BUCKLAND to BUNGALBIN - walking the track taken on expedition by Dempster brothers, Clarkson, Harper and Correll in 1861




Greg Warburton is following the track taken on the expedition taken by the Dempster brother's Clarkson, Harper and Correll in 1861


Greg Warburton with 'wheels', maps and Lesley Brooker's book in hand,

standing with Beth Frayne of the Toodyay Historical Society



Greg Warburton is heading out to walk from BUCKLAND TO BUNGALBIN today, Thursday, 3rd July 2014, the very same day the Dempster expedition headed out from BUCKLAND HOMESTEAD in 1861. Greg has always wanted to do such a walk and now he is doing it - to help raise awareness of Bungalbin, Helena and Aurora Range, a very special part of our Heritage.

The expedition included Charles Dempster (unofficial Leader), Andrew Dempster, Barnard Clarkson, Charles Harper Jnr and Correll (a Noonga man). They headed out, 153 years ago, on 3rd July 1861 from BUCKLAND HOMESTEAD, near Northam, to explore unknown country further east - long before tracks and roads were put in place or the Wheatbelt was cleared for agriculture - and ended up at BUNGALBIN HILL on Helena and Aurora Range.

Left to right: Charles Dempster, Andrew Dempster, Barnard Clarkson and Charles Harper Jnr (no photo available for Correll?).



Greg writes from his research***:

Making their way eastwards along a route now close to the Great Eastern Highway they passed through pristine country the explorers described as “heavily vegetated”. They travelled from one rocky outcrop to another seeking the springs and water holes often to be found there. They described encounters with wildlife that has since become extinct like the Pig-footed Bandicoot. Their route took them past a chain of salt lakes to reach a range of hills about 100 kms north east of the present day town of Southern Cross. They called the range Mount Kennedy [now known as Bungalbin Hill and Helena and Aurora Range*]. Here, Charles Harper an amateur Naturalist noted not only the beauty of the range but the great variety of plants to be found there. He took specimens that he would deliver to James Drummond, WA’s great pioneering botanist [including the rare endemic plant species Tetratheca aphylla subsp. aphylla**]. Charles Harper also collected geological specimens in the hills describing an ore that is “unknown to us”. Those specimens would later be identified as iron ore.

  • [text] - added for blog
  • note: *John Forrest, also an explorer to this country, named the range Helena and Aurora Range, eight years later, in 1869 after Henry Monger’s daughter, Helena Aurora Monger.
  • note:** Harper collected Tetratheca aphylla subsp. aphylla from Bungalbin Hill in 1861, a plant that only occurs on Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin) and is listed as declared rare flora– also see earlier Blog post on 28-10-2013 “First collection of Tetratheca aphylla”].


***Source: Brooker, Lesley (2006) The Expedition eastward from Northam by the Dempster brothers, Clarkson, Harper and Correll, July-August, 1861. Hesparian Press, Carlisle, Western Australia.

"Camel - Wheel"


1861 - 2014

   "Camel - Wheel" refers to 'trading the Camel for the Wheel'

   "too precious to mine"


Greg Warburton (member of HARA and Toodyay Naturalists' Club) is taking this walk to raise public awareness of the predicament of Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin), a crucial conservation issue for our state. While HARA, The Wilderness Society and Wildflower Society of Western Australia are calling for the protection of the entire Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin) by making the range a National Park, Polaris Metals Pty Ltd/Mineral Resources Limited are intending to mine the range for iron ore.

To keep informed on further posts of Greg's progress over the next two weeks you can: Subscribe to this Blog page (top right of this page)


Polaris Metals Pty Ltd - Mineral Resources Limited (MRL) want to mine Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin) 

It could be described as a 'Tragic Coincidence with History' that during the very week in July that the Dempster expedition headed out on their journey to Bungalbin-Helena and Aurora Range 153 years ago, Polaris Metals Pty Ltd / Mineral Resources Limited submitted a referral to the EPA to mine Helena and Aurora Range for iron ore (on 1 July 2014). The EPA has opened the referral for public comment Online (from 2 July to 8 July 2014), on the preferred level of assessment (see Blog posted on 2nd July 2014 below). Their mine proposal includes the development of an extensive iron ore mine at Bungalbin East and a second iron ore mine at J5, both on Helena and Aurora Range.


To keep informed on progress to protect Helena and Aurora Range, Bungalbin you can:

Subscribe to this Blog page (top right of this page)

Sign up to our mailing list (top left of this website),

Like Helena Aurora Range on Facebook

Check out The Wilderness Society website www.wilderness.org.au/bungalbin


You can take action by:

Making a submission Online as to the level of assessment for the Bungalbin East and J5 iron ore mine proposal

Sharing this info

Writing to your member of parliament, environmental minister Albert Jacobs and/or Minister for Mines Marmion,

Downloading and signing the petition, inviting others to sign the petition and then return petition sheet to HARA (via 'snail mail').