Published: September 26th 2011September 19th 2011
Our camp at Rosemary Island
We left you when we were in Karijini National Park, which we really enjoyed. There are two main gorges created by the base rock splitting and then being excavated by the occasional rains over millions of years. The rocks are dark red and there so much iron content that some of the rocks we pick up are actually magnetic!
When we left the Park we undertook the longest days drive so far – 501km. Not as tough as it sounds. When we got onto the sealed road, after about 5km, we set the cruise control at 85kph. We disengaged the cruise control twice for left hand turns, and off once for fuel and again for lunch, and finally off at about 490km when we arrived at Karratha! The car changed down only once in that whole trip for a hill, otherwise it was very steady travel.
The car and van are currently parked on the front lawn in Austen Loop in company with two other 4wds, 2 boats and one small car, courtesy of Luke & Jackie. Jackie is Pattie’s niece and Luke her fiancé. We have been housed in the spare room, which is big and has a
2.7m stud – a change from the 1.95m of the caravan. Jackie is currently minding a small kangaroo joey who is fed 5 times a day and mostly lives in a small canvas bag.
Karratha is an offshoot of Dampier, created because there is no suitable land right on the coast, so it’s inland about 15km. The people in the town work mostly for one of two major companies or their subcontractors or various support functions. The first is Rio Tinto which exports iron ore from 18 mines through Dampier and also further north at Point Samson.
Rio Tinto also operates a major salt works and the railway to get the ore from the mines inland to the port. Jackie works for the Manager of the rail network as his PA.
Luke works for Woodside Petroleum as an instrumentation electrician on one of the five Liquefied Natural Gas plants currently operating. The natural gas is piped 180km from offshore to the plant and is then liquefied and purified. Some is then piped to Perth and the rest is exported.
Woodside is also engaged in a major expansion by building the Pluto project next door which will
cost about $?? and process 4.3million tonnes of LNG a year. When finished, the first stage will cover about 80 hectares.
Property is unusual here as property prices seem very high, but rentals are even higher. Try about $800,000 for a house and rental cost of $1,600 per week. Even a bedroom can be rented out for over $300 per week. So even though the wages are astronomical at above $150,000 for a tradesman, rent can suck most of that away. Luke & Jackie live in a Woodside house at a reduced rental.
We got here on Monday, late afternoon and then spent Tuesday cleaning the car and van inside and out. The best cleanup we’ve done so far. Next day Luke took us out in the boat to catch some mud crabs. Luke uses a crab net and sets about 10 of them at a time. We managed to catch four big ones and found another abandoned crab net in the mangroves, too.
Thursday morning we went on a scenic flight around the area and the offshore islands which was great. The land is absolutely dry, and there is major industry and housing all over the
Iron ore pier
area. The sea is turquoise and the offshore islands have magic reefs and beaches. In the afternoon, we played golf – the first hitout for a long time – and played nine holes with mixed success.
Next day we loaded the boat up with a tent and mattresses, a large double swag, gazebo, several eskys (chilly bins) lots of fishing gear and a small kangaroo. We floated quite low initially, but got on the plane OK and went out to Rosemary Island, part of the Dampier Archipelago. Offloaded most of the gear on to a 2 kilometer unspoiled unoccupied beach, set up camp, then went fishing. We caught about five really good fish – 3 snapper and 2 good eating fish called bluebone.
Like cooked up a lamb roast in the Cobb cooker and with a salad and beer or glass of wine we settled down and slept on the beach. Luke took off and searched for crayfish in the night without success. Next morning we discovered that high tide had come to within a couple of meters of our campsite.
In the morning we dropped the girls off on another unspoiled beach where they went shell
collecting while Luke & Don went fishing, unsuccessfully. Picked the girls and a sack of shells up and Luke went snorkeling and speared two great coral trout. We wondered about staying another night, but decided we didn’t have enough supplies, so came home. On the first afternoon, we were checked by a fisheries boat and the same officers were at the boat ramp when we got back, checking again. They waved us through when they recognized us. To fish, you need to register the boat, the skipper has to be qualified, and you need a fishing license to fish from a boat. The limit is based on the number of people holding licenses on the boat, so we were limited to one quota as Luke was the only holder.
On Sunday, Jacquie took us up to Point Samson and Cossack, about 50km north. Point Samson is another port with a load facility for iron ore for Rio Tinto and has plans for further expansion. Cossack was the original town on the coast established for pearl fishing, which later went to Broome, serving gold mining in the Pilbara, which was soon worked out and a port, which silted up. Since
about 1960 its been a ghost town. All the wooden buildings have been blown away by cyclones, leaving only a few stone ones.
Monday, and we put on long sleeved shirts, long trousers, closes shoes and went for a train ride on an ore train. We only went for about 12km from the yards to where they dump the ore onto the conveyors for the ships. The train had 243 wagons each carrying 105 tonnes of ore. We left the wagons at the dumper where they are automatically unloaded and brought the train back to the yards. They pick up ore from 18 mines and export it through the two ports of Damper and Point Samson. At the wharf in Dampier, there are four ships being loaded, and about another dozen waiting offshore. Thanks due to Jacquie for organising that.
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12 September 2011
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