This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2000 Travels October 12

THURSDAY 12 OCTOBER     ONSLOW

It was fairly hot today, but there was quite a strong wind blowing.

I phoned Melbourne and sold some shares at a good profit. Bought some more Telstra ones, which I think are on the rise again. The leftover profit will pay the coming instalment due on the original Telstra purchases. However, I realized later that I will have to follow up with the sharebroker again – they have taken out too much brokerage.

The main outing for today was down to the wharf/groyne area at the creek entrance. John fished. Because the wind was blowing a lot of sand and grit about, I sat in Truck and knitted.

After  lunch, John had a sleep and I went for a walk around town. At least here I feel secure walking about the place.

The Visitors Centre was an old stone building that was moved here from the old town.

The initial township in these parts began in the 1880’s, when a port was established at the mouth of the Ashburton River, to export wool from the local pastoral properties. The town was called Onslow. It was not well located, having to be a few kms inland from the actual coast, due to the clay flats close to the coast. The river mouth tended to silt up, especially when there were cyclones, so, in the 1920’s a new wharf was built a bit further along the coast, at Beadon Creek. The, the town of Onslow was moved there, and Old Onslow was abandoned.

Onslow was the most southerly place in Australia to be bombed by the Japanese, in WW2 – a single plane that dropped three bombs. It was a refuelling base, in the war, for Navy ships.

I enjoyed my little history lesson.

We had tried the old trick of upending and shaking the Chescold fridge, and it is working better on gas. So we can cool drinks easily again.

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Site by the sea at Onslow

The phone was still not working! Seemed to be a problem with the unit itself, not just the unpaid bill.

For tea, I cooked John’s long toms for him. I had some salad and a tin of tuna.


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2000 Travels October 11

WEDNESDAY 11 OCTOBER     ONSLOW

John liked it here and decided overnight that we would stay a week!

I went to arrange that at the office, and they were kind enough to make the seventh night free, because of staying the week.

We then did a proper set up of the van, and unhitched Truck.

It was rather humid in the morning, but only got into the low 30’s, with some sea breeze later in the day. This environment was so much more pleasant for living in than where we’d been.

The bay was interesting to look out upon, from under our awning. Rocks, birds, boats. There was an osprey regularly hunting in the sea – we saw her nest, on top of a pole, on yesterday’s walk.

Later in the morning, drove through town – which did not take long – then on to Beadon Creek, just beyond it, an area where there were fishing boats moored. There was a groyne built out from the mouth of the creek, a short way, to keep the creek mouth open for the boats.

There were a couple of men casting lures from the groyne, so John decided to do so, too, and caught two long toms. I did a few casts too, but only caught a bit of sponge!

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Looking back towards Onslow from Beadon Creek area

We went back to the van for lunch and then lazed around under the awning, soaking in the view.

A new van came on to the next site – Victorians, long-term travelling, with a Burmese cat. It was nice to pat a cat again! They’d had problems with interior fittings in their van and it had been recalled – they have to take it back to Melbourne! That was a major hiccup in their travel plans, but they were hoping to get a new van out of the exercise.

John had arranged to go to bowls at 7pm, so we had an early tea – a zucchini and basil frittata, so I could use up eggs that were close to their dying date. I cooked it in the electric frypan and it worked alright.

The evening became quite windy. There are now big bushfires in the Pilbara and daily thunderstorms in the Kimberley.

I think John enjoyed the bowls – it was very “social”. At least, he got to meet some of the locals and find out about the place – like about the new salt project being developed, which is behind schedule, due to cyclones.

The mobile phone had stopped working, earlier today. Upon investigation and checking, and phoning from the pay phone, it was discovered that the last bill had not been paid in Karratha, after all. So both the shire rates and the phone bill were stuffed up, somehow, at that time. John used the public phone to pay the bill and get it all sorted out.


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2000 Travels October 10

TUESDAY 10 OCTOBER   KARRATHA TO ONSLOW   335kms

We were up at 5.45am, wanting to get the travel over before the worst of the day’s heat.

Left the park at 7.30.

Refuelled Truck – $1.13cpl.

Called into the refrigeration place to pick up the Chescold. It was not fixed, as the part did not come on the plane! The man showed John what to do to fix it, so he can get the part and do it himself.

It was a hot drive south. But hooray for the fact that we have left Karratha!

Much of the way was pretty flat and featureless, but there was some hill and mesa country to provide a bit of variety.

We stopped for a coffee break at the Fortescue River.

We had decided to detour from the highway, go have a look at Onslow – which we’d not been to before – and overnight there. Since we were passing by, so to speak. It was a detour of some 80kms from the highway.

John got sleepy about 100kms from journey’s end, so I drove the rest of the way.

We reached Onslow about 12.30. The last stretch, going in there, was rather dreary.

We booked into the Ocean View Caravan Park, where we got an ocean front site, for $18 for the night. It was lovely. We could keep Truck hitched up to the van too. The park was really nicely set up, but the trees had obviously been stripped in the cyclone earlier in the year, and were just recovering.

It was much cooler and more pleasant here than it had been in Karratha.

There were lots of birds about – both sea and land types.

After a minimal set up, and lunch, we walked up the street to have a look at the little town, and checked out the shops. Then we walked along the beach. It was rather rocky and shelly, but still a beach, and much appreciated. Onslow is tucked beside a shallow bay and thus faces to the north east.

Tea was corn cobs and pancakes.

It was wonderful to go to sleep to the sound of the sea, which was very close to us at high tide.

10-10-2000 onslow


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2000 Travels October 9

MONDAY 9 OCTOBER     KARRATHA

It was cooler today – only got to 35 degrees!

We did lots of last day things.

Washed the bed linen. Cleaned up the van.

Went to the town centre, where I took books back to the library. Checked at the Post Office – there were a couple of letters – one from John’s sister H, who sent me a gallery booklet that advertised  my brother’s art show. Nice of her to do that.

I collected some photos I’d put in for processing on Saturday. Did a food shop.

At the Post Office, had to sort out the rates payment, because the Shire had phoned me to say we’d only paid a month, not a quarter. John had told me, after he did that a while ago, that it was not as much as I’d told him it was going to be!

John took the fridge to a repair place. It will be ready early tomorrow. I am glad this will not delay us, as I will be very happy to get away from here!

We did the usual preliminary packing up.

Tea was cold chicken and salad.


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2000 Travels October 8

SUNDAY 8 OCTOBER     KARRATHA

Today was a bit less hot, but turned into another lazy day.

John played computer games. I sewed, and read.

The Chescold fridge died – stopped working at all. It would appear to be the electric element that has gone kaput. It has been such a great work horse here, sitting outside the van, keeping the drinks cold in this relentless heat.

Tea was roast chicken and the usual vegetables.

Had a lovely long phone call from John’s cousin M, who was interested to hear of the progress of our travels, since we’d last seen him.


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2000 Travels October 6

FRIDAY 6 OCTOBER     KARRATHA

It was very hot. The temperature reached 42 degrees today!

We left at 9.30am to drive to Roebourne and the Tourist Bureau there. It was where we could book to take a free Port to Port tour, run by Robe River Iron – another of the Hamersley Ranges mining companies.

The port at Dampier exports Hamersley Iron ore, brought by rail from mines at Paraburdoo and Tom Price. We were touring a second port area, where the iron ore comes by rail from the Robe River mine.

There were enough indigines mooching aimlessly around Roebourne for us to have a few qualms about the safety of Truck, left parked at the Tourist Centre.

We headed off on a mini bus.

It was a most informative and interesting tour. We went right into the port area at Cape Lambert, driving around in amongst the operations. There were stockpiles of ore and conveyor lines all over the place.

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Iron ore stockpiles at Cape Lambert

We viewed the loading jetty where the ore goes out on a conveyor belt to ships anchored in deeper water.

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Iron ore conveyor belt loader and distant ship being loaded

One of the most interesting parts was seeing how the iron ore rail carriages were unloaded. A “tipper” grabs each carriage as it pauses at a certain point and rolls it over sideways, 180 degrees, over a pit. The iron ore falls out onto the conveyor below. The couplings between the carriages are special ones that allow this circular movement. We were told that there have been “oops” moments, where something goes wrong and the whole carriage has fallen into the pit!

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Ore train carriage being tipped over to empty it into pit below

We did a quick pass through the hamlet of Port Sampson, then they took us to the old town of Cossack, where we were able to buy lunch. There was a cafe of sorts in an old building. But they had little food left – poor co-ordination on someone’s part. John had a pie. I had to settle for a bag of Twisties – which turned out to be stale. Yuk.

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In Cossack

Cossack began in the 1860’s and was a major pearling centre, for a time. Some superb old stone buildings remain, and are being restored. It looks as though the town may be making its way back from ghost town status.

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Cossack Court House

It was an excellent tour and I was very glad we went to the effort of doing it.

Truck had survived unscathed.

On the drive back to Karratha, we detoured off to the coast, about 13kms south of Roebourne, following a gravel road for about 16 kms, to Cleaverville Beach. This was a popular cheap camping area, with no facilities to speak of. There were lots of camp spots. I remember that V and husband camped here last year, on their way north.

John fished here for a while, and caught a golden trevalley on a lure.

We drove 141kms today – and the air-con worked well!

Tea was bought fish and chips. We couldn’t eat it all – very generous serves.

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Where today’s touring took us