Motoring to Mukinbudin Western Australia

Mukinbudin. Its name doesn’t automatically conjure up an image of a tropical paradise. And it would be fair to say that Mukinbudin’s tourist facilities are fairly scant.

Sometimes, though, a place can offer much more than you anticipate; and on a recent visit, Mukinbudin sure did offer up many pleasant surprises that made my stay in Mukinbudin most worthwhile.

I chose to stay in Mukka, as the locals call it, because at 296 kilometres North East of Perth it would be an easy drive, with plenty of stops for photography and wildflower watching.

The wet winter meant that both wildflowers and crops were plentiful, and it was a truly beautiful drive via Goomalling, Dowerin, Wylkatchem and Trayning. This is a route that obviously sees little traffic as seeing other cars was a rarity.

Mukinbudin is a reasonably sized town with a Shire population of about eight hundred. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and most of the town was shut, although there was a café open. We had considered filling the car up with fuel but the fuel facilities seemed closed. I later learned that you can purchase pre-paid coupons from the café that can be used in the bowsers there.

I didn’t dwell too long in the town as I had accommodation booked at Watson’s Way Bed & Breakfast, a country stay 70 kilometres North East of the town.

It was a very pleasant drive as the paddocks were lush with growth; mainly wheat, lupins and canola. The fields of canola are particularly attractive. When in flower they are a vibrant iridescent yellow colour and make for a fascinating patchwork when seen positioned near wheat and lupin fields.

Western Australia is such a vast State seventy kilometres doesn’t seem terribly far, and the drive to Watson’s Way was full of interest. The good winter rainfall meant that many of the lakes and pools actually had water in them. Roadside bushes were in full flower, and what remarkably vivid reds, yellows, whites, blues and purples they were. Mukinbudin Shire calls itself `Classic Dry Red Country’ due to the deep red of the region’s soils. Many of the trees had glossy, bronze trunks and all these colours combined gave the landscape a surreal edge at times.

Staying at Watson’s Way Bed & Breakfast was a real delight. Owned by Brian and Ray Watson, it is a working grains farm.

For visitors, there are two separate cottages which each sleep four, and two twin rooms inside the main house. I opted for one of the cottages, and found it to be very comfortable. The cottages look basic from the outside, but they are very homely inside, and quite welcoming. Brian and Ray have included nice little touches such as a CD player and selection of CDs, which aid the relaxation no end. The cottages have kitchens, but the Watsons’ do provide country-cooked breakfast and dinner at reasonable cost. They are convivial hosts and, if sharing dinner with them, you are encouraged to take in a bottle of wine and make a pleasant evening of it.

During our dinner conversation I learnt about nearby Beringbooding Rock, which is the largest rock water catchment tank in Australia. Brian told me that the catchment tank and wall were built in 1937 when the effects of the Great Depression were still being felt in rural Australia. Sustenance labour was used to build the massive tank and wall at a cost of ten thousand pounds. When the supervisor was wired from Perth asking why the project was taking so long to complete, he wrote back saying, `in order to keep these men employed’.

An early morning walk to the rock next day showed how ingenious the work was. The tank is vast and holds about four and a half million litres of water. A low, rock wall is built strategically around the wall to gather any run off and channel the water into the tank. Until recent times most of the nearby farmers obtained their drinking water from here, but most are on scheme water now. Farmers still use the water when spraying and fertilising.

Apart from its historic interest, Beringbooding Rock has many other interesting features. The back of the rock has a wave formation hewn into it; a large boulder balances perilously in another section. There is also a large, permanent gnamma, or water, hole nearby and some Kalamaia tribe paintings on a cave in the rock. Excellent views of the surrounding countryside can be seen from the cairn at the apex of the rock.

There are a couple of rocky outcrops in the district, but the one that really impressed me was Elachbutting Rock, about ten kilometres from Beringbooding.

Elachbutting Rock is a bit of a secret, but it shouldn’t be! The locals know about it, and, apparently, it’s not uncommon for four wheel drive clubs to camp out here, but the rock really is off the tourist trail.

Apparently, the name `Elachbutting’ means `that big thing standing’, if so, it is certainly well named. There is a six-kilometre one way vehicle track that surrounds the granite rock, but the interest really lies at the rock face itself.

Firstly, Elachbutting features a colourful wave feature of large proportions, much like Hyden’s Wave Rock. At the end of this wave is Monty’s Tunnel, a forty-metre tunnel caused by the collapse of a section of the rock. This part of the rock is simply phenomenal. It is a narrow, but quite safe, passageway that curves up many metres above your head. Light plays against the various colours in the rock making for a most interesting journey. Upon disgorging oneself from Monty’s Tunnel, you can see how the outer section of rock has just torn away from itself leaving scars of light-grained rock exposed to the elements. Close by is an echoing cave, and on another part of the monolith there is a rock formation that strongly resembles a breaking wave.

The vegetation around Elachbutting Rock is quite lush, with many wildflowers and other flora, such as donkey orchids, on display. It is possible to drive up onto the rock, but the route looks to be suitable for four wheel drive vehicles only.

Mukinbudin turned out to be a most interesting district to visit, and there is enough in the area to keep the visitor occupied for a couple of days at least. Prices at Watson’s Way B&B are very reasonable – and the home made Quandong jam served at breakfast is delicious! You can vary the route of the drive to and from Mukinbudin to add greater variety to your trip, and you will certainly be avoiding masses of other traffic so making it a relaxing way to enjoy a motoring holiday.

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