A Travellerspoint blog

A trip into Millstream Chichester National Park

Getting out of town!!!!

sunny 30 °C
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Megan, Rory and Steve finally hooked the trailer up again and headed down to the Millstream Chichester National Park. We left Sue and Buddy home. Sue working and Buddy now much better after costing us a fortune, to find nothing much wrong. ☺ It was great to be back on the dirt and camping under the stars. In fact the campground was called ‘stargazers’. Millstream is on the Fortescue River where permanent waterholes have been gouged into the landscape, supplied by an aquifer; both of which are topped up by the wet season rain. There’s a beautiful homestead there from the days when it was a sheep station. But the waterholes, cliffs and spinifex country are the highlights. We did a lot of walking one day and then spent a few hours on Deep Reach (one of the waterholes about 3 klm long), in the canoe. Sore legs and sore arms!! After three nights we headed back to Sth Hedland via Mt Herbert and Python Pool. The view from the top of Mt Herbert gives great 360 degree views of the fascinating landscape. Python Pool is a small waterhole at the base of a cliff. It too is apparently permanent and very deep. And as we found out that deep water is very cold. Refreshing though. :) Then is was back to town to see Sue and Buddy and plan the next trip - Karijini

Posted by slamrs 15:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Friggin Fridge!!

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As any bush travellers reading this will vouch for, it is challenge of having enough battery to run everything; particularly the fridge/freezer. We have a 60-litre Waeco that we had on our last big trip in 2012. We operate it as a fridge only. Since Feb/March in Tassie I’ve been trouble-shooting power problems to the fridge. While it has had times of operating beautifully, out of the blue it would start switching off and on whilst still managing to maintain temperature. I’ve doubled the gauge of wiring carrying power to it. Supported the battery charging by gluing a solar panel to one of our rooftop cargo boxes. The solar panel helped in diagnosing that our battery, while fully charged, had used up its ‘cycles’. Those knowledgeable battery people out there are nodding their head knowingly. I just took the battery mans word for it, changed the battery and tahdah! Well not quite!! Just a couple of days out of Hedland, with the warmer weather, the problem returned. This time more frequent, until the day we packed up to drive into town, error lights started flashing and it stayed off long enough to get warm. Good timing, as we moved into a house with a fridge that night ☺ Off to the local Waeco dealer – ‘We just send the whole fridge to Perth and they check it out there. You have to pay the freight both ways and it’ll likely take weeks!!’ A quick call to Peter at Petka in Eltham, Victoria. Peter did some troubleshooting over the phone and then sent a replacement circuit board. Patience required – 9 days to get here. Don’t worry about express mail, it takes just as long! Bugger it still didn’t work!!!! Peter was great. Only one other thing he said. He put that part in the mail that day and got me to send the circuit board back for a refund. Another 8 days and yes we have a working fridge again. Can’t wait to get back out on the road now to see what next ☺ We did use the icebox for a four day trip into Millsteam and it worked a treat. Lived up to the claim that it will keep ice for 4-5 days.

Posted by slamrs 15:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hedland - Port and South

Everything Red!!

sunny 30 °C
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We arrived in South Hedland on 6 July in time for Sue to start work the next day. We picked up the keys to the house the hospital had arranged for us to rent for the duration of our stay. We had done a drive past and Megan found the place on the Internet when it was up for sale recently. See the photo in the gallery. Lets just say we were a little concerned about what we’d got ourselves into. Not to worry though. It became apparent that houses in Hedland aren’t very aesthetically pleasing but on the inside we found a lovely little three-bedroom townhouse. We’re guessing the extreme weather over the summer or wet season, as well as a transient working population doesn’t motivate people to gardening and landscaping. Many of the buildings appear relatively new but everything gets stained red; the fences, the walls, the footpaths and gutters and even the roofs. Some other standout features of the housing here are small windows, metal screens over all windows and doors and no guttering. No doubt, due to the heavy rainfall and flying objects/winds of cyclones.

South Hedland is 17 klm from Port Hedland, or as the locals call it Hedland. There is just open country for about 12 klms between them. The first sign we noticed driving into town was the ‘Cyclone Alert Status – Clear” So glad of that! In fact our time here has been the first long continuous fine/sunny spell we’ve had on the trip. It’s like you cross an invisible temperature line on the way between Carnarvon and Karratha. Very close to Karratha.

As Sue wrote, we’ve gone to the races, gone fishing, put in a day trip to Karratha and Dampier and watched too much TV!! (A series of Blue Bloods; another of Criminal Minds and movies, movies, movies - A huge fix after 4 months without any. The trip to Karratha was for Buddy to have an ultrasound trying to find out why he was sick. Just two and half hours drive ‘down the road’! We visited Red Dog at Dampier and dropped into the North West Shelf visitor centre. Think gas and petrol. Dampier, like Port Hedland, is a huge deep port exporting mainly iron ore and salt among other things. It is quite surreal to sit having a coffee in Port Hedland watching the massive ships being loaded and/or being guided in and out of the harbour by the tugboats.

Posted by slamrs 23:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

South Hedland as our base for 6 weeks

sunny 33 °C
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Here we are, half way through the 6 weeks in Hedland, whilst I do a stint at the hospital as manager of the general ward and HDU. Great bunch of nurses here - lots of different challenges related to the remoteness and environment. A great change to working in metro. There's a relatively small team of medical and nursing staff, who really pitch in - going above and beyond to do what is needed when back up resources are limited. The four of us have enjoyed some down time with the luxury of living in a house - showers on tap.....TV to entertain.... air conditioning when it's hot....... Rory has provided us with our first evening meal of fresh fish after spending an afternoon on the jetty at Port Hedland. Yesterday, we went to the Hedland Cup - annual race day. We lucked in by backing the winner of the Cup - my one and only bet for the day!!! Not sure if that was a good lesson for a 15 year old son about gambling;-) but oh well.... Tomorrow, Steve, Megan and Rory are heading off for a few days to explore Millstream National Park. Buddy will be staying home to keep me company. He's had a bit of a rough trot here - combination of intermittent vomiting and losing quite a bit of weight = trip to vet, scopes and ultrasound. The health professionals in us suspected the worst but nothing too significant found so he lives on to face the cane toads, crocs and snakes further north. Relief for his 18 year old mother to find nothing major going on. Well, Hedland is very much a mining town and busy port. The massive ships are super imposing and make the sizeable tug boats look like bath toys. We are yet to do the seafarers tour, but it's on the bucket list before leaving town. Days are beautifully warm ~ 33 degrees, blue skies and the odd fresh breeze. Hard to believe but you can see some of the locals wearing long pants and long sleeves. Another 3 weeks here, before we head north to Broome, Derby, the Gibb River Road and beyond. Will upload some photos from Millstream when S M and R return. Love to all xoxo

Posted by slamrs 10:04 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

En route to Port Hedland

Maitland River, Karratha, Whim Creek and Yule River

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We put in a big days drive (for us) on leaving Bullara Station. Such a varied landscape. Spinafex covered sand dunes opening out to flat grasslands, then back to shrubby/stoney dry creeks with a tinge of green and on to kilometres of red moonscape. Completely devoid of vegitation other than the dead 'sticks' of shrubs that had grown to just over a meter in a good season. We've put one picture up but I'm not sure it captures it. Enough to say it was anything but a boring drive.

We stopped for the night on the banks of the Maitland River. And yes it does have water in it! The main campsite here was packed so we found a nice little spot on the south west side that we only had to share with a couple of other campers. Rory had a go fishing off the rocks under the bridge but just plenty of snags to be found. He missed his footing on the way back ( very unusual as he's the most sure footed of us all), and in the fall broke his new reel. Very disappointing 😕
Packing up in the morning we got to see our first centipede. Only about 13cm long, taking refuge under our tent floor. Glad he didn't invite himself in. I've been bitten twice in the past and it is a really nasty experience.

The next day we called into Karratha for a quick visit. We're hoping to get back here from Port Hedland. We caught up with good friends from Melbourne. John and Sheila Stafford. They're travelling in the opposite direction having spent the last couple of months up north. We shared a lovely morning tea and a walk through Karratha. John and Sheila were camped about 50k east of town and we considered stopping there for the night but as we've encountered a few times now, these camps insist that you demonstrate you have a 'chemical toilet' before letting you stay. No bush toileting here. We presume the rising instance of this is due to the mess (white flags) we've encountered at many of the sites further south.

Alas we pushed on to Whim Creek Hotel. Quite an uninviting carpark greeted us with the hotel nestled in amongst the hills that have been mined for copper for generations. The pub dates back to the beginning of last century but is on a resurgence after reopening 12 months ago. Now owned by an aboriginal corporation the managers have included a coffee shop and plan to expand and build a caravan park down towards the creek which has masses of big shade trees.
After setting up camp and venturing inside the hotel we found a much more hospitable environment. We enjoyed lovely showers before sitting down to sensational meals and a few games of pool. The next morning we checked out the local art museum - awesome paintings- and tried a barrista coffee. And yes it was good!! Our departure was delay by a couple of hours caught in conversation. Made you want to come back again. We really recommend a stop here.

Last stop before Port Hedland on the banks of the Yule River. No water this time but another massive sandy riverbed. These riverbed a are great for animal tracks. From camels and cattle down to some tiny tracks. This was a beautiful peaceful spot to camp even though there were a lot more campers on the second night. I'm thinking I might come out and camp here while Sue is working in town!!😀

Posted by slamrs 18:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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