Exploring the Murchison of W.A.

Western Australia is such a huge state. It’s nothing to drive 200km without seeing anyone else. This was supposed to be a 3-4 day drive around
Murchison region, but it ended up taking 8 days.

Why???

Because there’s just SO much to see out here ...… well, if you’re slightly inquisitive, that is. And importantly, if you have the time.

We’re lucky to have exactly that. Time. Plenty of people rush through here, and hence miss out on some of the lesser known magic.

This trip featured quite a few granite domes. In fact, the Murchison is one very small part of the Yilgarn Craton, which extends over about 650,000 square kilometres of Western Australia.

For the record, I did have to google “Craton”... it’s defined as “a relatively rigid and immobile region of continental portions of the earth's crust”. Fascinating. It’s the country’s largest granitic area, and one of the oldest landscapes in the world. It’s also our premier mineral province, producing two thirds of all Australia’s gold, and most of the nickel. In addition to other earthly goods - iron ore, copper and zinc.

It was hard to resist the temptation to run to the top of these monolithic domes. We naturally questioned our fitness level every time, but the chance to stop at the top, and breathe in the cool fresh air whilst recovering our breaths, was too hard to pass up. We’d reach the top, and then there would be something else to find, another boulder to climb, another corner to explore, another view to admire.
We spotted a kangaroo atop Walga Rock, the biggest of the monoliths we climbed. It bounced effortlessly through some of the greener sections of the rock. Seemingly then growing wings, it disappeared over the edge, impossible to chase. I enjoyed watching a Little Woodswallow boldly drink from the pool I sat by – a tiny dark brown bird with a striking blue beak.

I was mildly shocked when Wags grabbed our collapsible dish-washing sink and raced up the rock, returning proudly with “fresh water” that he deemed good enough to drink, and wash in. But upon some consideration, it made sense. The rock is granite, the water has fallen from the sky, and there’s not a whole lot that’s going to pollute it, given that the rainfall was so recent.

So the next day I partially jumped on board the idea. Not quite ready to drink it, but certainly happy to wash dishes. I even managed to wash my hair…..which felt alarmingly good after 5 days of being hidden under beannies and caps. Well… good once it was over, since standing naked on top of a rock, throwing water on my body in the cool wind, took some inner strength. (Spoken like a true city girl, right?)

This area has much Aboriginal significance too.

The waterholes (known as “gnamma”) were a water source for the Aboriginals, Additionally, Walga Rock, a meeting point for Aboriginals from all over the area, contains a huge natural gallery of aboriginal paintings.

Every night we found amazing and remote campsites. With plenty of dead wood strewn about, we easily kept our fire stoked. It became quite the routine to collect wood before dark – enough to see us to sleeptime, and then enough to get us going for morning coffees . One of my favourite parts of the day was settling into my chair, glass of wine in-hand, and staring at the crackling flames.

The midges were an issue though, and it was a race some days to packup the campsite before they got too bad. I reckon a “camping onesie” would be a great invention – neck to toe coverage to keep these tiny critters off the skin. I’m currently researching a natural oil-based recipe for an insect repellent so that I can avoid DEET based products if possible.

Big Bell is a fascinating ghost town, which heydeyed during the gold mining era. The town has plenty of structural evidence intact, and enough signage to give one a feel for what it may have been like. I loved the two roomed house, each tiny room being dominated by a huge fireplace. I can imagine settling inside with a roaring fire, listening to the hum of the town through the stonework, as the outback winter night bore down upon the town. The pub is also relatively intact and was said to have the longest bar in Australia during it’s time. We Aussies do love our pubs.

One last riverside camp-spot near Murchison settlement before we headed back home. Usually dry, the river was somewhat flowing, and it was hard to pass up a swim in the sparkling light of the midday sun. The water was relatively shallow, and there was a seeming contrast between the clarity of the water, and the mud that one stirs up with their feet. It’s hard to beat that crisp tingling feeling you get upon emerging and letting the northern winter sun beat down on your body.

Comically, it’s then a rush to get back to the tent, to escape the army of flies! It's all part of life in the Outback.

And as if a grand finale were our reward, we were lucky to witness a lunar eclipse that night. A full 90 minutes of clear night sky and a large vivid changing moonscape.

So much amazingness packed into 8 days.

We made a video - please enjoy it!
Wags & Deb, 2019

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