Monday, August 22, 2011

Heart of the Pilbara

Monday, August 22nd 2011 - Day 983

Just a quick note today. I'm in Marble Bar, but only staying for a couple of hours to pick up some mail.

I spent a week at the Des Streckfuss (whoever he was) Rest Area. Nice spot on a billabong, but very dusty. I got in nice and early and found a shady spot, but the noise of the road trains carting ore to Port Hedland day and night is a bit annoying.

There were a couple of hillsfor me to climb near the campsite, so I got the opportunity to take a couple of photos of the typical pilbara landscape.

Looks like either a bushfire or some burning off towards the south - as a consequence, it has been very hazy for the last couple of days. The weather is glorious, 30-32 degC every day and only down to about 13-14 deg at night. Sunny and not a cloud in the sky. It still seems to be a bit cold and rainy down south so I am just poking along until summer comes down there. - You all have my deepest symphathies - LOL!

It is very dry and arid around here (as is to be expected) but is is fantastic how the flowers retain their form after they dry out. I sometimes think that they look better this way than where they are growing.

Stopped for a break at Doolena Gorge, just north of Marble Bar. I was tempted to camp here, but I thought I'd drive on to the next stop, Coongan Pool. When I got there, it was just a roadside stop and I couldn't be bothered going back, so I'll push on.

I got to Marble Bar about 11:00 am and went out to the actual "bar" to have a look. Very impressive, especially when you splash a bit of water over the Jasper outcrops. This feature must look fabulous when it's raining.
I got a comment that it might be an idea to give a more detailed description of the spots where I camp. I will try and create another blog for this purpose and put in a link to it. Watch this space.

See you soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's All Too Hard ! !

When I started this blog, just over two and a half years ago, I thought it would be a good way for friends to keep track of where I was and what I was up to, but I have been out of range of mobile coverage for so long at a time, that it makes it all a bit of a waste of time. It's now over three months since I last posted and the thought of having to update all that time is a bit off-putting.

Added to that, recently I have been going over territory which I have previously travelled, so there is not a lot new to report. This is mainly due to the fact that prior to this I had been travelling fairly fast and only stopping for a day or two, but more recently I have been reeeaaallly taking my time and spending a week or more at each stop so that I can really appreciate what I am experiencing.

To bring you up to date, when I reached Alice Springs in mid-May, I re-stocked and headed up the Tanami Track, same as last year. AGAIN, I left it too late in the year and there were some really cold nights. My Tip: If you're going to travel through the inland desert areas, do it well before the end of April otherwise the cold nights can take some of the fun out of it. I reported my experiences and posted photo's of the Tanami last year, so nothing really new to report there.

After reaching Hall's Creek and refuelling, I headed up to Wyndham and down the Gibb River Road again, as I did two years ago, but this time I took more time and made more stops. There was more water in the rivers and gorges than two years ago, but the road was not as good due to a very long and very severe wet season. Once again I couldn't get up to Mitchell Falls as the Kalumburu road was still closed and it looks like it won't be open at all this year.

Down to Derby (I left Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge for another trip), but I did go into the "RAAF Boab Quarry". I have notice this before in the Camps5 book and decided to check it out. What a great spot. The very old, eroded rock formations give a feeling of a ruined city and the water in the quarry is at least 30 or 40 feet deep. It's only 11 kms off the bitumen and well worth a visit.

Now it is the beginning of August and the weather is absolutely beautiful. About 13 or 14 degC at night which means it is great to snuggle under the doona, but it is 31 or 32 degC every day and not a cloud in the sky. Plenty of sun for both the solar panels and the black-bag water heater for the shower. I see on the weather forecast each night about torrential rain in Qld and Perth and temperatures down to freezing in the southern states and my heart goes out to you - NOT. I'm too busy enjoying myself.

I headed south after fuelling up at Broome. What a tourist-trap that place is. Everything is twice as expensive as it should be and the main customer-service attitude seems to be "if you don't like it, then bugger off". I stayed in the caravan park for a couple of nights. $45 dollars a night for a pretty ordinary site - and $19 for a pizza in town - No tight-arse Tuesday up her, either.

Stayed at Goldwire for a few nights. This would have to be one of the best free camps going. Not much to see or do, and no water which is pretty standard for WA rest areas, but it is huge and you can get a nice secluded, shady spot to set up for a few days.  Just south of here I saw what must have been the end of a holiday for someone. This 5th Wheeler had obviously been set up (the legs are down) and something went wrong. Burnt to the ground and you can see pushbikes and stuff in the wreckage. Hope it was insured!

 I spent a week at the 80 Mile Beach caravan park north of Port Hedland and what a great spot. The park has all mod cons, (except mobile coverage) and has 200 grassed sites, right on the beach. The beach is not all that flash for swimming, 'cos there are mud banks at the low tide mark and the water is pretty muddy at high tide, but the fishing fraternity are here in droves. I spoke to a few people who are here for 3 months! Unfortunately, I rate fishing along there with golf and watching paint dry as a recreational pastime, but it really is a beautiful spot.

Today is Saturday, August 13th, Day 974 of my travels and I am staying in Port Hedland for two days to re-stock the fridge and pantry (and wine cellar) and then I am off again tomorrow. I am going to head down through Marble Bar and Nullagine to Newman, and then across through Tom Price to Millstream, so I guess you won't hear from me for another 6 weeks or so.

See you soon