The long drive; Exmouth to Broome via Port Hedland

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Monday, May 23, 2011

1600km in 4 days on a straight road driving through flat land, with nothing but monotonous scrub to see and not a human or animal in sight. In fact it was a not bad at all, despite the apparent dreary nature of the journey the low point was actually the iron ore tour at Port Hedland which was 90 minutes of mind numbing tedium with 3 kids all of which were ready to throttle us after just 20 minutes. Quite ironic given that both Katherine and I had been pretty keen to see the port - the world's largest iron ore port handling facility and thought it might be a good education for the kids - so much so that we planned the route around it!

The first day and 600km took us to Point Samson, where we met yet another nice couple with young kids doing the round Australia thing. She was South African and he British but they had been living in Perth for a while and were doing a swan song tour of the country before heading back to South Africa for a bit more sophistication! Point Samson - nice view of anoher iron ore loading facility at Cape Lambert and frankly very little else but for a great play ground at the campsite.

Day 2 and the 300km run to Port Hedland, we got there in plenty of time to do our own tour of the loading facilities and get to the viewing bridge to watch one of the regular iron ore trains (over 3km long!) arrive from the Newman mines some 437km away to the South and East in the heart of North Western Australia. Both BHP and Fortescue load at the facility as well as some of the junior miners that bring the ore in on huge road trains. There is not so much to do at a purpose built mining town so we did what everyone else does and went to McDonald's for lunch which was a welcome break to the picnic lunches of the last few weeks. We also promised the kids another trip to the local skate park to brush up on their scooter tricks. 

Port Hedland is another one of numerous towns along the coast that have changed dramatically over the last 10 years, principally due to the mining wealth and job creation. there is not enough housing and too many jobs, with rents equivalent to a 3 bedroom flat in London, and not Brixton but Chelsea and jobs driving fork lifts that require no previous experience and give you complete training starting at over 100,000 per year!

Day 3 and the tour - see above - suicidally boring - and then on about 300km to Eighty Mile beach. Beach cricket to end the day and wonderful sand castles, not of castles but a full replication of the iron ore process form mine to train and on to crushers and then the port loading facilities and China - not a bad education in the end. It was also our last night in the gypo van before the final 400km to Broome. Truth be told Katherine and I were sad having really settled into the rhythm of life on the road in a camper van and the experience on the West coast of Australia met our expectation of adventure perfectly. We celebrated with a drink with our new friends from Point Samson and the kids all watched an outdoor movie with their older son under the stars. 

Next stop Broome and a few days of white fluffy towels, room service, and hotel luxury before the real camping starts.
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Mum and Dad on

You all look so well and happy!...Campervan life suits all of you gypo family!!

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