During spring wildflower lovers and bird watchers travel to Western Australia’s mid west to enjoy the enormous variety of wildflowers and birds. Two easily accessible free overnight camp sites at Camel Soak and John Forrest Lookout located in station country on the north eastern edge of Western Australia’s wheatbelt east of Perenjori allow visitors to enjoy the natural beauty and tranquil scenery any time of year.
|Pink Velleia at Camel Soak|
Access is initially on bitumen from Perenjori via the Perenjori-Rothsay Road and then good gravel roads to the campsites. However, be aware that flooding and boggy conditions along the road can be encountered after rain, as we discovered on our visit in April, so a 4 wheel drive is recommended.
Camel Soak campsite is nestled under shady trees at the base of a granite outcrop on the Rabbit Proof Fence Road, approximately 39 kilometres east of Perenjori. There is plenty of camping space and the picnic area has a drop toilet, wood BBQs and picnic tables. In spring the surrounding bushland is covered in wildflowers, particularly fields of everlastings and velleia. Orchids can also be found around the base of the rock.
After rain the gnamma holes on the rock fill with water and the small granite catchment on the rock, also known as The Rock Hole, was sunk as a watering point for men and their camel teams who camped here while constructing the Number 2 Rabbit Proof Fence between 1903 and 1906. The 1166 km long Number 2 Fence, and the 1837 km Number One Fence, stretching from Cape Keraudren on the North West coast to Starvation Harbour on the South coast, were built to stop rabbits invading Western Australia’s agricultural regions, but did not however stop the invasion.
Further east, 61 kms east of Perenjori along the Perenjori-Warrieddar Copper Mine Road is John Forrest Lookout. The Lookout is located in the Damperwah Hills which Sir John Forrest (explorer and later WA’s first Premier) discovered and named during his failed search in 1869 for the missing German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt. In 1897 Forrest used the hill-top as a survey point during his expedition to Cue and Day Dawn.
It is easy to understand why granite outcrops and hills were used as survey points and lookouts by our early explorers, and as camping places to rest and water their horses. As well as the expansive viewpoint which would have assisted them in mapping their progress, the shelter of the outcrops would have given relief from days of forging their way through the thick scrubland.
The walk up to the Lookout is 750 metres uphill, but is not difficult. During spring, the dry scrubland is covered in many varieties of wildflowers and your climb will be rewarded with a spectacular 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding station country spreading out to the horizon in an undulating sea of scrubland splashed with the colours of spring.
To see this complete article, see On The Road magazine, August 2011.