, only to find the “campsite full” sign out! Luckily I had read that there is overflow in town. A quick call and we were set. A block away we had a fabulous spot, all to ourselves, overlooking the oval. Yahoo, a complete contrast to just a few days ago in Bunbury. Time for a few drinks, some star gazing and a few more drinks.

So we had read a lot about this town and were keen to have a wander around. We are here for two nights and one day, so we got cracking early, with a full itinerary planned. Our first stop was for coffee and a muffin (no hot breaky available). Disappointed about the lack of breaky options on what is a long weekend, we were pleased that at least the coffee was good. And there are bacon and eggs in the camper for another time. After our substitute breaky we wandered the main drag, peeking in shops and checking out the facades. The main drag is the only drag, and has been restored to look more authentically old-fashioned. In fact, there is almost nothing in town, and even less that is open. The supermarket was closed, the museum was closed and the it seems the pub doesn’t open until the afternoon. Luckily we have everything we need. So we headed over to check out the excellent sports facilities, the permanently closed school and the galahs in the gorgeous trees. Having seen almost everything there is to see in town (given most things were closed), we decided to head out to explore a few other attractions in the area.

Our first stop was the Edna May gold mine lookout. It’s a big mine that has been opened and closed over the years. It explains the 24/7 access to the gym at the rec centre (for the shift working staff) and explains the constant hum in the background. Our next stop was the Boodalin soak. It is one of the many soaks that were created to water people and stock on the route east to Kalgoorlie. There’s nothing there besides the soak and a high spot to look out over the surrounding area. Lucky me, I swallowed a fly here, so perhaps it’s not one of my favourite places. Actually, it has a link to my favourite WA bush ranger, Moondyne Joe, so I do feel a little affinity for the place. It seems in one of his many escape episodes, he stole some horses and hatched a plan to head east, over the border into South Australia and beyond. He knew that the soak was being constructed right here, so he made a beeline for the place, intending to kill his horses and steal fresh horses. As I’ve previously established, Joe was not the sharpest, and things didn’t go well for him on this escape attempt. He was tracked and intercepted just as he arrived at the soak, being chucked back into the clink. Poor Joe.

After the soak we decided to head for a remote cache in Golden Valley. On the way we didn’t climb Warrachuppin Rock (because it’s on private property) but we did enjoy a lovely hike to the top of Baladgie Rock. The area surrounding the rock is a camp ground and looks great, not dissimilar to camp grounds at Elachbutting and Beringbooding Rocks. The top of the rock here is bigger though and had some water, attracting a lovely bird and some skittish lizards. The view of the surrounding salt lake is fabulous and we could see all the way back to the rock we couldn’t climb.

Back at Maz we ate our lunch, a couple of wraps with salad and chicken, washed down with most of our fizzy water, before heading further east to check out Bullfinch. Had they not accommodated us in the overflow last night, this was our next option. It would have been dark and cold, and having seen it I can also say it would have been lonely and little unnerving. The town is largely deserted and looks like only the stragglers are left. It clearly had a hey day, with a pub and swimming pool evident, but nothing is open now, and anyone there is behind closed doors. We breathed a sigh of relief that Westonia was so welcoming last night, discussing that as we headed out to the Golden Valley plaque and ruins. The drive is out past another mine, along a dirt road and into the wide blue yonder. Once we got there, we found almost nothing, not even the geocache that attracted us. The site and its plaque mark one of the first eastern goldfields. As an aside, I am not clear how this area is considered an eastern goldfield, when it is not only in Western Australia but it is also west of what I think of the main gold areas in the state.

After checking out what’s left of the ruins across the road, we turned for home as the sun was getting low in the sky, lighting up the trees with a stunning golden hue. They are so pretty I got Mr Perspective to stop so I could photograph them. When I got back into Maz he calmly told me that Maz was hot. We checked the obvious things, but couldn’t see anything, so we waited until her temp was lower and started off again, hopeful she just needed some air flow. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and we spent about 40 minutes (maybe more) limping back to Bullfinch. I have to admit, the town looked so welcoming from our very vulnerable position. At the caravan park we popped the bonnet and topped up the overflow tank, as well as our drinking water, before trying a lap of the town. Poor Maz couldn’t cope, so we decided to pull over under the only street light and call for help.

As the night got later and colder, the RAC set out to help us. Thankful for Telstra coverage, we settled in to watch the world news from my tiny iPad screen, outside the boarded up pub, without food or warm clothes. The return call from the RAC indicated they were intending to find us accomodation (part of our breakdown cover) and assist us with the breakdown in the morning, thanks to the fact that Southern Cross aren’t available until Tuesday, Muckinbuddin aren’t answering and Merredin are on another job. Once I explained Bullfinch, I think the help desk lady got the picture, and she toddled off to try again. Time to watch Gardening Australia, briefly interrupted by a friendly local making sure we were ok. The interaction and conversation went something like this:
Us watching tv in the car
Knock on the window
Open door: Hi.
Large, drunk man with a large Golden Labrador: Hi. Are you ok?
Me: Yeah, we’re fine thanks.
Him: What are you doing?
Me: Watching tv. Our car is broken down. We’re waiting for the RAC
Him: Want to come to my place? I’ve got drinks and I’m watching Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
Me: Gee, thanks, that’s so kind. We better wait here though. The RAC won’t be long.
Him: Ok. If you change your mind …
Me: thinking – we won’t be changing our minds.

Eventually the RAC lady called back and informed us that the Merredin tow truck would come and get us, as part of our breakdown cover, and take us back to Westonia, to our camper. The truck arrived at 9.20pm and loaded us for our trip back to food, gin and warm clothes. We got back to Westonia at about 10.15, armed with some information that might come in handy tomorrow when I need to call the RAC to find out what next … For now, let’s eat, drink and warm up. Tomorrow can take care of itself.

Monday (ANZAC Day)
And just like that, tomorrow dawned and so started the next stage of getting home. Our RAC help desk person informed me that step one would be roadside assistance to assess the issue. If the vehicle could be fixed in town, then it would be a wait until after the public holiday. If not … We’ll see. So off she went to get us some roadside assistance. Fortunately for us, the nearest roadside assistant was also our friendly towie from last night. Without any further assessment he assured the RAC that fixing Maz in town was not an option. So she called us to tell us, at which point I played the next card in my deck, the “can you please recover us” card. Thanks to the friendly towie, I knew to ask this question. “Ah,um, ah, let me see.” Oh, yes it seems we do have this cover and it means something different to the situation we were in last night, when we were broken down. And yes, the RAC are able to recover us, but not until TOMORROW! Well, at least that’s sorted and we can do something with today. Not sure what, given we have no vehicle and nothing is open. Let’s see if we can get breakfast today …

As it turned out, it was worse than yesterday, with the cafe shut tight and the owners painting the shop front (see the half painted wall in the picture?). Luckily for us the gentleman was happy to make a coffee, so Mr P did a few strokes with the brush while we waited.

Unlike yesterday the museum was open and the lady inside was happy to show us through the whole thing quickly then leave us for a wander. I have to say, its one of, if not the best small town museum we have ever been in. The exhibits are immaculate, the collections are extensive and the way things are presented rivals well-resourced museums in major cities. I especially liked the bar scene at the front, and disliked the explosive mine display.

With cooking it yourself as the only way to get a decent breakfast in this town, we headed home and I cooked up a storm of bacon, eggs, beans and toast. The as-yet missing in action flies arrived in their droves to join us and my frayed nerves finally snapped. Time to relax on the oval with the kite, while Mr P deals with the dishes and the flies. After a quick chat to a friendly local, we headed off on a big walk around the town. We checked out the huts, the churches, the sandalwood plantation, the common, and the cemetery. Our walk covered everything left to see in town except for Joan’s leap, which we will make a point of seeing when we come back to see the wildflowers. Apparently this place is THE spot to see wildflowers when the time is right. I hope the cafes are open then.

Back home we took our time to put Tas onto Maz, ready for our recovery tomorrow. Thankfully the publican in town opens every night so we headed over to the pub for dinner. Despite being open, the place was virtually deserted and the meal was average at best. What I have worked out about this town is that everything is a facade, not just the shop fronts. Time for a drink at home and another night of star gazing across the huge and stunning sky, before an early night in anticipation of an early start.

As promised, our friendly towie arrived bright and early and we were on our way home from this adventure. The view is different from the height of the passenger seat of a tow truck. The trip was uneventful and we were home in time to do a days work. Overall we had a good trip, filling in some more roads on the map, although not as many as we intended. We will go back to Westonia another time but at all road trips from this point forward I’ll be making sure we have a few more things on board, like some warm clothes and some food. Thank goodness though we had Telstra and RAC.

So my advice to anyone reading this is to get the highest cover you can get in your roadside assistance. We had the Ultimate Cover, that isn’t the ultimate in cover. Also know what you are covered for. Thanks to our conversation with the towie on Saturday night, we found out that breakdown and recovery are 2 different things. We were able to use the “breakdown” component of our cover on Sunday night, at an out-of-pocket cost of $200 (excess) because the round trip for the towie exceeded our covered distance (200kms). Because Maz wasn’t repairable in Westonia we used the “recovery” component of our cover on Tuesday to get back to Perth, at an out-of-pocket cost of $300 (excess) because of the drag created by Tas on Maz. On Wednesday of the following week we were able to use the “breakdown” component of our cover to get Maz to the mechanic at no cost, because each breakdown has 2 eligible tows. Once we were home I rang RAC to find out if there is a higher level of cover, as suggested by the towie. It turns out, in our case there is a higher level. We now have Ultimate Plus cover (who knew?) and can access up to $7000 in towing fees (amongst other things). Let’s hope we never have to use it ..

So, what was wrong with Maz? The Piper found a busted EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) unit. Apparently, exhaust gases are recirculated to decrease emissions. They are cooled before recirculation and the water comes from the radiator. The fins in the EGR were leaking water, draining the water from the radiator, causing the overheating. A new EGR and we are back on the road! Look out Karda, here we come …

%d bloggers like this: