Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Wednesday 13th July 2005 to Friday 15th July 2005

Wednesday 13th July 2005

The sun was shining when we eventually stepped out of the caravan this morning, with the thermometer only showing 20 degrees at about 9: a.m. The washing that was hanging on the line overnight may not have been dry, but it was well on the way with the moderate breeze speeding up the process.

Most of the morning was spent in quiet repose ('One of Us' says we didn't do anything!) until the washing was completely dry and removed from the clothes line. Then at about midday we drove to the South Hedland Shopping Centre where we walked through KMart and Coles. We hadn't intended to buy anything, however there were some good meat specials out so we ended up walking out of Coles with about $70 worth of rump steak and chicken thighs. This should just about be our last big meat purchase before we arrive home.

With the meat tucked away in the car fridge, we drove back toward Port Hedland (from South Hedland) and on the way we had to wait for a Mt Newman Mining Ore Train to cross in front of us. This was only a small one compared to some of them as it only had one engine pulling about 100 ore carriages.

Once in town we had a look around the port itself and the centre of the town, visiting the teller machine at the local bank branch to confirm we had spent our life's savings, or at least we found out what was left of them. We stopped at a small park near the business centre and took a photograph or two of the flat steel sculptures around the edge. They all looked as though they had been standing too close to the iron ore loading dock for too long as they were dark red in colour.

We then filled the Patrol up and the three 20 litre jerry cans on board at the Shell Coles Service Station. This was the most we have ever paid for fuel at one fill up. Although the price was pretty good for this area (127.9 cpl less 4 cent Coles discount) we took 174.4 litres of diesel on board at a total cost of $217.06. That was a bit of a shock to the wallet, however we hadn't filled up since we left Derby some 854 kilometres ago.

We then returned to the caravan for the rest of the afternoon, arriving back at about 3: p.m. It was then time to get busy with the web site , sorting the meat for freezing and 'One of Us' had a few e-mails to prepare before 'beer o'clock'. Dinner tonight consists of some very nice thick lamb chops and salad before a quiet night.

Ore train from Mt Newman

3 of the 7 giant Ore Carriers waiting to load

Town park Port Hedland

Thursday 14th July 2005

An even slower morning this morning as it was to be a quiet day again, our last in Port Hedland for a while. The first part of the morning consisted of the usual necessary activities, before 'One of Us' pulled out the hair clippers and practiced her shearing technique on the 'Other One'. He doesn't need a comb for his hair (or lack of it) now, not that he did before either.

Around mid morning we drove down to the South Hedland Shopping Centre and visited the Coles store again, this time we needed bread and eggs for our breakfast, or maybe that was lunch. After these purchases were made we returned to the caravan park where brunch was cooked up on the BBQ. It consisted of bread rolls, bacon, onions and eggs. After this it was over 'One of Us' still had room to watch Geoff Jantz cook up more food but the 'Other One' had to lay on the bed to let some of the energy burn away....

The afternoon rolled on whilst 'One of Us' vacuumed the caravan and cleaned out the Patrol whilst the 'Other One' managed to completed a few jobs around the caravan and Patrol as well as start the days journal for the web site before some serious reading was undertaken.

Our previous drive around Port Hedland gave us the opportunity to view and photograph the salt pile at the local salt production field. This massive stock pile of salt would fill a few salt shakers, in fact it was filling a very large bulk carrier ship in the harbour whilst we were there. Road Trains of salt were continuously traveling to and from the ship, almost in convoy.

Although 'One of Us' wasn't overawed, the 'Other One' found the open memorial museum area in Port Hedland quite interesting. This area had three retired rail engines on display as well as a collection of other items used in the area from around the early 1900's, although a lot of it was from the 1960's when the area was being opened up for the export of iron ore. One of the engines on display was the first to be brought out to Australia for Mt Newman Mining. It is an F7A Bo Bo Diesel-Electric locomotive that was built in 1951 by General Motors E.M.D. It was sold to Mt Newman Mining in 1967 and was used in the construction of the rail line from Port Hedland to Mt Newman, which was completed on 22nd January 1969. on 8th May 1968 this locomotive was involved in the world record breaking track laying record when 7.25 kilometres of line was laid, spiked and anchored in less than 12 hours. In 1971 this locomotive was retired after only four years service, to make way for the larger locomotives introduced for hauling the longest trains in the world at that time.

The breeze remained fairly strong during the day, however the conditions were great for sitting outside and enjoying a quiet ale or wine at beer o'clock. And for the third night in a row we won't need the air conditioner on to stay cool enough to sleep.

Tomorrow morning we pack up and make the short journey from Port Hedland down to Karratha where we are looking forward catching up with niece Nikki, Gary, Tom, Jack and also niece Kate. Then the next day, our daughter Kym and son-in-law Lee arrive for an eight day holiday, so we will remain there until the day after they go home.

Anyone need some salt?

F7A Engine - first on Mt Newman Rail Line

Even the big one's have to retire at some stage

Friday 15th July 2005

We were up this morning with the sun, or maybe even a bit before it lifted its face over the horizon. To say 'One of Us' was a little excited to get down to Karratha to meet up with niece Nikki and family would be an understatement. She had the whip out and we were ready to move out of the caravan park by 8:15 a.m.

Once on the road we headed south on Great Northern Highway with 'Miss Bossy' telling us we had 180 kilometres to go to reach Roebourne, then she counted down slowly as we came closer to our destination.

Some distance after passing through Whim Creek we stopped on the side of the road to take a photograph of the red ranges in front of us, then again as we came closer to Roebourne. There were no further stops until we passed through Roebourne and reached the Plibara Caravan Park in Karratha. As we pulled into the park a car pulled in behind us and to our surprise it turned out to be Sherri, Dylan and new baby Mia. Sherri is the daughter of Graham and Jocelyn Robertson who we had just spent some time in Derby with. She had seen us drive past so followed us to the park to say hello. It was great to see her, particularly with little Mia.

After getting the caravan partially set up 'One of Us' couldn't wait any longer so we headed over to catch up with niece Nikki and the boys. Here we had a pleasant chat and a cup of tea before returning to the caravan to complete the setting up process. Although Nikki's boys had not seen us for almost a year, they were extremely friendly, we are sure the presents we bought them didn't have anything to do with that at all.

We finally managed to get everything organised and ready to pick up daughter Kym and son-in-law Lee from the airport tomorrow.

Tonight will see us having dinner with Nikki, Gary and the boys but a late night is not anticipated as Gary is said to be a little worse for wear due to a night out last night.

The ranges of the Pilbara

The contrasting flat plains and red ranges