Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pilbara scenes

A view of the begining of the Hamersley Range.

The road through on the way to Karinjini NP.

The rock formation above Kalgan pool.

Another view of the same rock/cliff structure.
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Kalgan Pool near Newman, WA

After the mine tour and before visiting Karijini National Park, we decided to stay at Kalgan pool which is a small permanent waterhole on the currently dry Kalgan River within the Kalgan Gorge. The land is leased by BHP and a permit to enter is required but there is no fee.

Kalgan Pool is described in the tourist brochure as Newman’s most popular waterhole but when we got here we found it almost completely to ourselves, after the one night campers left and we decided to stay a few days. The photo shows Max and Priscilla at the camp site.

This shot is taken on the cliff right above where we camped and shows the gorge.

The pool area with other campers.

After the other campers left.
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Mt Whaleback iron ore mine, Newman WA

Newman is located in the heart of the Pilbara and the town was built in the late 1960s to house the workforce employed at the Mt Whaleback iron ore mine. Iron ore was discovered in the Pilbara in 1957 and mining commenced in 1968 after a Commonwealth embargo was lifted. BHP owns the mine and it is the largest open-cut iron ore mine in the world. The other iron ore mine on the edge of the Hamersley Range is at Tom Price which is owned by Rio Tinto. We decided not to go to Tom Price and to come and visit Newman instead.

We went on the mine tour of Mt Whaleback. The above photo shows a portion of the mine with the colours of the different types of ores being fed into a mixer and crusher. Brockman hematite is blue grey and Goethite limonite is ochre.
This photo is of the pit and the pit shelves. The pit length of the mine is currently 5.5kms and it produces 70m tons of iron ore per annum. The 426 km railway that takes the iron ore to Port Hedland is the longest privately owned railway in the world and it was especially constructed to take the iron ore to Port Hedland for export to Japan. The increasing demand for iron ore from developing Asian economies will keep production continuing. There is an estimated 30 years of life left at Mt Whaleback Mine.

This is a photo of us in full mine regalia which was compulsory for the tour. We are standing in front of a 200 ton Wabco iron ore truck. When fully loaded the truck weighs more than the take off weight of a 747 jumbo jet.

Nikki standing in front of a large digger at the Visitors Centre - size unknown.

Apparently the mine tours used to be more involved with seeing machinery close up but BHP has restircted it as there have been a couple of deaths at the mine last year - not visitors. they certainyl emphasise safety aspects.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fauna and flora

A 6 month old joey being hand reared.

Andrew petting the joey.

A lizard crossing our path.

A Sturt's desert pea. The flower that is a symbol of SA but we saw it here in WA first.
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Unforgettable WA landscapes

Driving through WA, the empty highways and the distances between habitable settlements , you are aware of the size of this, Australia's largest, by size, state. WA spans an area of 2.5m sq kms covering one third of the continent. It's population is just over 2m which is around one tenth of the total Australian population.

But the landscape is so variable and quite magical. The above photo is another shot of the coast of the Pilbara. The rust-red landscapes have to be seen to be believed.

This photo is of the morning mist at De Grey River, one of the delightful free rest areas of WA. It was one of the best rest areas we camped at, so much so that we stayed for two nights.

The begining of the mighty Hammersley Range.

This is another favourite free rest area, at the East Munjina Gorge Lookout.
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Cape Keraudren Coastal Reserve, WA

The magnificent rust-red landscapes of the Kimberleys have given way to the vast tidal flats of the Pilbara coast from Eighty Mile Beach to Exmouth (yet to come) as we have come south from Barn Hill. Inland the Pilbara's soil is as red as the Kimberleys due to the rich iron ore deposits. But the above photo shows the beginning of Eighty Mile Beach.

Our next stop was at Cape Keraudren Coastal Reserve which is contained in a nature reserve that is not a national park but an West Pilbara Shire run natural reserve. There is a one off $10 entry fee into the reserve and $7.50 charge for two people per day thereafter. But they give a discount if you stay a week or longer and there are many long stayers here too as there were at Broome and also at Barn Hill. For $45 per week many retirees find the place attractive and much cheaper than Broome or even Barn Hill, with opportunities for fishing and bird-watching. Many retirees from Perth, SA and also from Victoria come west or north to spend the dry winters here.

The cape is the southern most part of the Eighty Mile Beach along the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The above photo shows one of the camp spots in the reserve with the ocean as the backdrop.
Above is a photo of the lovely spot on the reserve that we chose to camp. The colour of the water is due to the whiteness of the sand. Theoretically, estuarine crocodiles may come here (they are spreading further and further south along the coast on the western side of Australia), but the water is so shallow here and so clear that we safely bathed in the creek. It was a delightful spot to camp.

This photo is of the ochre coloured rocks at sunset.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Barn Hill - last glance

The red colour is just so beautiful I had to put one last shot of the rocks on this blog for you all to enjoy.

I forgot to mention that they have a lawn bowls green too. It is a very social place and the people from Perth
who come here to spend the winter all form a big social group.
We put a notice up looking for bridge players and met up with Thelma and Graham from Keri Keri, NZ who come to Broome to visit their daughter. We also had a game with Rodney from Singleton partnering Thelma while Graham was busy fishing.
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Barn Hill Station - continued

A view of the beach at sunset through the little lagoons.

Some of the rock structures on the beach in the late afternoon
Another part of the beack looking from the rocks.

I can see a part of a face - can you?

Barn Hill is just a magical place. We have really enjoyed being here and ended up staying four nights. We leave tomorrow, reluctantly, for new adventures.
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Things you don't see too often when travelling

These camels were residents at the campsite at the Dampier Peninsula and are used for giving people rides on the beach. They look so cute.

The eco shower at the same campsite.

Cracker, the Alexander parrot travels with his owners in his quite comodious cage. He apparently loves the car and is a good traveller. We have seen many dogs, some cats but not too many birds travelling so far.

I would have included this shot in the modes of travel shots but Cracker and his owners arrfved at our campsite after I had added to the blog.

A closer shot of Cracker.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Barn Hill Station WA

We arrived at Barn Hill Station for a one night stop. We had been told about it by other travellers including the Sunday roast dinner. We are still here 3 days later. And we are playing bridge this afternoon with some people we found!

Barn Hill is situated on Thangoo Station which is a working cattle station 135 kms south of Broome. The property stretches 85 kms along the coast between Broome and Port Hedland on approx 430,000 acres. They run 8,000 head of Brahman cattle which are marketed to the live export trade through the port of Broome.

They have a sideline in the campsite which has a capacity of about 100 powered sites and another 100+ of unpowered. It is a wonderful spot and people come here for the winter.

A view of the beach. We walked to the second furtherest point this morning.

This is the view of the gathering for the weekly Sunday roast dinner. You get a three course dinner for $15 and a great Aboriginal family band playing music to which you can - and we did - dance.

The soup being ladelled out. And it was hot, just how I like it. It was a great night of food and entertainment.
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Means of transport through OZ

This guy from Sydney has been travelling for 5 years he tells me. It is amazing that he has not slimmed down pulling all that behind him. We passed quite a few cyclists with their various gears but this one has to be the most original.

The contrast between us and him was too much to refuse.

Just one of the hundreds of variations of big rigs. These guys travelling in this converted bus pull the small car behind them. This is not the biggest rig we have seen by any means.

Baby Ashley being transported in style. His inventive parents borrowed the baby backpack with the intention of clipping the sunshade of his stroller on for shade.

At times I wish Andrew would think of something creative like that for me.
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