We go to Fitzroy Crossing and as usual check out the tourist office. We
decide to check out the old township, old creek crossing (of course
this just begged to be driven across, so I did) and go out to Geikie
Gorge for lunch. The road out is a good bitumen road the whole way.
When we arrive we note that they have boat tours. We decide to wait the
3hrs. and do it.
At this time Julie decided to get a migraine so while she had a sleep I
chat to the others that pull up and check out the dash again. Still no
joy. Fridge and guages still not working. Sounds like me.
The guides arrive and I chat to them and book the boat trip. Julie is
feeling much better so off we go.
On this trip we have seen a heap of gorges but I reckon that Geikie is
the best I have seen. It is so different than all the others and it
fascinates me. We invite the guide over for a cuppa and talk for about
an hour. Great day.
We head out and stop 42k from Derby at the information boards and truck
We go into Derby and look at the prison Boab tree. Boab trees are
basically hollow and this one was used as a cell when transporting
prisoners. The longest cattle trough (so they thought, see later) in
the southern hemishere and Frostys Pool. This concrete pool was built
by soldiers as a dip pool while stationed here during the second world
We promenade along the pier with another couple and read the
interpretive signs about the early history.
On the way out of Derby the law finally caught up with us and locked me
up in the old gaol. Silly buggers left it unlocked and I escaped and
headed for Broome.
We arrive in Broome and book into Cable Beach CP. We book on a tour of
The Willy Creek Pearl Farm for tomorrow.
I talk with another camper until after midnight. This is a bad blue as
my healed up legs have suffered another attack of the sandflies.
In W.A. they have removed most rest areas within 50k of towns and it is
easier to stay in Caravan Parks than travel from the rest areas to have
a look around unless you are only staying the day.
This has created problems in peak tourist seasons with more tourists
than available spaces in CPs so a lot of the destinations have overflow
areas where you are allotted a spot until one becomes available. These
are generally showgrounds and are charged at near Caravan Park prices.
In most cases caravan parks are the only place to obtain water as well.
Most of the water used in parks and gardens is reticulated water from
the Sewerage works and signs warn that it is unsuitable for drinking. I
read the signs.
At isolated towns and road houses there is no water or only limited
amounts for filling water tanks but it doesn't stop some idiots.
Classic example was a group of backpackers washing their feet and
thongs under a running tap at a roadhouse and when told by the owner to
stop still continued.
We have had no problems with obtaining water.
We are picked up at 8.00AM and on the way to the farm the driver gives
a commentary on the history of Broome and the pearling industry. At the
farm you are shown how they seed the shell to obtain a pearl, how the
pearls are grown and harvested. They then tell you how to look after
pearls and allow you to try on an expensive string of pearls but they
don't suit me so we don't buy any. Julie dreams on but we still leave
They provide morning tea and take us back to town. All in all another
great tour that is good value for money.
we then go to Chinatown and browse the shops. We decide to hire a car
as I need to get parts for the regulator (still not working) and the
wreckers are miles out of town as are a lot of the other things we want
to see and it easier than packing up the van each time. Another time
when a vehicle would be handy but for the amount of time we have needed
one I still think for our purposes it is an unwarranted extra problem
We go to The Pearl Lugger where an ex diver named Salty gives a talk on
the divers history, life and role in pearling. A film is also shown
showing Broome and the divers.
This is an interesting and entertaining talk but I think a little
overpriced at $18.50.
We return to the park. Julie goes swimming.
I get my bits from the wreckers and armed with my MMM (magic multi
meter) and various tools remove the dash board again. This is not going
to beat me. I remove and dimantle the regulator. This vehicle was made
(1982) before the automotive industry had discovered complete component
replacement and you can actually pull things apart. I examine the
circuit board and test all the resistors and anything else that I can
get a probe on or into. Hmm, no power through this one, wriggle the
connection, broken. Solder that one and so the process goes. Connect it
back, still no work. I pray over it or something like that and have a
cuppa. Start again, scratch head, sit and ponder. Another cuppa. I get
the MMM and start checking again. Persistant mongrel aren't I? On with
the motley. I accidently drop the unit on the floor and all is
revealed. Well bugger me. A wire that tested ok parts company so I
resolder that and check it again. Eureka!!!!! It works. I still don't
trust it. I reconnect it but leave the dash out.
People watching must have thought I was crazy as every now and again I
would go around the front, turn on the ignition, do a little victory
dance and then leave. After 20 such tests I pronounce the patient well
and refit the dash.
The fridge is still not working. One problem at a time.
It is 3 months and a lot of money since we left Tooradin.
We go to the old courthouse and wander around the market that is held
here on Saturdays. We leave and have a good look at the town. There are
numbered story boards in Johnny Chi lane in Chinatown so we read those.
There are statues and monuments so we check all these out.
we return to the park. Julie goes swimming.
We have had trouble with the heat being trapped under the van by the
bins. These can be up to 5-10 degrees above the interior and make the
floor hot. I drill vent holes in the covers and this seems to fix the
problem. Just as an aside, the water in the tanks gets hot because the
engine heat travels across them and the ambient temperature helps as
well. It is so warm that for a shower you don't need the hot water
That night we go down to Town Beach to watch "the Staircase to the
Moon". This phenomenon occurs with a low tide and full moon rising over
the mud flats. The moon reflects in the water caught in pools and gives
the impression of a stairway up to the rising moon. I know that I am a
cynical old bastard but this has been a PR mans success and requires a
reasonable imagination to envisage it.
I may also be a bit parochial here but I think that watching the sun
set (from the beach at Frankston) over Port Phillip Bay on a calm clear
summers night takes some beating as the rays form a golden grand
What the tourist brochures don't tell you is that this can be viewed in
Darwin and Port Hedland.
Later that night I have to go to the hospital as the bites are getting
infected and my ankles are swelling badly. Smelling of antiseptic and
legs covered in bandages so that I look like a mummy from the knees
down I return back to the van.
I DON LONG PANTS as my legs look funny. We book out and park
the truck at Cable Beach. we walk down to this most touted beach in WA
and I have to agree that it is a nice looking place. Julie goes wading
in the shallows while I bird watch. Feathered variety naturally. We
notice smoke rising from the sand dunes and see a fire devouring the
scrub. We go into the car park and people are moving vehicles. Julie
asks if I am going to move the truck. Nope, the fire is going the wrong
way and where it is parked it has a natural firebreak around it. we
pass the fire trucks on the way out.
We take the car out to Gunthearme Point and look at the replicas of the
dinosaur prints and Anastasias pool. This was built by a former light
house keeper for his arthritic wife to soak in. We watch the fire and
its progress as well. Julie looks at me as if to say I hope you are
right. I reassure her that CMCA insurance will cover it. Not funny she
We drive back and pick up the truck. See I told you that it would be
alright. This statement earns me a belt on the arm. We head towards
town, park the truck in Coles car park and drive around the outskirts
of Broome looking at the buildings we had missed. It is lunch time, we
return the car and have lunch.
Why don't we leave? We are waiting for the main event. We had heard
about this from some campers that had been working here and they said
it is not to be missed. So we wait.
We arrive at the venue at about 5.30PM and have a drink. They also have
FREE sausages in bread so tea is taken care of. The proceedings get
under way at 7.00PM.
Hermit crabs have numbers on their backs. You buy a raffle ticket @
$2.00 each or 3 for $5.00. The money goes to charity or a local
organisation. Tonights races are for the local netball club.
They then draw out 8 tickets and you select your crab. Our number is
drawn and I select a crab (Julie wouldn't as women have to kiss the
crab for luck) that looks a likely starter.
The crabs are then placed in the centre of a 6' round table that has a
2" red circle around the perimeter. The bucket is lifted and the crabs
are off, well some of them. They go every which way. Ours makes a
beeline for the edge and then wanders around the line but the bugger
won't cross. The others are getting closer and still he won't cross. He
stops and waits. He finally makes his move when others are getting
closer. WE WIN. Prizemoney is $80.00.
There are 6 races in all but we don't get a chance again. A fantastic
fun night that was worth waiting for.
The crabs are released back onto the beach the next morning. This has
caused some interesting things amongst tourists. A backpacker
apparently saw these crabs with numbers on their backs running around
on the beach and asked a local why they were numbered. His straight
faced reply was that they number the crabs so they know who owns them
and they can keep an eye on them. I wonder how many Europeans come to
have a look at the numbered crabs of Broome.
We leave Broome at about 9.30Pm and head South and stop 58K from
We have a cuppa at Sandfire Roadhouse and I enquire about the road to
Marble Bar. Most maps show about 30K of gravel but they are wrong. It
is a good bitumen road except for a 5K section undergoing roadworks.
We go into 80 mile beach and Julie has a wade. We trek on.
We arrive in Marble Bar and check out Marble Bar pool, chinamans pool
and the slab of rock which gave the place its name. we have a look at
the old buildings and head towards Port Hedland.
We stop at a rest area about 130K from PH. We think that we may be here
on our own which happens a lot with us. The serenity is broken by a 4WD
with flashing beacons that does a lap at Grand Prix speed and then
leaves. I see him parked on the road and a low loader with one of the
road working machines loaded follows him in. The dozer has a fuel
problem, the con rod has let go and come through the block knocking the
injector pump off. Fuel problem like I said. We chat to them for quite
a while and settle in for the night.
We head towards Port Hedland.
I have always said the Kimberly is best viewed from 40,000 feet and I
still do but the Pilbara is different again. The space shuttle would be
too close, it is the most god forsaken country I have seen. Nothing
grows over 2' tall except the gum trees at dry watercourses. Even the
crows and kites avoid it.
If the Kimberly is the land that time forgot the Pilbara has just been
forgotten. Get the impression I don't like it? Right on. 600-700K of
We reach Port Hedland at 8.45AM, the tourist office is open but we have
to wait for the Post Office to open. It is fortunate that they are
right opposite each other.
I have been looking forward to 3 tours in this place. BHP Billiton,
Boodarie Iron and Dampier salt. They are advertised in all the
brochures and even in the Tourist office itself; but guess what? Nope
only the tour of BHP is available and we are told that they have never
done the others. Whether it is laziness on the part of the girl in
there or not I have no idea. We book on the 9.30 tour and collect our
mail while waiting.
We leave on the tour.
It is rather sad that these days because of stupidity on the part of a
few that the majority suffer. We are not allowed off the bus because of
Occupational Health and Safety. Photos through glass do not turn out
well. The tour is good but would have been better had we been able to
get off and get within a reasonable distance of things.
The scale of everything here is HUGE, the trains, ships, carrying
capacity and processing plants. The whole plant including bringing the
trains from 400K away can all be run by remote control by 4 people if
they had to.
We have morning tea at a park in the town and have a look at some
statues of the aboriginal strike for better pay on the stations. They
won but lost their jobs because the stations used motorbikes and
helicopters to muster instead. Cheaper.
I had the front wheels balanced as they had thrown a weight somewhere
and were getting a bit shuddery (very techo mechanical term).
We had lunch at the Don Rhodes Mining museum (it is free) after driving
around the town a bit.
Port Hedland itself is a dirty brown colour from the iron ore dust. I,
for one am glad to leave and we go to South Hedland about 15K away to
stock up. This is a little oasis with good shops and its CLEAN.
We head down to Point Samson after turning off at Roebourne. This is
not one of my better judgement calls. The road is excellent and the
plan is to camp down at Point Samson the night and check out Cossack
and Roebourne on the way out in the morning. Going well so far.
Point Samson is a really nice little place with nice gardens at most
houses. We had passed the boat ramp on the way in had seen a bus parked
there. We return and after tea and a chat retire to the van for the
night. The temperature has eased some what and it is almost pleasant.
At about 9.00PM I have to get something out of my wallet. There is no
wallet. Now most fellers can relate to this. You get used to it being
there and don't feel it so you don't miss it when it ain't. A panic
driven search of the truck doesn't reveal much.
As a rule we carry very little cash with us but we had withdrawn a fair
amount to pay for fuel (not many Mobils up here). Cash is a good
Plan B goes into action.
Ring banks and credit unions to cancel cards. Ring Port Hedland police
to ask if it has been handed in. Nope. So far so good.
After doing this we decide to have a look at all the places we had
stopped to admire the view. Off we go, 6 hrs after we had been there.
Pull into the last place first and there it is sitting on the ground.
You cannot get luckier than that. If it had been tourist season I doubt
that it would have been there but I would like to think that it would
have been handed in. Phew.
This has a bonus to it, Julie keeps patting my bum to do a stocktake.
Our problems aren't over yet. We return to the campsite and go to bed.
All night we are attacked by thousands of midges. Screens don't keep
them out and clothes don't help much either. It is so bad that the
other couple leave at 6.00AM. We are gone by 7.00AM. If I thought my
legs were bad I was wrong. I count 200 bites from my fingers to half
way up my forearm. The rest of me is as bad. Talk about itch, I haven't
got enough hands. Like I said, not one of my better judgement calls.
We only intended to be in Cossack for about half an hour but ended up
being there for nearly 8. We do the museum thing and check out the
other buildings which are slowly being restored and read the history of
this former pearling town. I had wanted to see Cossack as this was the
first pearling town in WA. Interesting place. We look at the wharf and
there is a tour boat tied up there so Julie asks the price.
We decide to do the tour. Why not? We have done all the others. This
tour includes lunch. It goes out to the lighthouse and keepers cottage
on Jarmine Island. It then goes up the river where we have lunch. From
the time we board there is none stop food and drinks. Starts with chips
and biccies, then cheese and biccies, lunch was grilled snapper fillet,
potato filled with sour cream and salad. This was then followed by a
fruit platter with every fruit including dried apricots. A very relaxed
This tour was run by Cossack Adventure Tours and I rate it excellent.
Be aware that if you don't eat fish you will have to tell them as they
normally don't cater for it.
We then go into Roebourne Tourist centre. It is housed in the old Goal.
We look around this and other things and head towards Karatha.
We go into the Pilbara Caravan Park. This is fortunate.
I woke up feeling really crook. My head was spinning and my eyes would
not focus. The staff at the Caravan Park took Julie and I up to the
hospital. I get a Stemetil injection and they check all my bites. The
Caravan Park pick us back up and I sleep all afternoon. Julie went
swimming. I hate this as before and after no one would think anything
There were no tours of Dampier Salt and Hammersley Iron available until
later so we decide to look around Karatha going up to the lookout and
around the town. We went out to Dampier and looked at the port and the
North West Shelf gas centre display.
I thanked the staff at the Caravan Park before leaving. It is good to
know that there are some people that do that bit extra.
We stopped 18K from Karatha at Miaree Pool on the Maitland River but it
was packed so we move on. We stopped for the night at Robe River. I
cook the roast pork in the Cobb and it is truly excellent. Wonder what
the peasants are doing?
We travel into Onslow and tour the town. We call into the tourist
office housed in the old goods shed. We go through the museum which is
There are varying reports on the condition of the road out to Old
Onslow so we have a look for ourselves. We go about a kilometer and it
is rough so we turn around and head out again.
About 10K up the road I look in the mirrors and notice a bin lid is
open. We stop and and check its contents. The only thing missing is one
stabiliser jack. We turn back and retrace our steps. We find it where
we turned around on the gravel.
We check out the termite mounds and Bobbys Tree and head for Nanutarra
for lunch. We buy some fuel which is the dearest so far at $1.19/litre.
There is a Range Rover which is totalled sitting there. I ask the
attendant about it and he informs me that it was travelling at 90KMH
when a willy-willy pushed it off the road and rolled it 8 times. After
driving through one I can believe it.
We have had a steady side wind for the last 4 days and now I reckon we
are in willy-willy alley. We count about 8 or 9 on the way into Exmouth.
We arrive at the tourist office and the lady is very helpful. I tell
her that we are her challenge for the day because we don't swim, don't
snorkel, don't fish and don't scuba. She laughs and asks why we came
here. She suggests the Yardie Creek Gorge tour and the Vlaming point
lighthouse and lookout. Being a bit gorged out we give this one a miss
but go up to the lookout and have tea while we watch the sun come down.
Not a speccy sunset but it is an interesting place to watch it from.
We head out and camp at the rest area 30K from Minilya.
Our intention today was to go to the Minilya rest area on the river and
just do nothing for the day but since they have built a new roadhouse
with ........................ you guessed it, a caravan park there is
no camping at the rest area.
We continue on to Carnarvon.