Grey Gypsies of Australia
Western Australia - 2010
Lake King, Peak Charles Instead of driving the coast to Esperance we chose to head north and inland to Lake King and from there take the inland 4x4 track to Norseman through Frank Hann NP and Peak Charles NP. We stayed at the small Lake King CP in 2007 and loved its great facilities and shady inland camping spots, so we returned this trip expecting it to be ruined by cabins and progress…but no… it was still as good as ever! Delicious dinner cooked in the camp kitchen out of the way of flies and other bities. The next morning we set off on the Norseman track, about 250 km in length. Terry had talked to a professional "dogger" who camped at Lake King the previous night. He frequently drove the Norseman track and was able to tell us about track conditions. It's greasy when wet, but in the dry you could drive a Corolla down it: the first 50 km are on bitumen! There are a few spots that were deeply rutted when we drove it, but keeping alert for these spots it's easy to drive round them and it's flat as a tack! The Navara laughed all the way. We met up with the dogger and his van just inside Frank Hann NP. Euen has been trapping wild dogs for the local council for two years and has noticed a big change since doing so. He caught around 180 dogs the first year, mostly german shepherd and bull mastiff crosses. The second year he barely trapped 50 dogs and so he believes he has contributed to reducing the wild dog population very significantly. More importantly he has noticed the kangaroo and wallaby population increase markedly, and this over two years of drought. He concludes that the wild dog crosses are pack hunters and mostly feed on local native animals such as the roos and wallabies. By reducing the dog population, the native animals have a chance to increase and stabilize. He believes his trapping methods are humane as he regularly checks his traps and uses them in conjunction with a fast acting poison that kills the dog within minutes of being trapped. Unfortunately the spread of feral introduced animals has made it inevitable that they need to be removed completely if possible; otherwise reduced dramatically in numbers or native animals will suffer from predation or lack of their natural foods. So much for the camels, horses, buffalo, goats, pigs, deer, dogs, rabbits, hares, cane-toads and cats that have colonized parts of the bushlands! Frank Hann NP runs along the Norseman track in a thin line and was proclaimed to protect the great display of wild flowers. Even in early November we saw dozens of flowering shrubs and flowers, many in great masses. Around 180km down the track is the turnoff to Peak Charles NP. It winds into the campsite on a slow wooded track round 25km in length. The arid mallee scrub provides quite nice shade at the foot of Peak Charles, a hill you can see from many kilometers away.  A walking track to the top of the peak is there for the energetic who want to see great views over the surrounding area. We arrived by lunch time and set up for an overnight camp. Lunch and dinner was eaten in the tent where the flies couldn't find us, but at night the stars were magnificent as was the cool night air - a lovely night to finish up our last campsite.
Lake King to Norseman
Peak Charles Flowers on roadside to Peak Charles Flowers on roadside into Peak Charles Road across Lake King
Copyright Grey Gypsies Australia 2009
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