TET 2016


Once again we are heading back to the woodlines east of Norseman. The old train tracks and the history, along with the very special bush out there, have lured us back.

We also want to see if some of the straight lines that appear on Google Earth are train tracks that have grown over. There are also four potential horse yards to find. These generally lead us to an old camp. The horse yards were an intergal part of the woodliners's lives, as they used sturdy Clydesdayles to pull the loaded carts back to the railway line.These undiscovered tracks are from previously travelled train routes and I have missed them on previous trips due to the regrowth.


Northeast of Norseman

Trip Report 

This trip was another of our yearly expeditions and done in June 2016.  The expectation was for very cool weather (around zero at night) with some possibility of rain on a couple of days.

As usual our trip takes us through Hyden to Norseman. This year we camped at Maggie Hayes Hill for a change. We had a problem here with a trailer tyre being staked. This actually possibly saved us an accident with this trailer the next day. The quick plug repair we had done the night before at Maggie Hayes failed a few kilometres down the road and we had to change the wheel. At this point we noticed the shockies on the MDC camper had separated from the chassis. This wasn't a weld failure, but a section of the poorly sized tubing that was completely ripped out. MDC declined to repair this, which was disheartening to say the least. So far poor welding and workmanship has caused failures on this particular trailer a number of times. We unbolted the shockies and had to be careful not to caused the trailer to bounce to high, or risk the spring coming out. (As an update, the fancy independent spring system have been removed and replaced with standard leave springs properly welded to the chassis.)

This work on the shockies delayed our arrival on the woodlines, and this meant we chose to look for the first "new" old train track before we set up camp. Closely watching the GPS and map I had made, as well as checking the bush around enabled us to located the old line, and we were able to navigate the overgrown track pretty easily.

This was not the original plan we had made, but our plans are always pretty fluid, as we often have unexpected events occur during our travels that either delay us or cause us to take another route.You have to be flexible in the bush.

We camped not far from the horse yards. The horse yards aren't always good places to camp on, even though they are fairly clear, because they are usually full of very fine prickles. The bush has regrown where it has been cut, even along the old railway (this is what causes the give away straight line of trees that shows up well in Google Earth), however, the horses' hooves have pounded the ground and no trees have come back in the horse yards, also making them stand out in the google images. Whatever was in the feed has grown some strange weeds, and there are nasty little prickle.

We explored this area for a couple of days on bikes. We also took a trip northwards to prove the track up to the other line we had previously done, however, one bike suffered a flat tyre and the track was too overgrown to get the cars through. We did find one camp along that route. We used a better more formed track to make our way back to our camp, which saved a fair amount of time.

The bike tyre could not be fixed as the valve was ripped from the tube, so we stuffed the tyre with a roll of chux, which sort of worked for a while.

After three  days in the first spot we relocated to the area where we expected another possible track. On the way to the new location, we found where the overgrown track deviated from the mailine as it was prior to closure.

We soon found the other line after a bit of walking around, and made camp in a nearby mainline camp. Once again, we setup for a few days.

We took the bikes for a ride along the old track, but after some distance we found we had lost the track and could no longer relocate it. Back in the main camp, I walked and mapped the entire railway lines in this old mainline camp, including the wye junction and school spur. We also found what I believe to be a clearing used by the school as a playground.

That afternoon, I walked the track we had been trying to follow, and found that it went north after a short distance, which explains why we lost it.  The next day with two bikes we rode this track and we discovered a camp and horse yard exactly as the images from Google Earth showed us. Some nice bottles were also rediscovered here. This was the end of the line and about 3 km short of another well used track.

We decided to head due north through the scrub to intersect this track. We found a camel dust bath freshly vacated, with still wet soil and damp poo lying around the fine dust. The cross country ride was quite difficult, but we eventually popped out onto the road and headed back to camp.

The days of our trip, were now running out. The last evening had us experience an earthquake that lasted for a good 60 seconds. During the night there were more tremors and it started to rain.

We made a name plate for the 94 mile camp and drove the 3km north to set it up. It continued to rain for a while. We tried heading east to take another track but the rain continued unabated and made driving very difficult. The track was becoming very boggy so we decided to return the way we came and make a run for the Eyre Highway. It took us about 7 hours to do 34 km. The track was so slippery. We lost traction a few times and slipped into deep gutters. My winch failed and it was impossible to back up with the trailers attached. New TREDs help gets us through. The bouncing caused the spring on the MDC trailer to pop out a few times. It was a right pain dealing with this in the rain and mud.

We were glad to get to the highway, and we refueled at Norseman and had a toasted sandwich for dinner. Out last night on this trip was at Pioneer Dam.

Places to See

Old camp sites
horse yards
beautiful scenery
Pioneer Railway Dam

Degree of Difficulty 

I would class this trip as generally easy.  However, as we experienced during our exit from the woodlines, rain can turn the top soil layers into very slippery mud, making continued forward motion very difficult.


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