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Published: August 30th 2009
80 Mile Beach, 25 -26th August
We both up early and by 8.30 we were on our way over the 22 kilometres of corrugated dirt road out of Port Smith. Rags noticed that the brakes weren’t working correctly and after pushing in a connecting cable plug we discovered that the brakes were partially on. We stopped several times trying to rectify this and Rags rebuilt the connection at an early lunch at Stanley but we hope to buy a new connector in Port Hedland.
By the time we rolled into 80 Mile Beach, only an unpowered site was available, but as we have the solar panel this shouldn’t bother us for the couple of nights we’ll be here. Our charming camping spot is shaded for most of the day by the tamarisk trees surrounding us and is only a couple of hundred metres to the beach.
It was well after high tide by the time we’d set up and went to the beach for a walk. The beach itself extends out of sight in both northerly and southerly directions. At low tide its can be almost half a kilometre wide and heaven for shell collectors. At high tide
it's famous for its beach fishing for mainly Threadfin Salmon. We didn't stop on the way up because we were told it was shoulder to shoulder with fishermen on the beach and the park was so busy it was turning hundreds away each day. Many pensioner couples while away several months here each year shell collecting and fishing.
There were only a few people still fishing and as we rambled along the hard shell covered beach we watched a small black tip shark being hauled in. Keen to get a photo, Judy, approached the fisherman and his wife. After a couple of photos the shark was then given to us as they were reluctant to keep it. Having owned a fish and chip shop in Tassy for 8 years they don’t eat shark! Rags gutted and finned it on the beach, hoping that this would remove any ammonia taste. Back at the caravan it took Rags over half an hour to finish cleaning and cutting up the shark. It reminded him why he avoided keeping sharks when he used to catch lots of fish.
The next day, Wednesday, Rags was keen to try his hand at fishing but
as high tide wasn’t until 2.15 he had to wait until midday to take to the beach with his rod. We spent the morning exploring the beach as you are able to drive your vehicle onto the beach. We stopped several kilometres from the beach entrance and walked down to the water. The waves were literally running up the beach, the tide was coming in so fast.
Back at the van we had a late morning tea before Rags joined Maurie, a chap from the van opposite in the walk to the beach. Judy did a few chores before making his lunch and wandering down to join him. She was in time for some excitement. While there another fisherman caught something and spent the next half hour playing with it before finally getting it close enough to see that it was a huge stingray which he eventually released. Rags had caught a smallish blue nose threadfin salmon which he had to make do with as he soon ran out of bait and there wasn’t much being caught. Judy was sure she wouldn’t go swimming there as while she stood there she could see the fins of small black tip
sharks as they prowled the breakers hoping for a feed.
Wednesday afternoon at 80 Mile Beach there is a market followed by a “Hamburger Evening”. We browsed the cheap trinkets and crafts at the market before joining Maurie and his wife Jan for a hamburger followed by some lovely icecream.
The next morning Judy took off for a run up the beach while Rags began the packup. By the time she returned he wasn’t far off ready and after her shower were soon ready to go and it wasn’t even 9am. Not far down the road Rags started saying he could feel the brakes dragging and we pulled over to have a look. He fiddled and we kept going but he still wasn’t happy. They seemed to free up a bit as we drove toward Port Hedland.
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