We had a fairly long driving day today, so we had a early start from Geraldton. The weather was nice – low 20’s and sunny.
Not far south of Geraldton, we again came to the area of Greenough which used to be a separate shire, but is now absorbed into the greater Geraldton area. One of the famous leaning trees (complete with a couple of galahs) was near an off-road car park, so we stopped to take a photo.
We continued south and stopped for coffee in a little town called Mingenew at the Cecil Newton Park which was well equipped with picnic tables and an information board. The real feature of this park was the giant wheat stalks, some 4 metres high, and made of steel. The locals affectionately call ‘Big Ears’.
We continued south through little towns with names such as Arrino, Three Springs and Carnamah. At one stage, we passed by some enormous salt lakes that seemed to stretch for miles and eventually reached a little settlement named Watheroo where we had a picnic lunch. It had a nice little picnic area next to a building that said “Private Property – Enter at Own Risk”. With a warning like that it was right and proper that we stayed on the correct side of the fence and didn’t stray into forbidden territory. The most exciting thing that happened there was that the Garbage truck from the Shore of Moora came and emptied the garbage bin in the picnic ground. I suspect that not much else happens in Watheroo at the best of times.
The area around the town of Moora is the ‘wildflower capital’ of the region and we stopped on a few occasions to explore the roadside vegetation to see what plants were in flower. Most of them were tiny ground hugging plants, but there was quite a diversity of flowers in very small areas. Further along the road, we found more shrubby plants in flower although I think that we were too late to see some of the banksias that we has seen out on a previous trip to this area.
By mid afternoon, we had reached the old missionary town of New Norcia. This settlement of Benedictines originally acted as a mission for aboriginals and an orphanage / school for aboriginal children. It seems incongruous that a Spanish style settlement should exist in such a rural area of Australia, but there it is! I think that most of the buildings are now empty but there are a number of monks living in the old monastery at the bottom of the hill. The old boys orphanage now acts as a museum and gallery. At one time the staff were cleaning up, and were going to remove one painting from its frame so that it could be reused, only to discover that it was a genuine painting by the famous medieval painter, Raphael.
We arrived at our overnight stop late in the afternoon at the little historic town of York. Our accommodation was at the old Castle Hotel in York. This was obviously a very grand hotel, but is now a bit old and tired. The cruets look like they have been in place since the day that the hotel opened. The bistro serves the biggest meals that I have ever seen. However, our rooms in the new wing at the back were quite comfortable although fairly basic in their amenities. I couldn’t work out how to have only some lights in the room on – it was either all on, or all off. Just as well I knew how to use the torch feature on my iPhone when I needed to visit the loo n the middle of the night.