I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published November 8th 2014
Western Wildflower Farm, Jingemia Cave, and more
Do you know that Western Australia has the largest collection of wildflowers in the world? And do you know that 60% of WA wildflowers are found nowhere else outside our state? And since we are lucky enough to live in such a place on earth, it seems a waste not to appreciate the bounty that Mother Nature provides. One place where our wildflowers are greatly appreciated is in Moora.
The Moora Wildflower Drive starts in the town of Moora, about 175 km north of Perth on Great Northern Highway. It's a wheat belt township with a caravan park, two supermarkets (IGA on Roberts Street and Foodworks on Gardiner Street), and the Moore River flowing through town.
A Preserved Locomotives F class F41 in a park off Gardiner St, with Foodworks Supermarket partly visible in the background.
Two of the more recognisable landmarks in town are Moora Town Clock and the pretty St James Anglican Church on Roberts Street, which was originally built more than a hundred years ago in 1911.
St James Anglican Church in Moora.
The Moora Wildflower Drive is a loop and as such you can drive it in either direction. The website gave a one way direction heading west from Moora, however we decided to go in the opposite direction and headed north instead on the Midlands Road and made our first stop at the Western Wildflower Farm and Interpretive Centre. If you pay them a visit, you might think that "Interpretive Centre" seem too grand a name for such a modest establishment (more like a souvenir shop, really).
From my observation, however, what it is is a wildflower farm operated by a genuine lover of wildflower (as opposed to just a business person) who also tries to promote WA wildflower to the general public. I mean, their main business is to export wildflowers from their considerable farm to countries in Europe, America, and Asia. So business-wise, their marketing should be done to all those overseas agents, not to us under-appreciative locals.
And yet, every Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm, they open their doors to the public, offering information, a short tour of their shed (no tour of the farms as they're located far away from the shed), and even tea and coffee which you can enjoy while sitting at the cafe-style tables and watching a video about WA wildflowers; all free of charge.
In their shed, various wildflowers hang upside down as they're being dried prior to packaging and sending to their export markets. There are also flowers standing in buckets on the floor and what I thought to be water in the buckets turns out to be water mixed with glycerin, to make sure the flowers feel soft to the touch when dried.
Western Wildflower Farm's Shed.
Like any visitor/ tourist centre, they also sell souvenirs and--need I say--wildflowers, of course. Bunches of dried small flowers are around $2,- to $3,- including the ever popular pink and white everlastings. A bouquet containing several types of dried flowers including a banksia would be slightly more expensive, but no where near the price in Perth. And they also sell some wildflower seeds, so you can start your own wildflower garden if you wish.
Dried pink and white everlastings hanging off the ceiling. If you'd like to buy some, just point to the bunch you want and the proprietor would hook it down and wrap it in paper for you.
Other than the Western Wildflower Farm, the Moora Wildflower Drive would also take you near Jingemia Cave, located within Watheroo National Park. Having two young kids, it's impossible for us to pass this by, so we stopped at their carpark and walked the 150m path to the cave.
Walking down to Jingemia Cave.
From above, the cave is more like a big hole in the ground, with rocky outcrops surrounding it. It's possible to walk down to it carefully and enter the shallow cave, although there's not much to see inside, to be honest. It used to be a guano-mining cave, so there are left over planks and disintegrating parts of the old winch systems. We were told that the mining stopped with the declining need for guano as agriculture fertiliser however despite the lack of mining, we saw very little guano in there, so presumably most of the birds and bats have abandoned the cave by now.
Inside Jingemia Cave.
From there, we continued west on Watheroo Road prior to heading back south towards Moora. There are several places worth stopping indicated in the website, but really, you can just stop at any place that tickles your fancy. Assuming you have someone else in the car while you drive, you can assign your co-pilot the job of looking down along the sides of the road as lots of wildflowers grow quite low and you might miss them if you just look ahead.
Overall, it's definitely an interesting day out that we had in and around Moora. Being inland, the temperature (and the fly situation) here is generally harsher than Perth, so be prepared with sunscreen, hats, flynets, lots of drinking water, and other hot day survival kits you may need. Other than that, just take your time, enjoy the scenery, and have fun.