Wheatbelt Way, Dowerin
A self-drive trip through the fascinating Northern Wheatbelt. An area that boasts a rich and extensive history, charming and friendly people, and all located in a diverse and truly Australian landscape.
About the Trail
The Wheatbelt Way self-drive trail leads visitors on an adventurous interpreted journey to the regional communities of Dowerin, Wyalkatchem, Koorda, Bencubbin, Beacon, Westonia, Mukinbudin, Nungarin and Trayning. Discover the natural attractions, history and heritage of the region and experience the unique Wheatbelt communities and landscapes. Whether you are planning a short visit or longer stay, there is lots to see and do.
To start your Wheatbelt Way adventure, travel through the Avon Valley to Dowerin 2 hours east of Perth or turn off the Great Eastern Hwy at Carrabin (10km south of Westonia) 3.5hrs east of Perth. The Wheatbelt Way self-drive trail leads you to 24 dedicated sites highlighting the natural attractions, historical and heritage sites and landscapes in the North East Wheatbelt. Each site offers opportunities to stay and experience the nine unique Wheatbelt Communities where you can experience good old-fashion hospitality while exploring at your leisure.
For a copy of the FREE 50 page Wheatbelt Way Self-Drive Trail Guidebook and 2 Audio CD set with dramatised stories to guide you on your journey through the north eastern Wheatbelt. Call 1300 736 283 or (08) 9041 1666 to request a copy to be posted to you or download from the website www.wheatbeltway.com.au
Need to Know
Between wheat and sheep farming country, the diverse landscapes of Bencubbin are in bloom for almost half the year after winter rains, creating a haven for prolific birdlife and a must-stop for nature lovers. The region's pastoral and sandalwood cutting heritage and curious meteorite craters also make an intriguing detour. Bencubbin lies three hours and 20 minutes by road from Perth. If you're following the Golden Pipeline to the Goldfields, the detour is just over an hour's drive north from Merredin or Kellerberrin. For an eagle's eye 360 degree view of the landscapes that define the north east Wheatbelt, head for the summit of Marshall Rock. If you're keen to catch the wildflowers, the best displays can be enjoyed in July and August, but you'll find blooms from June to October after good winter rains. For bird watchers, the attractions are year round, with many native species frequenting lake habitats and reserves. In the town, the architectural legacy of the early sandalwood cutters and sheep farmers offers a window to a bygone era as you stroll past the hotel, sandalwood shops, old Police station and school. At Pioneer Wells, you'll also glimpse the harsh realities of early life before water pipelines were established to quench thirsty farmers and livestock. A drive to Pergandes Sheep Yard and Homestead, constructed almost entirely from granite taken from nearby outcrops, reveals more evidence of their resourcefulness. Nearby, North Maniga is famed for landmarks of a very different nature - three meteorites that are thought to have fragmented on impact with Earth. The first, weighing 542 kilograms, was discovered in 1930. 'Number two' was found in 1959 and weighs 64.6 kilograms, and the third, just 16 kilograms, remained unnoticed until 1974. All three meteorites are on display at the Museum of Western Australia, but you can view a sample of 'number two' at the Shire Museum in Bencubbin (by appointment). To make Bencubbin your base in the north east Wheatbelt, check into the hotel/motel or pull into the caravan park.
Dowerin has long been a popular stop for visitors to the Wheatbelt. Head to Tin Dog Creek for a cooling dip, as the Goldfields prospectors once did. Delve into pioneering history, marvel at modern agriculture at the Machinery Field Days, meet Rusty the dog who stands guard over the town, or explore myriad natural attractions against a backdrop of colourful spring wildflowers. The two hour and 10 minute drive east of Perth along the Pioneers Pathway will bring you to Dowerin. This scenic self-drive tour winds through Wheatbelt farmland and towns, passing wide open vistas and nature walks, lakes and granite outcrops, pioneering heritage buildings and museums. While you're retracing the footsteps of pioneers, stop at nearby Tin Dog Creek. A vital watering hole for prospectors in the past, today it offers a great spot for a picnic, a refreshing dip or a stroll through pristine bushland to discover a wide variety of native flora and fauna. Visit between July and October and you'll be dazzled by the blooms of colourful wildflowers - Namelcatchem Reserve and Minnivale Reserve are also top spots to view this seasonal phenomenon. Head back to the town and step back to the late 1800s with a walk through Dowerin's pioneering heritage along the Heritage Walk Trail, making time to visit the furnished 1915 cottage and artefacts at Dowerin District Museum, which paints a vivid picture of settler life. For a 21st century view of Dowerin, catch the Machinery Field Days at the end of August - a popular event showcasing the very latest in agricultural machinery, technology and rural services. To make Dowerin your base, choose from the town's hotel, motel and caravan accommodation.
The Wheatbelt town of Koorda has a rich pioneering and agricultural heritage and a country charm that endures to this day. Discover country living and traditional crafts at the Agricultural Show, or marvel at the diversity of wildlife and wildflowers against a backdrop of sweeping outback countryside. Situated on the Wheatbelt Way scenic drive, just over three hours from Perth by car, this quaint farming community is famous for its annual Agricultural Show in September, showcasing agricultural events, displays and crafts, such as the corn dollies that are synonymous with Koorda. Year round, you'll find an equally eclectic array of natural attractions and reserves nearby, including the picturesque granite outcrops of Mollerin Rock, Newcarlbeon, Badgerin Rock and Moningarin. Most have picnic or barbecue facilities, so pack a lunch and explore the pristine Wheatbelt bushland, rich in native birdlife and fauna, including kangaroos, echidnas and emus. Between July and October, the landscape is a blaze of colour when myriad spring wildflowers bloom after replenishing winter rains. Picnic on a blanket of everlastings and marvel at the small red Koorda Rose found in abundance throughout the area. A spectacle of a more agricultural nature awaits at Koorda's cereal grain transport complex. Take a tour for a unique insight into the logistics and processes involved in handling the vast quantities of grain produced in the Wheatbelt. You can also immerse yourself in the past with a visit to Koorda's museum, which houses a fine collection of early farming machinery, pioneer homestead effects and interpretive displays providing a window into the town's history and the building's previous life as a pre-World War II hospital. If Koorda charms you into a longer stay, there's hotel accommodation, self-contained units and a caravan park to choose from.
Whether you're on the trail of pioneers or wildflowers, Nungarin packs some surprises. It's home to Western Australia's only remaining World War Two Five Base Ordnance Depot, the first stone and mud brick homestead, and vibrant blooms that form part of the largest collection of wildflowers on Earth. A three and a half hour drive east of Perth and just half an hour north of Merredin, the historic town of Nungarin makes a fascinating detour from the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail between Perth and Kalgoorlie. From 1944 to 1960, Nungarin served as a depot for Australian army personnel. Today, it invites you to discover the region's military history by stepping inside the State's only remaining World War Two Five Base Ordnance Depot at the Nungarin Heritage Machinery and Army Museum. Here, beside Tenth Light Horse military armoured vehicles, you'll find an eclectic display of military and agricultural, dolls and matchbox toys. Venture out to Mangowine Homestead and be transported back to the 1870s. Discover the story of pioneers Charles and Jane Adams, explore its 10 hectare natural bushland setting and see the first stone and mud brick homestead in its original condition, when it served as an inn for travellers heading to the Goldfields. Hit the Nungarin Heritage Trail to tour other historic buildings in the region, including McCorry's Old Hotel, the Post Office, Nungarin Hotel and the Anglican Church. If you're travelling in August or September, be sure to take the detour to Talgomine Reserve or Eaglestone Hill, when the fields are a blanket of pink and yellow everlastings and the woodlands are filled with the delicate blooms of orchids. Bird watchers, canoeists or those in search of a cooling dip will also find delight in a trip to nearby Lake Campion. Stay and soak up a little local heritage at the hotel and adjoining blacksmiths (circa 1911), enjoy some local hospitality at a guesthouse, or pull in to the local caravan park. Time your visit to coincide with the first Sunday of each month between March and December and you can also indulge at the Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets.
A drive or walk through Wyalkatchem is well worth your while, whether you're on the trail to uncover rich gold rush and agricultural heritage, or to witness one of the finest collections of wildflowers on Earth. Originally a favourite stop for prospectors hitting the Goldfield's track, you can follow in their search for fortune along the Pioneers' Pathway from Perth. Driving the Great Eastern Highway and Goomalling-Wyalkatchem Road, you'll reach the town in two and a half hours. Nature lovers can opt to take the Granite Loop Discovery Trail, a more leisurely three to five day self-drive route taking in the Wheatbelt's striking granite formations and reserves teeming with flora and fauna. The town is thought to have been named after the Wyalkatchem water tank which was built by sandalwood cutters in 1881. Today, it's the original wheat bin that attracts many visitors. Known as the CBH Museum, it houses an impressive collection of early farming equipment and transportation, including the 'Waterloo Boy' - one of the first John Deere tractor models and one of the few remaining in Australia. At the northern end of town, you'll find the gateway to native bushlands via one of three walking trails. Or, to marvel at the local's own creations, head for the Water Wise Garden beside one of the many colourful murals that depict town life in the early 1900s. A little further afield, Korrelocking Reserve and Yorkakine Rock offer some picturesque picnic spots. These are particularly striking after good winter rains when the blooms of wildflowers and delicate orchids bring colour to the bushlands. The region is a favourite hangout for hang gliding enthusiasts too, who've been known to reach dizzying heights of up to 3,500 metres and fly several hundred kilometres in any direction. Visit in January or February and you might get to witness Western Australia's State Hang Gliding Championships. Food, fuel and a comfy bed for the night are also on offer in Wyalkatchem, with budget and family friendly accommodation options including a caravan park with en-suite units, hotel rooms, motel units and a bed and breakfast.