Point Samson (Karatha) - via Tom Price
Point Samson, Western Australia
With Bec officially being all gorged out, we decided to leave Karijini and make our way up towards Point Samson and our legendary seafood platter. (probably hadn't mentioned this in previous blogs, but gossip around the water cooler was that Point Samson is home to the first, of many, must have seafood platters as one heads down the west coast!)
Luckily, Bec still had a few dirt road adventures left in her, so we decided to take a short cut and head to Point Samson via a stop over at the mining town of Tom Price (yes, it's a town and not just someone we know). From there, we could head up via the Rio Tinto access road, (a road which is owned by Rio Tinto, go figure!) and runs beside the rail line (also owned by Rio Tinto) used to transport the massive amounts of iron ore from the mines up to the ports in Karatha. Heading this way would save us a zillion kilometres, with the only catch being that you must first obtain a permit prior to accessing the road. Luckily, permits are readily handed out at the information centre once one watches a 20 minute video on the do's and don'ts. (although I was fairly confident they would have let me on the road regardless, noting I was a natural Western Australian, being left handed!)
Oh, there is another catch. The road crosses the rail line from time to time and it is a given that you will meet up with a train. When this eventuates, it is suggested you simply turn the car off and wait a few minutes for the train to pass as the trains are massive and stretch for up to 3 kilometres. In other words, although the road may be shorter, it could take you longer than you think to get to the other end.
So, with permit in hand we handed out and it wasn't long before we reached to access road. And wouldn't you know it, the first rail crossing would only have been approx 2 to 3 kilometres in, and crossing the road was a iron ore train! (off to a good start here). But a bit like Port Hedland, it was good to get out and get close to the trains as it gave you a true indication on not only the size of the trains, but the size of the mining industry and the massive amounts of iron ore which gets mined and exported. Anyway, we 'only' met up with the train a few more times and it wasn't long before we reached Karatha and more importantly, Point Samson (aka seafood platter).
Noting we had been advised Karatha was a mirror image of Port Hedland (in that it's main reason for existence was to receive and export iron ore from the mines to Japan and China), we booked in for three days where we;
- ventured out for dinner to sample Point Samson's famous seafood platter. (not bad, had better and worse)
- visited the township of dampier, home of the dog made famous by the movie 'red dog'. (nice town, right on the water and a complete contrast to the other townships which support the mining industry)
- got to play on some big trucks and trains (or did we strink the boys?). PS. Trivia fact. Those trucks, fully loaded, they can weigh over 250,000 tonnes. (or in other words, they are big!)
- Score a few free souvenirs in the form of a few hard hats lying on the side of the road. Not sure what we are going to do with them yet....maybe useful for some backyard cricket?
Overall impression of Karatha? The advice we recevied was pretty much spot on, in that is it very similiar to Port Hedland, although to us, is seemed a bit bigger and has a few more interesting townships.
PS. We also got to vote....who won ?