30 May 2014
Lake King Tavern and Motel, deep in the south east of Western Australia
Today we start our journey back to Perth, and the last week of our holiday. Lots of driving today. First leg is a back track from Esperance to Ravensthorpe of 187 kms, so we had a nice breakfast again at Dome cafe before we set off. Having travelled this road a few days earlier we were familiar with the scenery, and the road is so straight that the kilometres seem to go quickly because you can easily maintain 110 kph, not too many bends and very little traffic. There was a cafe on the way in to Ravensthorne so we decided to stop there for a morning tea of scones with jam and cream. We had another 70 kms to reach Lake King, and you never know where you will find somewhere for a snack or a meal once you get into the more remote country areas.
The second leg passed quickly and we were finally at our destination at the Lake King Tavern and Motel, a fairly unimpressive structure in what seemed like a wilderness, so much red earth and sparse vegetation. The receptionist was very friendly, said we could settle into our room although it was only 1pm, and lunch was served until 2pm. The room was comfortable with plenty of space, and we were soon settled in as we were only staying for one night.
We decided to eat lunch before seeing the sights, and there was some yummy soup available to warm us up. Although it had been raining lightly once we left Esperance, as had happened almost every day, this soon cleared up and the sun was shining for the rest of the day, although it was a little cooler. We asked the tavern staff about finding Mount Madden which we had read about, and we were given a mud map of the area to find our way. Lake King is fairly remote, in the middle of the grain and wheatbelt area, not too far south of the Hyden/Wave Rock area. It is mainly scrub, with wheat/grain fields where the land is suitable.
The imposing face of Mount Madden that we decided to climb
Initially we started off on the wrong road (hard to read some of these mud maps – and once again local knowledge is power!) however we soon realised we were going in the opposite direction to Mount Madden, so turned around and headed in the right direction. Mount Madden is a lofty granite hill standing 386 metres above sea level, discovered by an exploration party headed by Surveyor General John Septimus Roe in October 1848, while they were exploring the south east interior of Western Australia, and was named after WA’s Colonial Secretary, Dr Richard Madden. The first stage of their journey passed through country which today is the heart of the wheatbelt.
Halfway up Mount Madden, great views out over the countryside, grain fields and scrub
A gravel road led us to a rough parking area, where the face of Mount Madden appeared before us. We decided to climb as far up as we could, as one is supposed to have a wonderful 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside, and to the Barren mountains on the south coast between Hopetoun and Bremmer Bay. The climb was fairly easy, and with a few rests, we finally made it to the cairn at the top of the mountain. The view is indeed spectacular and we could see the coast far out to the east. It was very invigorating to do the climb, much easier to descend, and a great way to spend the afternoon.
Not quite Mt Everest, but we made it to the top!
The Tavern is the only place to eat in Lake King, so everyone goes there for a meal, or drinks – probably most of the population was there that night, kids and adults. It was a cold night and we were pleased to see that they had lit the open fire that was crackling away merrily. The meal was very good for a pub meal, I had chicken curry and Pete ordered a sirloin steak with pepper sauce. The mudcake was irresistible.
The roaring open log fire in the Lake King Tavern
Tomorrow we leave Lake King and head off to Wagin for two nights, before heading back to Perth for the last few days of our holiday.