Saturday 23rd April 2016
It’s been quite a few years since we’ve been to Stockyard Gully and we’d heard there had been a few changes / improvements to the National Park. It’s time to visit again and check it out for ourselves. While up there we’ll also do a loop along some of the other tracks.
Stockyard Gully is about 250 kms north of Perth and you can get there via the Indian Ocean Drive or the Brand Highway. You travel along gazetted roads except for the last few kilometers which is a sandy track.
You can download the Stockyard Gully way points from our trip down below.
We started out along Brand Highway and after filling up at Cataby we continued north until Bibby Road where we turned left. The Emu Downs Wind Farm is on the corner and has been operating since 2006. There are 48 turbines that convert the wind in to energy which is pumped into the power grid. We also noticed a lot of new high voltage powerline towers and while we understand they are required they are still a blight on the landscape. Perhaps a bit of thought should have gone into planning to install them out of view.
When we reached Mumbinea Road we turned north and continued all the way through to Stockyard Gully. When it crosses Jurien East Road it becomes Cockellshell Gully Road and once you cross Coorow Greenhead Road there’s about 10kms to go to Stockyard Gully National Park.
Once in the National Park we bumped along the road to the Stockyard Gully cave; it was a lot bumpier than we remember, must be all the extra traffic. Gee they’ve made some changes since we were last here; there were no car parks, toilets, picnic tables or info signs. These facilities are now provided. There are two main caves – Stockyard Gully Cave approx 300 mts long and Stockyard Cave approx 800 mts long which is the one we went down years ago and is now fenced off. There is also a third cave – Aiyennu Cave – which is closed to the public.
After a bite to eat we went for a walk down to the Stockyard Gully Cave. On the way we passed a sign which showed the level the water reached in the 1999 flood. It’s an easy walk to the downstream entrance but you have to climb over some small boondies at the end to get down to the opening of the cave.
When you see the entrance it’s quite wide and well lit. Before you enter there is some railing sectioning off an area in case of rock fall.
It’s an interesting walk through the cave which is long enough and curves so that no light penetrates when you’re at the middle, it is literally pitch black. A torch comes in handy at this point. We thought we might see some bats but didn’t. It’s not long before you see the bright exit leading you out of the cave.
Just after exiting the cave at the upstream entrance we looked up to the left and noticed honeycomb hanging from the rocks where feral bees ( non native ) were making honey. If you are allergic to bees, caution is suggested when visiting Stockyard Gully National Park and surrounding areas as it’s used by bee keepers.
Leaving Stockyard Gully Cave we turned north and drove through the national park hoping to see some wild flowers left over from spring. We only saw a couple of Burdett’s Banksias. We continue on toward Coolimba – Eneabba Road. The track was predominantly sandy interspersed with sections of limestone rocks. The rocks weren’t really big but you had to be careful picking a line as some were sharp, travel was slow not to mention BUMPY.
We reached Coolimba – Eneabba Road and turned left onto bitumen. We didn’t pressure up as we only had about 2 kms until we needed to turn south along another track. Of course we traveled along the bitumen very slowly due to our low tyre pressures. Once on the track heading south it was heavily overgrown in several sections making it hard to see the track ahead.
At one point we bounced off a rock and felt the car move but didn’t really give it another thought…..
That was until we finished our track trek and stopped to pressure back up ready for the trip home along the black top. To our disappointment we noticed a cut in the sidewall of Cooper AT3 on the driver rear tyre. It has to be said the Cooper AT3 is a tough tyre and it remained inflated despite the gash penetrating several millimeters. On a standard passenger tyre it would have deflated for sure, however the tyre is still a right off, that’s $350.00 down the drain. We popped the spare on and headed for home.
When we got home we couldn’t wait to have a look at the photos and we were surprised to see that a couple of shots we’d taken in the cave with the flash showed all the dust, mites etc the air.