This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels July 12


By morning, the rain had lessened to showers only, but it had been heavy and steady through much of the night.

M had survived the night, quite cosily.

The campground was a real mess – all mud. All the other campers packed up and slipped and slid out. We thought about going, but really wanted to try to see the place. I had wanted to come here ever since we had to miss it on the ’93 trip.

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Tracks and slush made by departing campers

Then two Rangers arrived and told us they were closing the campground.

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Rangers closing the campground

It was on river silt, which was why it went to slop so quickly. We explained that we’d only just arrived yesterday, and looked sad, and they relented and let us stay, with conditions. We had to promise that we would not try to drive anywhere today. We were not to drive in and out more than once a day, after that, providing there was no more rain. More rain would mean no driving at all. Fair enough, we thought.

The Rangers indicated the weather was supposed to clear.

So now we had a campground all to ourselves!

We discovered a pit toilet closer than the one we’d used to date, that we’d been skiing up to!

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The rain stopped. The ground around our camp slowly dried.

We managed to play boules in the afternoon, after a fashion. Couldn’t play a normal game, because the boule just landed with a splat in the mud, and stayed put. But it filled in some time. The boules needed a very good wash, afterwards.

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Getting water to wash the boules

It seemed a really pretty area, from what we could see. It was on a great, deep, wide section of the Fortescue River. There were reed warblers in the reeds, white plumed honeyeaters about, and plenty of corellas. Watching their antics was very entertaining.

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Deep Reach – Fortescue River – by our camp

Deep Reach was one of the most sacred areas of the local indigines; their Warlu serpent lived in there.

Although it was still cloudy through the afternoon, there was no more rain. Looking promising! The solitude was worth the inconvenience of the mud.

Had to run the generator again for a while in the late afternoon, to charge up the batteries. At least, there were no neighbouring campers to be disturbed, although it ran really quietly.

Again, we huddled in the van for our meals. One of us had to sit on the bed – only room for two at the table. But it was comfortable enough. We talked for a little while, after tea, then had another early night.

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Millstream Chichester National Park – from CALM brochure


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2004 Travels July 11


We left Karratha about 9.30am. This first pack up with a third person and their gear required a little trial and error. Will be faster, next time.

Topped up with fuel on the way out. Still at $1.08 cpl. We put about 10 litres in each of the jerry cans on the back of the van, so our possible movements would not be too constrained by fuel availability.

Drove out to the highway, along it for a little way, then picked up the railway road on its other side. This road was maintained by the company, for access to its rail line, for repairs, checking and the like. Given that there is no direct route through to Tom Price, it was used by company staff going to the mine.

The drive along the Hamersley Iron Road was different. The road was pretty reasonable – unsealed of course. There was not much traffic.

We saw one of the huge, long ore trains and the driver blew the whistle at us. I supposed travellers provided him with some variety in the otherwise back and forth journeying.

One section through some hills was a bit steep and winding – there were no guard rails or the like!

There were rain showers for some of the time, and we could see nasty looking dark cloud, with rain falling, in the distance.

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On the railway road – threatening skies

Came to the place where two railways intersected. Ours ran from Tom Price to Dampier. The other from the mine at Robe River, to Cape Lambert, near Roeburn. That one went over the top of the one we were following on a flyover.

When the railway road intersected with the Roeburn Wittenoom road, we took the latter, which took us to a reasonable access road to Millstream National Park. This crossed the Fortescue River – dry at that point – on a long causeway, so we were then on its southern side.

At the entrance station to Crossing Pool, where I’d intended to camp, found it was now day use only, due to cyclone damage from “Monty” back in March.

So we continued on to the Deep Reach camp area. The track in there was very sloppy.

The camp area was fairly full, so there was not a great choice of sites in this fairly small area, but we found a good looking spot, backed up to the reeds and the Fortescue River, with a small patch of grass for M’s tent. The ground was fairly dry – it looked as if some campers had not long left. Maybe the approaching nasty looking weather had something to do with that?

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Millstream Deep Reach camp site

The clouds were definitely threatening and it began to rain, lightly, so we set up very quickly. Then it teemed down. There was soon very slippery and sloppy red mud all round us.

Going to the toilet – some distance away – became tricky, and messy – mud, water, the risk of slipping over, even with walk sticks.

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Change of mind!

We’d arrived about 1.30pm. Spent the afternoon and evening all huddled in the van, damp and cold. With this experience of touring, M might just decide to defer her retirement plans!

John had to go to Truck and break out the generator and get it going – for the very first time – because there was virtually no solar input. He remembered how to do it and it started first time. So, buying it was now justified!

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Generator first use

I wondered if the river would rise if the rain didn’t let up? That was not a comfortable thought!

Staying here cost the National Park camp fee – $5 each, per night.

An early night was in order. M paddled over to her little tent on its small island of grass.

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