The granite loop runs from Toodyay to Goomaling and then a loop around through Wongan Hills via a number of Wheatbelt towns and then back to Goomaling.
The trip from Perth to Wongan Hills is roughly a 5 hour round-trip by car. Therefore, to complete the full loop in one day is doubtful. However, I can expect this to be one of the most adventurous routes you could ever take while exploring the true Australian Golden Outback.
I was first introduced to the Australian Golden Outback about two years ago. The moment I turned down the road towards Wongan Hills, I was met with a sea of yellow canola fields. This was followed with amazing hospitality in Wongan Hills, and two years later – it hasn’t changed.
The goal for this trip was to visit the Reynoldson Reserve. It is said that the Verticordia come out in full bloom at the end of October. I found this a little hard to believe. So, to ensure I did not miss anything, I decided to drive up at the beginning of the month.
Now, any person making this ‘destination’ trip would check with the Wongan Hills Tourism Center to see if the Verticordia are in bloom. I did! They advised me to that the best time to see them would be at the end of the month, however, I was still determined to see the blooms even though the buds were just beginning to show.
For anyone reading this blog would assume I was a little stubborn. I would tend to agree! But, I live my life based on opportunity and, I had the opportunity to drive up to the reserve on this day. Furthermore, I may not have the opportunity to do this again at the end of the month! Carpe Diem!
Like most trips I take, the journey was a little longer than expected. I promised my ‘travellers’ that we would not make as many stops as we did before. Nevertheless, when you take a different route from what you have used in the past, and you see the Mother Nature in fine performacne, you cannot help BUT to stop.
Our first stop was at Noble Falls in Toodyay. I have visited this location before and my co-travelers had not. I knew that there were some Kangaroo Paws in this area, which I thought would be a great start to a Wildflower Hunt. I was not sure what else I would find as I was sure that I had missed most of the better blooms. I was not disappointed!
Our next stop, more like stops (plural) were random places along the Toodyay-Goomaling Road. One stop was a field of purple which I found out later were the Paterson’s Curse – a resilient weed that is annoying a lot of farmers. Nevertheless, it was still worth the stop for a couple of landscape photos and a hunt for possible wildflowers along road side.
We arrived at Wongan Hills a lot later than I expected. And that says something about our pace. For the next half hour I sat with the staff at Wongan Hills Tourism center going over my photos and learning as much about wildflowers as I could. Apart from giving me a map to the Reynoldson Reserve (thankfully), they also suggested I come back up for the Reynoldson Reserve Festival. Of course, if I could I would. [watch this space]
Reynoldson Reserve is about 15 km north of Wongan Hills. It is not on Google Maps (yet), so having a printed map is a ‘God Send’. There were many times we questioned if we were on the correct road, however with a clear blue outline meant we just had to read the ‘signs’.
The first turn off, is Ballidu Road. It took us about 20 minutes. Technically it could be shorter, but I did stop a few times along the way. Needless to say, while we were traveling, we questioned if we were on the correct road and whether we had missed the turn off. We did not have a ‘talking GPS’ to assure us we were on the correct path. We had to rely on conventional methods which made me realize how reliant on technology we have become.
Ballidu Road took us between two lakes. It was amazing, however once again we found ourselves questioning if we had reached the reserve as we saw a range of pink blooms. I mentioned to the travelers that we probably have not reached the reserve because like most reserves there will be a sign saying: “Reynoldson Reserve” and we had definitely not see a sign of this nature!
Finally, after trusting conventional map reading methods, we arrived at Reynoldson Reserve. I was a little too excited and almost climbed out the car while it was still in motion. Yes, the Verticodia was only just beginning to bloom but I was NOT disappointed. Destination: ARRIVED
The reserve had an abundance of wildflowers. There were some Verticordia to photography, however I was also able to see a ‘Prickly Greville’, a Flame Greville , Ptilotus polystachyus also known as Longtails, and some flowers from the Chamelaucium family. There were a few more in among the bushes, but as this is also snake season I was not about to tempt fate! After all, a brown snake was pretty hard to see among the brown foliage and this was a wildflower hunt not a snake hunt! 😉
After a good walk through the Reserve I checked to see if we had enough time to travel further north. Unfortunately it was nearing 4 pm and it was time we headed home.
Our trip home saw us take a few more shots. There was still daylight and therefore an opportunity for photographs. The first photo taken after Reynoldson Reserve was from the Pigface family called Carobrotus Rossi, commonly known as Karkalla. These flowers colored the edge of the lake, and with such a magnificent background meant we JUST had to make another photo stop.
As we drove back along Ballidu Road, I knew the trip was coming to a close. I had a feeling that I had missed so much. Three hundred plus photos later, and I felt that there were more to see and more to photograph. I scanned the sides of the roads for patches of color in hopes to capture something rare. And with every stop, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of something that I had not seen before.
Because time was not longer on our side we decided to take a different and more direct route home which took us along Caligiri Road to the Great Northern Highway. Of course, we stopped for ‘lucky last’ photos of flowers with adding in a little wander towards Lake Ninan. I was going to make the best of every minute and every second.
By the time we reached the Great Northern it was almost dark, and my Wildflower Hunting Day was now over. It was a spectacular day and all travelers (including me) were a little weary. Of course, if I had just one more day for an adventure of this nature – I would probably make the best of it! But, I was happy with what we saw and achieved and grateful that we could do so.
We traveled over 500 km, and I can guarantee we only saw the tip of the ‘iceberg’ in regards to wildflowers in the Australian Golden Outback. I would strongly suggest that if anyone takes a trip of this nature, to do so over at least two days. In this way you can enjoy every flower, every photo and not feel that rush to get back before dark.
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