This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2006 Travels October 20

FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH TO NORTH POINT CAMP   381kms

Today, we drove back from our break. Had to vacate our refuge by the usual time of 10am.

I would love to report that I was up early enough and sufficiently energetic to go for a last walk on the beach – but I wasn’t, and didn’t. It was simply too enervatingly hot and humid to be motivated into unnecessary activity.

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Fish cleaning shelter and path through the dunes to the sea

It became another very hot day – into the 40’s.

With some reluctance, we headed south again, through the dreary flat plains.

There was a large bushfire burning close to the road, a bit before we got to Pardoo Roadhouse. Could see it from a distance, and were somewhat concerned about getting through.

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Distant bushfire

But the worst of it had crossed the highway before we reached there and it was burning away towards the coast.

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We detoured off to the coast, from Pardoo Roadhouse, to have a look at Cape Keraudren, having heard so much about it as a place where grey nomads go and spend months – but not at this time of year!

It was very open – no trees – but I felt it would be well worth a “bush” stay in the future. But only outside of the real peak of the season. It would be impossibly crowded at the height of the cool months.

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Cape Keraudren

There were some pit toilets, but that was all in the way of facilities.

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Camping area

The Cape marks the southern end of the Eighty Mile Beach, which stretches a long way from here, northwards towards Broome.

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Eighty Mile Beach stretching into the distance

There was a brilliantly blue creek, of that intense, almost unbelievable  aqua colour only found in these parts, with a couple of camp spots there.

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Tidal creek

The best camp sites though, were on the Cape itself, and there were a lot of possible sites there, overlooking the sea. I suspected it could get windy, though.

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We stopped in Hedland, to buy some bread rolls for lunch, stock up the beer supply, buy some books, and do a download on the laptops, at the little park area.

When we arrived back at the Fly Camp, it was a relief to see that the van was alright – we had been slightly worried, given the unpredictable weather. There had obviously been some strong wind, though, and we found the back tarp askew. N told us later that it had come loose and he had attempted to secure it for us. Good of him.

R also arrived back this evening, late, having driven from Broome after his Darwin break.


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2006 Travels October 16 – 19

MONDAY 16 – THURSDAY 19 OCTOBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH

We slept late in the mornings – a real luxury after the very early starts of our working weeks.

John fished for some of each day, depending on the tides, trying to catch the incoming and full tide. At low tide here the water was so far out it could hardly be seen.

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Tide going out. Billions of shells……

He caught some of the threadfin salmon that were often to be hooked here – and which I prize as a great eating fish. We had brought the Chescold fridge with us, so I was able to freeze the surplus catch and take it back to camp, to go in the van freezebox for future use.

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Dinner!

I walked on the beach a couple of times each day – usually in the morning and again in the late afternoon.

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Sand dunes behind the beach

Couldn’t resist gathering up a few of the many and varied shells that abound on the beach here. It really is a magic place and we could see why so many people come and stay for months each year.

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Such an interesting place for beach combers……

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Looked like something to be wary of

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Weird things wash up on this beach…

Some days were overcast, some started out with a clear blue sky. Most afternoons there were storm clouds in the distance, which – combined with late dry season bushfire smoke –  made for some interesting light effects on the ocean.

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It was too hot to spend too much time outside. We sat in the relative cool of the air conditioning and read, composed emails to family and friends, played a Mahjong game we’d installed on the lap tops.

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Pied oyster catcher

One day, on one of my walks, spotted a most unusual little reptile, perched on top of an old tyre that was used as a marker. I’d never seen one with such colouring – it was quite special. Some type of lizard, I thought, rather than a gecko, but that was about the extent of my identification of it.

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Most unusual colouring – and looking pretty well fed!

We had garlic prawns for tea one night – I bought a kilo of frozen prawns from the shop here. The other nights we had some of John’s threadfin catch – so yummy.

It was a very rejuvenating break, despite the heat. It was just so good to be away from the usual faces and the confines of the camp atmosphere.

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2006 Travels October 15

SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER   NORTH POINT CAMP TO EIGHTY MILE BEACH   355kms

Today was very hot, even by the standards we were becoming used to. Seemed to have ramped  up a few notches.

Did not rush to get up, and left camp after breakfast. Just hoped there would be no bushfires or strong wind storms that might affect the van, in our absence.

We stopped at the South Hedland shops and I bought some food supplies and the weekend papers.

The drive was alright – just – and quite far enough in the heat.

There were not many tourists left at the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park.

Our cabin was great. It cost us $140 a night. It was very roomy. There were two bedrooms, with a good double bed in one and four bunks in the other. The kitchen area was well equipped and there was a full sized fridge. There were air cons in the three main rooms – good! We had the use of a BBQ outside. There were not many windows – better to keep out the heat.

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Our cabin at Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park

It was so wonderful to have our own bathroom again. All to ourselves……

John went fishing when the tide was right, christening the new rod he’d bought in Hedland, for this occasion.

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Later in the afternoon, as it was beginning to cool a fraction, I walked along the beach. The sea! The sea! Just so good to be by it, despite the heat and high humidity, after the aridity of where we had been.

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Three months ago there would have been hundreds of people on this beach…

We bought fish and chips for tea from the shop cafe – the delectable thread fin salmon that was a common catch from the beach, here. It was the last night they were doing these, as the “season” was over for the year. So we were lucky.


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2006 Travels October 12

THURSDAY 12 OCTOBER     NORTH POINT CAMP

HO  decreed that, with N and S here, they could take over our work at RV1 for a few days, to give us a little break away – unpaid, of course.  They would then move on to RV2. It would enable S to finalize her “training” in a functioning site office, before heading off down there.

This would be a pleasant respite for us. Not something we had expected, or requested, but appreciated.

We discussed what we could do in our break, and decided to go up to Eighty Mile Beach. It seemed too hot in these parts now to go further inland, to somewhere like Karijini National Park. Not the weather for being active outdoors.

At Eighty Mile Beach, we could book into a cabin and hide away. We would have to feed ourselves again!

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Stick insect on our fridge

There was a most unpleasant incident at dinner tonight. One of the cementers from SA was an absolute pig of a man – foul mouthed, coarse, dirty. He had a day off today and managed to borrow a vehicle and go into Hedland to visit the prostitutes who plied their wares there. Over dinner, he was drunk, sat opposite me and proceeded to treat the table to a very detailed description – in his filthy language – of his activities  of the afternoon. He was, of course, trying to get a reaction from me, but I decided not to give him the satisfaction, though I felt extremely embarrassed and insulted by his presence. One should not be subjected to that sort of thing. In another environment, I would claim harassment and look for him to be sacked – but this was not a normal workplace. However, there was more than one means of redress open to me. I decided that, the next time his wife phoned, wanting me to get him to the phone – which happened about once a week – I would inform her that he was not available because he had gone into town to visit the prostitutes! See what that would bring him, the pig!

I resolved to do all I could to avoid sitting anywhere near him at future meals – hopefully, that firm would be moving on to RV2 soon. I would go late enough to tea for him to be there first, so I could avoid him. I refused to give him the satisfaction of driving me away for meals, like S had been, after only one night. I was pleased for her sake that she had not been there for this night’s performance.

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2006 Travels September 16

SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER   EIGHTY MILE BEACH TO NORTH POINT CAMP   355kms

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Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park

We were back travelling in good time.

More dreary country to Port Hedland.

Reached there in time to go to the shops at South Hedland and get some weekend papers.

Refuelled there – $1.54cpl.

Port Hedland was a town in two parts. The older town and the original port facilities were on the coast but recent times had seen the main residential section and associated shops built several kms away, at South Hedland. The two were separated by swampy ground and extensive salt harvesting flats. The highway went by the new part.

There was a message on the phone, when we came into range again. It said we would be paid for our days of travel, as well as for fuel and accommodation. Yippee – because we had certainly racked up lots of travel hours!

Took Highway 1 out of Hedland, then the Great Northern Highway to the south. The country was marginally more interesting.

Followed our directions to – at about the 100km range from the highway junction – watch for the second turn off to the right, to the Yandeyarra Community. It was rather more than 100kms, but as predicted, opposite that there was a small sign to North Point, by a track  that went to the east.

We took that dirt/gravel track, which was in quite good condition. Drove through the dry river bed channels of the Turner River, then about 3kms further on, there was a cluster of buildings that had to be our destination?

Pulled into a large parking area and went looking for our contact, H. He proved to be of retiree age, like us. We got the impression he had not known we were coming, but he walked around the establishment with us. Showed us the dining area – tables set up on bare ground, under tarps, outside a catering caravan. There were two shower/toilet dongas, one with a washing machine in – a total of two toilets and two showers, only, and unisex. I didn’t know how many people would be using this camp and was starting to wish that our little caravan had its own bathroom facilities!

There were a couple of rows of dongas containing bedrooms – all looked very pre-used. Other donga type buildings were scattered about. There was a tent too – apparently some of the visiting aboriginals did not like being inside the rather confined donga rooms.

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Fly Camp

Rough “paths” of gravel linked the buildings. A big generator powered the place. Its noise was a constant background.

It was not a camp set up to fill one with great confidence!

H warned us that death adders abounded in the surrounding spinifex bush, so walking about out there required care. Lovely!

H decided that we could park the van right up at the end of a row of dongas, where there were also a couple of old caravans. We could plug our power lead into a power box on the end of the dongas. It was essential that we have power – already it was hot enough to need air con.

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Our power source – quite a few plugs hooked into that one power box

It was obvious from the tour that we would be fed – there were a couple of catering/housekeeping staff.

So, this was a “fly camp” – a temporary, initial camp. It had been set up for some weeks already – by Fortescue, not our company. It had been used by FMG people and those doing environmental and native heritage assessments and surveys. All the start up stuff. Now, our company people were allowed to be “guests”, too, while we worked to get the Rail Village 1 to a point where the company people could move there while finishing off the place.

We followed a track around the camp perimeter to our designated spot and parked the van at the end of the donga row.

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Unpacked and set up. Plugged our power lead into the box  along with several others. Because the lead had to cross a path to the van behind, John dug a trench, found a piece of plastic pipe and fed the lead through that, under the path. In the process, he disturbed a very pretty, well camouflaged  little gecko type reptile.

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Resident reptile

John took some photos of our van and the camp from up on top of the roof rack.

Being right at the edge of the camp set up, we were not far from the scrub that surrounded the camp. It was a pity that our van windows had to look out, though, on close by old vans and dongas, rather than the bush!

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We have camped in more attractive surroundings than this…….

Went to our first dinner at fly camp. It was served buffet style. There was a mixed green salad, potato salad, a mix of prawns and snap peas, hot rice, fish and chips, followed by a Boston bun style cake. Not bad at all.

Had no real idea who was who amongst the handful of fellow diners. Got the impression that there were not many company people here yet. One guy, K, did introduce himself – I thought he might be the site supervisor.

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2006 Travels September 15

FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER   FITZROY CROSSING TO EIGHTY MILE BEACH   755kms

Today was another hot one, long and tedious.

The country side was not as interesting – mostly flat and dry. I regard the stretch of highway between Broome and Port Hedland as one of the most boring in Australia!

We decided to have a final night of freedom by the sea, at Eighty Mile Beach. From there, we would reach the camp – if we could find it – in reasonable time the next day.

Refuelled at Roebuck Plains – $1.65cpl; Sandfire Roadhouse – $1.65cpl.

The tourist season was winding down fast, so there were plenty of vacancies in caravan parks up north.

We paid $34.45, after discount, at the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park. Had stayed here previously, and loved it for its location by the superb sweeping beach.

On dusk, went for a walk on the beach to watch the sunset. It was low tide, so the water was a long way out. There were not many other people on the beach.

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Sunset, Eighty Mile Beach. Red sky from bushfire or burn off smoke

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The park shop was still doing fish and chips, so we treated ourselves to a takeaway – yummy.

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2000 Travels September 10

SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER   BROOME TO EIGHTY MILE BEACH   404kms

We were up early and leaving the caravan park at 7.30am. The idea was to reach our destination before the heat of the mid afternoon.

The run south was uneventful, with a slight tail wind.

There was a fruit stall selling local produce, from a nearby horticultural venture, near the Port Smith turn-off. I bought three rock melons, for $3 each, some tomatoes and beans.

The country we travelled through was distinctly boring. Flat, dry, dusty, scrub country, very featureless, long straight stretches of highway – but a good road. I thought this was actually the most boring road we’d yet travelled in Australia!

We had a coffee stop along the way, at a pull in place that appeared extensively used for overnighting.

We had a further break at Sandfire Roadhouse. We reminisced about our lunch stop here, in 1993, in pouring rain, where we paid an extremely exorbitant amount for our lunch. A couple of basic hamburgers and cokes that cost us the equivalent of about three nights’ caravan park fees, back then! It was robbery.

We turned off the highway and drove the 9kms or so, on a reasonable gravel road, to the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park. It was lunch time when we got there.

Our powered site cost $19.80 for the night.

There was a shop, selling basic supplies, combined with the office and reception area. I bought a tea towel and a magnet.

It was a much bigger caravan park than we’d expected, well established and very pleasant.

After seeing what the place was like, John decided we should stay a second night. We thought it would actually be quite easy to spend weeks here – yet another episode of “we must return, with time”.

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Our site at Eighty Mile Beach

After set up and lunch, we went for a walk on the beach. It was absolutely awesome! There were millions of shells, some quite beautiful, and it was impossible to resist bringing some back to the van.

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Eighty Mile Beach still life

The beach was a massive sandy expanse, going on for as far as we could see in both directions. There was clearly a big tidal range.

Vehicles drive along it – the sand was firm. The experienced ones who obviously spend time here each year have little quad bike things for travelling along the beach.

The fishing is obviously good – could tell that from photos in the office/store! I could see why those who stay for a time want to go much further along the beach, to get away from all those who fish right by the park.

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Late afternoon bird line-up

When we come back here will have to make sure that we have some good fishing gear. It was not worth John trying to fish with the one little rod he still has functioning – not really suitable for the sea.

The afternoon sun was hot. I sat in the shade and started some beadwork. Made an anklet, which looks good, and a bracelet that will go to V for Xmas – light blue glass beads and lapis lazuli chips. I was very pleased with it.

Late in the afternoon, we went down to the beach and watched a wonderful sunset. There was smoke about and it was a bit like “stairway to the sun”.

Tea was fried rice.

This is a great place.

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