Western Australian Visit. 2007
On the 25th August Trish and I flew into Perth armed with heaps of film, a rock hammer and excellent advice from Des and Penny . The purpose of our trip was to explore the South West Quarter of Western Australia, from Perth we headed North to the Pinnacles back through New Norcia, South through Margaret River to Augusta, East to Albany, Esperance, then North to Norseman and Kalgoorlie and finally back to Perth for a train trip ( you are allowed to carry double the luggage weight) back home.
The idea was to see the magnificent countryside and coast line, see and photograph beautiful widflowers, particularly the prolific and varied colourful orchids and where possible, pick up a few rocks and mineral specimens along the way.
A retired geologist friend in Perth started the ball rolling by giving us a few samples of orbicular granite. The Perth Science Museum has a good display which includes a couple of massive iron meteorites in the courtyard, if you can carry it you can have it!.
The fine print on the campervan hire contract barred off road driving which was to put a bit of a damper on things, particularly after we obtained a copy of the W.A. fossickers guide from the Perth office of the Mines Department. Visiting a vast farm machinery museum near Bunbury with a small but startling rock display we found that beautiful agates had been recovered from a local quarry and from dredging at the ‘Cut' at Bunbury.
We discovered that throughout this part of the state there are numerous private and public rock and mineral museums and displays. The large tin shed on the Bussell Hwy. between Bunbury and Capel is a must, a very large collection, well displayed, lit and owned by a German with a wicked sense of humour, a very enjoyable visit.
The five caves in the Margaret River region with access to the public are worth a visit, particularly the Jewell and Lake caves.
On the way to Pemberton we drove through Nannup and found another building next to a house marked Rock Museum, owned by an elderly gentlemen with a great display of well marked rocks and minerals, but appears to be more proud of all the items he has retrieved from the local tip which are also on display. At Bridgetown, the gentlemen in the local tourist office, after considerable trouble, managed to get us permission to visit the main office of the Sons of Gwalia (formerly Talison Minerals Pty Ltd.) mine at Greenbushes. Originally an open cut operation, there are now some 18kms of underground tunnels, recovering Lithium and Tantalum ore, a lady at the office gave us large samples and a nice non gem garnet crystal often found in the mine.
Between Albany and Esperance we stopped at Ravensthorpe at the caravan park where among other things, old toilets are used as plant pots. The area was once rich in copper and a visit to the old workings produced many nice specimens. Passing through Norseman, the working gold mine is impressive but a fossicking permit from the tourist office will give you 2 days access to the opalite fossicking site about 12kms out of town.
At Kalgoorlie, apart from usual attractions, a visit to the School of Mines Museum is a must, a huge collection , well displayed and labelled, absolutely magnificent.
As Des suggested off we went to Ora Banda, with 10kms of corrugated gravel road and the directions given to us by a miner put an end to considering taking the campervan on a cross country trip. However, we found some lovely mineral specimens in rock piles outside the pub.
After 7 weeks we finally arrived back in Perth, reality hit when we had to limit our luggage to 40kgs each which meant a quantity of rocks had to remain in W.A..
Adrian and Trish