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.
also want to see if some of the straight
lines that appear on Google Earth are train tracks that have grown
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
travelled train routes and I have missed them on previous trips
due to the regrowth.
Location Northeast of Norseman
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
explored this area
for a couple of days on bikes. We also took a trip northwards to prove
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Pioneer Railway Dam
Degree of Difficulty
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
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