Well, Port Hedland (correct spelling this time) was as we expected. Not much there except mining, big trucks, road trains and huge transporter trains. It's a long way from anywhere and very remote.
The area was very busy from the mining industry, but like everywhere else with mining, it was an expensive place to stay.
We booked into a caravan park and then went off exploring. We drove out to the dock area and while walking around the park we heard someone (Tom) shout out to Chris, what a surprise to see our little mates again. Mick, Kate and the boys were also in Port Hedland but they were having problems with their car so were stuck there for a few days. They had already had problems with their camper trailer and now the car. it was all getting a bit much for Kate, especially as they were on a limited time and budget. It seems that going off road doing areas like the Gibb River Road can be a very expensive procedure. We don't think we have met anyone that's done it who hasn't had some sort of mechanical trouble. We met a family in Broome who had an off-road van, the van chassis coped with the bad conditions but the fridge and aircon were both stuffed.
We met up again with the boys later in the day as they were staying at the same park, enjoying their company before saying our goodbyes as we were leaving in the morning, heading out to Karratha, about 250 kms away.
Again, the roads were busy with trucks and road trains so Chris really has to concentrate on his driving, not that he doesn't usually!
The track trains are huge, 234 big open carriages to carry the iron ore and they went on for ever! With 2 engines at the front and 2 in the middle to power them. Iron ore seems to be the main product from mining but there are also salt and magnesium mines in the area. It was interesting to see the large salt piles glistening in the sun, so white against the landscape.
While in Karratha, we took a trip out to Dampier, about 20 kms out of town. A pretty little place where the movie "Red Dog", (a true story) is based. Red dog used to roam the Pilbara area, belonging to no one and every one, but loved by all.
Dampier was not how we expected, from the movie we imagined a very flat, open place with only the red dust but it is in fact, quite hilly, rocky and green. I think the green stuff is grass but we haven't seen much lately, so not sure!
We took a trip out to the Woodside North West Shelf Gas Plant. A huge set up collecting and shipping gas from big platforms out at sea. Each container ship takes about 24 hours to fill before sending most of the gas out to Asia. The rest is pumped down to Bunbury and supplies Perth and the south west coast.
We spent a good while in the visitors centre, looking around, watching a DVD and talking to the very pleasant and friendly young lady there.
While at the visitors centre we heard of a information meeting in town on cyclones, something we don't know too much about so the next morning we set off to be educated. The talk was interesting and very informative, hopefully we will never need to put our new knowledge into practice.
We had notice that all the permanent caravans at our park were chained and tied down. This is because of the strong winds and cyclones, apparently they are covered by insurance if correctly secured. I don't know if I would like to be out in the open in a caravan when a cyclone comes through though!
While talking with a guy in the pool we learnt a truck driver for the mines can earn $3000 a week, not bad money! and as we learnt later, there are all sorts of tax concessions if you live above the 26 degree parallel in Australia. this is to encourage people to work in the remote areas.
On to Exmouth next and slightly cooler weather, now only mid 30s but windy. We had hoped to stay in the Cape Range national park here but decided not to, because of the wind. We stayed in town instead on the more sheltered side of the point, and going in for a couple of trips.
We met up again with Maggie and Joe, fellow travelling companions, And it was them who told us about turquoise bay, so off we went to find it and it was amazing, the colour of the sea living up to it's name. We saw a turtle and fish swimming, beautiful! But I think the tide needed to be out further for us to see more sea life.
We checked out the camping areas in The national park and next time we are this way we will stay at the Osprey campground,(our first choice) weather and availability permitting.
So, we are on the road again, this time heading for Coral Bay. More beautiful turquoise seas and snorkelling.