Day 99 – Wednesday 21st September 2011
After saying goodbye to the peacocks at Sandfire Roadhouse we were back on the road. As advised, the trip was indeed just as boring as yesterday, and we travelled longer than usual again to get to Port Hedland. (There was a lovely looking rest area by a river about an hour before Port Hedland that we’d been planning on staying at, but due to a lot of long, dry grass around the place and not much cleared space, we thought it not a good place for the kids to be wandering about).
Apparently there is not much to see in Port Hedland and it is very much a working port town. There is only one good caravan park (a Big 4), the other one having a lot of permanents with questionable toilet habits. Unfortunately, the caravan park feels the need to have a sign in the toilets saying ‘please do not defecate in the showers’!? Enough said. Any caravan park that even needs to put that sign up is crossed off my list! A young family that we’ve bumped into several times on our travels did try there first and apparently got abused by the person in the office just for asking the price. They ended up at the Big 4 with us. It’s a nice enough park, Big 4’s always are, with a playground and pool. Pity you pay so dearly for the luxury though – at $10 per child we were charged $70 per night! ($63 because we got our Big 4 discount).
The boys made friends with a lovely girl named Kirah who lives in the park with her mum, who works at reception. They had a good play on the playground then she came back to our place until tea time and played Lego.
Also had a refreshing swim in the pool, which was nice looking but chilly, as usual.
Day 100 – Thursday 22nd September 2011
Happy Day 100!! (Maybe we can justify the $63 last night by saying that it was our Day 100 treat).
Another big drive today to get out of this monotonous stretch of road. Passed a nice, shady, riverside rest area about an hour out of Port Hedland and in hindsight we should have stayed there, because the next couple were all full. Thankfully, the scenery has started becoming a bit more interesting again and we ended up driving all the way to Karratha.
Drove straight through Karratha and headed to Dampier (about 10 mins further and on the coast). The sight that met us as we turned into Dampier was quite exciting. Four massive cargo ships (or whatever they’re called) were all at the dock (or whatever that’s called) loading up with iron ore or salt I guess. (This is iron ore and salt country, and the ports in this Pilbara region are responsible for 25% of Australia’s income!!). The ships are far more massive than I would have imagined, and only really put into perspective when you see them against a standard little fishing boat (bottom left hand corner).
We booked in for two nights at the Dampier Transit Caravan Park (transit because you can only stay there for three nights maximum) for the bargain price of $24 a night powered. You can’t connect to water but there is a tap available to fill your tanks. From here we could see the ships perfectly, and got to watch the little – but mighty! – tug boats pushing and pulling the huge ships around so that they were facing the right way. These ships take between 24 and 36 to fill!
In the afternoon we walked down to a little beach, which was quite rocky and the sand was mostly little shells. The boys had a ball jumping about on the rocks and finding little rock pools and shells.
Day 101 – Friday 23rd September 2011
Today we went to check out Dampier. First stop was the library, which was closed when we arrived but luckily had a playground out the front. We played for 15 minutes or so until the library opened, then went inside and had lots of fun playing with different toys, reading different books and perusing the photo albums they have with photos of the real Red Dog and newspaper articles from the time.
Ethan’s quote while playing on the playground in Dampier – “I like this town. It’s like Wyndham. So peaceful and sweet”. Obviously he’s a small town boy at heart too, luckily for us.
Next we drove to the Burrup Peninsula, which is apparently the most prolific Aboriginal rock art site in the world, however we couldn’t find the turn off so we didn’t get to see any! We did stop at a popular beach on the peninsula, Hearson’s Cove, but there was a warning sign up saying there had been a recent croc sighting so, needless to say, we didn’t swim there. I thought we were out of croc country already. Clearly not!
Stopped at another playground on the way home and ended up staying for a couple of hours – the boys were just having such a nice time and it was lovely and shady.
When we got back to Dampier transit caravan park, we found the young family (from Port Hedland Big 4) stalking us again! This is the fifth time we’ve been in the same park at the same time – Wyndham, Broome, Sandfire Roadhouse, Port Hedland, and Dampier. It’s not as uncommon as you would think, bumping into the same people over and over, and just goes to show that we’re not really travelling slower than anyone else after all!
Day 102 – Saturday 24th September 2011
Today we were planning on leaving Dampier and heading to a lovely looking rest area a few kilometres out of Karratha, Miaree Pool, and relaxing a few days there before coming back into Karratha for shopping day on Tuesday.
On the way out of Dampier, we stopped and saw the Red Dog statue. Ethan said, “I can’t believe I’m touching the real Red Dog statue!” and Daniel kept saying, “pat, pat” and giving him cuddles. I’m glad we all got to see the movie at Wyndham – it made seeing the statue far more exciting.
After travelling around 30kms to get to Miaree Pool, we were very disappointed to find a big ‘camping prohibited $1000 fine’ sign! Here’s the nice rest area, with a lovely fresh water pool to swim in.
Daniel was still asleep in the car so we just drove back to Karratha and booked into the Big 4 there, where the receptionist kindly told me that there was ANOTHER camping area at Miaree Pool, a little further up the road and on the other side! Oh well. The boys weren’t fussed, we got a spot right next to the playground and next door to a family with two kids to play with, Lachie (aged 9) and Keely (aged 6). Perfect! And Andrew was happy because he got two beers from Pete, Lachie and Keely’s dad. Apart from the carton for his birthday, it’s the 3rd beer he’s had on the trip I think.
Day 103 – Sunday 25th & Monday 26th September 2011
These days were spent relaxing at the caravan park, with the boys playing crazily with the kids next door ALL day long. They literally did not stop playing together – either at the playground or at the pool – from 8am until dinner time. They played beautifully the whole time, but they were worn out, and the next morning Jack’s body must have felt a little out of sorts because he woke up feeling terrible, went back to sleep for an hour, then vomited! Oh no! Our SIXTH vomiting episode this trip! I was all ready for another bout of gastro, and thinking how ridiculous it all was, but immediately afterwards Jack proclaimed he was starving (and his hands were shaking like low blood sugar) and after scoffing four weet-bix he perked up immediately and was ready to play. Obviously just pushed himself a bit too far yesterday! Needless to say, it was a day for quiet playing today.
Day 104 – Tuesday 27th September 2011
After filling up with fuel and doing our big food shop, we left Karratha. (Did I mention the cool cable gate that the caravan park has? Instead of a boom gate that drops down from up high, they have a ‘cable gate’, which stretches out across the road and drops to the ground all floppy when you go through. I’ve never seen one like it).
Heading south for about two hours, we’ve stopped at a rest area in the middle of nowhere, only to find I have 3 bars of reception!! I think it must be because we’re near the turn off to Pannawonica (wherever that is). It’s quite a nice rest area next to a river, and the breeze is blowing so it’s pleasantly warm but not too hot. I suppose we should make the most of it because by the look of it we’ll be in the cold and rain again soon enough.
We were originally heading for Exmouth, but have since changed our mind due to it being school holidays here and likely to be very busy, and instead we’ll do a quick visit into Coral Bay before heading on to Carnarvon.
So, not an overly adventurous week this week. There seems to have been a lot of driving through not much to get to nowhere special. There are places I’d love to go back to in Australia, but this top north west corner is not one of them. We’re still enjoying ourselves though. As long as you’re seeing new things and meeting new people it’s all fun.
Speak soon XXX