Tuesday, September 18, 2012

80 Mile Beach to Karijini NP


80 Mile Beach has been a stand out on this trip. Unique location, and far from the madding crowd. Despite it's beauty, a memorial in the park reminds us that in the late 1800's 20 odd pearl luggers were wrecked on it's shores during a cyclone with over 120 lives lost.

YAES (Yet Another Early Start), means that I get to see Venus and the waxing moon in the dawn sky. A rare treat especially for someone who is well known as a 'late' riser!

Today was a long and lonely ride (600+ km). Port Hedland was avoided, as the highway bypasses the port. Lots of activity, machinery everywhere and road-works and construction attesting to the impact of mining in this area. Port Hedland is one of the primary export points for iron ore mined down in the Pilbara. Lots of 'temporary' accommodation camps, heaps of mine vehicles (Toyota are doing well out of all this activity), and dust everywhere. I'm forced to stop in South Hedland for fuel and supplies, before pressing on.

Heading south towards the Pilbara there are lots of road trains carrying heavy equipment heading north. The road although initially flat and boring starts to climb and eventually the temperature drops from 38 down to a more manageable 35 as the road climbs into the Hamersley Range and we reach 750+ metres.

Stop at the Munjina Roadhouse for fuel before entering Karijini NP. As I'm filling up, another bike (a small 250cc cruiser) with a couple on board. Celso and Ines are Brazilians, 4 months in Australia, and their first time out of Perth. They'd looked at a map, and decided to ride up to Port Hedland via the inland route, and then back down the coast. Their bike has a range of about 250km on a tank, so they are forced to carry spare fuel in a plastic bottle. They are on a steep learning curve about travelling in OZ and after I talk to them about conditions further north and what a hole Port Hedland is, I persuade them to come with me to Karijini for the night and then to head to the coast via Paraburdoo.

Dale's camp ground in Karijini is 'basic'. No water, little shade and just a long drop. The ground is hard, shattered rock and sand with evidence of iron ore everywhere. In some places the iron ore has weathered down to a grey metallic dust that looks for all the world like metal filings. We set up camp and then head down to the gorge for a swim. In WA, many national park camp sites are manned by 'hosts'. Volunteers who spend weeks, sometimes months looking after the camp sites during the season. Our hosts are very helpful and tell us the best places to go if we want a cool swim out of the sun.

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