We’ve driven past the turn off to Greenbushes so many times. It’s on a hill within spitting distance of Bridgetown, and to tell you the truth because we’ve always so close to our destination by then, we’ve never turned off for a proper look-see.
But having been to the Bridgetown Blues festival and stayed at Maranup Ford camp site on the Greenbushes road, we decided to stop there on the way home.
From my Journal: Our night was so peaceful that apart from the breeze in the eucalyptus trees there was no sound. We woke to a beautiful sunny morning, Dave went for a photographic walk, I lay in the tent and listened to the dawn chorus which included a raucous Kookaburra cackling away, before heading to the well kempt ablution block for a shower. Then, after boiling and enjoying a cup of billy tea with our friends we headed off to Greenbushes.
The town is sleepy, and feels as if it’s been largely forgotten, overlooked for its bigger neighbor, Bridgetown, and that’s a joy. The streets are quiet and wide, and you get the feeling of being in a forest clearing.
There are some old historic buildings worth a look at and a couple of hotels that would have tales to tell. There’s a fabulous swimming dam with a playground, and of course the old mine site.
Our first stop was for breakfast at Tasty Edibles, a delightful café that’s owned by Shannon and Luke, who 7 years ago headed down to the south west for a tree change, leaving Perth for a quieter life.
“Which in fact has turned out to be anything but a quiet life,” Luke told me as he was busy in the kitchen making traditional sour dough bread using artisan techniques.
Shannon told me that the café has expanded from being a bakery, and a place for her to bake and decorate specialty cakes, and that they are busier than ever.
“We bake cakes, slices, pies, sausage rolls and pizzas, and offer cake decorating classes. We’ve just had a specialist cake decorator down from Perth to do a workshop,” Shannon explained.
Our breakfast is gargantuan, and my Gypsy Eggs with baked egg and spicy beans is something out of the ordinary, but delicious. I loved the vintage tea cups.
Greenbushes has the oldest tin mine in WA. We popped up to the Cornwall Pit, a huge open pit that was started in 1980. It’s an incredible sight, and quite took my breath away.
The mine now produces tantalum and spodumene, both in underground shafts and in open pits. The product produced from spodumene is lithium which is used in batteries. Tantalum is used in jet engines, electronics and aerospace structures and spodumene is used in flat glass, ceramics and batteries as well as rubber products and pharmaceuticals – so Greenbushes is on the international map due to its mining, but it’s just a quiet little bush village at heart.
History of the mine
The mine began back in 1888 when David Stinton pegged the first mining lease at Greenbushes for Bunbury Tin Mining Company and this started a mining rush because lots of prospectors soon followed, and put up make shift accommodation, some more salubrious than others. From 1899 – 1943, I read on one of the many and very informative information boards around the viewing area, that the tin field production totaled 910.31 alluvial tons.
In the picture above is a tyre from one of the huge mining trucks used on the mine, and on the bottom right is a picture of the sort of accommodation they might have erected in the early days for the miners, and this one was marked as a ‘more permanent example.’
Then we headed to Greenbushes Pool
This lovely expanse of water was originally created by a tin dredge which operated in the creeks and waterways along the spring gully. It’s a gorgeous natural pool, far larger than a swimming pool, surrounded by bushland. There’s a small beach, a jetty, a playground and a deck from which children were enjoying jumping off.
From here you could do the Greenbushes Loop Walk Trail which is a 15km loop walk that links Greenbushes with the Bibbulmun Track through jarrah and marri forests and several large dams. But there are several walks around Greenbushes of various lengths and description and you’ll find a helpful little booklet available at local information centres, or at Tasty Edibles café where they have a selection of helpful brochures and magazines.
My lasting memory
My endearing memory of Greenbushes though will be the locals who are so friendly. Everybody had a friendly smile and hello, or ‘no worries’ attitude, and as we were leaving I popped into the convenience store/garage for the Weekend West.
“They’ve all sold out, but we have the Sunday papers,” the friendly lady behind the counter said to me. “But if you really want one, here have this one, it’s my Mother’s. I’m sure she’s read it by now.”
I tried to thrust some money into her hand, but she wouldn’t take it.
Friendly? More than that. The kindness of strangers … ‘n all ‘n all.
Where’s your favourite country town, ZigaZag readers? And why is it special?