After travelling the Wheatbelt Way region I have compiled the below list of personal highlights. My personal favourites list starts with the best of the towns and then the best of the cafes, followed by my pick of the granite rocks. I conclude with my favourite museums.
The below three towns are my picks of the best of the Wheatbelt Way because all feature a well presented and tidy main street, good quality public amenities and parking, an RV dump point, a playground either in the centre of town or close to it; and finally food outlets selling real barista coffee.
Mukinbudin clearly takes a pride in its main street. It provides plenty of shaded parking and seating areas right in the centre of town, as well as well-maintained public toilets and even a gazebo if you want to prepare your lunch in the shade. The town has an excellent caravan park, café, and a playground, gazebo and picnic table at the Lions Park adjacent to the shire office.
A spot of shady grass to stop and have lunch in the shade on Mukinbudin’s main street.
Mukinbudin Cafe, Mukinbudin.
Plenty of parking outside the Tourist Information area in Mukinbudin main street area.
Westonia’s professional flair is immediately obvious when you arrive in the town, with beautiful landscaped streetscapes throughout the town centre, a 48 hour free parking area right on its main street, a café/gallery/gift shop, a good quality playground and well-maintained public amenities.
Beautifully landscaped gardens in Westonia’s town centre.
The heritage listed Westonia Tavern.
The free 48 hour St Luke’s Church camping area on Westonia’s main street.
One of the quirky features to be found in Westonia’s leafy town centre. The playground is visible in the background.
Bencubbin clearly cares about its town centre, and a significant amount of work has been put in to create great facilities for visitors. Right in the centre of town is KC’s Café, which is adjacent to an excellent shaded children’s playground and well maintained public toilets. There is also an expansive parking area opposite the public toilets with an information bay, historical displays, and even a gazebo, skate park and grassed area. On the north side of KC’s Café is a lovely shaded seating area. Finally, just opposite the cafe is the Bencubbin CRC & Visitor Information Centre, which has a range of interesting sandalwood products on sale, including soap, body butter, oil, perfume, candles and gift packs.
Lush green grass outside of the Public Amenities and playground in Bencubbin main street.
Bencubbin’s town centre playground.
Generous parking area in the heart of Bencubbin.
Gazebo, grassed area and skate park in Bencubbin’s town centre.
Shady tables and seating outside KC’s Cafe, Bencubbin.
I don’t know about you, but I am constantly thinking about my stomach!
Here are my favourite cafes along the Wheatbelt Way, all of which provide real freshly brewed barista coffee, friendly service and a great café environment, as well as comfortable seating areas.
Wyalkatchem News, Lotteries & Cafe
Wyalkatchem News, Lotteries and Café operates from Wyalkatchem’s main street and provides great coffee as well as meals, newsagency items and gifts. The shop is housed in the historic Johnston’s Buildings which is right opposite a roomy parking area, shaded gazebo and playground.
Wylie News, Lotteries and Cafe on the main street of Wyalkatchem.
A delicious cappuccino from Wylie News, Lotteries and Cafe.
Shaded parking area opposite the Wylie News, Lotteries and Café.
Westonia Gallery Café
The Westonia Gallery Café is located in a beautiful historic shop, and everything about this café and gallery is expertly done. The Café is open 8 am to 2 pm Thursday to Sunday, however feel free to contact the cafe if you are planning on calling through at other times as hours are extended at certain times of the year. Breakfasts, lunches, barista coffee, cake, art, gifts and homewares are all available at the Westonia Gallery Cafe.
Homewares and gifts at the Westonia Gallery Café.
A weekend seafood platter treat at the Westonia Gallery Café.
A close up of the gastronomically amazing free range chicken and brie salad with avocado from the Westonia Gallery Café.
The gorgeous counter at the Westonia Gallery Café.
KC’s Café Bencubbin
KC’s Café is located right in the heart of Bencubbin’s main street and is open 7 am to 5 pm Monday to Thursday, 7 am to 8 pm Friday, and 7.30 am to 1.00 pm Saturdays and Sundays. Meals, ice cream, milkshakes and great coffee are all available, as are a range of other items including milk, smart phone chargers and socks. There is a lovely café area inside this historic 1923 shop building as well as outdoor tables, and KC Sales adjacent has everything from jeans to kettles to electric frying pans, if you run short of something while you are on the road.
Beautiful Fiori coffee at KC’s Café in Bencubbin.
The shady veranda at KC’s Café, Bencubbin.
Locals catch up outside KC’s Café, Bencubbin.
The Mukinbudin Café is a much loved and popular eatery in the region. It is open long hours (7 am to 8 pm every day of the year except Christmas Day) and serves generous breakfasts, lunch and dinner, as well as barista coffee, cake, and everything in between. It is located in the heart of Mukinbudin’s picturesque main street and has a comfortable dine in area with air conditioning and magazines, or there is a plenty of outside seating if you feel like some sunshine.
The Mukinbudin Café.
Clare at the Mukinbudin Café.
Scrumptious coffee and cake at the Mukinbudin Café.
3. Granite Rocks
Here I preview three of my greatest favourites of the Wheatbelt Way granite rocks.
My next blog article provides an in-depth wrap up of all the Wheatbelt Way granite rocks, however in this article I focus on just three of my personal favourites.
As a result of the awe-inspiring beauty that is nature in the raw, narrowing down the Wheatbelt Way granite rocks to just three personal favourites was an extremely difficult task.
Nonetheless, after much agonising I have selected the below three granite rocks as my personal favourites because all are situated on generous reserves offering plenty to explore, all offer free camping, all have some spectacular rock features, and all have facilities (picnic tables, fire pits and a toilet).
A secluded picnic area at Eaglestone Rock.
Eaglestone is a fantastic place to either camp or enjoy a barbecue with friends and family, and it is situated only 21 kilometres north of Nungarin. The winding road into the reserve gives you great access to a number of scenic spots, including the above sheltered camp site at the base of one side of the rock with a table and a toilet nearby. There are amazing views of the surrounding salt lakes on both sides of this generous expanse of rock, with some stand out granite features.
A smiling granite boulder perched on Eaglestone Rock.
Meandering through large granite rock eggs at Eaglestone.
Endless salt lake views at Eaglestone.
Beringbooding is very peacefully located right on the edge of the wheatbelt, around 70 kilometres north of Mukinbudin. The rock is just off a good quality access road and there is an expansive shaded free camping and barbecue area immediately below it, with tables, fire pits and a flushing toilet. The largest rock water catchment tank in Australia is also located at Beringbooding and this impressive feature is also visible from the camping area.
The beautiful Kangaroo Soak at Beringbooding Rock.
Awesome rock features at Kangaroo Soak, Beringbooding Rock.
Shady camping and barbecue area at Beringbooding Rock.
Ginormous water tank at Beringbooding Rock! Notice how small the two people on the right hand side of the photograph are in comparison.
Like Beringbooding, Elachbutting is also very peacefully located 100 kilometres north of Westonia on the edge of the wheatbelt. Elachbutting is a great place to visit for so many reasons. The reserve is wonderfully generous, the rock itself is an absolutely colossal monolith, and if you have a 4WD there is even a track on the eastern side of the rock that allows you to drive right to the top of the rock! There is the gorgeous Rock Wave to enjoy (which almost throbs with light at sunset), and the beautiful Monty’s Pass, which is over 30 metres of cool dark narrow cave. The signs to Monty’s Pass and the Rock Wave are visible from the second carpark you come across as you enter the reserve.
Taken on the road to Elachbutting, this photo provides some perspective on the enormity of Elachbutting Rock, with the rock stretching across the photograph and beyond.
The spectacular Rock Wave, Elachbutting Rock.
At the entrance to Monty’s Pass.
Inside Monty’s Pass, Elachbutting Rock.
4. Museums / Heritage Experiences
My personal favourites in this category were selected because each provide friendly staff, great quality displays, and opening hours that accommodate tourists wishing to visit at a range of different times of the week.
The gorgeous white washed walls of Mangowine Homestead.
Mangowine Homestead offers a fantastic visitor experience. Perched on a hill, the site itself offers great views of surrounding farmland and reserve. The homestead, tavern and cottage are beautifully presented, with every room set up as it would have been back in the late 1800’s. Entry is only $4 for adults, or $2 for students, pensioners or concession holders. Bob the site Caretaker is friendly, informative and helpful.
Even better, if you have your own caravan or motorhome you can stay the night at the shady on site Mangowine Caravan Park for only $12.50 a night per powered site.
The Wayside Inn at Mangowine Homestead.
The attention to detail at Mangowine is superb.
A simply furnished gentleman’s bedroom at Mangowine.
The dining room table set for dinner at Mangowine Homestead.
Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum
Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum is an absolute smorgasbord for the eyes. History comes to life in various historical scenes, many with their own lifelike human mannequin, complete with wrinkles and blemishes. Entry is only $3 for adults, and there is even a Scitech gold mine experience within the museum incorporating the movement of replica mine blasts as well as sound effects from the town’s early gold mining days.
Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum, housed in a replica of the Club Hotel that operated in the town’s early years.
The general store scene at Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum.
The shearing scene at Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum, which will soon include a life size Shearer.
A Miner inside the moving Scitech Gold Mine Tunnel, Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum.
The service station / garage scene at Westonia’s Hood-Penn Museum.
I hope you have a great holiday as you travel the Wheatbelt Way and that you have as much fun as I’ve had in selecting your own personal favourites!
By Annemaree Jensen who writes at www.extramilewriting.com.au.