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Day 21 Trek

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

After such a wonderful and restful weekend with lots of very interesting diversions including that massage with aromatherapy I am so energized and ready to go.

We start our trek again and pass through the Golden Valley Tree Park. I'm very glad that I took the time yesterday to poke around as we really don't have much time to look. Also we are staying on the trail. It is still beautiful to see all the different trees alongside the trail. We keep going past the Park and come upon the edge of the Blackwood Valley.

The dynamic differences between the farmlands and wild forests are interesting to study. To realize that someone cleared the area to become farmland and has toiled long and hard to keep it is something to think about and realize how much easier it is to live in a city. It takes a dedicated person to do as such out here in the wilds. There really aren't any "day's off" when you are a rancher. There is always something to do for repair or maintenance not to mention the field work or animal work. It's like they are a breed unto themselves.

The mists in the valley are also picturesque. With the Karri tree tops above they remind one of a mountain range until the mists lift enough to see the trunks. The Karri are starting to become more numerous as we walk along the trail towering over the other gums like a king. The forest floor is becoming more lush with wild flowers and orchids of so many types I can't even keep track of them. I am still in awe of the sheer beauty and humbled by the nature of the forest. The colors and variety of plants and animals that have adapted to living here are so numerous the sheer numbers are staggering.

As we keep hiking we pass by the Southampton Homestead. It has an interesting past. It was originally constructed in 1862 by Richard Jones and his two sons Richard and William with mud-bricks fired on the site. It took them two years to complete and at the hight of the property being worked the Jones family managed some 27,500 acres! The produce included wine, wheat, fruit and 600 head of cattle. All the buildings of the homestead were the Homestead proper, kitchen/bakery, flour mill, Dairy, workshops, brick kilns, jetty, boat shed and workers cottages. It's no wonder it took them two years to complete.

The Homestead was named Southampton after the port in England that was near the town of Southampton that the Jones departed from. Mr Jones was no stranger to heartache and it seems he had his fair share of it. His wife died in childbirth in 1830. Being the first European woman to die in the new colony. His 3 month old infant, Joseph, died as well. Then in 1855 he purchased the land for the Homestead build a daub and wattle house with his two eldest sons, Richard and William, just to have it dramatically flooded in 1860. His daughter Mary was widowed in 1864 and brought her 4 children to live with him at the homestead that same year. His two sons never married so never produced an heir. Richard Jones died at the age of 81 in 1876. The two sons and Mary continued to live and work the homestead until William due to depression, poor health and eye sight took his own life in 1903.

Over the next 50 years the homestead changed numerous hands and fell into disrepair more and more with each change. Finally in 1960 the Forest's Department purchased it, planted pine trees and promptly forgot about it until in the late 1990's it was rediscovered and the heritage qualities were identified and the site slated for restoration. However that was not the end of it. In February 2013 there was a wild bush fire started by lightning strikes that razed the property despite the heroic efforts of the Firefighters.

The University of WA and University of Notre Dame Australia are still working to this day with the WA Heritage Council to learn more about this homestead. The archeological digs have found the original 1860 Homestead and the Mill. Of the seven buildings originally on the site, the archaeological survey goals are to identify the location, role and fabric of some of these buildings. The remains only have the most rudimentary evidence left.

Being a highly valued property it was recently awarded a triple-heritage listing with Local, State and Federal Australian government! The homestead is typical of mid-19th century construction so is a valuable site.

We pass by the Homestead and encounter the famous 'Cardiac' Hill. It is very steep going and we have to watch ourselves so that we don't trip and fall into each other. Nothing like the 'Domino' effect of people with backpacks on. lol As we top the hill we all take a very quick break and drink some water. There is not much talking happening as we all catch our breath and rehydrate. Then it is the 'down' side which doesn't look much less steep. lol So we have to really watch ourselves or we might go down hill rolling and falling instead. We keep a good distance between one another and watch our step here as well. We are truly not sure if 'up' or 'down' is better. It seems to be a toss up.

Karri Gully is located in the Dalgarup Reserve. Due to the moist area and the nutrient rich soil the Karri have grown to be the largest eucalyptus tree on earth. It is also know as one of the few largest trees of any species due to its growth of up to 85 meters! Definately one of the largest for sure. The undergrowth is incredible with all the colors and styles of plants and flowers. The numbers are intriguing and the orchids are amazing since they seem to grow out of nothing right on the trees or on the ground. There are more bog type species here because of the humidity so we see more flowers that closely resemble Jack in the Pulpit and some other bog live eaters as well. More Fungi are apparent and are growing on the sides of trees as well as on the ground of the forest.


We get into Gregory Brook Campsite and quickly set up our campsite falling into the rhythm of camping we have become familiar with. We cook our dinners and then go about exploring the campsite and the surrounding area. Some of us take the time to fish and quite a few of us are successful! So we clean and cook the fish sharing with all. Yum! We all clean up and start to quiet down as we all get ready for bed. It has been quite a day and we listen to the crickets singing and the frogs peeping as the rest of the wildlife gets to sleep and others wake up for their night time journeys. We are sung to sleep by the song of nature all around us as we lay our heads down for our own sleep.

Tomorrow is another day in paradise and we get to see more and more of the changing landscape and learn about what is coming up on the trail.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMMABE1 4/23/2013 4:38PM

    Another great blog - I'm glad you found the answer to Southampton Homestead for me - thank you - I knew there had been bad bush fires in that area - but I hope they had escaped - such a shame it was a lovely place but a very high fire risk area!!

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SEAWILLOW 4/23/2013 6:40AM

    Bravo! Awesome journey!

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