The morning dawned on another bright clear blue sky with a warm touch to the sun. Well we believe that was the case because we didn't actually see the day dawn, it had been in operation for a while before we emerged from the caravan.
Just after 9: a.m. we were joined by Graham and Jocelyn for a coffee break which carried on until about 10:30 a.m. along with considerable in depth discussions about everything in general.
At about 11: a.m. we took the Patrol for a drive out to the Port again where we walked along the jetty a short distance and took some photographs of the area with the tide out. There were some people collecting mussels from the mud in the same location that a ship drove over at full tide when we were there two days ago.
We then drove around town and filled it up with diesel at the Shell Service Station ( 72 litres at 135 cents per litres = $98.98) in preparation for the journey from Derby to Port Smith in the morning. We also called in to the Woolworths Store and made a few extra purchases to keep us going for the next five days until we arrive in Karratha on Friday 15th July.
It was about 12:15 p.m. when we returned to the caravan park and the rest of the afternoon was occupied with the 'Three 'R's.... Reclining, Reading and Resting before packing up the things we don't need before we depart from the caravan park in the morning. 'One of Us' conserved her energy during this period whilst the 'Other One' took a wheel off the caravan and started to change a tyre on the rim as it was well worn. The idea was to replace it with another one that had more tread, this would save the new spare from wearing on this faultily aligned wheel. Before he had much success suddenly two other people from within the caravan park turned up with tools and one even had a tyre bead breaker with him and they took over the exercise and completed the job with great enthusiasm. The end result was the wheel fitted back on the caravan with the better tyre on it and these two fellows feeling great because they helped out a fellow traveler.
Beer O'clock saw us keeping company with Graham and Jocelyn again and they stayed for a dinner of beef and vegetable soup with fresh bread, followed up with apple pie and ice cream. An early night was planned as we go our separate ways tomorrow, Graham and Jocelyn heading north whilst we head south to Port Smith.
After our last night in Derby with Graham and Jocelyn, we woke early this morning and started the final process of packing the last things up before leaving.
We said our farewells to Graham and Jocelyn at about 6:45 a.m. and watched them drive out before hitching our caravan up and pulling out at 7:00 a.m. Our drive took us through Derby town site for the last time, then out past the Great Northern Highway turn off and on toward Broome. We stopped at the Broome/Great Northern Highway intersection long enough to ring the Port Smith Caravan Park to check the road condition as there were a lot of black clouds hovering low in the sky, but once assured there had not been any rain and the road was fine, we continued on our way.
We did not call in to Broome this time as caravan sites are scarcer than hens teeth at this time of the year and we had a good look around the place on our previous trip (Journal Entry dated 20/06/2004).
As we headed further south the clouds cleared a little and we had enough sun to highlight a 6 foot tiger snake making it's way across the road in front of us. We slowed to ensure we did not hit it, although the car following us made a quick 'U' turn and headed back toward it, hopefully only to shoot it with a camera, not to run over it as it was well away from any civilisation.
At the turn off to Port Smith we stopped long enough to open the pressure vent on top of the caravan and to seal the doorway to prevent dust entering. We then made the last 23 kilometres of the drive on a dirt road, however it was not bad at all, a little corrugation at the start and a couple of places we needed to slow dow to about 60 kilometres per hour due to some shallow dips.
On arrival at the caravan park we paid our site fees for the two nights we had booked in, then found out way to our site which was a rather barren bit of red dirt between some trees. We also found out that the park did not have a drain system so they say there was not to be any showers used in caravans, this did not go down well with 'One of Us'. Then we found that telephone contact was very limited (CDMA working only at times) and the standard TV aerial could not receive a signal from their local transmitter, fortunately we were able to set up the Satellite TV dish and be entertained by that. A check of the amenities revealed that they were very very basic.
After lunch we drove down to 'the beach' whilst high tide was in. This is the only section of sand beach accessible at this time, although we understand there is a boat trip people can take that will deliver them to another beach somewhere near. We then followed a two wheel track a little further along the water to a point where it looks out over mangrove trees in the water, however there was no beach at all in this area so we returned to the caravan park.
At about 2:50 p.m. we drove out to the Port Smith Bird Park and Tropical Garden. Entry fee was $10 each and that gave us entry to the bird park which consisted of a large number of aviaries housing an extensive collection of Australian and exotic birds. This was quite interesting and it took as about an hour to walk around the display of birds in their aviaries. Many of the cockatoos wanted a chat with us but after so many 'Hello Cockys' there isn't much else to say. The aviaries were spotlessly clean and the birds looked well cared for, although three or four of them must have been bored and were pulling at their chest feathers. The 'Tropical Gardens' consisted of a number of coconut palms (with loads of coconuts on them) and a variety of other palms as well, however it would be difficult to compare it to some of the other tropical gardens we have seen elsewhere. The whole place was kept very clean but looked like it was a little tired and could have done with a bit of a spruce up.
There was not anywhere else to explore after that so we returned to the caravan park. There is not a lot to see around the area and it appears the main purpose for visiting Port Smith is the fishing which they say is pretty good. As we are not keen fishing people we made the decision there was no need to stay here for the second night. We advised the reception people about our decision but they were not forthcoming with any refund of the second days site fees, but I supose its only money....
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, reading until beer o'clock, then it will be an early night after a nice steak for dinner.
We woke this morning to the sound of rain on the roof of the caravan and when we stepped out we found the red sand had become a bit more like mud. This strengthened our resolve to leave Port Smith today, particularly after a shower last night which revealed that there was no dressing area in any of the showers, no ledges to put things, only two hooks to hold clothes and people had to stand out in the isle to get dressed if they wanted to stay anything like dry. We changed our opinion of the caravan park to VERY basic.
After packing up the wet and muddy hoses and cables we headed out of Port Smith at 8: a.m. and made our way along the 23 kilometres of dirt that was now mud in places but still had some dust to stick to the wet caravan in other places. By the time we reached the Eighty Mile Beach turn off we had driven through quite a bit of rain and after traveling about two kilometres along this very wet and muddy road we came across a long sheet of water filling a low level section of about three hundred metres. We stopped and debated whether to travel through this section as we had seen other caravans get to the other side, however even though the caravan was covered in mud already, we decided not to cover the rest of it and we were concerned that if we did get in and it continued to rain, we may get stuck there for a few days and we didn't want to risk that. As it turned out, a woman spoke to 'One of Us' and said that the caravan park owner at Eighty Mile Beach came and told all the people in the park that if they get any more rain within the next twenty four hours the road will be closed, so we guess we may have made the right decision.
The road was not very wide, but we managed to turn the caravan around and headed back to the Great Northern Highway again, then turned south toward Port Hedland. As we travelled west the sky did clear a little and the rain disappeared so the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful in comparison. We arrived in Port Hedland at 3: p.m. and found our way to the Black Rock Caravan Park where we booked in to stay for the next three nights. We also paid a fee of $5 to allow us to wash the caravan and the Patrol in the park. Once we had positioned the caravan, 'One of Us' made herself busy cleaning up the inside of the caravan and visiting the laundry with our washing whilst the 'Other One' pulled out the hose and washing brush and started the task of removing a lot of mud from the vehicles.
With this task finally completed to some degree of success, the rest of the setting up process was completed and we both had a shower to remove the last of the grit and grime. Then the web journal update was completed before 'beer o'clock' but tonight that wasn't until about 6:30 p.m. when we had a drink or two whilst looking forward to a good dinner.