The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail is a popular 600km tourist drive, following the route of the historic water pipeline, along the Great Eastern Highway from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie. The pipeline was completed in 1903 and it is the longest freshwater pipeline in the world, an engineering feat which provides vital water supplies to over 100,000 people. Most of the tourist brochures recommend taking around 3 days to drive this route but we took a more laid back 9 day trip, which is about the same time as it can take one drop of water to make it’s way along the pipeline from Mundaring Wier to Kalgoorlie.
Our first overnight stop was the free 24hr RV park at the Memorial Gardens in Meckering. The original town was destroyed in 1968 when it was hit by a 40 second earthquake which measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale. An amazing effort has been made by the community to document the events of the earthquake and there are plenty of information bays and signs marking where buildings once stood in the original town. We really enjoyed walking around, reading the various plaques and then we continued along the side of the railway line out to the cemetery, before heading back into town and letting Bobby have a run in the oval. On arrival, Meckering looks like a tiny town that provides nothing more than a convenient place to overnight but, looks can be deceiving, and it is definitely worth taking the time to explore the area.
From Meckering, we continued along the Great Eastern Highway to Kellerberrin, another interesting Wheatbelt town worth stopping at. We stayed at the shire run Kellerberrin Caravan Park. It was a small park with good, clean facilities and very welcoming caretakers. Throughout our travels, we generally found the shire run caravan parks to be welcoming, pet friendly, clean and good value for money and we found ourselves opting for these rather than the expensive private parks wherever possible. We parked up next to a lovely guy, a photographer, who was travelling with his beautiful 16 year old dingo, Suzy. Unfortunately, Bobby was way too boisterous and energetic for the old girl and it was clear that a dog-dingo friendship was not going to happen. Sometimes you don’t particularly like the people you pitch up next to and sometimes your dog doesn’t like his new canine neighbours, that’s just life and you have to roll with it! We did a fantastic walk which took us from the caravan park, past the cemetery and golf course, up to the Kellerberrin Hill Lookout which gives you great views over the town and surrounding land and then down past the sports ground into town,where there was a good selection of local shops, including a butcher where Bobby was treated to some lamb flaps and a bone. We ended up staying here for 3 nights as we really liked the caravan park and the walks up Kellerberrin Hill. It was also an opportunity to do some van housework, catch up on our laundry and have a rest from driving.
Leaving Kellerberrin, we took a slight detour to Mukinbudin, where we stayed a night in the shire run caravan park. This caravan park has private ensuite bathrooms, which may not sound like much, but, believe me, after 4 weeks of sharing communal ablutions with fellow travellers, it felt like pure luxury to have your own space! Mukinbudin has a 4.7km recreational walk which takes you through the town and around the golf course. The walk is well signed, dog friendly and even has exercise stations along the route to encourage visitors and locals to be more active.
Rejoining the Great Eastern Highway, our next overnight stop was the free 24hr RV park at Southern Cross. It is situated out of town, right next to the highway, so it isn’t the prettiest or quietest of spots but we had it all to ourselves and we were able to walk Bobby along the path next to the Golden Pipeline. We set off early the next morning, had a quick mooch around Southern Cross and headed for Coolgardie. However, less than an hour down the road, we came across the free campground at Boorabbin and realised that that was the reason we had the Southern Cross RV park all to ourselves…while we had spent the night with road trains whizzing past us, everyone else had been enjoying the peace and beauty just down the road at Boorabbin! It was too good to just look and leave, so we found ourselves a lovely spot to set up camp and were settled in by 10am. It felt like we were in the middle of the bush, Ali got a campfire going in the evening and we just chilled. It is obviously a popular and well-known stop as lots of campers, trailers and caravans started to arrive late afternoon but there was plenty of space for everyone. We were a bit unnerved when our neighbour fired up his chainsaw, thinking we had a madman in camp but, he was just cutting firewood for his campfire! The campground is on the edge of Boorabbin National Park so do exercise caution if travelling with your pets as there is 1080 bait around.
After 2 nights at Boorabbin, we arrived in Bobby’s hometown, Kalgoorlie…and that deserves a post all of it’s own.
Following the Golden Pipeline to Kalgoorlie takes you on a journey through beautiful, constantly changing landscapes and fascinating little towns that are full of history and character. Having travelled the route, we are left completely in awe of C.Y. O’Connor, the engineer who designed the pipeline and brought life-saving water to the Goldfields.