Sat 5 Oct to Mt Trio Bush Caravan Park
Set up on a private farm. The guy does wild orchid tours and bush-tucker tours in an area of bush beside the camp. He has a big reservoir at the camp
The Stirling Ranges are the northern section of basalt/gneiss that was upthrust when Aussie and Antartica pushed each other - Perongurup, where we left this morning was the southern.
We got set up at the caravan park and did a lap of the mountains, about an 80km circuit. The most impressive was Bluff Knoll. Some keen and active folk were doing the track to the top and back in 3-4 hours. That was a good effort. A 51y/o local photographer went missing there last week. They found his body about 3 days later, he'd apparently fallen from the top.
At the wheat and canola paddocks adjacent to the bush caravan park, we'd noticed the fences, about 5.5ft high, 2 pieces of mesh, every 2nd post to full height and the others only half height. Some with 2 hot-wires under 1ft from the ground, others with one, and some with none.
Around the fire we asked the land-owner Q: what's the theory?
A: He has a problem with kangaroos overnight and emus during the day. Nothing will grow without fences to keep them out.
At his local ag-supply place they had these 3rd grade (the real fat/thin bendy ones) 2.7m posts on special for about $7ea. (vs. ~$18) So he bought a heap of them and then worked out the spacing and the distance in between that he could get away with for the shorter posts. And 2 lengths of short mesh was cheaper than 1 deer-fence width. The hot-wires stopped the roos and emus from burrowing underneath. They got used to it so quickly that he says he really doesn't need the power on any more.
Sun 6 Oct To Gnowangerup
It was just up the road but Lynn liked the idea of supporting a community run caravan park in a little village. No café, no lunch at the pub (the bar doesn't even open until 3pm on a Sunday). We did a lap of the village but didn't find many people. Even the lovely rec-centre only had 4 utes, and we think they must have been gym members as we couldn't see anything open.
Only one other caravan at the park.
The Ag Report
Even at a little town like this, on the edge of the wheat belt, the grain handling facility was huge, plus outdoor pads (currently empty). The new and used agricultural equipment huge.
Other crops around here are barley and fava beans. The fava beans apparently look black close to harvest.
We thought that the guy who pulled in was a truckie delivering big ag machinery from the size of the truck and gear, but he was a contractor mowing hay in the area - some of it for export! To Japan for race horses!
Although we've had plenty of rain on our travels Gnowangerup has been very dry, and the 15mm in the last few days has been very welcome. In the case of his hay it just gets a bit of moisture into the stalk before he cuts it. So we're still singing from the same song sheet - last year was the best that W.A crop farmers had for a long time (water and prices) but this year not enough rain.
This area used to be sheep farms, a lot of merino-crosses, and the prices have increased from their previous low-points, but the young guys allegedly prefer the crops as being less "hands-on" and all about the numbers.
Mon 7 Oct to Katanning
Last big shops for a while for re-stocking.
They don't have silos, but got some transformer boxes and walls done to be part of the silo trail.
The owner of a Silver Valley Buccaneer parked opposite. The same as ours but in 21.5ft - and he's pulling it with a white Ford Ranger. He bought a diesel heater off eBay. Installed the 10 litre plastic diesel tank in front of his gas bottles and protected it with a chequer plate guard. He put the burner and blower under one of the seats, beside the hot water and blows it back towards the bed. It surprised us that it uses 0.5 litres per hour - so max 20 hours per tank.
Tues 8 Oct
Tuesday is sheep day in Katanning. The Largest Undercover Sheep Yards in the Country gets a continuous line of stock trucks in for the sales starting 7a.m Wed. The galvanised rails swing aside so the 2 gun workers can get their sweeper machine through to clean the entire concrete pad without water. There is a concrete strip for the stock trucks to turn too, so that they don't rip up the asphalt.
The boss there had expected a bigger day today, but the recent 15mm rain has made de-stocking for summer less urgent.
The canteen at the sale yards is only open during Tues/Wed am. The Visitor's Centre "old-dear" said that we could book in for dinner as long as we didn't mind sitting with truckies and sheep farmers. We said that it'll make a pleasant change from speaking to other grey nomads.
We did a wander around the art-works here. They don't have any wheat silos (they have bins - like colossal warehouses with strengthened sides) so had their electrical transformer boxes and a few buildings muralised instead. It would have been a lot more impressive to paint the sides of the grain storage bins.
A lot of cheap hotel and motel accomodation. Wonder who uses it? Not enough people from the state of the Jumbuck Motel. Hotel accommodation from $50, lunch from $10 - incl. free pav!
There's a mosque, built by the Malay people from the Cocos and Christmas Islands. 10% of the town population is Islamic, with people from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Europe.
One imam is a coffee shop owner and is on the shire council. His father came here in the 70's to work in the abattoir.
About 400 indigenous people feel sometimes the focus is on migrant support rather than them.
The Shire of Katanning invited interest from developers to purchase the local mill building (the 1st business in town in the 1800's) for just $1.
In return, they sought from developers imagination and robust capital for an idea that they felt could be a game-changer for their town. ? undertook to spend $5M, ended up spending $8M on renovations. Now 22 luxury rooms upstairs and a bar and Dome coffee shop downstairs, with as much industrial stuff as possible still in situ.
Went to Police Lakes. Not sure why the recent wreaths, but would have liked to remove the old tyre and car door.