This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels July 22


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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2004 Travels July 15


It was a grey and cloudy day.

The campground was still closed, as we left. We were so lucky to have been able to spend the time there, that we did.

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After some discussion, we had decided that remaining on the Roebourne-Wittenoom road might be a safer option than returning to the railway access road, given all the rain there had been. It meant a longer drive, but that was preferable to the potential embarrassment of getting bogged on a private road!

The scenery became progressively more interesting through the drive. The eastern parts of the Pilbara were more rugged than where we had been.

For a while we ran parallel to the Chichester Range.

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Near Mt Florance homestead, there was an area of contrast, where one side of the road had been burned, the other not.

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Contrast between burnt and unburnt country

The roads we travelled on were mostly unsealed, but in reasonable condition.

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Crossed our old friend, the Fortescue River, on another long, slightly built up causeway. Clearly, a prolonged heavy rain event would close all sorts of roads in these parts!

Turned south-ish at the junction of the Wittenoom and Nanutarra roads. We then had to drive through the Rio Tinto Gorge – one vehicle width and very narrow. It would have been “interesting” if we’d met a vehicle coming the other way! It goes for several kms.

Just after that, we tried to go in to Hamersley Gorge. Part way down the access track was a wide turning point and a sign saying no caravans beyond that point. This was still quite a distance from the gorge, so we decided against walking the rest of the way.

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Track to Hamersley Gorge

Decided to have lunch at the turn around area, anyway. Just to make life harder, another van came in and parked there too, which made our reversing out, to leave, quite difficult.

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No vans past this point!

The Tom Price Caravan Park was very full. We managed to get a site – small – though. It was right up in the back corner of the park. $22 a night. We felt crowded all the time we were there, especially in the amenities, which were Atco type. Not amongst the better places we’ve stayed!

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Tom Price camp

After setting up the camp, I did some cleaning up of the van – Millstream mud!

M and John showered. I washed a couple of loads of grotty clothes, then had my shower. It was welcome after the muddy days without.

We drove into town to the Information Centre and shops.

There was a notice up saying that the Dales Gorge camping area in Karijini National Park, was very busy and would-be campers should get there very early, to obtain a site.

While tea was cooking, the power pole “died”. Overload from the four vans hooked up to it, we suspected. After this, our battery charger was no longer working! If we could not fix the problem, it would not be long before we would have to turn off the fridge, which worked exclusively from the batteries.

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