This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2004 Travels July 24

SATURDAY 24 JULY     NEWMAN

Today’s destination – also sourced from out little booklet – was Weeli Wolli Springs, about 100kms from Newman.

This involved driving back on the main highway, the way we’d come on Thursday, for about 70kms, then turning north-ish.

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Locations of Kalgan Pool and Weeli Wolli (Google Earth)

The track was reasonable for most of the way. It deteriorated, though, towards the end. We may have tried to drive a bit too far?  We got stuck trying to cross a little creek that John didn’t check first – just drove into. It had a deep gravel base that we sunk into. Luckily, he was able to reverse out.

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Oops!

Then we saw where other vehicles had crossed this creek and were able to drive on a bit further. These places just do not have sign posts to tell you when you have reached where you intended to go!

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Checking out the creek depth

We had lunch out there – by a pool and rock wall.

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Weeli Wolli

There was a build up of dark cloud, so we did not go exploring to follow the creek any distance from there.

However, we did stop a bit further back on the track, closer to the springs, and wandered about exploring there, for a while.

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Creek at Weeli Wolli. near springs

Would have liked to stay out there longer, and maybe walk far enough to see if we could find the source of the springs, but the skies were looking really threatening.

Weeli Wolli Springs and creek were supposed to be a Rainbow Serpent home. It certainly seemed an unusual formation for these parts. The belief was that the Serpent came up here, in the water that flowed at the springs, from the desert to the east. He went north under  the creek and came up again in the Fortescue Marshes, then went on to Millstream. It was supposed to be a dangerous place where no one was to venture into the water and should not camp there at night. Women were not to walk alone along the creek, according to the lore.

On the return trip, took an alternative, longer track to the highway – this brought us out a bit closer to Newman. We only did it for variety, and because it was marked on the map.

As we’d driven about, the past two days, saw much evidence of mining and exploration, and one could not help but hear talk of new mines. I did hope that exploration and development spare places like Kalgan Pool and Weeli Wolli.

Over the past two days, we’d visited two little known destinations that were just superb, neither of which we’d been to before. Once off the main roads, both times, we’d encountered no other travellers – had both destinations to ourselves. Wonderful.

Back in Newman, refuelled again – $1.16cpl. We’d done 353kms since yesterday’s fill!

The people who were now parked next to us had come in from the Canning and the “bomb” tracks – so called because they were made (by Len Beadell) initially to monitor the atomic bomb testing in the desert country. One of their party had been towing an Ultimate camper trailer. His auto transmission got too hot and caught fire. There may have been a build up of dry spinifex underneath, too, I thinks to myself.  That damaged the electricals, so they were now in Newman for repairs, for a while. Another thing that I thinks to myself was that they were pretty silly to be towing anything on those tracks, anyway.

There were a lot of “sitting about” indigines in Newman. One cannot buy 4 litre wine casks in town, unless leaving town that day – and driving licence must be produced. They let us stock up today, as tomorrow was Sunday and we were leaving then – we had to make solemn promises that this was true. We wanted to stock up a bit because we’d heard that such casks were not available in Port Hedland at all.

 


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2004 Travels July 23

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.

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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.

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Essentially, the mining operations are taking away the mountain!

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The tour was interesting and worth doing.

The mine pit – open cut – was huge.

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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.

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We saw, close up, some of the huge trucks used to move the ore out of the pit.

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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.

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Quite amazing that trees could establish themselves on the rocky hillside

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Tortured rock strata – massive folding

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Kalgan Pool

We had lunch at the pool and walked about, exploring, walking up the creek for some distance.

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Kalgan Creek

 

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.

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By Kalgan Creek – John looking for gemstones

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.

 


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2004 Travels July 22

THURSDAY 22 JULY   KARIJINI TO NEWMAN   210kms

There was a van queued up to take our site, well before we were packed up and ready to go!

I wondered whether this mounting pressure of visitors here would eventually mean that more camp areas would need to be set up? Or this one expanded? At least, the current limitations on the numbers of campers went some way towards ensuring the main attractions were not impossibly overcrowded.

The drive to Newman was really scenic and dramatic, with lots of the stark Pilbara ranges, near and distant.

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We went into Dearloves Caravan Park, at $20 a night. The park was crowded. It was, supposedly, a 4-star operation, but to me a long way off the standard I would expect for that rating. There were no annexe slabs. Our site was a mix of struggling grass and red Pilbara dirt. The amenities were adequate, but nothing flash. We had to supply our own hose splitter before we could connect to water. They seemed to be squashing rigs in all over the place.

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Newman site

There was a large section of – presumably – mine workers. They were fairly feral!

This was a park that was noisy at night – a rather unpleasant contrast to where we had been. There was noise carrying from the town. There were shift workers coming and going through the night and noise from trains and trucks.

After doing a basic set up, we drove to the central shop area, to collect the mail that had been forwarded from Karratha. It was not there! Had to phone housesitter L for the tracking number. Then a very nice Australia Post staff person phoned around – and found it had been sent to Broome! They said there was another person with the same surname, having mail redirected – not sure whether that was an excuse, or true. We arranged for it to now go to South Hedland PO – where we might or might not meet up with it! Hope there was nothing too important – or urgent – in there.

Then it was off to the Tourist Centre where we booked a mine tour – BHP Billiton operation – for tomorrow. It cost $15 a person.

Newman was the typical mining service town of these parts, with a central area of shops and services. There was little of note to see around the town itself, so it was back to camp.

I showered thoroughly – very enjoyable, after several days in the heat, and with all the walking I’d done!

Did our washing and hung it out to dry overnight.

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