and Holland Track
See also another page on the woodlines in general
Track was originally opened as a short cut from Albany to the
Coolgardie goldfields. A group of men lead by John Holland
left Broomehill in April 1893 to cut the track to Coolgardie.
They arrived in Coolgardie in June. The track was immediately
used by prospectors rushing to the goldfields in search of
their fortunes. A number of attempts had been made previously
to forge a route through the scrub and had met with failure.
In November 1892, one prospector vanished never to be seen
again in his attempt to get to Coolgardie. Scarce water and
uncharted bushlands made the exercise extremely dangerous.
Today many farms and local roads have meant that for the
modern traveller the start of the Holland Track is about 50km
east of Hyden on the Norseman Road.
described in these notes are northeast of Norseman. They are
an extensive series of tracks that follow early light railway
tracks laid specifically to take cut wood back to the furnaces
at Kalgoorlie for the mines and for the boilers at the water
pipeline pump stations. Literally millions of tons of wood was
cut. Today the area is all regrowth with some sections that
are almost impenetrable. There are dozen of old "campsites"
where the cutters and their families lived whilst eking a
living in this remote section of bush. It is still possible to
find relics of that bygone era lying amongst the leave litter.
This section out of Norseman operated from the late 1930s to
Track is east of Hyden and runs generally north east towards
are north east of Norseman and are access from several tracks
leaving the Eyre Highway east of Norseman.
railway that went to Esperance left from Coolgardie and went
via Widgiemooltha and Norseman. It was closed in the 1950.
Cave Hill and
Burra Rock were used as main camps and water collection points
for the woodlines operating out of Kurrawang. Burra Rock was
used in the 60s to the 80s as a small farm where pigs were
line was built in 1897 to extend the line from Coolgardie to
Esperance via Norseman. At Norseman it also branched eastwards
to Balladonia. This inland route allowed for new technology to
transmit and receive at the same time, as well as reducing the
effect of coastal atmospheric conditions on the signals,
eventually allowing the backlog of messages to be eliminated.
The original telegraph line went from Bremer bay to
Israelite Bay then Eyre's Sandpatch and then Eucla. The large
stone buildings along this section were built in the 1860s to
replace the original wooden huts. The new Balladonia section
went to Eyre's Sandpatch. Israelite Bay Telegraph Station was
shut down in 1897 and the whole telegraph line closed in 1927
when the telegraph was rerouted across the Nullarbor with the
Trans Australian Railway.
operated by the Brooks family and it was a very tough
existence. Israelite Bay was where sheep and wool from
Balladonia were sent for shipping to markets. The Brooks
family struggled to make a living. John Brooks and his mother
are buried at Balbinia and John's sister died much later and
is buried in Norseman.
built for the Ponton family and was part of the Balladonia
sheep empire. Is had been abandonned, but the current owners
have restored the building and it is open to visit and stay.
Very, very generous and deserves respect and thanks.
This trip was the third of our expeditions
and done in April 2011. We drove pretty much straight to Hyden
from Perth where we refueled. A visit to Wave Rock was
undertaken so that our kids (who are now adults) could see this
remarkable feature. It is a testament to the vision of some
locals that the rock has become the tourist attraction it is.
This formation is not uncommon in many of the large rock
formations in the area. Banks Rock near Norseman is a perfect
example of another similar formation, yet due to its isolation,
is relatively unvisited.
The trip started at the track intersection about 5km past the
rabbit proof fence. This intersection is marked by a 44 gallon
drum and plough disc mounted on star pickets. This track is not
hard to drive and there are sections with very low scrub to high
salmon gum trees. We hard a limited time frame to traverse the
Holland Track due to work commitments of one of the party, so
many side trips were not done. We used trip notes from Western
4WDriver magazine's "the Holland Track Book" to help guide us.
Also a built in mapping system in the car allowed us to view a
moving map display with both modern and older topographical
There were some wet sections on the track. We crossed a couple
but then decided to avoid them as they were very muddy and
gritty and we didn't wont anything to wear away like we did in
the Rudall River National Park the year before. We visited
places like Sandalwood Rocks (the sandalwood has all gone!) and
Generally the track was pretty good and well signposted.
After Coolgardie we travelled southwards again to pick up the
old railway line to Widgiemooltha. Once again this track is easy
to follow, though there are some tight sections with overgrowth.
We explored around a couple of old sidings, one of which had a
spur to a large gravel pit. We also managed to find some small
lumps of coal along the way too. Unfortunately, the flies were a
real pest. Luckily they went with the sun, but sadly they
re-appeared the next morning. As we went further south they
tended to disappear, but they were our biggest nuisance this
trip! Thankfully no mozzies, though! We also saw our first
snake, a big one that disappeared in a crack in the ground. It
was estimated to be about 5 feet long and probably either a
dugite or gwardar. Once we reached Widgiemooltha we followed the
track to Cave Hill. We explored the northern section of this
rock for a while, but didn't camp there. The campsites are in
really nice spots, but were not very clean. The DEC toilets were
disgusting. God provides us with much better campsites. We went
from Cave Hill to Burra Rock and explored around there. The
information area is really good and we had a leisurely morning
there. We took the old rail formation, described as a 4x4 track
back to Cave Hill. this was Donna's first experience of
woodlines. This brought us out near the main dam at Cave Hill
and we explored for a while again. The pace of the trip had
slowed as there was no pressure to rush back to work!
Both Burra Rock and Cave hill are very interesting places to
We continued back on the Higginsville track towards Sunday Soak,
where we visited the lonely graves at Sunday Soak. See the
lonely graves pages for more detail.
From Sunday Soak we travelled the Mundale Track towards the old
Hyden - Norseman Road. It was along this section that a low
branch broke the end from the autotune antenna on Stephen's car.
There are some magical views along this track especially along
some saltbush areas near dry salt lakes and the vista from
Mundale Dome is pretty cool too. Once we reached the old road we
headed east towards the Esperance Highway, but just prior to it,
we turned south on the old telegraph line. There are sections
along this section where the are steep inclines and declines and
very close scrub. It is a great 4x4 track. We started clearing
trees from the section we drove.
After this we refueled at Norseman and headed to the Woodlines.
This is a special location for me as I opened a lot of the older
tracks. We explored one that I opened some years ago, and others
have used it (you can see there rubbish left behind), but it
looks as if they have been the only ones to go down there. Old
marker ribbons I used are still there. We spent some time in the
woodlines and travelled down a very difficult section over 4
days. We had our first flat tyre along this section. We only did
2/3 of it before deciding to head off towards Balladonia for a
shower. We had some days of light drizzle and it was a beautiful
place. Somewhere the flies left us. We found many interesting
objects in the bush, including the remains of a handmade bocce
ball and a hurricane lamp with the glass still intact! We
had no trouble finding sandalwood trees out here. We could even
see stands of them amongst quandong trees so we could compare
the differences. Leaving the area caused our second flat in a
brand new Cooper! Before we got onto the Eyre Highway we had to
clean all the loose sticks and tree leaves from the cars.
Balladonia was a bloody disappointment. We could not buy a
shower, and nearly everything we had hoped to get there was not
available! So after paying nearly 40c/l more for fuel than in
than Perth, we left.
We made camp at Booanya Rock, and it was really nice. The moss
on the rocks in the morning was a brilliant green, but changed
colour as the sun came up. We explored the rock and old hut for
some time. We headed south where we stopped at Deralinya and
Balbinia to check out the restored huts. A lot of work has gone
into Deralinya, but the white-ants are also having a good time.
We found the graves of the Brooks at the rocks near the old
orchard. The orchard had a couple of mulberry trees and figs
trees still growing alongside a rose bush. The work that went to
channel water to this area is extraordinary!
We continued south past Mt Ragged to Israelite Bay where we
spent some time at the restored ruins of the telegraph station.
We found both sets of old graves out there.
Our trip ended at Israelite bay where we headed westward again
for home. We stopped at Peak Charles for a look, then at Lillian
Places to See
Agnes Rock and gnamma holes
Old rail sidings Burra Rock and Cave Hill
Lonely Graves at Sunday Soak
Museum at Coolgardie
Old debris along woodlines
Israelite bays Telegraph ruins and graves
Degree of Difficulty
I would class
this trip as easy. However, in wet conditions the soil can
become very slippery and difficult to stay on course. If rain
is persistent and the ground becomes saturated then it
can become very boggy and hard to keep moving forward.
Winching can be required as the ground seems to swallow heavy
vehicles. In some cases high clearance is required and there
is the possibility (actually likelihood) of terrible scratches
to paintwork of the vehicle, but what did you buy it for? Once
again this is remote area travelling for most people and the
appropriate precautions are required. We had 4 punctures,
smashed a windscreen and rear view mirror and had the autotune
HF radio antenna damaged. This was all caused at speeds less
than 40km/h because of low tree branches, close scrub hiding
heavy tree limbs and fallen logs across the track. We removed
at least 10 large trees that had fallen over the track.
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