Wednesday 19 October 2016

Hyden to Norseman

Today's blog post is about our 2 day journey from Hyden to Norseman, via the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail. It is a 300 km dirt road but it is highly maintained so that 2WD cars can go on it. Even after all of the rain that we had in Western Australia over this winter it was a wonderful road to drive, smoother than some sealed roads, and caravaners could easily cross, we even saw a sports car driven by a wildflower enthusiast, although we recommend talking to people with information at either Wave Rock or Norseman first because sometimes it is closed. We took two days to cross as we stopped at all 16 designated stopping places and camped along the way as well. We also recommend getting the flyer/ brochure which is probably one of the best informative flyers we have picked up as it gives the exact distances between stops, how far it is to Hyden and Norsman from each stop, it has two segmented maps of the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail, tells you where camping is permitted, where picnic tables are, and also details of the walking trails at McDermid Rock and Disappointment Rock.
We've talked about large granite outcrops in some of our recent posts. This section of WA as well as being in the wheat-belt, is also in an area with many granite outcrops, is rich with mining ores such as gold and nickel, and is home to some unique types of forests and woodlands. In this 300km stretch, the country and scenery changes dramatically sometimes as quickly as every half hour.

We left Wave Rock at about midday continuing east on our journey and went 136km, almost half way across the Discovery Trail, to where we camped at The Breakaways. Between Wave Rock and The Breakaways are 5 other areas to stop and take a look around, and each has interpretive signs to read: State Barrier Fence, (also known as the Rabbit Proof Fence), Holland Track, (a heavy 4WD track), Forrestania Plots, (plots originally cleared for farm land but left desolate due to the depression), Shire Boundary (where the the Shires of Kondinin and Dundas meet), Grevillea Hill (you can look out over the valley and see flame grevillea far as the eye can see), and finally The Breakaways, (where the landscape starts to change from sandy heathland to mallee and eucalypt forests).

The Breakaways was a lovely area with sandstone cliffs that were a couple of metres tall. It was about 3 in the afternoon and the sun was bouncing lots of beautiful colours off the cliff walls. It was a nice area and after we spent about half an hour just exploring, (no designated path), we decided to camp for the night as there were a few drop dunnies, and many camp fire pits around. Honestly the camp fire pits is what actually made us decide to stay! During the night we decided to grab the torches and walk around to see if there was any wildlife about, but it was probably too cold as we only saw a few spiders.

The next day we drove the remaining 165 kms to Norseman. Between The Breakaways and Norseman are 9 sites to stop at, and one final walk at Norseman: Emily Ann (so memorable I forgot what it was and had to look up on the internet that told me it was an old mine site, nothing here except a sign), McDermid Rock (granite outcrop), Lake Johnston (a salt lake), Lake viewpoint, Disappointment Rock (another granite outcrop), Woodlands, Gemfields, Lake Cowan Lookout (the lake just out of Norseman), and the Woodlands Walk at Norseman. There is walks at McDermid Rock and Disappointment Rock. Still not really sure why it is called disappointment rock, the view was just as nice as the other view points, but perhaps because it is another granite outcrop that looks similar to all the others. We did find a gnome who had made his home up there though, seeking shelter under a rock, waving at passers by like us. Just be aware if you are in a 2WD going to Disappointment Rock because even though it is only about 100 meters from the road, it is very rough going, be careful not to pop your tyres. There are also designated free camp spots at McDermid Rock and Lake Johnston.
Norseman is a gold mining town, although very small compared to Kalgoorlie. It is in between Esperance and Kalgoorlie, and the first proper town you will come across if you have travelled the Nullabor like we did back in March. It also has one of the holes for the Nullabor Links golf course.

By the time we had reached Norseman it was a week since we had left Bunbury in early September and as the week progressed we spotted more and more of the colourful wildflowers that Western Australia is famous for in spring time. Well at least the flowers thought it was spring even though the weather had been bitterly cold and some mornings there was negative temperatures! The lookout at Grevillea Hill was coloured orange. At The Breakaways there was a few sections that had a carpet of purple. On all of our walks up on the granite were many varieties of colours.

Happy Travels
- Jeni

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