Across the Wheat Belt
As we were traveling south from Wave Rock towards the Stirling Ranges, we found ourselves driving through the heart of Australia’s wheat belt. About every 50 kilometers we seemed to come upon another small town that had one thing in common, a big grain elevator. The amount of wheat produced in southwest Australia when actually see it, is staggering. Just fields after fields of wheat like what you see below:
However, what is also staggering is the amount of salt lakes we saw swallowing up the country side. This picture is of the huge salt lake near the small town of Lake Grace:
As we drove to Lake Grace we also were hit with the biggest swarm of locusts we had seen yet. On the small road we were driving on; all I could see ahead was covered in black because of all the locusts on the road. As I drove up the road towards them they all jumped up into the air and I could barely see. The locusts swarms are literally of Biblical proportions in West Australia and I almost expected to see the rivers turn red and Charlton Heston to come out the bush after that locust swarm.
What else came to mind as we drove through the wheat belt was how all these peaceful towns with their grain elevators were all involved in the biggest UN corruption scandal in history. The UN Food for Oil Corruption Scandal had tentacles that reached all the way over here to the Australian Wheat Belt. The Australian Wheat Bureau or AWB for short was implicated in a massive kickback scheme to then dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Millions of dollars of hard cash was sent to Saddam in order to secure the UN wheat contract in Iraq.
This picture of the AWB chairman has ultimately become the symbol of corruption in Australia:
At Last the Stirling Ranges
As we continued traveling south of Lake Grace, the Stirling Ranges finally came into view:
The Stirling Ranges began to loom larger over the surrounding wheat fields the closer the mountains we drove:
It was nice to see some mountains after driving through so much relative flatness. The Stirling Ranges were by far the largest mountains we had seen so far in Western Australia and the highest summit in southwestern Australia is found here. As we entered the national park land the change in scenery was quite amazing because we suddenly went from clear cut farming land to a forested area. In fact this satellite image really gives you an idea of how the Stirling Ranges is effectively an island of what the natural Australian environment in the area used to be:
As you can also see from the above image the range is not only surrounded by farm land but also the numerous salt lakes are slowly creeping towards the park boundaries, which means the last natural environment in the area may be under threat of destruction from the salt lakes.
As we entered the park from the north we immediately saw to our right a turn off to the Stirling Ranges Chalets and Caravan Park. This caravan park actually ended up being the best caravan park we have been to in Australia. It cost us $20 dollars for a site for our campervan which is cheap plus the facilities were all very clean. Additionally the owner was extremely friendly unlike other caravan parks we have been to and was genuinely very knowledgeable about the area. He had plenty of trail maps and he helped me organize my visit to the ranges in order to get the most out of the two days we intended to stay there. There was actually a nice walking trail on the caravan parks property that provided pleasant views of the ranges. The spot we had our caravan parked provide us with a nice view of one of the peaks of the range:
Here is the sunset we were treated to as we sat down to eat dinner that night:
The next day I would be able to do some hiking in these beautiful mountains.
Next Posting: The Stirling Ranges
Prior Posting: Wave Rock
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