We stayed for a few days at a river front bush campsite at Wooleen Station just south of the Murchison Settlement, 690kms north east of our capital city Perth.
We had heard about Wooleen when we travelled through Murchison last year, and were keen to experience their station stay. Covering over a quarter of a million acres of picturesque outback, Wooleen Station is a cattle station that is playing a leading role in preserving and sustaining the unique ecology of the region.
Located in mulga shrub land, Wooleen Station was founded in 1886 when James Sharpe bought the lease of about 90,000 acres. The Pollock family bought the lease of the property in 1989 and is today managed by David Pollock and his partner Frances Jones.
As well as cattle grazing, David and Frances run an eco-tourism business on their property.
We loved the private river frontage bush camping on the Murchison River at Wooleen Station with absolute quiet and a million stars overhead at night.
There are 4 riverside campsites - Bagaa (white-faced heron), Birdiny (water chooky). Gurulhu (Black swan) and Warrbi (fish). Below are two pics of our camp with views over the Murchison River. Gurulhu means "Black Swan" in the local indigenous dialect.
There are also bush camps near a rocky outcrop and under some Gidgee trees. These are all unpowered sites with no facilities other than a long drop toilet and a firepit. You are required to bring your own composting toilet for camping at the Gidgee tree. There are also unpowered campsites at the homestead where you have access to a basic camp kitchen, toilet and showers. Frances says there are plans to do some upgrades on the homestead campsites.
Or you can book to stay in one of their self-contained guest houses or stay at the beautiful Wooleen homestead. Please book in advance.
sunrise from our camp
sunset along the river
It can be very dry out here. Wooleen's managers David Pollock and Frances Jones are carrying out a radical plan to regenerate Wooleen's landscape and bring it back from years of over-grazing. The Pollocks say that the rangelands are a renewable resource, but only if the land is managed so it is able to renew itself and is healthy enough to withstand the normal cycles of climate.
In 2007 they completely destocked the entire property for 4 years, and started a program of re-establishing vegetation. Their second stage for sustainability is to discover a way to run stock in a way that does not start the landscape back into a downward spiral.
To achieve this they periodically rest the landscape to allow it to recover from grazing, especially during dry times and now only run cattle for around 8 months of the year during the wetter months. The Pollocks say this is working well ecologically but is very tough financially as we are not realising the full economic potential of our herds.
A bold and economically costly plan - you can only admire their commitment to regenerating and preserving the land.
Wooleen is home to hundreds of different plants and animals unique to the outback. We were a little early for the wildflower season but there were still wildflowers to photograph.
Below are some of my favourite Mulla Mulla family of wildflowers. The one in the top LH corner is a variety I had not seen before. From my research at Flora Base I think it is Ptilotus beardii Benl - Low Mulla Mulla. Flora Base is a great online resource if you want to identify wildflowers.
A river to wander along - amazingly there were even black swans. I never expected to see black swans on the Murchison. The Swan River in Perth is well known for them, and we see them other places in the south west too, but I was amazed to see them up here.
This is Gradagullya Pool which was only a few kilometres from our camp and a great place to wander along the river. I just love those twisted river gums.
My husband likes to take bird photos. Below you can see clockwise from Left Top corner - a Little Falcon, Kingfisher, Pink & Grey Galahs (they were nesting in one of the river gums), a nest (probably a hawk nest), a Crested Pigeon, and Black Swans.
This one is for you Redz Australia (Aussie Loos with Views) - the amenities might be basic at the bush camps - but this "long drop" had a polished wood seat and a mirror! Luxury!
a loo with a view -
with a river front like this and the beautiful quiet peacefulness I wasn't complaining about the lack of facilities at the river side bush campsite
If bush camping is not your style you can stay in the beautiful Wooleen homestead, built in 1918 from handmade bricks, and listed by the Australian National Trust. Or stay in one of their self-contained rammed earth guesthouses.
Other things to do at Wooleen are visit the Bowerbird museum, go out to the site of the Wooleen woolshed that was blown away in a "cockeyed bob" (the cooks quarters (which you can see below on the left) and bunkhouses remain - but that's another story), visit Wooleen Lake which only fills once every 10 years (this year was the year), visit the Sharpe family cairn, and take in the views from Cow paddock Mill hill.
There are also morning, sunset, and walking tours that can be arranged. And hiking and mountain bike trails. Or you can kayak in the river.
We were sorry that our visit to Wooleen hadn't been longer. If you would like to know more about Wooleen Station as a place to stay or to read more about their history and their regeneration and conservation plans, please visit their website - www.wooleen.com.au
Wooleen Station is located 690kmns north east of Perth, Western Australia, and 37kmns south of Murchison Settlement. Access is via bitumen and gravel roads. 4WD recommended. Fuel available at Murchison. Wooleen is open for camping and accommodation from 1 April to 31 October. Bookings are recommended.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this visit to Wooleen Station. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.
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