Wooleen Station’s brochure claims: “360 degrees of land and 360 degrees of sky – it’s a bit like living in your own national park”.
Camped on the banks of the Murchison River about sixteen kilometres from the station homestead the quiet of the mulga scrub landscape is broken only by bird calls along the river as the sunrise seeps above the horizon.
Wooleen’s quarter of a million acres are set in a 3.6 billion year old landscape in Western Australia’s southern rangelands, about forty kilometres south of the Murchison Settlement, and six-hundred-and-ninety kilometres or about seven hours drive north east of Perth.
We had heard about Wooleen when we travelled through Murchison the previous year and were keen to experience their station stay.
Wooleen Station was founded by James Sharpe when he bought 90,000 acre lease in 1886 from John Williams. Nearly a 100 years later the lease was owned by Peter Burton for five years before the Pollock family purchased the lease in 1989. Today Wooleen is managed by David Pollock and his partner Frances Jones.
To supplement their income from cattle, David and Francis offer an ecotourism experience at Wooleen. There are several camping options – four riverside campsites sixteen kilometres from the homestead, one rocky outcrop camp seven kilometres from the homestead and two Gidgee tree campsites six kilometres from the homestead.
These are unpowered sites with no facilities other than a long drop toilet and a fire pit. You are required to bring your own composting toilet for camping at the Gidgee tree.
There are also five unpowered campsites at the homestead with access to a basic camp kitchen, toilet and hot showers.
If bush camping is not your style you can stay, fully catered, in the beautiful Wooleen homestead, built by Ben Sharpe in 1918 from handmade bricks and now listed by the Australian National Trust. Or stay in one of their two self-contained rammed earth guesthouses.
The four riverside campsites have been given local Yamatji Wadjarri indigenous names – Bagaa (white-faced heron), Birdiny (water chooky), Gurulhu (Black swan) and Warrbi (fish). The quiet and absolute river frontage of the riverside camps more than compensates for the lack of shade and facilities (although the drop toilets do have a polished wooden seat and mirror)! The campsites are well separated so you don’t feel the intrusion of neighbours and you can fish for small spangled perch or kayak in the river depending on water levels.