|An Unexpected Adventure |
During our travels we met two members of the Lismore Gem Club (NSW), Neil & Vicky with whom we shared our common interest and a passion to pick up a few rock samples along the way. Driving to Carnarvon we received a phone call from Neil “where are you?” After determining that we would be in the same place, Carnarvon for a week we managed to enjoy a happy hour or two and exchange notes.
Neil had made contact with an old friend, Bob from Fascine Electrics. Bob & his family were Rockhounds and had collected a great variety of gemstones from around WA. We were invited to meet Bob at 4pm to view the collection and equipment and perhaps pass on a few tips on Cabochon cutting. Bob knew the local area well and offered to take us all out to Mooka Station on the following Sunday. Of course we jumped at the opportunity.
Mooka Station, the home of Mookaite is located along the road to Gasgoyne Junction approximately 200km East of Carnarvon. The station itself is around, and includes the foothills of the Kennedy Ranges, western side. The station is huge and measured in square kilometres. The Kennedy Ranges also include Peanut Wood & Petrified Wood but further into the ranges than we were going that day.
Sunday came along and at 8am we set off for our journey to Mooka Station. The first 80km was bitumen and the next 100km supposedly graded gravel. Corrugations, ruts and small gutters were the norm. Bobs’ 4wd handled it all very well at about 90 km/hr. Animal watch was very important with all of us on alert to spot straying beasts, Kangaroos, Emus, Goats (100’s of them) and of course beef cattle. All were spotted from time to time and the necessary cautions observed.
Finally we came to an area where the road had been remade; we could have filled a bucket of rocks then and there but Bob said “leave that stuff there, there’s better where we are going”; with that we remounted the vehicle and drove on. Shortly afterwards we turned left into Mooka Station and proceeded a distance of about 10km coming to the bank of the Gasgoyne River. The river is dry as chips – not a drop of water anywhere just a river of loose sand.
Letting some of the air out of the tyres and selecting 4wd, L2 we literally ploughed our way to the other side of the river a distance of about 120m. (in the wet season this river can flow up to about 10m deep) We drove on about another 15km, still on Mooka Station.
At last our destination was reached, this was two open cut Mookaite mines, one owned by the previous owner of Mooka Station and the other by a Melbourne based firm. They were mining the base and cliff face of Mooka Ck., hundreds of tonnes of Mookaite. One of the mines was in operation while we were there and we were given permission to take a few pieces. Naturally we did, we also tried to be selective but out there it all looks terrific with the reds, yellow, pinks and almost purple colours that we overdid the collecting slightly.
There are thousands of tonnes of Mookaite out on the station; practically the whole of Mooka Ck has over time cut its way into the Mookaite to form a small gorge.
We stopped at a couple places on the way back looking for petrified wood; this was of rather poor quality, however we did pick up a few small pieces of dendritic opalite.
What a great day this turned out to be. We had a picnic lunch with terrific people on the banks of the Gasgoyne River surrounded by Coolabah trees, River Gums, Native Sandle Wood and the inevitable Gidgee trees many of which had been trimmed off by the wild goats.
Our journey back to Carnarvon was just as challenging as the drive out with the road conditions and livestock on the road.
We enjoyed our time with Bob & his family and with Vicky & Neil. We expect to stay in contact in the future.