Menzies, Niagara Dam, and Kookynie

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Menzies (see above) was a rather empty town and we managed to nab the last pieces of food to eat in the one and only cafe. Apparently there had been a rush of visitors lately but no-one knew why. Deliveries to these remote towns are infrequent, making stock control quite a problem. Unlike English small towns/villages, buildings in Western Australian small towns were well spaced apart, so walking from one end of town to the other would be quite a trek. Menzies had its boom years in the 1890’s, during which the town had a population of over 5,000. The 2006 census gives the population at 56!

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In the photo below, you can see a metal cut-out producing an interesting shadow; these metal art pieces were quite common around here. You can also see a huge yellow vehicle. Because of the relative lack of rail transport, many goods have to be transported by road in road trains. These are generally three trucks linked together to make one very long vehicle, and therefore they are quite a hazard to overtake.

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We drove north east from Menzies to find the ‘Living Ghost Town’ of Kookynie. But on the way we stopped at the Niagara Dam as it was listed as a point of interest. The dam had been built in the 1890s to provide water for steam trains and the local population, but soon became redundant as underground water was discovered at Kookynie.

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At the dam, a dog alerted its owners to our presence, and this lady came over to talk to us. She was one of the many Australians, referred to as the 'Grey Nomads’, who leave their homes for several months a year to travel around the country, in caravans or RVs. This lady was living in an RV the size of a coach, so she wasn’t slumming it at all.

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A little further the road was Kookynie which had had its moment during the gold rush period, but was now largely abandoned. The photo below is the visitor information centre!

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At a distance, you do not tend to see much variety of colour in the landscape, but closer up you can find many flowers flourishing in this harsh environment. In September time, Western Australia is smothered in wild flowers and that must be quite a spectacle to look at.

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© Helen Gray 2019