Nature can produce some amazing formations that either resemble famous people, animals or objects. A small town in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, Hyden, has become a touristic destination famous for it’s rock formation in the form of a wave aptly named Wave Rock! Just under 1.5kms away you will encounter another rock formation named Hippo’s Yawn because it does look like a yawning hippopotamus!
Recently taking a trip from Perth, the drive took just under four hours. Short stops were made in various towns along the way as well which is beneficial for everyone that was in the travelling group of eight ranging in ages from five through to seventy seven years and including a heavily pregnant mum!!
First stop for a late morning coffee was at the “Botanicalia Cafe & Gallery Shop” in Avon Terrace in York. Super hot cappuccino lasted me for quite a few kilometres as I slowly sipped it ensuring I wouldn’t burn my tongue. Driving through the Wheatbelt region you see how the landscape changes and how bushfires have affected the area as well. As far as the eye can see, it is fields of cut wheat, the golden hue covering the land.
About 45 minutes further and being lunchtime, we took a break at Quairaiding , another Wheatbelt township 166 kilometres east of Perth. Near the intersection of Quairaiding -York Road and Ashton Street you can find a popular rest stop for road trains, TRANSWA buses and tourists alike. Clean public toilets and shower are also available which makes for a nice lunchtime stop albeit it being around 40°C and the odd fly to make it slightly uncomfortable.
Previously known as the Rabbit Proof Fence, the State Barrier Fence is the worlds longest. When driving towards Corrigin on the Corrigin-Quairading Road, you will be able to see it. At the No.2 fence, it is 1158.4 kilometres and there are a total of 3 fences. There is a small off the road parking bay at the 40 mile post where you can have a close up look of both the fence itself and the yard tracks.
The government built these fence in an attempt to hold back the rabbit invasion from the east. Construction began in 1901 near Esperance and to all the way north near Port Hedland. This is the no.1 fence standing at 1822.4 kilometres whilst the shorter No.3 is only 256 kilometres. A family friend used to work as a fence rider back in the day clearing the yard traps. He says that with the one yard trap, they would fill the truck as to how many were caught!
Final destination is Hyden and the iconic Wave Rock which is hidden behind all the native trees. Our accommodation for the next two nights is at Wave Rock Resort, 800 metres from the caravan park and where you also check in.
The beauty of our location at Wave Rock Resort is that we can walk across the car park and shimmy our way into the salty spa pool to cool off. This twenty metres wide and six metres deep gympsum based pond is a man made structure and is within walking distance of Lake Magic. Did you know that the buoyancy and therapeutic properties are greater than that of the Dead Sea!? The cabanas containing toilets and shower cubicles are still being built however the showers are operational allowing you to rinse off before leaving the site.
|You are advised NOT to put your face in the water or get it in your eyes as it is super salty.|
|If you have dry skin, I suggest you put a thick cream over your body first and then again immediately after rinsing off. I actually used coconut oil on the second day as I didn’t consider how dry my skin would get.|
Gentlemen, I am told don’t shave at least for a day, if possible, two days beforehand as it will sting like crazy!
Now, Wave Rock. A natural granite formation weathered by the water in the soil at the base. How? The water that runs off the rock moistens the soil however on the surface it dries quickly. The deeper soil stays damp longer and thus starts the weathering process. As the water is very alkaline ie salty, it begins to erode the granite rock. Of course this process has been happening over millions of years and with the different minerals and coloured algae growing on the rock itself, it gives the distinctive banding colours.
Hyden may be better known for its Wave Rock however it does have other places of interest which are also worth visiting. Inside the Information Centre located in the Wildflower Shoppe across the road from the caravan park and the rock itself, there are the Lace Place Museum and Miniature Toy Soldiers Museum. Entry fees are $5 per person per Museum or if you purchase a Gold Pass for $20, this will cover the entry fees into not only the Lace and Toy Soldiers Museum but also the Wildlife Park and Pioneer Town Museum, the latter one located inside the General Store at the caravan park.
Built in 1990 to house the Blackburn Collection created by Order of Australia Medal recipient Margaret Blackburn, it has some interesting pieces in the collection include fragments of Batavia Lace from the Dutch ship “Batavia” wrecked off the Abrolhos Islands near Geraldton in 1629 as well as an offcut from Princess Diana’s wedding veil. Purpose built jarrah cabinets display all the lace samples in the collection and is located in a temperature and light controlled room. A 1924 Dodge has been carefully restored and is now a display accessory in the museum for all the donated wedding gowns to represent the different eras of lace.
Next door to the Lace Place Museum is the Miniature Toy Soldier Museum which houses over 10,000 pieces collected over the last 80 years. Displayed in themes, the collection ranges from the Roman Empire right through to World War II. A dress uniform worn to the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball on the night before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 is also on display. Against various tables are also newspapers from different publishers announcing various news from during WWII.
A short drive north of Hyden brings you to another granite outcrop called The Humps which also houses Mulka’s Cave. It is associated with the Aboriginal legend of Mulka, the result of an illegal relationship between an aboriginal and white person.
The story goes that the boy – Mulka – born from this relationship, had crossed eyes which prevented him when he was older to spear wildlife accurately and therefore becoming a successful hunter. His frustration turned him into cannibalism by catching children thus creating fear in the area. His mother approached him about it and in his rage, killed her. He fled after realising what he had done only to be tracked down 156km south-west of Hyden near the town of Dumbleyung. He was speared and killed. Not deserving of a traditional burial, his body was left to the ants.
Mulka’s Cave is free to visit and you get to see hand drawings and other related motifs. Archeological research uncovered over 450 drawings and motifs, the largest Aboriginal collection in the south east of the state.
You can make many other discoveries that are part of the Wheatbelt region. This includes driving down the 15 kilometre stretch of road called the Tin Horse Highway, officially known as Gorge Rock-Lake Grace Road. As we had limited time, we didn’t have the chance on the way back to Perth to explore this quirky setup of tin horses on display in various private paddocks. We will just have to do another road trip another day. If you would like to read up more about the Tin Horse Highway in the interim, click here.
If this has inspired you to get on the road and explore off the beaten track, let me know how I can help you further by booking your road trip holiday.
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