TUESDAY 27 JULY MARBLE BAR
In the morning, John wanted to do some computer stuff, so M and I went for a walk to explore the town, after I’d packed our lunches ready for later.
It was an interesting place, with some very dignified old stone buildings, dating from the time when mining seemed to offer a bright future for the place. Who knows, with the advances in the technology of minerals exploration and extraction, those times might come again?
Marble Bar is known as the hottest place in Australia. In recent times, that has been its only claim to fame. That was why John wanted to visit here in ’93 – so he could say he’d been there! We certainly were not expecting somewhere so intrinsically beautiful, and with so much that interested us.
The hottest reputation is not because of a maximum temperature reached on one day, but because it holds the record for the longest run of days over 100 degrees F (37.8 C) – 160 days over summer of 1923-24. They didn’t have air-con then, either!
We looked over the Pilbara Pioneers Memorial Wall. The plaques here give details of pioneers who often died alone and who were buried in remote and lonely places in the district. Some typical inscriptions: Avis Hosotana 1898: aged 3 days; buried at Tomborrah Creek; son of Otako and George; died of heat exhaustion. Robert Chandler 1899: Aged 42 years; Buried at Tabba Tabba Creek near Port Hedland; a saddler who became lost in the bush and died of thirst.
The Wall also honours Lang Hancock, who is credited with founding the iron ore industry of the Pilbara. He recognized the richness and extent of iron ore deposits in the region, and publicized and promoted the potential, although he never owned an iron ore mine himself. He did however, start asbestos mining at Wittenoom! These days, a dubious claim to fame. His daughter Gina, and her Hancock Mining Company provided funding for the Memorial.
M and I only progressed as far as the General Store! A miner’s wife ran that establishment. From her I bought a gold nugget already mounted ready for chain and four smaller nuggets, also mounted, for the daughters for Xmas. I put in an order with the miner for a pair of “flat” nuggets for earrings, when he had two that matched. M bought a nugget too.
We had certainly done our bit for the local economy, whilst here!
Then John arrived, driving Truck, to put in some fuel. He only added 50 litres – at $1.28cpl. That should see us through to somewhere cheaper!
We drove out to Coppin Gap, to the NE of the town about 60kms. This involved us taking the sealed Port Hedland road, then the gravel Bamboo track to the east. The Coppin Gap track led off this.
We passed mustering vehicles and a helicopter. The mustering team had lit fires in the spinifex, out beyond the Gap, as they had mustered out there. The dark spinifex smoke hung in the air – not all that far away, it appeared.
The country out that way was just beautiful.
We parked at the end of the access track, then walked to the Gap, and walked/scrambled through it.
The Gap was quite dramatic – a water carved gap in the Coongan Hills.
We had lunch, sitting by the waterhole at the base of the steep cliffs of the Gap.
As we retraced our way back to Truck, the fires looked closer, but still a way off. But they were enough for us to curtail any further exploration out in that direction.
Yet again, apart from the mustering team, we’d encountered no other people. Being able to enjoy places like this in solitude was wonderful, after the crowds of Karijini.
On the way back to camp, detoured to take in Doolena Pool, off the Hedland road, as it wasn’t far from where we rejoined this.
Doolena Pool was on the Coongan River. Whilst it was very pretty, it was not in the same league as Coppin Gap.
I thought John had done so well with the pretty constant driving he’d had to do over the past three weeks. We would have to find somewhere that he could have a good long refreshing break from it, once M left.