Mullewa is about 100km inland from Geraldton and right on the boundary of the wheatbelt and the expansive rangelands. You’ll notice as you leave Mullewa heading north or east there are road signs about road conditions, now you’re heading out into the real outback. I drove from Geraldton in a loop passing by the Mumbida wind farm, dropping in at the Ellendale pools, passing through the Coalseam conservation park then up through Mullewa before returning to Geraldton.
If you spend a bit of time stopping to look around this is really a full day of driving and sight seeing. Wind farm, well it’s a wind farm, but interesting facts on their information board, I had no idea that a wind turbine takes only 6 months to become energy neutral. So after 6 months all the energy that went into it’s production, it’s total maintenance requirements over the 20 year life span, and it’s decommissioning and recycling afterwards has been produced by the turbine and from there on it’s truly free energy.
Ellendale pool is a great camp area and I was tempted to stay here but I wanted to move a bit further to cover some more ground so I kept moving to the Coalseam conservation park just north of Mingenew. The first coal to be discovered in Western Australia but unfortunately it was poor quality. I was a little late for the wildflowers in this area and the place was fairly dry and desolate though there was an interesting spot to look at some fossils in old layers of dirt on the side of the river bank. Also some great bird nests under a few of the overhangs on the side of the dry river bank.
From Coalseam up to Mullewa there were still some areas where everlastings of different types were fairly thick blanketing the ground. Not the brilliant and bright colours you can find in some areas but still interesting and impressive.
An interesting note on this drive was the road verges. In 1961 the Brand government of Western Australia passed legislation that required road verges to be at least 3-6 chains (60-120 metres) wide to protect some of the native flora and fauna. This has been intrinsic in saving many species of flora and probably fauna as well and there are at least a couple of dozen plant species that are only found on road verges as all their other natural habitat has been cleared for farming.
For me this has meant many kilometres of driving slowly on the gravel shoulder of the road scanning the bush for things of interest. I have read that there are many spectacular examples of road verges further south and I’m looking forward to seeing them. Seems strange doesn’t it when I’m looking forward to visiting some road verges, thank you Sir David Brand.
Mullewa obviously puts a lot of effort into their tourism, they know people flock to the area in their thousands to see the wildflowers and they are catering well to this by providing will documented and sign posted walks and drives in the area, including their two interpretive drives, the north and south drives. I stumbled upon the north drive purely by chance, I was heading back towards Geraldton mid afternoon and noticed a tourist sign so pulled off to have a look, it then pointed to the next point of interest on the trail and I decided to follow down the little bush track.
So, the old school site, then an old well on the stock route, then a point of interest where there were unusually shaped rocks from glacial movement during the last ice age, on and on the trail went. But it wasn’t just small dirt tracks, there were large expanses of bitumen roads. Finally after many kilometers I read ALL the information carefully at the next point of interest. Ahh, the full lap of the northern interpretive trail is over 100km. Oh well, what else was I doing it was an interesting drive and I learnt about the local area it’s history, and saw many things I may not normally have found, including this particular flower.
I had found this in abundance up in Kalbarri, but only the yellow variety and they were everywhere. I’d also found just a couple of plants that were orange, and at the time I had no idea what they were.
Now I find they come in a rainbow of colours.
Almost any combination of colours, some quite magnificent. Though I think my favourite everlasting type flower so far has got to be the native cornflower I posted a picture of at the start of this post, the blue is just so vivid it reminds me a bit of something you might find in Dr Zeuss books.