Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Sunday, 22 November 2015

Free camping at McDermid Rock, Western Australia

Hi everyone, looking for a wildflower drive? You don't mind bush-camping and a bit of gravel, but don't want to be too "off-road"? Read on. 

I am back this week with the next part of our recent wildflower trip out east of Hyden in Western Australia. If you missed the first part, Camping at Dryandra, you can catch up here - Camping in the Dryandra Woodland, Western Australia

From Dryandra we headed east through the wheat-belt to Hyden and then out along the Hyden to Norseman Road. We have been along this road a few times now, and if you don't mind gravel it is a good short cut going to or coming back from the Nullarbor and the eastern states. 

I blogged about it here in 2013 - Granite & Woodlines Discovery Trail, Hyden to Norseman


When we arrived in Kulin (home of the famous Kulin bush race meeting, and the Tin Horse Highway), we were surprised to see right in the middle of town next to a small park is a FREE 72 hour parking area for fully self contained vans. There is no power but it is right next to public toilets with a shower and RV dump.  What a fabulous initiative to encourage people to stay in Kulin overnight and spend some money in this very neat and quiet country town. Make sure you check on the horses constructed by farmers in their paddocks on the Tin Horse Highway.

 From here we continued to Hyden (home of the famous Wave Rock) where we filled up at the 24 hour fuel stop ($1.30/litre for diesel) and then continued east to the Hyden-Norseman Road - known as the Granite & Woodlands Discovery Trail - approx 300kms from Hyden to Norseman. This can be covered in one day but it is better to take two days, camp along the away, and stop at the 16 designated stopping places where interpretive signage describes the history, geology and ecology of this vast uninhabited area. Please note, no fuel or supplies between Hyden and Norseman.

The Hyden to Norseman road is a good gravel road which we have usually found in great condition, other than October 2013 when it had turned to slippery mud after a night of rain.  You can see some pics on my previous blog post - Granite & Woodlines Discovery Trail, Hyden to Norseman

This time it was dry and easy going, but please do drive to the conditions and watch out for the mine haulage trucks that frequent this road.

We were looking forward to reaching a particular area dominated by a heathlands which in October 2013 had been covered by the most amazing display of wildflowers I have ever seen. Unfortunately when we arrived we found that it had been completely burnt out by bushfire. So disappointing, but it really does show you the ferocity of bush fires out here. However no doubt when we return in years to come the bush will be back in full bloom. Bushfires are natures way of regenerating. 

You can see my photos from 2013 below, and current photos. What a difference. 

But we were very happy to see some patches of the magnificent Flame Grevillea - Grevillea excelsior - which is a 1-8 metre high shrub with huge orange flower spikes 5-20 cm long. They really are spectacular and a feature along this road.

Further along we left the burnt out area and reached the woodlands where we started to find more wildflowers.
 These are Dampiera flowering along the roadside. 

And the Quandong trees (native peach) in fruit - Santalum murrayanum. These were an important food source for the aboriginal people and early settlers. You might like to taste them, but they have a sharp bitter taste. However Quandong preserves and fruit leather we bought in South Australia were delicious!

We reached our FREE campsite at McDermid Rock at about 4 o'clock. We have camped here twice before and we manged to camp in the exact same spot as these previous two times. There is something comforting about coming back to a favourite camping spot.  There are no facilities other than long-drop toilet and a few picnic tables, but that doesn't worry us. We watched the moon come up through the trees and toasted marshmallows over the fire.

The camping ground is nestled in trees at the base of the rock. There is a walking trail over the rock linked by interpretive signage. The best time to walk is early morning or late afternoon, not during the middle of the day when it can be very hot.

Balancing rock at McDermid Rock

And yes, there were wildflowers. As I am not a botanist, I will only give you common or family names, and please do not hold me to these names! Below you can see clockwise from top LH corner....
Firebush, One-sided bottlebrush, wattle, Fuchsia, Waitzia, sorry I can't identify the white flower, Senna-Casia, Eucalyptus, and in the centre a tiny flower growing out a crevice in the rock.

We decided to camp at McDermid Rock for 2 nights, and took a day trip over to Lake Johnson and Disappointment Rock. 

Lake Johnson, only about 5kms from McDermid Rock is a huge salt lake. There are a few campsites amongst the gimlet trees on the edge of the lake, but the camping and picnic area is quite open to the elements. The lake may appear dead, but it actually supports a huge variety of life.

23kms further east from Lake Johnson is Disappointment Rock. Although we had stopped here a couple of times we had never walked over the rock. There is a 1900 metre walk trail with interpretive signage that takes you over the rock. Make sure you study the walk map before you set out, as we took a wrong turn and ended up having to backtrack. Please wear a hat and sturdy boots and carry water.  The walk took us about 2 hours and it was very hot by the time we got back to our car. 

The image you can see top RHcorner here is a "water-eye" gnamma rock hole, a very important source of water to the early Aboriginals as it stored water a lot longer than the usual pan gnammas in summer. This is just one of the features you can learn about on your walk over Disappointment Rock. 

The forces of nature at work at Disappointment Rock

I love the rock gardens and look out for the ornate dragon lizards which you will see darting everywhere over granite rocks like Disappointment and McDermid rocks. You have to be quick!

These wattles were growing around the base of Disappointment Rock. The bees were enjoying them. 
I don't know why it is called Disappointment Rock, as it was far from disappointing!

 I was in raptures to see Granite Sun Orchids which flower in the rock gardens on granite rocks.  Can you see where I have circled one in purple, lower RHcorner? 

 From Disappointment Rock we turned back west and then north onto Victoria Rock Road as we wanted to visit Banks Rock about 10kms north. We had read that the track was not suitable for towing a caravan or camper and I would agree with that. Banks Rock would be better for tenting. We had lunch under a tree and had a short walk over the lower rock, it was now too hot to do more. There are no facilities, and I think that McDermid Rock is a far preferable campsite.

Below you can see Tea-Tree, Fringe Lily and yellow Waitzia. I think bottom RH corner could be Burrobunga but I am not sure. There were numerous gnamma holes with water in them.

 And some more gorgeous wildflowers along the Hyden to Norseman Road. 
Below you can see clockwise from top LHcorner - 
Tea-tree, Fringe Lily,  Eremophila, Native Hibiscus, Feather flower, Silky Halgania, Starflower, Blind grass, and in the centre Honey Myrtle 
(but as I said I am not a Botanist, so please don't hold me to these names)

Below clockwise from top LHcorner - Pop flower, Goodenia, Green Mulla Mulla, Native Foxglove, Coneflower, Tinsel Flower, the remains of a Tennis Ball Banksia (can you see why it has this name?), and in the centre the yellow Golden Feather-flower.

There were also many Hakeas and Grevilleas. These two families of plants are very similar, so I am not going to even try to identify them, other than the Flame Grevillea, top LHcorner.  If you would like to read more about these plant species please go to "Esperance Blog" - Hakeas and Grevilleas

We enjoyed our time around McDermid and Disappointment Rocks and I enjoyed my time taking photos of the wildflowers. I hope you have enjoyed them too. It's a good idea to carry a wildflower identification book. A series I can thoroughly recommend is Eddy Wajon's Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia. You can see the set of 4 books on this link - Guide to Spring Wildflowers

On my next blog post we will continue north and then east again to Cave Hill, the southern goldfields and the area known as the woodlines. 


Road is a good quality gravel road suitable for all vehicles, including those towing a caravan or camper, however please take note of “road closure” signs and drive for conditions when wet.
Watch out for wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk.
There are no facilities or towns between Hyden and Norseman. so carry adequate fuel, provisions and water. 

Early morning mist at McDermid Rock

Location:  Perth to Hyden - 340km, Hyden to McDermid Rock - 192km, Hyden to Norseman - 300km.
Ideal time to travel: April and October when the weather is cooler (generally 20-25C) Night temperatures can be very cold- so be prepared with warm clothing. Temperatures in summer months vary between 30 and 40C
Facilities:  Picnic tables, fire rings, long drop bush toilets at some sites.  Be aware of camp fire bans, and use a gas stove.  Take your rubbish out with you. 

Along the Hyden-Norseman Rd, about an hour from McDermid Rock

Shire of Dundas - Shire of Dundas

A Guide to the Granite and Woodlands Discover Trail booklet – Shire of Dundas
 Australia's Golden Outback - self drive Woodlands Discovery Trail

This is a map from the Shire of Dundas website:

McDermid Rock, Lake Johnson & Disappointment Rock are where the trail peaks up in the middle of the marked route. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

 You might also like - 
Flowers that bloom in the red rock of Mount Augustus
Bushwalking at Hoffman's Mill, Harvey
Rock building blocks


I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday
Through My Lens 
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday

What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
The Weekly Postcard 


  1. I reminds me of the desert areas of Oregon (and a few other states) but yours has the most amazing wildflowers I have ever seen! Wow! Would love to see more photos of the wildlife there.

  2. Wow Jill - so many beautiful photos. I love all the wildflowers. The landscape is distinctly Australian.

  3. Fantastic Jill. This post must have taken you hours to put together. You should be writing a guide book for outback camping, I think, as you have curated so much useful information. Really useful post for anyone thinking of getting off the beaten track in WA.

  4. Marvelous photos - truly SO beautiful!
    I hope you'll come link up again at this week's Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday). It opens in just a few hours!

  5. An amazing post and photos Jill. I see the beauty of our country through your lens xxx

  6. Hello Jill, what an awesome place to camp. The scenery is gorgeous and the wildflowers are all lovely. I wish I could be there to see it all myself. Wonderful post and beautiful photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  7. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and impressive world.

  8. I can feel the heat of the desert, but I also admire the beauty of the landscapes. Australia (especially this western part) is so rugged and crowned with immense natural beauty. Thanks so much for linking in with "Through My Lens".

    Mersad Donko Photography

    1. Thankyou Mersad. Yes Australia truly is beautiful. This area is dry and is not farmed, but it is certainly not really desert, as you can see by the trees and the amazing wildflowers. The more rugged parts of Western Australia are further north in central and northern Western Australia.

  9. Wonderful post with fabulous shots. I especially loved the wild flowers

  10. There is so much I don't know what to comment on...what an adventure you had and all these wildflowers....it is heaven there. And the stunning views...what an amazing spot...I especially loved all the amazing flowers and the Balancing rock at McDermid Rock...can't wait for more adventures!

  11. Amazing scenery! What a beautiful place to camp and hike and your wildflower photos are beautiful!

  12. I am in love with these wild flowers. Amazing varieties and the colors are most gorgeous!

  13. Wonderful shots of the wild flowers and scenery.

  14. Beautiful images of all the plants and flowers. Freedom camping is becoming less and less available in New Zealand. 3 days of parking is awesome?

  15. Such fabulous pictures, isnt nature awesome? I love the pools of water!!
    Salt lakes are interesting, I lived by one of the largest in the world, Great Salt Lake.
    THank you for sharing the beautiful images, a great rip through your lens!
    Have a great week!

  16. great shots, love all the different colors!

  17. I wasn't expecting so much beauty from a place called Disappointment Rock. It, along with the other places you visited, are such good displays of the wonders of nature. Even though you are not a botanist, I've always been impressed that you can identify as many flowers as you do. I like those gnamma holes, too.

  18. What an impressive place full of natural beauty. All the flowers are so beautiful.

  19. What an amazing amount of diverty in plants for such a dessert location. Simply lovely!

  20. We never got to Hyden and Wave Rock on our travels around Aus, but we did stay at Norseman after coming across the Nullarbor. We did go to this place called Pildappa Rock near the Gawler Ranges on the Eyre Peninsula, SA which I thought was just as spectacular as Wave Rock. I love your wildflower photos Jill and in particular the purple Dampiera and the Golden Wattles. How do you learn the names of all of these wildflowers?

  21. How I enjoy the wildflowers and trees of Australia that are so different than ours. I'd be happy to have some of the purple ones growing in my garden.

  22. Love all the wildflowers you found, Jill, especially the vibrant purple dampiera. Nature is truly amazing - what beautiful striations in the McDermid Rock.

  23. Oh my, what gorgeous landscapes. And all those beautiful wildflowers, must admit I'm smitten with those bunches of purple flowers. So glad you shared these with us!

    Coming from Monday Mosaic ... finally ... and wishing you a beautiful weekend,


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.