Leaving the Kimberly's and into Pilbara
Trip Start Dec 03, 2013
25Trip End Mar 05, 2014
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A fantastic thunderstorm and light show kept us entertained during our last evening in Broome.
Up and away before 0800 with the 600Km trip south, destination Port Hedland in front of us with only two Roadhouses and no towns or villages in between.
Little sign of the previous evenings storm and little sign of a rush hour either as we left town.
Back on to Highway 1 and probably the most boring part of the road trip so far. Not a lot of traffic or road kill either, although the lizards were doing a fine job of avoiding the bus wheels
No boredom in the cab though in fact despite there being nothing to see for approx 300km we were nattering away and went straight past the Roadhouse we were due to stop at!
After approx 500Km the scenery became a little more interesting and before we knew it we were on the outskirts of Port Hedland.
A complete contrast to sleepy 'green' Broome, Port Hedland is Tonka Toy heaven. One huge industrial giant complex where everyone seems to drive a white ute with hi viz stickers, mine code numbers and flag topped high aerials.
The Big 4 caravan park is the most expensive so far and apart form a couple of other tourists is full of workers.
Concluded NSW and QLD are behind the times. No problems with 3G modem in NT or WA, so far.
Finally figured out where data allowance has been disappearing to after turning off auto sharing of pics. Auto App updates being the culprits.
Mid night servicing of AC required to avoid baking in bed.
1st February 2014
After annoyingly having to deal with the AC during the night two grumpy nomads finally arose from the pit to be greeted by the brightest sunny day imaginable
Spurred by the solar energy we were soon on our way into the centre of Port Hedland.
Passing houses overlooking the Indian Ocean their rear aspect being the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Crushing Plant and it's huge 200 million tons of the stuff which departed the harbour last year.
The town centre is in the middle of the plant and harbour and isn't much, as the real town is in South Hedland.
Excellent street art as usual with a park overlooking the entrance to the harbour complete with plenty of shade and immaculate BBQ and kids playground.
We parked up on the adjacent boat ramp and spent the afternoon watching the Tonka Toy world in action.
A 300M bulk carrier slipped by being coaxed in by 3 tugs, 2 equally huge carriers were being loaded opposite.
The boat ramp was pretty busy too with many small pleasure fishing boats in and out
All in the no fuss Oz manner. Loads of parking space no hassle and no fees to park or enter the ramp.
Back to base for a wash and spruce up before heading back to the Yacht Club and dinner.
No sign of many yachts but this was the busiest food venue we had been to this trip. Pretty good tucker too.
Watching the sun go down over the Indian Ocean with the never ending mining operation continuing as another 330m carrier came and one left. In the distance the sky being lit by what looks like a town is another 30 bulk carriers waiting on the horizon for their turn to load.
The evening finished sipping a drink by the camper watching two 5km ore trains leaving one way and the constant stream of road trains travelling between the industrial salt depot and the harbour. It just doesn't stop.
Sadly one thing that did was the AC which packed up again in the night and this time we can't revive it
Someone will be on the receiving end of Mr Grumpy soon!!!
2nd February 2014
Trying to sleep in a hot camper with no AC is a pretty sweaty affair and not too much fun.
First port of call was Apollo service with no answer but they did call back and gave us the opportunity to stay in a cabin and bill them. They promised to call back first thing Monday when they will sort out repairs in our next point of call, Karratha.
While waiting for our cooking gas tank to be topped up we were chatting to the receptionist saying how much we like the town but not the prices. Apparently $9000 per month for a fairly ordinary house isn't unusual and the rates have come down a bit as demand was slightly down although they had had a recent request for 30 cabins for a six month period.
Leaving Port Hedland we stopped off at the Salt production facility to take a couple of pics of the road trains loading
Then away down Highway 1 leaving the Great North Highway for the Great North Coastal Highway.
Plenty of mining vehicles about but still no real traffic. Great vistas as the plains opened up.
On route we decided to take a punt for the night at Point Samson purely because the tourist guide made it sound rather quaint.
Part of it certainly is especially around Honeymoon Bay. They forgot to look the other way as yet another huge iron ore logistics centre. No harbour here just the deepest jetty in Australia jutting out to to sea to load more ore on to the waiting bulk carriers. Only 10 hanging around here waiting to be loaded.
Jan won the hot seat competition and managed a burnt bum as a result of a visit to a bush bog with a stainless steel seat...ouch. Wally administered the sudacream!
The Cove caravan park is pretty good and so it should be at $49, the most expensive in Aus so far.
We also have the best view overlooking Honeymoon Bay.
Plenty of signs of the the recent Cyclone damage around here.
3rd February 2014
Hellish night with no AC. We slept with both rear doors and all windows open and still sweated buckets.
Then there was the quad bike that arrived at 0300 and the trucks parked nearby with their fridge units on all night.
Sunrise was pretty cool though.
Chased up Apollo and the bus is booked in tomorrow so they are putting us up in a cabin.
Into Kurratha, from cattle station to City courtesy of Rio Tinto iron ore and the North West Shelf Project a huge LPG plant. They claim $27 Billion invested over the last 25 years.
Saw one of the 5km iron ore trains trundling along and 5 huge bulk carriers being loaded.
Then there is the salt production.
The resource boom continues up here and so much construction which has turned the middle of nowhere into a city.
Let's hope they can mend the AC tomorrow,
4th February 2014
Dropped off the camper at 0715 and trotted into the shopping centre for breakfast.
Returned to workshop to be given the news we were hoping not to hear. They don't touch 240V units.
Back on the phone to Apollo. Next stop Exmouth only 600Km away! Luckily it's the direction we were heading anyway.
Yet another 600km without going through another town just a couple of roadhouses, gas production units, iron ore mines etc.
There is plenty of mileage in the resources boom to go yet.
Leaving the Pilbara and into The Gascoyne region. Arid and dry as we turned onto the peninsular leading to Exmouth. Looks like there had been plenty of rain recently.
First impressions of Exmouth are pretty promising with a nice marina being built with direct boat access from the houses.
Found the contractor who will be looking at the AC tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Jan happy seeing emu and his skippy pal in the camp site.
No mine operations here so it's empty and only $30 for a pitch.
Off to the AC contractor first thing. The contractor being a sort of Oz version of Mid Essex Electrical except they only carried out maintenance and 80%25 was for Government organisations. The beauty being they had the town sown up and no real competition locally.
Would explain why when Wally asked where the bent propellor in the workshop came from, it was from the bosses plane. He has two.
Test sheets looked easy and the apprentice was known as 'the boy'. Some things don't change.
Wally acted as the boy as the unit was serviced by the MD and we were soon on our way.
Exmouth owes its existence to the Russians. Thanks to the Cuban crisis the Yanks didn't have a communications post in Asia. They cut a deal and the coms service still operates. The LHF aerial array being the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
The town came into being in 1967 and in Feb 2014 became Mid Essex's town of the tour so far.
We quite fancy a place in the mariner canal.
The guy from Apollo called it a tuppeny halfpenny town but it's compact, has all amenities including kart track and Moto X. Every sport you can think of all for a population of 2500.
One reason for the low population is the climate being so so hot and dry.
The sea is warmer than the hot tub at home though.
It's also the service town for the Ningaloo MarinePark which is next on our list.
6th 7th February
Ningaloo Marine Park World Heritage Site is 35Km away from Exmouth, $12 per vehicle entrance and home to Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Dugongs and other exotic creatures!
They weren't about for us in the off season so we had to settle for the giant turtles. Judging by the number who popped up to wave to Jan they were pleased to see us. The noises from Jan seemed to be understood by the turtles!
Snorkel kit was hired from the local Tourist information centre and we had fun in Turquoise Bay but decided the Oyster Stacks Bay was out of our league.
A few people on the National Park, few being relative to Oz not Europe.
The following day on the beaches just outside the park, including the clothing optional beach were empty. Plenty of turtles, emus and skippy around though.
One pair of skippys nearly managed to get too close for comfort to the front of the bus.
Wally is a little sore after sun baking and forgetting to apply lotion to an important part of his anatomy that doesn't normally see the sun!