Thursday, April 18, 2013
The Harris Dam Campsite was wonderful. We all had a nice easy day yesterday and were able to do some short hikes around the camping area. As we pack out we listen to all the birds in the area chittering to greet the day.
We hike out and soon are in Collie and are able to take in some of the local history.
The Shire of Collie was named after Dr Alexander Collie who was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, June 2, 1793. He was originally an assistant surgeon in the Navy. He also studied Botany, Mineralogy and Chemistry. He also was well traveled. Some of the places he traveled were Africa, Brazil, Chile, the Sandwich Islands, California, Kamchatka Peninsula, Taiwan and Mexico. He joined an expedition in 1879 to Western Australia. He and Lieutenant Governor Preston became friends and they discovered two rivers that the Governor named after them. The Collie River and the Preston River. Dr. Collie has a granite monolith erected in the Shire of Collie to commemorate him. He died at King George Sound on November 8 1835.
The Shire of Collie has a rich coal mining history. They even have a tour of a replica underground coal mine. The mine is open daily and you can go on tours that are lead by one of the "old locals" who are able to convey what it was like to work in a coal mine as well as the 'culture' that was there in the day. It is located right next to the Collie Visitors Center.
There is also the Coalfields Museum if one doesn't want to go underground. The ‘Australiana’ style pubs show the optimism and prosperity of the early mining days and the distinctive All Saints Anglican Church, built in 1915, is a fine example of Italian style architecture. So as you can see there is something for everyone.
The old building that houses the Coalfields Museum used to be the Roads Board building. It displays a collection of memoirs from the pioneering days of Collie, including gemstones, mining and machinery. Coal Miner Stan Cull almost single handedly created this museum. Many household items are on display in the museum including bottles, radiograms, phonographs, gramophones, wirelesses, a baker’s cart, mining equipment, Coolgardie safe, IcyBall refrigerator, Lynch’s Rock and Mineral display, Fred Kohler woodwork, Gastaldo Homestead items, Della bus, all time great fireman Dudley Magill’s bust, and many historical photos just to name some of them. Also housed in the museum is a 3000 piece doll collection.
There is also the old Goods Shed built in 1898 by CY O'Connor and forms part of the 'Working Life Trail' in Collie. The shed has recently been restored by the Collie Heritage Society and is used on occasion for a market on alternate Sunday mornings.
The significant role rail played in the emergence of Collie is highlighted at the Collie Historical Rail Precinct. Collie Coal was discovered in 1883 but the South West railway line was completed in 1893 and the line from Brunswick to Collie in 1898. Access to rail transport launched Collie and the coal industry. Many West Australians are unaware of the important role that CY O’Connor played. He pushed hard for the building of the line from Brunswick to Collie and argued convincingly for the use of local coal so that WA would be independent of the unreliable Eastern States coal. The old railway goods shed at Collie is the sole original building. The Bill Weir Rolling Stock shed is where the restoration of rolling stock takes place. Some of the exhibits are ‘the ganger’s favorite’, the Kalamazoo to the First Class Sleeping Coach AZQ415 and all types of wagons and coal trucks in between.
Well after a few wanders to several of the places I decided to take a rest. I only walked 1,598 steps but I did help out cleaning up after some messy tourists who were not with us.
I hope everyone has a great sleep. I know I will.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
After the easy day yesterday and a fun night in the campsite we are up and ready to go in good time. We pack up and out on our way to the Long Gully Bridge to cross over the Murray River for the last time.
The Long Gully Bridge is a stellar example of a curved railway bridge. It was originally used to transport timber on the railroad that used to run over it. This bridge is also the largest and most significant wooden trestle bridge in the northern jarrah forest. It has been repaired but it is only for foot traffic now. Lucky for us.
Another tidbit of information about the Darling Scarp is that the region, which includes the John Forrest National Park (near Perth), produces wood distillation products and charcoal from eucalyptus, as well as pig iron and bauxite.
Pig Iron is defined as 1. iron tapped from a blast furnace and cast into pigs in preparation for conversion into steel, cast iron, or wrought iron.
2. iron in the chemical state in which it exists when tapped from the blast furnace, without alloying or refinement. It is the crude iron that people use to make other alloys or items.
Bauxite is a soft, whitish to reddish-brown rock consisting mainly of hydrous aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides along with silica, silt, iron hydroxides, and clay minerals. Bauxite forms from the breakdown of clays and is a major source of aluminum.
Some Wood Distillation products are Charcoal, Acetic Acid, Acetone, Methanol, Methyl Acetone and Wood Tar just to name a few.
The range was named for Sir Ralph Darling, governor of New South Wales (1825–31).
The Harris River Dam was opened in 1990. It supplies water for the Great Southern region. The region used to be supplied by the Wellington Dam on the Collie river, but due to the problems with salt they had to build the Harris River Dam. Due to the fact that people are drinking from the water there it is a look but do not enter area. You may use the lovely park area but there is no swimming, wading, fishing etc in or near the dam.
After a wander around there we arrive at the official campsite and go about the now familiar setting up of our cozy camp and get underway fixing our dinners. It looks to be a nice easy night and we all bug spray ourselves and help each other with the hard places to get and settle in for a wonderful evening.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
After a refreshing weekend I'm ready to go. We leave Dwellingup walking along the Bibblulmun Track still going south. We are heading to our First of two camp sites before we get into Collie. The first camp site is in the Lane-Poole Reserve.
The reserve was named after C.E. Lane Poole, the State's first Conservator of Forests and a devoted conservationist. It was declared a reserve in 1984. The reason the reserve was made is to conserve the Northern Jarrah Forest and the Murray River. This reserve is only about 2 hours from Perth and has tons of activities to do. You can even lose cell signal out there!
Along the Murray River was a little town called Nanga. It was a Milling town and grew up because a Saw Mill was established there. It started off small and grew big enough to compete with the Dwellingup facility. The town had a store, butchers shop, hall, billiard room and school. By 1940 the town had acquired three tennis courts and a sports oval. Unfortunately WWI hit this town very hard. In 1941 the mill burnt down; arson was suspected. The company rebuilt a smaller mill that was able to run on only 16 people. A lot of people enlisted into the military and left the town which made it extremely hard to run even that mill. Unfortunately after WWII and the fire in 1961 the town was officially closed by the Governor General. Now days Nanga has been converted to a camping site. Parts of the old town are still there however and one can rummage through the remains of it.
The Murray River is used by thousands of people annually. They canoe, raft, fish, and do many other river activities. The fish that are popular are crawfish, marron, as well as rainbow trout, redfin perch and cobbler. The Crawfish and Marron are not really fish but are actually Crayfish. Crawfish in the South of USA are also called Crawdads. They both look like petite lobsters but are not related. There is the critically endangered Hairy Marron of the Margaret River and the Smooth Marron which is outcompeting the Hairy Marron. Marron is actually considered a luxury item and is being farm raised to supply the demand. Recreational fishing for Marron is tightly controlled, with a limited season, permits are required and minimum sizes are enforced. So make sure you know what they are before catching any for tea. Marrons is also a culinary name for chestnuts, as in marron glacé. It is also the French name for Maroon people.
Cobblers are not only shoe makers. It is also a fish that is a bottom dweller. While the flesh is soft and very tasty, they have nasty sharp venomous spines found on the dorsal and pectoral fins that are to be avoided! They are part of the Plotosidae family commonly known as the Eel-tailed Catfish. The species found in Australia are only found on the Southern half of along the edges. The Cobblers can live in both the estuaries and the ocean. They prefer about 22 degrees C and 22 percent salinity in order to spawn. It is thought that the fish in each of the area do not interbreed. Sometimes it is impossible due to the river not reaching the ocean. Others do reach the ocean but they have not been seen to cross breed. The male makes a burrow and entices the female to come lay her eggs in it. Their eggs are larger than most and the female only lays between 500-1500 eggs. This is a small amount for fish. The Male then guards the eggs until they hatch and takes care of the hatchlings for about a month when they are finally big enough to fend for themselves. It is known that fish who make nests and care for their eggs and hatchlings lay fewer eggs than those that don't. the Cobbler can grow up to 91 cm in length and weigh in at 2.5 kg and live up to 13 years. The Swan Estuary population has declined alarmingly. So it was banned from being fished in July 2007 for 10 years in order to allow the population to recover. Commercial fishing for the Cobbler began as early as the 1940's. Each estuary's population has a distinct genetic makeup. That makes it easy to know where the commercial fishers are obtaining their stock. There are strict guidelines that the commercial fishers have to follow including when and where as well as the time they are allowed to fish. That way the commercial fishers as well as the recreational fishers do not compete directly against each other.
The Murray River is Australia's longest river. It is approximately 1,476 Miles or 2375 Km! It raises up and over the Alps, through the plains, borders New South Wales and Victoria, before turning south to reach the ocean at Lake Alexandrina. As large and long as this river is without an estuary it is useless to commercial ventures. It also has numerous "snags" or fallen trees that would rip out the bottom of any commercial ships and fluctuates to much to be reliable. In the past they tried to remove the snags but there were to many of them to make it feasible. They have actually replaced them now with felled Gum Trees to replace the habitat for fish and other water life that were impacted from the removals. They have tried paddle boats in the past as well as barges. Both ended up not being very lucrative. So today it is still used mainly by recreational uses mainly skiing, houseboats both for hire as well as privately owned and fishing. There are some historic paddle boats that you can take a cruise on from a half hour up to 5 days.
The wildflowers are abundant. They cover everywhere. The forest floor as well as up in the canopy. The Melaleuca thickets and flooded gum woodlands are a site to see. We know the Melaleuca commonly as the Tea Tree. It is known for it's healing properties. Tea Tree Essential Oil is a steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. The leaves were historically used as a substitute for tea. However it is not recommended to drink tea made from the leaves. One can make a "tea" from the leaves and then apply it to the body part that ails you. It is the oil in the leaves that is the medicinal part. The aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections by crushing the leaves and applying them to the affected area. Tea Tree has been proven to be antiseptic and anti-fungal.
The Black Cockatoo has five different sub species in it. The Red-tailed, Glossy, Yellow-tailed, Carnaby's and Baudin's. Cockatoo's can only be found in Australia. They are larger than Parrots and have a gall bladder. They can never be Blue or Green. They lack the special feather composition that gives the parrots those colors. Cockatoos can live up to 50 years old and are very social birds. They mate for life. The Carnaby's Black Cockatoo is endangered. It is also known as the Short-billed Black cockatoo. It is endangered due to the clearing of the Salmon Gum and Wandoo trees. Those trees are being cleared for farm land. Those particular trees create crevasses that the birds like to use for their nests. Some of the reasons for the decline of this cockatoos is the removal of nest hollows for use as firewood or just to make properties look 'tidy'. Much woodland lacks hollows, and it takes over 100 years for woodland seedlings to mature and form hollows suitable for nesting. Poaching: illegal poaching is still a threat - trees are often cut down or the hollow severely damaged when young and eggs are taken, removing breeding sites. Invasive species like the Galah and the Western Long-billed Corella are competing with and excluding Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos from traditional nest hollows. Male Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos feed the female at her nest during the incubation period and fly over 12km to ensure she gets the food she needs during nesting. The cockatoos rarely use the same hollow to nest in if the breeding attempt the previous season was unsuccessful. The birds display strong bonds with their partners throughout their adult life. If two eggs are produced, the second egg is laid two to eight days after the first egg. I sure hope to be able to see one in the wild and take its picture.
After looking all over we wander into our camp tired and happy. We haven't seen a Carnaby cockatoo yet but there's still time. We set up our tents and get our beds all ready and prepare a good dinner. Sitting around after dinner we chat about the days travel and all the sites we have seen thus far.
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