We had decided to stay an extra night at Barn Hill station due to its spectacular outlook. However, early the next morning our van batteries were dead. This is bad as no power in the van means no water and no fridge. Fortunately the batteries died around 5am and we only had to wait until about 6.30am for the solar to kick in and power everything up. We headed for Port Hedland to make some calls to the caravan people and get the batteries tested. Long story short, the batteries will get replaced in Perth and we will add another 150 watt solar panel, as well as a plug to add a portable solar panel if required, this should allow us to be off the grid for as long as we want.
This town is predominately a mining town. However on speaking with the locals the town is slowly dying. 10 years ago it was booming, but these days the miners FIFO (fly in fly out), work for ? number of days, get all their meals and accomodation provided and then fly out for a break before returning. Essentially they don't spend any money in the town due to their working hours, hence the decline in the towns economy. I quite liked Port Hedland, sure its a bit run down in the older part, but the new side (South Hedland) is where all the development is with housing and community facilities.
KARAJINI NATIONAL PARK
This has the reputation of being the best National Park in Australia and I certainly agree. Unfortunately we only got to spend 1 night (was supposed to be 3 nights) here, as our batteries ran out again and there is no power in the park. But we did manage to get to Weano Gorge (known also as handrail gorge), Hancock Gorge and Rolfe Gorge lookout. The gorge formations are impressive and when you descend into the gorges there are always refreshing water holes. This is where Jo-anne managed to drop her tablet in the water as she slipped flat onto her back on a slippery rock, hence we are a bit short on photos as we hadn't transferred them for a couple of days.
The climb into Weano Gorge required us to walk down steep stairs, walk through water, climb along a rock face (Warren saying use 3 points of contact at all times) and climbing down into the base of the gorge with legs either side of a handrail.
As for Hancock Gorge you had to climb down a steep rocky stairway, down metal steps and again climb along a rock face for a fair way, do a spider walk down a section before arriving at Kermits Pool which you needed to swim in to see over the edge into some more of the gorge.
Both Weano and Hancock were challenging and classed as a rating 5 hike but well worth it.
The weather is still low 30's so looking forward to getting south into a cooler climate.
Leaving Lynette and Warren at Karijini National Park, we headed for Tom Price Caravan Park so we could plug into power. Tom Price again is a mining town, The town was 100% purpose built by Rio Tinto in 1966, they owned everything, the houses, the school, everything. It was a closed town up until about the mid 80's when Rio Tinto handed it over to the local shire. The iron ore mine was originally estimated to last 50 years (2016) but is still going, and short go for another 10 or 20 years. It is all dependant on the price of iron ore. At the monent any ore with less than 50% iron is considered waste as it is not economically viable to mine, therefore only ore above 50% is processed.
We did a mine tour of the Rio Tinto mine, I found it fantastic. I'm a numbers man and found the stats pretty impressive. I will give you the numbers on the big tonka trucks
- Cost $4.5 million
- 240Tons carrying capacity
- 2500 horsepower
- Fuel Capacity 4500 litres
- Coolant capacity 300 litres
- speed 60kph
- distance to stop 220 metres
- Fuel consumption 20 litres per 1 kilometre
We also saw our second snake, sneaking across the road near one of the crushers.
Next destination Exmouth.