Archive | October, 2015
20 October 2015

Paynes Find – the truth

Cue wasn’t far. Just 80 k from Mt Magnet but in the wrong direction ie north, up the Great Northern Highway, back towards Newman and Meekatharra. Cue was on the radar cos Maggie said it should be and it was one of her most favourite places. And we weren’t far away. And it was on the wildflower trail. On the latter count it really didn’t work but it was certainly interesting. Plus it led us to Day Dawn, the town from whence the courthouse at Yalgoo came and Big Bell. Well Cue is good. An interesting old, reasonably well maintained piece of our history originated by gold fever back in the late 1800’s….

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This gaol around which the local caravan park is established in fact was used as the amenties block some time after its planned use was discontinued. Cue is full of historic buildings, mostly renovated and still in use. However, the Masonic Hall, now in private hands is not one ….

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described as Australia’s  oldest, largest corrugated iron structure still in use. Well not currently in use sadly. But many other buildings are…..

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and then out of town is Big Bell. Unfortunately not much left there now but if the pub can be an indicator of a towns stature, Big Bell had to be pretty impressive back in the early 1900’s….

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Not much left of the old town otherwise but the streets are still laid out and there are a few info panels around describing the occupancies. Also gold fever induced.

There is even less of Day Dawn left – really just the gold assay office….


and these “cabins” now relocated to the Cue caravan park….

DSC08794 plus of course the courthouse now at Yalgoo. Nevertheless it was interesting to explore the old town site to find the footings and rubble of old buildings and get an overview of what was.

Well gold continues to draw us on. Back down the Great Northern Highway, back through Mt Magnet where still nothing much appeared on the streets on down to ….. PAYNES FIND. Well once upon a time a Mr Payne lodged a gold claim although he did cheat by beating his partner to it. Other claims followed and the government put in a gold stamper to process the ore. Some 70 or so years ago the Howard family bought out the Payne claim and continued fairly successfully until relatively recently. Also at some point the Howards bought the gold stamper and operated it until just 4 years ago. The current family member Elaine Howard took over operations from her father some time ago and she continued to operate the stamper till just recently. She also runs guided tours and does a bit of prospecting on the side – well travelled and now 72 years old….

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And then it was back to the wildflower trail. Continuing on the Great Northern towards Perth we pull up at Wubin and turn north again now towards Perenjori


15 October 2015

Paynes Find…

God?   Gold?   The meaning of life?  –  Nah!.     But we’ll get to that.

From Geraldton we headed east – Mullewa, Pindar,  Yalgoo, Mt Magnet. All places I’m sure you’re overly familiar with. But they are on the wildflower trail and so are we. One such flower we were keen to find was the wreath flower and apparently Pindar is one of the few places in which it grows. We called in to the Mullewa Visitor Centre to get directions….DSC08698 DSC08699 DSC08700 DSC08701 DSC08702

but what you see is not it. This is a little out of the way but on the way church designed and built in the 20’s by one Monsignor Hawes but more on that to follow. Taking directions to Pindar we found, some 30k out of town and after offloading Suzi, the fabulous flowers we sought….

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Wreath flowers! They are a single stalk with radiating foliage and the flowers blossom on the ends of the radiating leaf formation. They grow only on recently disturbed land. Weird! They exist only in this general region.

Whilst back in Mullewa we viewed another Monsignor Hawes creation…

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and just to keep some things in perspective back in Geraldton we espied another, much grander Hawes creation without being aware of the ultimate significance of this priests architectural legacy….

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This is Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton. Dontya just love the stripes, a recurrent theme in many of his creations.

Anyway back to floral arrangements. This took us to an overnight stop on the side of the road which we eventually shared with a couple of houses….

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but they moved on about 6.00am. When we finally moved on ourselves we found these same two houses in the next township of Yalgoo, one already installed on site, the second in the process, just a few hours later. We have actually seen quite a lot of prefabricated houses on the move through WA over the last few months but have not seen the ease with which they are sited. But Yalgoo held some much older attractions, not the least of which is another Monsignor Hawes creation….

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a tiny little chapel attached to what was a monastery for perhaps half a dozen nuns at any one time. I guess the nuns had no attraction to the stripey theme as this one is quite plain inside. I seem to recall that this one was built in the 30’s and has been restored as a tourist attraction by locals. Had to get the key for this and the courthouse from the local store to gain entry. The courthouse proved to be another point of interest, mainly for the fact that it was a transported building, brought in from the then defunct gold mining town of Day Dawn back in 1926. OK, it was probably a bit more of a flat pack then than the ones we saw earlier today but still when you consider the terrain and the then forms of transport it still looks like a big job….

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and yet another point of interest was the picture of the tally board recording WA voters desire or otherwise to be part of the federation of states in 1900…


A goodly number voted against but overall the numbers are miniscule.

Other things keep getting in the way but we are still on the wildflower trail…

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We’ve even bought a couple of books to identify the multitude of varieties but they’re very dry reading (read – haven’t read them yet). But the variety grows…

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Some have told us that it is a good season, others the opposite. Don’t know but we did cover a lot of territory to get these pics – there are a lot of flowerless areas in between. Maybe it was too soon, maybe too late. But what we have seen has been nothing short of beautiful, fascinating and very colourful. In our perhaps limited experience this springtime display seems unique to WA. It has been worth seeing even from a self confessed ‘trogladites’  point of view. I’ll read the books one day and like our wildflower tour guide in Marble Bar I’ll spruik the botanical names of all the above (yeah, right!).

The next port of call was Mt Magnet, yet another gold mining town of history. Still gold mining but today it was out at the racetrack. Seems the whole town is at the races as nothing is open and there is no-one around. Wait, the pub just opened – it is 12.00 o’clock – hot beef roll and beer, beer, beer. Some locals appear and fill up quickly, we partake of the only hot beef rolls served today, and then they all get on a bus to where? – the racetrack of course, all fired up for a big day out. Oh, we’re not hanging around here – dread to think of local conditions around 6.00pm…

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Anyway there’s not much to see in Mt Magnet so its off to Cue. No, its not far Cue, its really only 80k’s!

Found the only caravan park in Cue and for 25 a night it represented the best value we’ve experienced on this trip so far. Nice little place attached perhaps appropriately to the old gaol…

but here something has gone drastically wrong with the photo file so rather than keep you dear reader hanging I’ll put this rather long and colourful post to air now and come back with another burst in due course.

And to really let you in on Paynes Find!


10 October 2015

In The Beginning

there were stromatalites. These are the beginnings of life on this planet. These things are bacterial carpets but look incredibly like rocks. Believe it or not they introduced oxygen to the atmosphere and once upon a time there were a lot more of them – like 4 billion years ago or so….

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We are at Hamelin Pool at the bottom of Shark Bay, far west coast just below Denham. Stromatalites exist in water that is beyond salty – nothing else survives. But, a little further up the coast molluscs survive the salt  in their billions – so much so that the entire beach is comprised of tiny shells….

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Well these are the remains of molluscs that clearly didn’t survive and apparently the beach has a history of establishment over just some 8000 years. It is spectacular in a tiny way. These shells do appear on the beaches of other parts of the Shark Bay area but not to the extent that they make up the entire “beach” at Shell Beach.

Kalbarri was to be our next contact with nature. As we generally head south back to Perth we work our way down the coast and so Kalbarri National Park and Kalbarri township was in the way….


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The National Park was once again quite stunning. I say “once again” as most of the parks through this trip have been spectacular. I never imagined we could get so excited about rocks – such natural beauty and intrigue.

Kalbarri itself is a pretty little seaside township, surrounded by parkland….

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and some stunning landscapes…..

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And then there were the wildflowers…

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Then there was Prince Leonard and Prince Graham of the Principality of Hutt River. Prince Graham signed our visas but Prince Leonard (ret.) was our most illustrious host…

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Princess Shirley passed away a couple of years ago so Jude offered to take her place but she was a bit too small for the chair, nor did she understand (nor did I for that matter) Prince Leonards mathematical formula for religion (I think it all boils down to 91 not 42). We didn’t buy his book on the subject. He was nonetheless bloody interesting, even more so for a 90 year old. We had our visas stamped and traded our Australian currency for Hutt Province paper money.

And then there were more wildflowers…

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We parked up for a couple of nights in an out of the way campground with no power or water  cos we needed cheap…

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but there was a great view if you could brave the wind and the flies.

On our continuing southbound trek we spotted a lake of different colours…

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Around the Pink Lake which is a commercial source of beta-keratin a food colouring we travelled to Port Gregory, a nice little seaside shanty/holiday village…

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with a very safe beach.

At this point we are just above Geraldton, about a days drive from Perth. We do want to see Geraldton so we found a “free camp” about 12 k out and then spent a day touring town. Nice town, quite a bit of interest….

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A busy port handling iron ore, talcum, grain and miscellaneous other primary stuff, and a magnificent memorial to the sailors of HMAS Sydney II.

The old gaol and hospital are fantastic old buildings, as is the art deco 1935 build RSL hall…..

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but, by and large it is just another seaport small city.

We are of course in WA at this time to experience the famous wildflowers so from Geraldton we decided to explore the wildflower trail that took us back inland. In also seemed appropriate to sus out some parts of the state that we weren’t necessarily planning to see at this time. So, tune in for the next edition of Tales when we elaborate on floral abundance (and other things).