Moondyne Country July 2021
This trip is a joint trip between 2 4wd Clubs. All Tracks 4wd Club and Get Away 4wd Club.
Lee & Keely – Landcruiser (Getaway, Trip Leader)
Richard & Naomi – Pajero
Dave – Prado
Craig & Callen – Pajero
Matt – Pajero
Ivo – Landcruiser
Lin – FJ
Nick – Triton (Getaway)
Tony – Ranger
Shane – Triton
Stuart – Pajero (Getaway)
Daniel – Prado (Getaway)
Ryan – Patrol (Getaway)
Craig – Landcruiser
Sean & Brandon – Triton
All Track 4wd Club trip report by Richard.
Lee planned this trip as a joint effort between Getaway & All Tracks 4WD Clubs to show off some areas in the Avon Valley which he loves to visit and to have an overnight camp with a bonfire at Keely’s parents’ property. As Naomi & I were staying the night in the van we organized to drop it off early in the morning on the way to the meeting point. Towing the van across the paddock to the camp spot proved to be interesting and going up hill to the campsite proved too much of a challenge for the 45psi road bias tyres, so we had the first recovery of the day.
After unhooking we headed to Chequers by 8AM to catch up with a large group of vehicles from both clubs in attendance, 15 in total.
After a meet n greet, we had a quick driver’s meeting before heading off in convoy to Avon Valley NP entering via Wanaka Rd over a very familiar bridge into the SW corner of the park.
Our convoy of 15 vehicles contrasted the 4 on the tag along tour operator we ran into several times during the day, as they were in the initial spot Lee was planning to air down at, we headed on to Moondyne Rd and dropped tyre pressures there.
From here we headed in to try and find an old Mill site which meant squeezing in all our vehicles into a clearing so we could proceed on foot through the bush. After some light-hearted jibes
Lee admitted that there was not much left that we could see, I know there is some ruins out here as I have been given coordinates by the Rangers in the past. I would like to revisit one day and explore a bit more as there is a lot of history in the park.
After chatting for a bit , we headed off down Plunkett Rd finding the sitting water was getting deeper before turning onto Thirty-Seven Mile Break to head towards the river. Considering the number of vehicles in our convoy everything was running well until we came upon the tour guide coming the opposite way as we had far more vehicles, they ended up pulling off the track to let us through. Once most of the way down this track we turned into the camp area so we could park up before walking past the locked gate down the hill towards an awesome waterfall
that Lee wanted to show us. Funny thing is Dave & I drove a track across this creek line to the east by about 300 M in June and I had no idea this waterfall was here let alone the granite ledges it cascades over. As everyone was exploring this area, we had a timely reminder to be aware as a fairly substantial Tiger Snake came out of the water to sun itself on a rock.
This provided a bit of amusement to those who were clambering across the rocks before the snake made its getaway and was swept away in the water. After this excitement it was time to battle our way back through the scrub to ascend the track to where we had parked.
After lunch it was a short drive to a track with a hill climb Lee had had trouble getting up three days earlier when he did a quick recce, with so much rain during the week the steep lose surface had Lee engaging diff locks to get up. With this in mind Lee positioned his car at the top so he could winch anyone who lost traction on the trip. Fortunately (for me) the days sunshine had dried out the surface nicely and other than a bit of crab walking towards the top the Pajero got up the hill easily. Once everyone had made it safely up this obstacle,
we carried on until Lee could leap-frog back in front to lead the convoy. We travelled up to above Sapper Rd where we did a U-turn and headed back to pull up at Moondyne Joe’s Cage. Not far off the track into the bush there is an information sign which tells some of the history of the stockyards and Moondyne Joe,
it is hard to comprehend that these fences and rails have survived since the mid 1800’s.
We headed back to our cars before starting the journey out of the park, as this section of Plunkett Rd has more use the puddles are more frequent and deeper. Whilst quite wet from all the sitting water the track was not actually that muddy, but it still provided some interesting photo ops for Keely.
Once almost back at Wilson Rd we aired up ) and bid farewell to those who were not coming back to Keely’s parents place in Bullsbrook.
It was interesting to see how much run off had swelled the creek during the day even though the rain had held off. Entering across the paddock looked interesting as some idiot had dragged a caravan through here in the morning and now there was water sitting in the ruts, even though there was flashing lights and buzzers going off on the dash of the Pajero we made it across and up to the campsite. Lin, Naomi & I from All Tracks and Nick, Keely & Lee from Getaway were camping the night to help with burning the bonfire. Lee came in with a procession of cars that he was going to take up the back of the paddock where there is a view back over towards Perth.
After this sightseeing tour those who were not staying the night exited across the paddock to firm ground, until Lee who was the last car crossing and only popping down to the house to quickly grab a few things sunk to his sills.
Stuart who had in fact cleared the mess turned around to try and help, but the shear weight of the stuck 80 series just ended up winching Stu’s Pajero in towards it. Thankfully, Keely’s parents had been watching (laughing) from the back veranda and her dad drove down in his tractor to help save the evening. Heavy 80 series + twin diff locks = 4 deep holes! In the end they had to dig in the fork tines & lower the rear blade into the mush to sufficiently anchor it so Lee could do a double line pull off it.
I am not sure how long this entertaining recovery took, but the sun had set by the time they got back up to the campsite. The next challenge was to get the bonfire lit, apparently all the rain over the proceeding weeks had well and truly soaked the wood pile.
Success was ours after about two hours and much cussing, the fire was lit and going well.
Now time to sit back, reminisce on how well the day had gone and new friends made.
It was a lazy start to the next morning and everyone was in no rush to exit.
Given the paddock exit was now destroyed we headed further down and exited via the back of the machinery sheds.
This was how I got out the day before, but there are a few tight turns that had to be taken with care with the van in tow. Once back to their home it was now time to air back up and bid farewell before hitting the tarmac.
I would like to say a big thank you to Lee & Keely for leading this trip, Ray & Peta (Keely’s parents) for allowing us to camp on their property and the Getaway guys for their awesome hospitality.
All the best
Get Away 4wd Club trip report by Lee.
For every day prior to this trip for the last 2weeks it has absolutely poured down. Which worried me a little
for one spot on the track, a hill climb. I decided to do a quick check of the track on the Wednesday before (3
days), while it was still raining. I was able to run the entire track with no trouble —– except for the hill in
question. I needed to use both lockers on the Cruiser, in low range with all the berries to get to the top. I
wonder how it will go with multiple people trying to get to the top. Time will tell.
Richard from All Tracks had organised to drop of a caravan at our property in Bullsbrook before heading on to
the meeting point. This turned out to be the first eye opener of the day. After turning right into the top
paddock that we are camping on for the night, he made it down the slope and right over the small gully
crossing to head up to where the campfire is. That is where the fun started. His Pajero was still running road
tyres and as said before, we have had a lot of rain. And the paddock cant take anymore water, so was soft and
slippery in parts. (At the moment). So after hooking the 80 series Cruiser up to the front of his Pajero we
navigated up to where he disconnected the caravan, and then we headed to the meeting point. Chequers
Hotel (Red Roof).
As We arrived at the meeting point, there were quite a crowd waiting. There were 3 Members from Get Away
4WD Club with 2 visitors (Stuart Batemans son’s) to make it look as we had 5. And 9 Vehicles from All Tracks
So in total we had 14 vehicles ready for the jaunt into the forest. Also So after the pre trip meeting to say
where we were going and say what channel UHF we were going to be on and who was going to be Tail End
Charlie, we set off.
So, of we went, up Chittering Road until we hit the Wilson Road turn off. After a minute we turned left into
the Avon Valley National Park via Wanaka Rd. Some time in the last few years this entry road to the park has
been sealed all the way to the top. Personally, I think this changes the feel of the park, but I understand why it
has been done due to traffic to the Moondyne Convention centre.
We continued to travel on the winding road to the top of the hill, where it changes name from Wanaka to
Plunkett Road. (Depending on if you use Hema Maps or Exploreoz). Plunkett Road continues to travel
eastward towards the Convention centre until there is a track that turns sharp left, northwards. This track
continues to be called Plunkett Road, which winds through the park to our 1 st destination. Due to the number
of vehicles we had in the convoy it was awkward to find a spot to stop for us to all air down our tyres to make
the ride a little more comfortable.
It was at this point, while halfway though lowing our pressures, that a Tour group of about 4 vehicles turned
onto the same track as us, and were a little upset that they had to wait 5 minutes for us to finish out tyres and
get moving again. There was not much we could do as the track was really only wide enough for 1 vehicle, but
as soon as we were under motion again, we started to hit the after math of the rains. Lots and lots of puddles,
with the very first one being quite deep. After navigating these 1 st number of puddles for about 15 minutes,
we arrived out the 1 st stop of the trip.
Old Plunkett Mill
The only information I know about this site is what I have found in 4 th Edition Days out of Perth. That is, the
site was called Old Plunkett Mill, and is based approximately 100 meters into the bush. Little remains of this
old Saw Mill, except for the old timber lines well (which was the only thing we found on this visit due to the
over growth), and connecting wells and channels made from rock boulders.
After our unsuccessful hunt for the remains of the mill we headed on down the track on the right for about 30 minutes or so. This took us downwards trough a few rocky outcrops with a stream to the right of us that we could hear was flowing nicely. This made me look forward to the 2nd stop area that we were heading too. This track was named Thirty Seven Mile Break (According to Exploreoz), that was taking us roughly Southwards, until we got to a Y Junction that we headed upwards to the left, round a corner and hard left into a camping area.
This is where we all parked up, had a small chat and started a walk down a very steep Hiking track into the valley to a lookout I knew about with some awesome views of the valley with a water fall. Getting down to the section where we push through into the bushland, we head closer and closer to the source of rushing water. Pushing through the last part for the bush, the view opens to the large rocky cliff face with a good flow of water pouring over the top.
It was at this point someone noticed an extra visitor had joined us. Ivo, a member from All Tracks 4WD Club was one of the first to mountain goat his was down the cliff side to explore and was stood on a large boulder at the cliff face totally unaware that he had a scaly friend just a couple feet away.
A good size tiger snake must have come down the steam and was climbing out of the water onto the rock he was stood on. Watching the snake for the next few minutes, it made its way right across the top of the boulder, slithering right past the foot place that Ivo previously was standing in and attempted to cross the flow of water to gain access to the bushes on the other side. This didn’t end well for the Tiger, as it not so graciously got swept over the cliff face.
After everyone had finished exploring and taking photos of this area, we started back up the hill, back to our parked vehicles, where we rested after the Everest climb back to the top and had lunch. We stayed here for 45 minutes or so, and had a cup of tea or two, a chat or three, until we were ready to move on.
As soon as we started our engines, we were about to experience to only part of the trip I was worried about. The steep, twisty and rutted hill. I tried this his only 3 days before and found it extremely slippery to the point of needing to turn all the magic switches on in the cruiser, as well as selecting low range and using the loud peddle to get some grip to made it to the top. Today however, it was like a different hill. As were having such a clear day, even lots of blue sky to be seen, there was so much traction to be had, no one had an issue. It was strange as I was so sure that this was going to be the part of the trip that caused the most action and concentration. Especially as I had told everyone about it condition before I went up.
Continuing through the forest through the winding tracks again, we headed Northwards once more back to the main track Plunkett Road, where we turned right towards Sappers Road. This is the section where we found the the most water on the track. Not just deep, but long and constant aswell. We travelled eastwards past Joes Cage (Our 3rd and final stop) and did a u-turn at sappers loop look-out, and drove back to park up out the front of Joes Cage walking track.
Moondyne Joes Cage
Moondyne Joe is famous for his break outs from the Fremantle Jail – but his escapee life actually started in Toodyay. Caught for illegally branding a horse, Joseph Bolitho Jones promptly escaped from the lockup – taking the same horse and the magistrate’s saddle and bridle. His escape infuriated the Magistrate who demanded a new, stronger jail (prompting the construction of the Newcastle jail). Once recaptured Joe was sent to Fremantle where his story continued.
Following the walkway into the bush, took us to the remains of one of Joes Cages (Stock yards), that would have been build somewhere between 1855 and 1861. Not much is left as the timber is slowly rotting away, but it is still a good piece of local history.
It was now time to head back to where we were going to camp in Bullsbrook, but as we were heading back through all these monster puddles on the track it gave Keely a chance to take some photos of the cars traversing them.
Once back down near the Wilson Road entrance to the park we all aired up and had another chat before either heading back to the camp site or home.
Those people that came back to the campsite were introduced to our very Soggy paddock. We travelled up to the top of the property where we had a good clear view over Bullsbrook, Ellenbrook/Vines and Perth to finish out the day. Back down the hill to the camp area we said goodbye to a few more people, who found out the way in and out of the paddock was becoming the hardest part of this trip – for someone. That someone, was ME.
Thanks to Stuart Bateman for attempting to pull be out. But the tractor ended up coming to the rescue and I winched of that with a double line pull and 4 Treds to help.
All in all it was a good trip and night for those that stayed. Even though it took us two hours+ to get the fire roaring.
Report by Lee & Keely
Here is a little slide show, just more pics of the day to share.
all tracks All Tracks 4WD Club Alltracks Alltracks 4wd club avon valley bogged camp fire get away Julimar look out moondyne moondyne joe Moondyne WA plunkett plunkett mill water water crossing water fall