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Bencubbin, Western Australia

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Between wheat and sheep farming country, the diverse landscapes of Bencubbin are in bloom for almost half the year after winter rains, creating a haven for prolific birdlife and a must-stop for nature lovers. The region's pastoral and sandalwood cutting heritage and curious meteorite craters also make an intriguing detour. Bencubbin lies three hours and 20 minutes by road from Perth. If you're following the Golden Pipeline to the Goldfields, the detour is just over an hour's drive north from Merredin or Kellerberrin. For an eagle's eye 360 degree view of the landscapes that define the north east Wheatbelt, head for the summit of Marshall Rock. If you're keen to catch the wildflowers, the best displays can be enjoyed in July and August, but you'll find blooms from June to October after good winter rains. For bird watchers, the attractions are year round, with many native species frequenting lake habitats and reserves. In the town, the architectural legacy of the early sandalwood cutters and sheep farmers offers a window to a bygone era as you stroll past the hotel, sandalwood shops, old Police station and school. At Pioneer Wells, you'll also glimpse the harsh realities of early life before water pipelines were established to quench thirsty farmers and livestock. A drive to Pergandes Sheep Yard and Homestead, constructed almost entirely from granite taken from nearby outcrops, reveals more evidence of their resourcefulness. Nearby, North Maniga is famed for landmarks of a very different nature - three meteorites that are thought to have fragmented on impact with Earth. The first, weighing 542 kilograms, was discovered in 1930. 'Number two' was found in 1959 and weighs 64.6 kilograms, and the third, just 16 kilograms, remained unnoticed until 1974. All three meteorites are on display at the Museum of Western Australia, but you can view a sample of 'number two' at the Shire Museum in Bencubbin (by appointment). To make Bencubbin your base in the north east Wheatbelt, check into the hotel/motel or pull into the caravan park.

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