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Three Springs, WA

Wheatbelt town known for its talc mine and its wildflower displays

Three Springs is a typical northern wheatbelt town. It is surrounded by fields of wheat which stretch to the horizon and, like most wheatbelt towns, life focuses on the grain silos, the railway line, the hotel and a main street which provides services for the surrounding farmers. It is known as a haven for people wanting to enjoy the richness of the Western Australian wildflower season.

Location

Three Springs is located 325 km north of Perth via the Midlands Road.

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Origin of Name

The area was officially surveyed in 1867 and it was at that time that the surveyor, C.C. Hunt (famous for the wells he dug through the wheatbelt), recorded on his map the name 'Three Springs'. It was simply descriptive. There are three springs in the area.

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Things to See and Do

A Heritage Stroll around the Town
There is a pleasant stroll around the town which includes the historically interesting buildings. All of the buildings - the Commercial Hotel, the National Bank, the Post Office, the Three Springs Hall, the historic homestead of Kia Ora; - have detailed information on boards outside them. If you want to read the boards before you visit the town, check out the remarkably detailed Nussbaumer Web Blog which can be accessed at https://nussbaumerweb.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/days-71-72-three-springs.

Talc Mine
Located 13 km east of the town on the Three Springs–Perenjori road is the Talc Mine. The talc deposit was discovered in the 1940s and the mine started operating in 1948. Over the years it has been owned and operated by a number of different mining companies. It is currently operated by Imerys Talc and produces 240,000 tonnes of talc a year. The talc is ground into fine grains which are used in cosmetics, plastics, ceramics, paint and paper making. Some is also sold for use as carving blocks. 
The Mindat website (https://www.mindat.org/loc-123068.html) explains the geology: "Three Springs is a magnesium carbonate sub-horizontal orebody, trending north, with a maximum width of 200 metres, and thickness of a few metres to 30 metres. It produces some of the whitest and purest talc ores, although the talc varies in colour from white to dark green. This is governed by the amount of chlorite in the ore.
The talc occurs in the Noondine Chert, which is a member of the Coomberdale sub-group. The Noondine Chert is a silicified carbonate containing significant dolomite. The talc mineralisation extends 70 kilometres south from the Three Springs mine, containing a number of significant deposits. The talc is thought to have formed by hydrothermal fluids from dolerite dykes intruded into the carbonates. 
The sequence from the surface is up to 6 metres thick red-brown soils, talc rubble, and discontinuous chert bands; stromatolitic talc 0-6 metres thick; compact massive talc 0-12 metres thick; then thin cross bedded quartzite, pebbly then talc horizon. This is intruded by north trending dolerite dykes. The talc units thin to the north grading into talc arenite, and orthoquartzite." Check also http://mininglink.com.au/site/three-springs for more information. It is possible to observe the mine from the Three Springs–Perenjori road. There are samples available at the Three Springs Visitor Centre.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Wildflowers
The area around the town is known for the wildflowers which bloom between August and October. There is a wildflower rest area at the southern end of town and the Visitor Information Centre is open during this time to specifically cater for those people driving through and wanting to see the wildflower displays. There is an impressive native garden and herbarium at the Visitor Centre.

How to See WA Wildflowers - A Guide
When planning a trip there are a number of very simple rules.
(1) Start by downloading Your Holiday Guide to Western Australia’s Wildflowers at http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/things_to_do/forest_and_flowers/pages/wawildflowers.aspx#/. It is a comprehensive guide to the wildflowers. There are over 12,000 species and 60% of them are found nowhere else on the planet.
(2) There is a tendency to say "But I won't know what I'm looking at" but that is rubbish. There are a number of great books and the best, by far, is the answer to "Wildflowers for Dummies" titled "Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia". It is privately published by Wajon Publishing Company, written by Eddie Wajon, and comes in three volumes – 1. Kalbarri and the Goldfields, 2. Perth and the Southwest and 3. Esperance and the Wheatbelt. They can all be purchased online from Kings Park & Botanic Garden in Perth. Check out https://www.aspectsofkingspark.com.au
The publication's design masterstroke is that the flowers are listed according to their colours and all the pages are colour coded. Thus Mr and Mrs Wildflower Illiterate, when gazing at a Spiny Synaphea, only needs to open at the "yellow flowers" section and flick through until they find the colour photo which matches the reality. The company can be contacted directly on (08) 9310 2936. 
(3) No one should ever underestimate the power of local knowledge and assistance. The Western Australian wheatbelt, probably because of the declining prices for both wool and wheat and the increased levels of salinity, has decided that the spring wildflowers are a good for the local economy and worthy of patronage. When innocently asking where I might see a wreath flower (they are a flower which naturally forms itself in a circle like a wreath – particularly appealing to those with a morbid interest in death) at the local coffee shop in Morowa I was told that there were some in the area but the person who knew was at the information office. 
At the information office I was advised, and this is verbatim, to "drive down the main street until you see the road that crosses over the railway line, drive across the line and past the Police Station and Fire Station (or is it the SES), turn right at the next road, continue up past the sheds for a couple of hundred yards [metres haven't arrived here yet] and you'll see some beside the road". Absorbing the instructions I headed off and three minutes later, having noticed a sign reading "Wreath Flowers" on a fence, I found the plant. 
Morowa also publish a leaflet titled "Morowa Wildflower Drives" which, if you were thorough, could keep you in the area for a couple of days.
At the next town, Mingenew (which, for lovers of Australian Big Things now boasts the Big Wheat Stalk – known locally as "Big Ears") the information centre provides both a map and a list of locations with details like "20 km on the Pingelly road on the left hand side there are some excellent wreath flowers". And at Watheroo there's a wonderful local mud map with wryly enthusiastic comments like "Heaps of banksia, grevillea, snake bush etc along the road" and, getting quite technical "Rare and Endangered. E. Rhodantha (rose mallee) Only large patch in the world".
(4) There is a logical route which can be honed or expanded according to the amount of time you want to spend. 
The best starting place, if you want to get a good foretaste of what you are about to experience in the wild, is to visit Kings Park & Botanic Garden in the heart of Perth. Apart from offering sensational views over the Swan River and the Perth CBD the gardens boast a 17 hectare area which has more than 1700 native species of wildflowers. This is, not surprisingly, rather pristine and not very wild but it does allow you to develop a working knowledge of devils pins, kangaroo paws, desert peas, everlastings, starflowers, grevilleas, firebush, a range of orchids and hundreds of other natives. 
You really don't need to be a flora expert. All you need are your eyes and a sense of wonder because the Western Australian wildflowers in spring. 

Eucalyptus Rose Mallee
The Eucalyptus Rose Mallee (Eucalyptus Rhodantha) is a rare species of eucalypt which can be seen in the Three Springs Hospital grounds. This plant is the floral emblem of Three Springs. It can also be seen on  Sweetman Road 18 km south west of Three Springs between June and October.

Pink Lakes
Located 8 km east of Three Springs on the Perenjori-Three Springs Road are a series of lakes known as the Pink Lakes. In spring the lakes turn pink in colour. The colouration of these saline lakes is particularly clear on overcast days. It is caused by carotene from a type of algae which gives the lake a distinct pink hue.

Yarra Yarra Lakes Nature Reserve
The Yarra Yarra Lakes are located 16 km south of Three Springs. They are an intermittent salt lake system which is home to flocks of swans, pelicans, ducks and the Siberian stilt. Keen birdwatchers are attracted by the diversity of species. They can be accessed from the Midlands Road and also from a road heading south of the Eneabba-Three Springs Road. The lake is 25 km long and 9 km wide and covers 119 square kilometres. Check out http://www.carnamah.wa.gov.au/visitors/yarra-yarra-lakes for directions and more information.

Dookanooka National Park
Located 18 km south west of Three Springs on the Eneabba-Three Springs road is a large stand of natural bushland which is impressive with its wildflowers in the spring and is home to a rich variety of native fauna. 

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Amangu Aboriginal people.

* The area was first explored in 1846 by the Gregory brothers (Augustus, Henry and Francis) who were looking for new country for settlement. 

* In the early 1850s the Cooke family took up a holding of 17,500 acres which was known to the local Aborigines as 'Carridena'. 

* The area was officially surveyed in 1867 and it was at that time that the surveyor, C.C. Hunt, recorded on his map the name 'Three Springs'.

* The railway passed through in 1894.

* In 1905 the government opened up land in the area. It was known as the Kadathinni Agricultural Area.

* In 1906 the land to the west of the railway line was offered for sale.

* In 1907 a town was declared next to the railway siding.

* Kadathinni township was gazetted in 1908. That year saw the opening of the town's school.

* The town's first postal service was opened in 1910 in the local store.

* The first railway station master for Three Springs was appointed in 1911. The Catholic Church was consecrated that year.

* The local railway station was built between 1913-1914.

* The town's first Methodist minister was appointed in 1914. That year saw the telephone connected to six subscribers.

* The Three Springs Road Board was established in 1929.

* In 1931-1932 the district produced the highest average wheat production in the state.

* The Anglican Church of St James was consecrated in 1932.

* In 1946 Kadathinni was officially changed to Three Springs.

* St Paul's Roman Catholic School was opened in 1947.

* In 1960 the Three Springs Road Board became the Three Springs Shire Council.

* In 2006 a water feature was built in the town to celebrate the centenary of settlement.

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Visitor Information

Three Springs Visitor Centre, Railway Road, tel: (08) 9954 1590.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website - http://www.threesprings.wa.gov.au - and a downloadable brochure - check out http://www.threesprings.wa.gov.au/images/ourTown/tourist_brochure.pdf.

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