Koorarawalyee Well Refurbishment

After our February 2015 recce of numerous explorers’ well it was decided to select one of them for a well refurbishment project.

On my return from Kalgoorlie in September 2015 after having delivered a Presentation to the W.A. Museum about the W.A. Explorers Diaries Project, I called in at Koora Retreat and spoke with Anna Killigrew about Koorarawalyee Well, which is located only a kilometre from her Retreat.  Anna has a fine record in looking after a number of wells in the vicinity of Koora.

So, although Koorarawalyee was not one of the wells visited during the 2015 recce it was an easy decision to make it our first well refurbishment project. I committed to assembling a group of volunteers ‘some time in the future’ to refurbish the well, repair ‘harvest’ walls and open up Hunts Track for a kilometre or so past the the Well. Eventually the 2016 Anzac Day long weekend was selected as the date for the Project.

A team of 11 set out from El Caballo, 60 kilometres east of Perth and camped the night near Moorine Rock. We reached Koorarawalyee around 8.30 a.m. and set up camp below the rock.

Anna, Peter and helpers from the Koora Retreat had been busy providing some great facilities – a long drop, solar powered, enviro toilet, a fire ring with swivel barbecue plate, and plenty of water.

After introductions at the campground the team started on clearing vegetation away from the harvest walls. Read more about the method of ‘harvesting’ water from granite rocks.

With Eugene, Joe and AB working the chainsaws hard, Peter, in his mobile workshop, was flat out trying to keep up sharpening the chains.

Steve put his masonry skills to use in a number of places.

The temperature was in the mid 20s only and the team had broken the back of the task by mid afternoon.

The first day’s job was finished and Joe acted as tour guide to show Kev, Eugene and Ric around Karalee, a wonderful heritage water catchment site 15 kilometres to the west. The rest of the crew relaxed around camp.

We cranked up the campfire and, despite the physical exertions throughout the day, the chat continued till late. I had been feeling off colour since midday and was in bed by 8.00 p.m.

Next morning we determined to clear the tangle of vegetation, dead trees, weeds and grasses from around the well. After ten minutes it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to be able to contribute much to the effort and I spent the rest of the day on my stretcher.

Scotty Wilson arrived late afternoon from Kalgoorlie and renewed acquaintances with Scott, Greg, Graham and Joe from the Telegraph Track Trip five months previously.

The harvest channels aggregate water from the rock into a main channel that directs the precious liquid into a tank or dam.

Optionally, this water can be directed to the well.

The Team completed another great job. The entanglement was gone, the area around the well was opened up, and there was clear access for future work on the well itself.

Amid the raucous night around the campfire Scotty organised to lead the crew to the Woolgangie condensers, 70 kilometres to the east, the next morning.

When the convoy departed Koora Retreat I stayed behind – too weak to do much more than lie down.

There is not much left at Woolgangie but Scotty was able to present an interesting interpretation of the challenges faced by early prospectors at a time when water was more valuable than gold.

On the return of the group from Woolgangie  we headed to Karalee where we stopped for those who hadn’t previously seen it.

Taking the ‘Golden Pipeline’ track to Yellowdine, we stopped and looked for the well at Caroling Rocks without success (I had no energy to mount a proper search) but we were more successful at Morlining Rocks where we located a beautiful example of the stonemason’s craft.

It was then a straight run down the blacktop to home.

Kim Epton, Rodeo RA Trayback
Greg Barndon, Suzuki Jimny
Andrew Brooks, Patrol GQ 4.2 L Ute
Steve Cook, Toyota Landcruiser Camper
Kev Dimsdale, Ford Ranger Ute with canopy
Graham Howe Patrol GU 4.2L Wagon
Ross Miles, Patrol GU 4.2L Ute
Joe Natoli, Patrol GU 4.2L Ute
Eugene and Riccardo Opie, Hilux ute
Scott Overstone, Suzuki Jimny
Scott Wilson, Toyota Trayback

Written by Kim Epton
900 words
34 photographs
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