This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2004 Travels July 8

THURSDAY 8 JULY   NANUTARRA RH TO KARRATHA   280kms

When we woke in the morning, it was not raining, but was still really muddy.

According to the radio news, the highway just north of Carnarvon had been cut by floods.

John’s face was still swollen.

The drive to Karratha was very scenic, with the typical Pilbara hills and spinifex country.

We stopped for a break at the Fortescue River Roadhouse. It would have been a better overnight stop than Nanutarra had been. Diesel was a lot cheaper there, too.

At Karratha, we went into the Rosemary Road Pilbara Holiday park – another Top Tourist one. $23.80 after discount. It was much nicer than the previous one we’d stayed at. Apparently that one had now been given over entirely to permanents, anyway.

We had a very generous site that would also hold M’s tent.

After setting up, drove to the Post Office, but there was no mail waiting for us. Posted some cards. I’d phoned L last weekend to send a bag of mail here.

Went to the Tourist Information Centre to get a permit to drive the Hamersley Iron railway access road, between here and Tom Price.

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Ore Train railway road (from Pinterest)

We had to watch a short video on how to drive on it – common sense stuff, like give way to ore trains! Really? There was no fee for this. No mention was made about towing the van on it, and we didn’t ask.  All good.

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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