Norseman & the GWDT
Today has been testing. We're somewhere on the road between Norseman and Hyden, camped by Lake Johnstone (a salt lake), here to experience The Great Western Woodland. This is our second stop on the Granite and Woodland Discovery Trail, which in theory is a great 2WD friendly dirt road traversing the goldfields. It has designated camping areas, with drop toilets and fire pits and educational signage. But it's tough country! Dust, flies, no water and the majority of the woodland has been devastated by the 2020 fires. Today it was the heat, the flies and the kids that combined had Matthias and me willing the sun to set. Then when it finally did, and the trifactor had departed, a plague of flying ants arrived!
That being said, there have been some great moments. The salt lake afforded Hugh the opportunity to hone his cycling skills and the kids had a great splash in the puddles of water on top of Disappointment Rock. We also enjoyed the comic lizards that ruled the rocky outcrop like creatures from another planet and got a few close ups with the goannas.
Our 2 night stop previous to this and also on the Granite and Woodland Discovery Trail was a lot more forgiving. We were in burnt out bushland but the abundance of wildflowers and recovering Gimlet and Salmon Gums made for a pretty and botanically interesting camp. The kids weren't much up for bushwalking but they were quite at home digging and playing with sticks.
As a side note, I was worried about what toys we should take with us and wondered if the kids would suffer for not having an assortment of play things. But it turns out that our poop/recovery spade has been the best toy going. As well as the two soft-toys "Colin the Chameleon" and "Funky Monkey". Hugh’s imagination can turn a pile of rocks into a flotilla of boats that will keep him happy for a whole morning. And Claire finds peace stacking and unstacking the dishes into a saucepan. So I’m glad I took the less is more approach to toys.
But the kids do love a playground. And that's where they spent the majority of their time in Norseman while I got jobs done. Refuelling, shopping, filling water tanks, a load of washing and deciding our next turn at the visitor centre. They also got an overdue hosing down at the servo ($3.50 hot shower).
What impressions of Norseman itself? The amazing new visitor centre is in total contrast to the rest of the town which looks like it would blow over in a moderate wind. The population was similarly contrasting, either young and indigenous or Anglo and octogenarian. And the final third of the people we came across were grey nomads, stocking up as we were. At the centre of it all sits a noisy working mine.