We reach the halfway point as we “sweep” into Broome

Where are we?>>http://goo.gl/maps/POKtX
Friday 17 May 2013
We rode 40km to Roebourne to take an all day bus tour of the Rio Tinto ship loading facility. This huge facility was very interesting and is currently being expanded to more than double its current capacity. The tour took us right into the plant and we saw some of the huge equipment up close including the machine for picking up and emptying two x 200 tonne railway cars at a time. We lunched at the historic ghost town Cossack on the coast. There is building work going on everywhere in Karratha including three very large 10 storey apartment buildings to house “fly-in Fly-out” workers. They say it costs over $400 per week to rent a caravan site about 5k out of town and the average three bedroom house costs $850,000. The lady who was our tour guide said her whole family (5) work at the Rio plant. We are tackling the first section of the long 850 km run to Broome tomorrow and will overnight (probably in a donga) at a remote roadhouse about midway.

Some of the new worker Fly-in Fly-out accommodation being constructed in Karratha

Some of the new worker Fly-in Fly-out accommodation being constructed in Karratha

Overlooking the giant Cape Lambert, iron ore ship loading facility

Overlooking the giant Cape Lambert, iron ore ship loading facility

Like giant Preying Mantes

Like giant Preying Mantes

Saturday 20 May 2013
We set off from Karratha in cloud and some light rain but this soon fined up to be clear and sunny all day. The 400 km ride for the day was through flat and open country which is showing the effects of some recent rain. There is lots of green and the country looks great. We occasionally came upon some red rocky hills which periodically appear out of the flat countryside. We bypassed the very busy mining and ore ship loader at Port Hedland which was obviously undergoing huge expansion works much the same as Cape Lambert. The road train traffic had to be seen to be believed with dozens of huge four trailer ore carriers going in all directions. We were pulled over between Karratha and Port Hedland to allow three huge road transports past carrying mining equipment as wide as the whole road presumably destined for the port expansion at Cape Lambert. See the short Youtube clip at the end of this post to give you a flavour of the ride. We stopped off at the old mining town of Whim Creek expecting to make a comfort stop but found the place deserted and derelict. We stayed at the Pardoo Roadhouse overnight midway between Karratha and Broome in the middle of nowhere. Our “room” was a bare Donga with shared camp facilities. Not quite up to Ros’s minimum required accommodation standard but there is nowhere else!. Three days in the Mercure at Broome should offset this minor slip-up in accommodation standard.

The Pardoo Road house accommodation

The Pardoo Road house accommodation

A local resident at Pardoo Road house

A local resident at Pardoo Road house

The abandoned Whim Creek Pub

The abandoned Whim Creek Pub

Sharing a roadstop with one of the many road trains

Sharing a roadstop with one of the many road trains

One of the huge four trailer ore road trains buzzing up and down the road near Port Hedland

One of the huge four trailer ore road trains buzzing up and down the road near Port Hedland

A short Youtube clip of some of the ride >>http://youtu.be/9fkjEm1hX5Q

Sunday 21 May 2013
We got going early today for our 470 Km run into Broome. We copped a bit of light rain first up but this did not last long. The rest of the day was mostly sunny with the temperature hitting 33c most of the day which is the highest for the trip so far. The ride was uneventful with just two isolated roadhouses the only civilisation for the entire trip. The run from the Sandfire Roadhouse into Broome was over 300km and the longest non-civilisation leg so far on the whole trip. The road was mostly flat and typical low scrub but about 50 km out of Broome it opened out to cleared pasture off to the horizon. Huge herds of cattle were dotted across the landscape like ants. We reached Broome at around 3pm and just missed a heavy rain shower. The temperature was still +30c but the humidity must have been close to 100%. This is now roughly our halfway point in both time (day 40) and distance (10,243 km).  We plan to stay here for 3 nights and see some of the sights tomorrow including the obligatory camel ride along Cable Beach.

Cheers for now
Ros and Dick

 

 

 

The towns are getting further apart

Where are we ? http://goo.gl/maps/45yCe
Wednesday 15 May 2013
We took a rest day in Exmouth and enjoyed our first clear and sunny day for weeks. We ran into our Sydney neighbours Bob and Betty who live on the same floor as us at Castle Hill. They are also traveling around Australia in their Trakka Motorhome. We had a great natter with them over coffee. It is amazing that we spoke more to them 8,000 kms from home in Exmouth than we normally do when they are just 30 metres away!. We rode down the Ningaloo Coast to see some of the sights. It is obviously a fisherman’s paradise judging from the huge number of boat trailers parked at the remote launching ramp where we saw the biggest trailered boat we have ever seen (towed by a huge Chevrolet Silverado) being launched. The local industry of taking people out to the nearby reef, to swim with the huge whale sharks, was in full swing with boatloads of swimmers coming and going. Not surprisingly, Ros could not be persuaded to give it a try 😮

Ros checking out Robert and Betty's compact Motorhome

Ros checking out Robert and Betty’s compact Motorhome

The giant trailer boat rig at Ningalu Coast boat ramp

The giant trailer boat rig at Ningaloo Coast boat ramp

A few of the boat trailers waiting for their charges to return at the Ningalu Coast boat rampome

A few of the boat trailers waiting for their charges to return at the Ningaloo Coast boat ramp

Thursday 16 May 2013
We got going at 8am for our long haul to Karratha on a fine and sunny day. Our first leg from Exmouth to the Nanaturra road house was 290 km without any  civilisation in between. This is our longest so far. The run into Nanaturra was mostly straight with flat low scrubby country. We had to contend with lots of roaming livestock again with sheep and cattle grazing along the road verges and roaming across the road in front of us on a number of occasions. The country was fairly green and we crossed several rivers that actually had water in them. The ride was quite pleasant. After the midway point we came into Dampier Range which was very prehistoric looking country. It was very picturesque. The road undulated a bit more and made the riding a little more enjoyable. Grey Nomads were in abundance as usual in all manner of vehicles and campers. Every 10 km or so we went over cattle grids. It is hard to figure out their purpose as most were devoid of any associated fencing allowing stock to just walk around them. Very strange!. We rocked into Karratha around 3 pm after a big 600 km day. The towns are getting further apart with just a couple of roadhouses between Exmouth and Karratha. Boy what a buzz this place has. It is reputed to be the fastest growing town in Australia and we don’t doubt it for one minute. It is also, unfortunately, a bit pricey with our modest motel setting a record so far for our trip. We are staying here tomorrow and taking a tour of some of the huge Rio Tinto ore handling facilities in the area. Should be interesting.
Bye for now
Ros and Dick

More straight roads and flat, green scrubby country

More straight roads and flat, green scrubby country

The colourful Ashburton River adjacent to the Nanaturra Roadhouse

The colourful Ashburton River adjacent to the Nanaturra Roadhouse

Some of the picturesque Dampier Range starting to pop up on the horizon

Some of the picturesque Dampier Range starting to pop up on the horizon