Aus Update 14 - Broome,  Cape Keraudren, Port Hedland & Marble Bar

22-Sep-2006

13th September 2006 - After arriving in Broome I removed the fuel tank and that was about it.

14th Sep - We took the fuel tank in to the repair shop early (8am - it's early for us, ok) and went down to the shopping mall to take advantage of the air conditioning. Although Broome is on the coast, it didn't quite offer the respite in heat we were looking for. As we were leaving the covered rooftop parking, I suddenly wished I had had the camera at the ready. I could hear the jet engines of a plane coming in to land, then woosh - there went a Qantas plane level with me. I knew there was an airport close by, we'd seen the signs along the road, but boy, I'm sure the shopping mall barely got planning permission for a two storey building, the pilots must enjoy watching people jump!

We got a call about 10:30am telling us the fuel tank was ready, but if we came at about 11:30am they could have a quick look at a couple of other items I had asked about.

The rest of the afternoon I spent putting the fuel tank bank into the car, if you are interested in car details, follow here.

15th Sep - As we were leaving the caravan park we thought we would wash the car as they had advertised a location to do so. We didn't actually think the car was that dirty, but we were certainly surprised how white it came up, see if you can tell the difference...

We stopped in at the Broome Telecentre, used the internet facilities for an hour or so, then got on the road heading south. We aimed to stop at Cape Kerauden for a few days, and timed it just right, as we reached the place and paid the ranger he said, you've got about 10 minutes until sunset. We hurriedly selected a camp site and got out the table and chairs just in time to watch the sun set over the sea to the west.

As we sat there in the gathering dark, we heard some strange noises around our feet, turned on a light and found half a dozen crabs just passing through. The flash makes it look like day, but it was quite freaky until you'd seen what it was.

16th Sep - We had no plans for Sabbath, but we went down to the beach to have a look around. A guy that was staying in the site next door was also down there and Paula noticed that he had an Adra hat on (Adventist Development & Relief Agency). It turns out that they were an Adventist couple too, what are the chances?

There were lots of beautiful things on the beach...


I don't know what this was, but it was definitely alive. It was sort of like a jellyish centipede.

This strange looking thing that looks more like a rock in the photo was actually a small ball of  pulsating jelly!

We had been warned that there were estuarine crocodiles in the area so we made sure to keep a careful eye out. The ranger actually told us how just a couple of weeks ago he'd had to patch up a guy, not from crocodile injuries per se, but this guy had been on the front of his boat at the boat ramp with a bucket. As he turned around he saw this croc just floating there so he hit it on the head with his bucket and jumped off of the boat onto the rocks. Only problem was the rocks were oyster shell encrusted and he chopped himself up pretty badly...


Good rock to get away from a croc?

A bit rough when you look closer.

Aside from that we just lazed around and generally enjoyed the beautiful (if still a bit too warm) surroundings...



Followed by another wonderful sunset...



17th Sep - Sunday morning we took a peek at the southern end of Eighty Mile Beach as we were leaving Cape Kerauden and saw these four little birds snuggling on top of a pole at the side of the road.



When we arrived at Port Hedland we drove around a bit just getting the lay of the land. We didn't really know an awful lot about the area, but we were just about to begin our education. I know this picture is a bit low res, and we don't exactly have a massive zoom range, so I've circled the 5 massive ships parking out to sea here. There was a 6th one just out of frame to the right and another 4 already in port.



We stopped in at the visitor centre and found that the main township is really a bit further inland at South Hedland and Port Hedland really is just the port. We noticed that they were putting up ship and train movement times on a whiteboard outside the visitor centre, which we thought was maybe an indication of how little really happened around here (I mean advertising 4 freight train movements a day?). When we saw a train begin to go by as we journeyed to South Hedland, we started to understand why. The four photos below are not really a proper panorama, and they are a bit small, but just vaguely give an idea. This train stretched as far as we could see in both directions. At the far right there are two locomotives on front. Towards the left of the second picture is another two locomotives. We counted about 105 carriages on the first section and 107 in the second section. It took about 15 minutes to go by. We were just glad they'd built a bridge over the track rather than a level crossing.  BHP hold the record for the worlds longest train. It was something like 8 locomotives and 400 carriages, this was not just to break the record it was to test their remote control system and there was only one driver on board controlling all 8 locomotives.

Another sight on the road between Port & South Hedland was the Dampier salt evaporation and storage piles...

18th Sep - We  just sat at the Black Rock  caravan park, read, went  down to the mall to use the intenet and escape the heat.

19th Sep - We drove back out to Port Hedland and took a 1.5 hour bus tour of the BHP Billiton facilities. It really was quite impressive. They did give us all the facts and figures for how many km's of rail they have (in the port area 125kms), and 100km of conveyor belts, how many engines (80) and carriages (over 3,000) they have, but we weren't taking notes and we think its around those numbers. They have the largest privately owned 'toy' train set in the world. The one on the left is the largest diesel electric locomotive in the world, it is called the Kulgan and BHP own 8 of them. Then it moved off and the one in the photo on the right was just behind it, which is part of a second hand fleet they imported from Mexico.



The number of tonnes of iron ore they process through here is simply staggering, you can see this machine shifting ore from a stockpile to a conveyor. The shot on the right is how the train carriages are unloaded. They don't disconnect them at all, they just shuffle the "rake" (set of 100 odd carriages) along 2 (or 3 on their newest one) carriages at a time and simply rotate the carriages through about 170 degrees.



20th, 21st Sep - We literally did nothing but sit in the caravan park and read.

22nd Sep - We departed South Hedland and drove via Marble Bar to Newman. Marble Bar is another mining town. It was mistakenly named for the large jasper seam found just out of town. It doesn't look particularly impressive while it's dry, but fortunately it seems to be in the middle of a creek that doesn't quite dry out. If you splash the water over the stone it's shows some vivid streaks of colour.


Dry

Wet

We saw some other poorly signposted things in Marble Bar, they weren't big on interperative signs there. While there Paula had her first spider experience since arriving in Australia.  Her family will understand what I mean by that. Why the juvenile Huntsman had to walk up the passenger window and not any of the other eight windows in the car? Thankfully it is a big car and her moving to sit on the center console instead of my lap while I was trying to figure out what was going on worked well.

We arrived in Newman about 6pm - we'll tell you what we thought of it once we've seen it!!!