Murchison House Station

Murchison House Station

December 19, 2022 Club Magazine 0

Back story (AKA Murchison House Station 2021):

Initially the first club visit to MHS had been booked by Penny for late April last year (2021), however the arrival of cyclone Seroja tearing through part of Western Australia’s Mid West in April required this trip to be postponed. A new date was set for September, with Penny planning to rebook after returning from Shane’s Karijini trip. While Penny was away, an inquiry was made to MHS that revealed the homestead camping area was already fully booked and numbers for the bush camping were quickly heading for full capacity. In lieu of a game of email “tag” with Penny, who had intermittent access to any sort of cellular coverage up north, a booking was made, then later tied into Penny’s original booking. The original email to Penny explaining the booking caused a moment of consternation, as my vague wording could have implied, I had made a booking in the homestead campground. While I’m sure the river camping adjacent to the homestead is “nice”, it is akin to a well-spaced caravan park, locations that for Penny (and myself, and dare I say, most of the All-Tracks family) are last resort only, being accessible by mere two-wheel drives, huge caravans, kids, and bands of grey nomads.

This cause for concern was quickly clarified as a booking for “bush camping” and the coordinates for Gary’s camp site loaded into the GPS. The 2021 trip turned out to be a huge success, this year’s trip, another fabulous trip, with a great deal of MHS left to explore again in 2023 with a longer seven-day trip now in the club calendar.


Murchison House Station

September 2022

Mention WA’s mid-west and places such as Kalbarri, the gorges and Natures Window typically come to mind.  Few would be aware of Murchison House Station (MHS), 350 000 acres of bush terrain nestled discretely amongst these holiday favourites. Established in 1858, less than three decades after settlement at the Swan River, the Murchison House Station is a gem awaiting discovery.  And for the second year in a row, discover it we did! 

After airing down at the office, we set off on a meandering track that wound behind the homestead, across part of the river and westward.  The convoy of Tritons (Sean and Deb, Simon and Jacob), Landcruiser 79 series (Alex), Landcruiser 80 series (Lee and Keely), Land Rover Perentie (Trent), Landcruiser 200 series (Burgo’, Sue and daughter Stephanie), Isuzu D-Max (Brandon), Nissan GU Patrol (Don and Jane) and Prado 150 (Shayne, Talitha and Jaxson), most with camper trailers in tow, snaked its way up and down sandy hillocks, across creek beds, over rugged capstone outcrops and across corrugations to Mullewa Flats on the west side of the property.

As our vehicles ‘walked’ down the hillside, our eyes feasted on a breathtakingly beautiful landscape reminiscent of Arthur Streeton’s impression of the Goulburn Valley.  While so many tourists marvel over the Skywalk and Natures’ Window, we felt privileged to be camping on a site that very few would ever see.  We set up alongside the Murchison in a patch that Gary had recommended (thanks for the tip, the spot was perfect!) and that we had used in 2021.

Luke and Lulu were in their element, running around the area, taking in all the new and exciting sights and smells and watering as many trees and patches of grass as possible.  Ford Ranger (Keith, Kathy and fur-baby Charlee) joined us on Saturday and while Charlee’s long coat was a magnet for burrs nothing deterred her from frolicking in the grass and enjoying multiple dips in the river.

24 September

On Friday we called into Kalbarri for a few supplies and then enjoyed a casual jaunt out to the Skywalk and Nature’s Window while there was a break in the weather.  The enormity of the gorges, which appear like massive ruts scoured into the earth, is an impressive spectacle particularly since the entrance to the national park seems fairly flat.

25 September

On Saturday we opted to explore some of the more central, ‘inland’ tracks.  The impact of the huge volume of water dumped by cyclone Seroja the previous year, which had caused significant erosion across the station carving huge impassable gullies through many of the tracks, was less obvious.  Station managers Callum and Belinda, and their team, had done a tremendous job reinstating tracks.  As we discovered, part of the more central part of the station was still closed. 

We stopped at Culcurdoo Dam, and after a short lunch break, decided to head east to The Unnel.  We were halfway up a track when Lee and Keely discovered that their transfer case had failed, and they weren’t going anywhere unless in reverse. 

One of the great things about AllTracks 4WD Club is the camaraderie and willingness of everyone to chip in and help.  With a great team effort, the ‘Cruiser was towed a good 35km back to the MHS homestead, so that friends (fellow club members) could drive up from Perth and collect it with a car trailer on Monday.

On Sunday we headed out again in search of The Unnel.  After a scenic and fun drive across the centre of the station, which involved narrow sandy tracks, crossing dried riverbeds, climbing out of gullies we came across a T-junction.  Rather than follow right and head to The Unnel, the consensus was to continue straight on to the river to stop for lunch with view to retracing our steps afterwards.  We came across the delightful Woonana Pool in the Murchison River which we agreed would make an excellent future camp site. A track that headed north-east gave the impression of forming a ring road back to our original path, so we followed onward up to a place called Betty’s Crossing.  Historically, this had been used as a river crossing and entry into the station.  After many kilometres of meandering along a sandy river-come-creek bed, which necessitated winching a fallen tree out of our path, our route began to narrow and become increasingly more rocking and tree-riddled.

Eventually the riverbed became too much of a boulder garden, and with a sheer and undriveable rock face found ahead, a pathway out of the riverbed had to be found. On foot using “route 11” and “shanks pony”, the track we should have been on was located above us on the north side of the riverbed. Eventually a meandering pathway that was relatively easy for all vehicles to drive was found, and with spotters in place, everyone made it out safely, although at one point Alex did give himself a moment discovering how far over his cruiser could lean without ending up on its side!

After getting out of the riverbed we had an excellent adventure getting back to camp as we were now in a part of the station that had not received any rebuilding of tracks after Seroja. On many occasions, gullies carved through the tracks we were following had to be explored for hundreds of metres left and right to find sections less steep and passable. At one point or another everyone got the chance to test themselves and their vehicles a bit, having a great time in the process.

Murchison House Station is the kind of place that needs weeks and weeks to explore thoroughly, and like last years trip, we got to explore a bit more. There are so many different directions to explore in, and if chilling out is a preferred choice for the day, the campsite by the river is an excellent place to do this. With several kayaks bought in, the river could be explored, and as Shayne and Tal’ discovered, just playing in the sand at the rivers edge with Jaxson, could be the best day ever.

Everyone had a great time and (personally) we are grateful for Dave F’s patience with how long the past Magazine Editor and Deb have taken to put his yarn together.

By the way, we never did make it to The Unnel, despite it being an intended destination two days in a row. We were just having too much fun with “spontaneous detours”!  Additionally, NCC1701 (Lee and Keely’s 80 series) made it out of Space Dock under its own power about a week later with help from Gary.

Lastly, we would all like to gratefully acknowledge Keith Darwin Photography for the stunning gallery of images with this story.

Deb B and Sean F.


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