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.



Monday, 8 October 2018

Camping at Karalee Rock, Western Australia

 The last couple of weeks I have been sharing with you some of our recent wildflower drive up through the midwest and goldfields.  If you missed it, please click on the link to go to last week's post about the old gold mining town of Cue and the ancient Walga Rock.

This week I am taking you to one of my favourite campsites, Karalee Rock. Located only five kilometres north of the Great Eastern Highway and 50 kilometres east of Southern Cross, Karalee Rock is an ideally located free camp between Perth and Kalgoorlie and one of several granite outcrops which are popular for campers across the Western Australian wheatbelt.  

 We have camped at Karalee Rock several times before but I still enjoy visiting again, exploring the granite rock, and camping under the beautiful gum trees.  

Karalee Rock is one of the stopping points along the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail which follows the 560 kilometre Perth to Kalgoorlie pipeline, and is one of a number of rain water rock catchments built in the 1890s to service the steam trains on the Eastern Railway from Perth to the Goldfields.

The Perth to Kalgoorlie Pipeline
 As well as today providing a free camping and picnic area, Karalee is an interesting place to explore and learn about the history of the rock which goes back thousands of years to when Aboriginal people camped here and collected water from the rock’s gnamma holes and soaks.

 Early explorers, sandalwood cutters and gold seekers also camped here. Karalee was officially gazetted as a water reserve in 1888 and by 1895 most of the 600 teams and 4,000 horses travelling between Southern Cross and Coolgardie regularly stopped at Karalee, as well as construction workers building the Goldfields Water Supply Pipeline in 1902.

When the railway between Southern Cross and Kalgoorlie was completed in 1896 a series of rock walls, an aqueduct and 48.3 million litre dam was constructed at Karalee to collect rain water off the two granite rocks and provide water for steam trains en route to Kalgoorlie. 

Six kilometres of granite slab walls up to a metre high, all cut from the rock itself and laid by hand, surround Karalee rock forming a rain catchment. Big fires were lit on the rock and allowed to burn all night making the rock red hot. Water was then poured over the rock and the granite exploded in big layers. These slabs were sledged away and stood on their sides and cemented together to form the rock walls to channel the water.

These walls direct rain water to flow off the rock into the dam via a large semi-circular steel flume aqueduct, which was hand riveted at each joint.  The water was then pumped 3.6 kilometres south to the railway siding. The construction was an enormous achievement of both manual labour and horsepower.   

The flume aqueduct has been conserved by the National Trust of Australia (WA) for its heritage value.
At one time the Karalee township consisted of a telegraph line, stone cottages, barracks and a hotel, none of which remain today.

Thanks to the National Trust and Southern Cross community, visitors can now camp or picnic in the peaceful shady surrounds and learn the history of the area by following two marked walk trails with interpretive signage that start not far from the camp ground.   

The gravel walk trails - a 1.2km trail and a longer 2.7km walk trail - are easy going and take you through bushland as well as over a section of rock. There is also the opportunity to walk around the dam wall and across the rock to see the magnificent views. 

During our latest visit we saw a lot more water laying in the pools on the rock than we had seen before. We were glad of a slightly cooler day when we walked to the highest point of the rock. We enjoyed the rock gardens, and the array of wildflowers, including orchids. 

 Below you can see wattle, lemon scented sun orchids, pink everlastings and yellow donkey orchids.
 Here are some of the other orchids we saw at Karalee Rock. 
Starting top left - Snail orchid, Clown orchid (I love his stripey pants), and
Scented Sun orchid
from bottom left - Lemon Scented sun orchid, Silky Blue orchid, and Donkey orchids. 
 There were masses of this flowering wild tea-tree around the rock.  So beautiful.

And for me the simple pleasures of cooking fresh damper, sitting around the campfire in the evening, and looking at the stars, and an early morning rise to wander through the bush taking photos and enjoying the wildflowers. 

And what about this sunset? 

The shady open campsites are lightly wooded with tall salmon gums and eucalypts. It is suitable for caravans, camper trailers and tents and has a wheel chair friendly eco flushing toilet and hand basin, picnic tables, fire rings and RV dump.  Visitors are asked to bring their own water and firewood, be aware of fire restrictions during certain months, and take away all your rubbish. Pets are discouraged as there is a wild dog baiting control area.
We found that there were a lot of birds around the dam area, making it a great camping place for bird watchers. During spring the surrounding bushland is ablaze with wildflowers. On the left side of the entrance track just before the dam is a stand of the red fruited quandong trees, which were an important food source for Aboriginal people and early settlers.  Quandongs make delicious jam. You can see the quandongs below here.

 My article about camping at Karalee Rock was published in the November-December 2018 edition of On The Road magazine. 

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

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  1. A very interesting post. Lovely photos as usual.

  2. Such a different look from here in Oregon.

  3. What a beautiful sunset and a fabulous place to camp. Love all the wildflowers and a little history about the area. It would be fun to hunt for gold!

  4. Stunning sunset and lovely shots.

  5. Jesh - All Seasons9 October 2018 at 14:55

    Hello Jill,

    Wow, that's a long water pipeline! All the impressive stuff they did in the past
    (with less tools than we have now!). Wonder why people moved from Karake.
    The landscape along the gravel walk trail is beautiful!
    There is such an amazing variety in orchids. How did you art with recognizing them? Do guides take you out in the field, or was it via the internet?
    Thank you much for all this interesting info, and sharing it with All Seasons!
    Have a great week, jesh/Junieper

    1. I have a couple of really good wildflower books. I can't always identify the exact species, as many are very similar, but I usually know the family name. I guess I have been hunting orchids for a long time now.

  6. Karalee Rock looks like a great camping spot. Interesting info about the pipeline. I always like seeing wildflowers. Gorgeous sunset.

  7. The first photo looks high up and awesome. Great view.

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

  8. Looks like a very cool camping spot. I love your springtime images.

  9. Camping and hiking and orchids - I'm in the next time you go!

  10. Oh what a lovely spot! Loved the history of the area and seeing how someone with some foresight created such a lovely spot for campers. Your photos are - as usual - beautiful!

  11. Flowers and sunset add color to the desert looking landscape. Here, people are fighting gas pipelines.


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.