The Golden Quest Discovery Continues

The Golden Quest Discovery Continues

In my first post about the Golden Quest Discovery Trail, things got a little out of hand. There’s just so much to tell! So I broke it up into two parts, especially seeing as this one will be starting with our visit to the old mining town of Gwalia. If you missed the first post, be sure to check it out HERE.

I left you at our camp on Malcom Dam, which is a 10 minute drive at the most from Gwalia. It was a damn chilly outback morning when we rocked up in the deserted and eerie main street outside the general store for a quick look at the town. Our quick look turned into a half day visit though, so be wary of that!

gwalia-ghost-town-camping

Most of the old buildings in the town have been restored by past and president residents (of which there are still 12) of the town. You are free to walk through the buildings for a glimpse of the hard life people endured for the promise of riches, and then head up to the Museum on the hill where you pay up your gold coin donation and see how the mine manager, Herbert Hoover lived in luxury compared to the workers.

historic-ghost-town-gwalia

Some of the dwellings are the size of a childs cubby house!

Some of the dwellings are the size of a childs cubby house!

wooden-head-frame-mining

After spending about 5 hours here when we only planned for one, we headed west for Lake Ballard – the site of Antony Gormley’s “Inside Australia” exhibition consisting of 51 metal figures dotted around the lake. I’d always looked forward to checking out Lake Ballard, it was an integral part of this trip; and it was absolutely incredible! There is no fee to camp at Lake Ballard, and among the harsh and baron landscape they have managed to pick a few shady trees to make a campground under. There is a pit toilet on site, fire pits and picnic table; but it’s BYO water and firewood.

Aint that just the ultimate camping spot?

Aint that just the ultimate camping spot?

It’s only a short walk from here to Snake Hill, a red mound of rocks and earth rising from the crusty white of the lake. Sitting atop the mound while the sun set was absolutely incredible in both the view and the atmosphere. That is the most memorable view of my life! We opted only for a short circuit walk around Snake Hill and back to inspect the sculptures, the full circuit is claimed to take an epic 7 hours!

lake-ballard-sculptures

Jake enjoying the view from the top of Snake Hill

lake-ballard-sculptures-nighttime

We’ve got only two nights left now, and those two are to be spent at Mt Elvire station. I’ve heard a lot about this place, about starry skies – pristine camping and some epic 4wd tracks; so my expectations are high. Setting high expectations is never a good thing, and sure enough I was disappointed when it wasn’t as I thought it would be.

The homestead - it's shitter than it looks

The homestead – it’s shitter than it looks

The homestead is open for visitors to stay in at a cost of $7 per night. Remote camping on the station is free. The homestead is quite run down, and not well kept. We steered clear of that and went searching for a nice campsite with some shady trees. We never found it; after driving around for a few hours and finding nothing but dead shrubs and lots of rock, we returned to the homestead area and camped at a little breakaway a few hundred metres out.

Not a shady tree in sight, but a scenic campsite in its own way

Not a shady tree in sight, but a scenic campsite in its own way

The story about how the area ended up in government hands is an interesting one. Some time in the 90’s I believe it was, the lease holders were busted growing a considerable amount of marijuana on the property as part of a big drug ring. Of course it got taken off them, under some proceeds of crime law or something. I’m both sympathetic and impressed; you’ve gotta have something to keep you happy out here, and growing it in middle of nowhere with probably only limited rainwater available is a fair effort!

breakaway-camp-mt-elvire

We cut our two night stay here down to just one. None of us were really feeling the vibe ya know? It’s about 200 km from Mt Elvire to Southern Cross as the crow flies. But seeing as we aren’t crows, we had to take the dirt track instead. It took us a fair while actually, arriving in Southern Cross around mid afternoon. Along the way we stopped off numerous times to pick Quondong fruits off the trees and check out more old mining areas. We didn’t have a plan for where to camp that night. Big mistake. We should have headed 50km east to the Karalee rock and dam; instead we headed west in hopes of finding a place. Unfortunately everything west of Southern Cross is wheat farming land and finding a camp was impossible. Next time, head for a campsite you know is legit!

danger-gravel-road

 

The fruit of the Quondong tree. Bitter with a faint peachy taste

The fruit of the Quondong tree. Bitter with a faint peachy taste

overland-gravel-road

If you end up making a dash for home as we did, a stop at the Etamogah Pub in Cunderdin isn’t a bad move at all. It’s a bloody weird building with apparently a mix of love and hate from the locals, but the food is alright and well priced! And of course there’s the novelty factor!

ettamogah-pub-cunderdin

That was it for our goldfields journey. We needed more time! I’ve thrown together a list of waypoints to be downloaded below for anyone who subscribes to the Intents Offroad newsletter, so hop onto that and plan your own journey!

Alex

About author

You might also like

Further Afield 3 Comments

The Journey Of A Lifetime

It was about 7:30AM. Alanna is behind the wheel, just outside of a West Australian town called Pinjarra. About 40 minutes from home. We are on our way to the

Weekends 5 Comments

Where and what is Sandy Cape?

Last week a video went live of our adventure to Sandy Cape, right here in Western Australia. I’d heard about the place for years but never been! So in this

Overland & 4WD 9 Comments

Busselton’s Secret 4WD Track

What’s this?! Busselton has a secret 4wd track? I don’t blame you for being surprised, everyone knows all the good spots down there right? But yet there it is, a

4 Comments

  1. Anne
    April 29, 07:49 Reply
    Sounds like a great trip and I am impressed that they could grow Marijuana out there! Nothing worse when you can't find a campsite, especially when you have two little kids with you!!!
  2. Leadfoot
    April 29, 07:54 Reply
    Looks like an interesting experience. I like old towns and the country side.
  3. Deanus
    September 20, 22:53 Reply
    G'day Alex, Forgive me if I'm asking a stupid question: where do I find the passwords? Thank you, Wayne
    • Alex Garner
      October 30, 10:26 Reply
      Just sign up to the email newsletter and they will be emailed to you mate :)

Leave a Reply