Sunday, June 9, 2013

Broome - Carnarvon WA

We left late from Broome in the rain on Thursday morning 6th June not knowing if the roads would be open south - after record-breaking rainfall for June in living history (remember "it just doesn't rain in June in Broome"). When we got back to Hwy 1 they had a sign saying that Hwy 1 was open but all side roads to 80 Mile Beach were closed, so we just carried on until we reached Sandfire Roadhouse 315 Kms from Broome and stopped for the night. 

 Next morning 7th June, we took off for Port Hedland and the closer we got the more we could see that this was mining country - road trains going back and forth and 4WD vehicles with long antennas identifying them as mine's vehicle - they are all over the place - I think that every employee must be issued with one. 

 Coming into Port Hedland for lunch we saw quite a lot of termite mounds with white tops, but as we got closer we could identify the white tops (some coloured) as safety helmets - it would appear that when your helmet is no good this is where you bring it to rest, we even saw one where the termites had continued to build their nest on top of the helmet. 
Helmets on Termite Mounds near Port Hedland
Just as you enter Port Hedland there is a welcome bay off the side of the road with a huge circular sculpture that is supposed to represent the area - it has very hard red reinforced concrete for the base part and the top is made from steel (see photo). 
Entry Monument to Port Hedland
It's not too far from there to the main area of the town where we stopped for lunch at a small park right on the harbour - it very much reminded me of Newcastle (in its heyday) but much smaller, although the ships coming and going where just as huge as those that still come to Newcastle for coal and wheat now.
Port Hedland Harbour
Sea Salt Pile at Port Hedland
We topped up with fuel and headed off for Karratha, but we didn't go into town but stopped at a rest stop just outside of town where the road trains stop for their obligatory rest times. We felt really small and insignificant next to these huge road trains - a four trailer road train has 82 wheels compared to our eight wheels (well nine if we count the spare - but then each trailer also has at least two spares, so that would bring their count to 90).
Road Train at Karratha
We left early on Sat. 8th June for Carnarvon 640 Kms (one of our longest runs in a day) so as we could go to church and have a full rest day. They don't have a Baptist church here in Carnarvon so we went to the Church of Christ church. I don't know what it is but we seem to pick churches that sing songs that we have never heard, every one was new - they had pre-recorded music on video that had been professionally dubbed with the words and a singing voice included which was really off putting , especially when the lass leading and the preacher had really good voices. I still prefer the way we do it!

 Driving down here was pretty drab - lots of dead scrub, but Ruth was quite excited to see green spinifex grass everywhere - she says everywhere we have been before the spinifex was brown (I couldn't tell the difference). We also saw lots of dead kangaroos and whistling kites (they don't seem to be as road savvy as the Queensland ones), cattle and one feral cat (we saw a few live ones too). We actually saw one poor kite go under the wheels of a road train coming towards us - they just don't want to leave the road kill, if I hadn't have slowed a couple of times we would have hit them also. We also had a few close calls with cattle - they just wander out onto the road (no wonder they get killed as a road train either can't or won't slow down for them). 

We woke refreshed this morning, went to church, then did some fruit and veg shopping - this area is the market garden region for Perth and environs - it has lots of banana plantations, mangos (unfortunately out of season now), and most anything else you can think of. The only problem was that the prices right out of the packing sheds weren't that much cheaper than the supermarkets and Ruth said it is probably the stuff they can't ship because it is too ripe. 

So we packed our lunch and drove to the Mile Long Jetty here which they wanted $4 each to walk on it or $7 to take the ancient train out there.
One Mile Jetty History
Ruth and Mile Long Jetty at Carnarvon
We decided to do neither, so we just took some photos and drove back to town where we stopped at the boat ramp and had our lunch in the car whilst we fed the seagulls - we were right near the fish cleaning table and there were two huge carcasses (that had plenty of meat still on them - just been filleted) in the garbage bin, so I took them out and threw them on the rocks near the water and a large seagull at least twice the size of the regular gulls (same as ours at home) came and started getting stuck into the fish with the crows. I think the fish were bonitos and they were at least a metre long. 
Big Gull at Carnarvon
From there we went and did some supply shopping at Woolies, filled up with fuel and then went to see the OTC Tracking Dish that Carnarvon was famous for until it closed down in 1987 after tracking Halley's Comet. It was built to support NASA's Gemini and Skylab programme and was the first and last station to communicate with space capsules leaving earth's orbit and then at splashdown.
OTC Dish at Carnarvon
 Tomorrow we leave here for Geraldton and from there we are off to see the Pinnacles