FRIDAY 23 JULY NEWMAN
Had to be up, fed and organized quite early, in time to front up for our mine tour. This departed from the Tourist Centre. We had to wear closed-in shoes.
We travelled in a full sized bus that took us to various points of interest at the Mt Whaleback mining operations. A couple of times we got off the bus at vantage points, but basically, the tour was bus-based.
Mt Whaleback iron ore mine dated from 1968. BHP built the Newman township at this time, too. The ore is transported by BHP’s railway to Port Hedland, for export.
Essentially, the mining operations are taking away the mountain!
The tour was interesting and worth doing.
The mine pit – open cut – was huge.
The guide told us there was plenty of iron ore in reserve – essentially, ore is all through the Pilbara and right to the coast.
At the mine area everything was, of course, coated in red dust.
We saw, close up, some of the huge trucks used to move the ore out of the pit.
I know the country needs mining, and progress, but part of me was very uneasy at this beautiful, elemental, country being dug up. No amount of rehabilitation could ever make it the same again.
At the Visitor Centre, where the bus returned us, I bought an iron ore necklace and earrings. I do love ironstone, and the colour suits the things I wear in my non-travelling life.
Refuelled Truck – $1.16cpl.
Back at the van, we changed footwear and I quickly packed up a lunch.
We drove out to visit Kalgan Pool. Had to drive out the unsealed Marble Bar road for some 25kms, then follow a track for about 25 kms to the west. It was not too rough, but definitely a track rather than a road.
Kalgan Pool was on the upper reach of the Kalgan Creek, which eventually fed into the Fortescue River.
The track basically followed the Kalgan Creek valley, so was really scenic, with quite lush growth along the creek and regular occurrences of red rock valley walls and outcrops.
Kalgan Pool itself was lovely – a green oasis, but for me the real attraction out here was the massively folded and fractured rock walls – fascinating.
We had lunch at the pool and walked about, exploring, walking up the creek for some distance.
Had to return back the way we came. We started off on what looked like a continuing track to the west – were following directions from a little booklet bought at the Tourist Centre in Newman, but it was not the easiest to follow. Although the rough drawn maps in it indicated that we could continue west from Kalgan Pool, that was a bit vague, tracks on the ground were hard to relate to those in the booklet, so we decided to be prudent and backtrack.
On the way back, we turned off the Marble Bar road and went west for a short way, to the Opthalmia Dam. This was nothing really special – a body of water dammed back by rock walls. It contributes to Newman’s water supply.
Hordes of mosquitoes descended once we got out of truck, so we were not tempted to dawdle there. One quick look around, and we were away again!
Back at the caravan park, another traveller came up to talk to us. He owned a Trakmaster too. He’d left it at home, this trip, because he was driving the Canning Stock Route. His group had come in to Newman, off the Track, to source parts to repair a vehicle.
We bought fish and chips for tea. They were adequate.
Phoned the caravan park at Marble Bar and booked us in there. There were such crowds around these parts at the moment, that it was prudent to be sure of our accommodation – particularly since M was on a fixed schedule and we couldn’t adapt plans too much.