Article from On The Road Magazine
WOOLEEN STATION, Murchison, Western Australia
Fancy camping with absolute river frontage in over a quarter of a million acres of mulga shrub lands?
Camped on the banks of the Murchison River about sixteen kilometres from the Wooleen Stationhomestead the quiet of the ancient landscape was only broken by bird calls along the river. We could have been hundreds of kilometres from anywhere.
Wooleen’s quarter of a million acres are set in a 3.6 billion year old landscape in the mulga scrublands that make up the Murchison rangelands, about forty kilometres south of the Murchison Settlement, and 690 kilometres or about seven hours’ drive north east of Perth in Western Australia.
We had heard about Wooleen when we travelled through Murchison the previous year and were keen to experience their station stay. 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 today Wooleen is managed by David Pollock and his partner Frances Jones.
To supplement their income from cattle, David and Francis offer an ecotourism experience at Wooleen. There are several camping options – four riverside campsites, 16 kilometres from the homestead, one rocky outcrop camp 7 kilometres from the homestead and two Gidgee tree campsites 6 kilometres from the homestead.
These are all unpowered sites with no facilities other than a long drop toilet and a fire pit. You are required to bring your own composting toilet for camping at the Gidgee tree.
There are also five unpowered campsites at the homestead with access to a basic camp kitchen, toilet and hot showers. The Pollocks have plans to upgrade the homestead campsites in the near future.
If bush camping is not your style you can stay in one of their two self-contained rammed earth guesthouses near the homestead. Or treat yourself, fully catered, in the beautiful Wooleen homestead, built in 1918 from handmade bricks and listed by the Australian National Trust.
We were very happy to secure one of the four riverside campsites. These are named with local Yamatji Wadjarri indigenous names – Bagaa (white-faced heron), Birdiny (water chooky), Gurulhu (black swan) and Warrbi (fish). The quiet and absolute river frontage of the riverside camps more than compensates for the lack of shade and facilities (although the drop toilets do have a polished wooden seat and mirror – luxury)! The campsites are well separated so you don’t feel the intrusion of neighbours and you can kayak in the river or fish for small spangled perch.
There is plenty of opportunity for bushwalking at Wooleen which is home to hundreds of different plants and animals unique to the Western Australian outback. During spring Wooleen is a field of wildflowers.
Gradagullya Pool, only a few kilometres from the riverside camps is a great place to wander along the river amongst the river gums, especially if you enjoy bird watching. We were surprised to see a flock of black swans on the river.
Francis enthuses, “There’s just so much wildlife, especially birds. Lots of beautiful landscapes, big granite outcrops, the most amazing sunsets and sunrises you’ll probably see anywhere”.
But there is a lot more to Wooleen than just camping out. Winners of numerous awards, David and Francis are committed to making the land sustainable environmentally and economically. Wooleen cattle station is playing a leading role in preserving and sustaining the unique ecology of Western Australia’s southern rangelands which has suffered from decades of over grazing and is severely eroded and degraded. Along with other measures, the Pollocks periodically rest the landscape by destocking to allow it to recover from grazing, especially during dry times – a program that is working well ecologically but is financially tough.
You can learn more about how the Pollock family are working towards making Wooleen an ecologically sustainable enterprise by joining one of their morning or sunset walking tours. There are hiking and mountain bike trails and kayaking on the river. Or just sit back and enjoy the spectacular sunrises and sunsets from your camp.
Whilst at Wooleen you can also visit Wooleen Lake, Yewlands Pool, Gradagullya Pool, the Sharpe family cairn, take in the views from Cow Paddock Mill Hill, browse through the fascinating Bowerbird museum, and visit the remains of the Wooleen woolshed that was blown away in a “cockeyed bob” The cook house is still standing.
Experience a little outback station hospitality at Wooleen Station.
Where is it?
Wooleen Station is located 690kms north east of Perth, Western Australia (approx 7 hours driving), and 37kms south of Murchison Settlement. Access is via bitumen and gravel roads via Mullewa. 4WD recommended.
An airstrip is available for small planes, 90 minutes’ flying time from Perth.
Fuel and basic supplies available at Murchison. Wooleen is open for camping and accommodation from 1 April to 31 October. Bookings recommended.
4 riverside campsites, 1 rocky outcrop camp and 2 Gidgee tree campsites, all unpowered with no facilities other than long drop toilet and firepit. You are required to bring your own composting toilet for camping at the Gidgee tree.
Please take away all rubbish, collect firewood only from designated areas, only use designated fire pits, and don’t leave fires unattended.
Self-drive station tracks are 4WD recommended. Use of motorbikes and buggies is prohibited. Keep to station tracks.
5 unpowered homestead campsites with basic camp kitchen, toilet and hot showers.
2 rammed earth 2 bedroom self-contained Guesthouses with outdoor el fresco areas.
Rooms for 8 guests at the Homestead, fully catered, shared bathroom.
- River & Gidgee tree camps: $30/vehicle/night.
- Rocky outcrop: $30 for the first two people and $10 per adult and $5 per child per night for groups.
- Homestead campground: $25/vehicle/night.
- Self-contained guest houses and full-catered homestead: refer to website.
Wheelchair access: Nothing specific.
Pets: Dogs allowed at bush campsites, but not around the homestead complex.
More information: www.wooleen.com.au