From the moment we walked into the Yaraka Hotel we were greeted with ‘Welcome to Yaraka‘ from Hotel owner Gerry Gimblett! This set the tone for a wonderful stay in this little town that was nearly forgotten, if not for Gerry & husband Chris buying the Hotel 7 years ago and helping to bring back customers (travelling & local) to this small community. They both lived in the area for many years prior so they can attest to the changes that have occurred since the 1980’s.
Out the back is a Caravan Park with 3-4 powered sites with slabs, and heaps of room for un-powered (all sites $5 per night/$27 per week!) The Council Park area nearby has lush grass, BBQ and seating with amenities including showers. The pool wasn’t able to be used when we were visiting, but the tennis courts were open. The RFDS clinic within the park visits every 2nd Wednesday, and that happened to be the day I baked some Boozie Scones for the hotel workers and the RFDS staff.
There are drives you can take: about 40 klms south is Magees Shanty (according to folklore Banjo Paterson wrote the iconic poem “A Bush Christening” at this site). It’s out on a vast claypan, along with goldminer Richard Magoffin’s lone grave (perished in 1885 chasing his fortune). On Budgerigar Rd opposite the claypan are the remains of the survey pegs for the proposed town of Welford (that never eventuated). Chris at the Hotel can give you a mud map with more things to see.
Every evening Chris conducts a 2 hour tour in his mini bus up to Mt Slowcombe for 360-degree sunset views and some history about the district all for a donation to the RFDS. We did this on a Friday night and pre-ordered our delicious Pizzas to be ready on our return! We added an extra day onto our week so we could have pizzas again!!
The “End of the Line” museum is housed in the original railway station. For nature lovers, Kevin the Emu wanders the town and we also saw Mr Emu and his 9 chicks hanging around the town dam behind the van park along with Brolgas, a sand monitor & heaps of birds.
After a week we reluctantly said goodbye to Yaraka and headed west along dirt roads to the town of Stonehenge. We bee-lined for the caravan park opposite the Hotel (so handy!) This was a Council run park but now the Hotel runs it. They ask for a donation to the RFDS and/or patronage at the Hotel. The Hotel is small but the drinks are reasonably priced and meals filling!
Stonehenge’s claim to fame: as one of only three areas in Australia chosen as a base for an over-the-horizon Radar Defence Initiative. It’s also the right spot for an earthquake monitoring installation to provide an early warning system for the Pacific Rim!
The Stonehenge Community Centre is the info centre, RFDS clinic, library & internet service hub with a wonderful arid garden created by the locals. The 7 klm John Egan Pioneer Track is worth a drive to see the country & rocky outcrops this region produces (would be better after rain to see water in the rock pools).
Temperatures are rising now we’re into Spring so we will be moving on soon….Stay tuned! 🙂