Willie Creek to Tom Price

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August 25th 2015
Published: August 25th 2015
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Tuesday 18th August

A short drive out of Broome and we turn onto the Cape Leveque road for 11K before turning onto a sand road out towards the coast and then a left turn onto an even sandier road to Willie Creek.

We eventually arrive at Willie Creek pearl farm and sign up for a two hour tour. The bay is really scenic.

Our English guide Ben gives a good and fun explanation of pearl farming and how to tell a real from a fake and about how the price is assessed for sale. We then go off in a boat to see a couple of lines of oysters growing pearls off shore.

Back on land we get taken around the inevitable shop where we have to try and guess the price of various strings of pearls. It's not the hard sell I was expecting. Whilst I am getting some fishing tips from one of the staff Christine photographs some colourful finches in the gardens.

Late morning we drive just round the corner and park up on the beach. The tides in for an hour or so but as it goes out I try my fishing skills out again.

Christine comes along with the camera for support and after half an hour I don't disappoint her as I catch my first fish on this trip! It's not a whoopa but I'm pleased to have broken my duck. Christine gets some good action shots of me fighting to bring it ashore. It's a sea bream. Christine also gets some shots of a lion fish which is eating algea along the edge of the rocks, it is a strange fish which is half in and half out of the water with lots of stripy fins. We also see a turtle swimming bye which then dives when it sees us.

After that all I catch is the rocks and eventually I run out of hooks, weights and line. I'll need to stock up before I can try some more.

At 4pm we decide to drive off and an hour later pull in at a roadhouse campsite for the night.

A rewarding day!!

Wednesday 19th August

We drive south for just over an hour and then turn onto a sandy road for the 22K out towards the coast and pull in at Port Smith. Except there's no port just a caravan park a few minutes drive from a large lagoon surrounded by mangroves.

Laying around the campsite and two old Kangeroos which seem very domesticated.

After booking in we drive to the lagoon and set up for the rest of the day. We read and then wade into the lagoon as the tide turns. The water's crystal clear and warm.

Later I fish up to my waist in water and several hours later catch a small Whiting. Still it's better than nothing.

The tide goes out a very long way and we follow it between the mangroves and out into an even larger lagoon. It's a very pretty spot and although we've not done much it's been a nice day.

Thursday 20th August

We wake to clouds and a heavy dew. Signs that we are now further south and the hot weather is starting to cool.

Back on the sandy road until we hit the main highway and then turn right and head south. We drive for 2 hours and not see another building. We play Eye Spy but have to stop after T for tree and B for bush as there's nothing else to see. Eventually we stop at the Sandfire Road House for a break and to fill up with diesel.

Another 40 mins down the road until we turn right towards the sea and half an hour later pull in at the Eighty Mile Beach caravan park. It's right on the beach front and we get a nice site.

The tides coming in and as we go and look at the beach there's dozens of people fishing. I go and get my tackle and join them. We're all casting out but to no avail. We do see the odd small shark swimming in the shallows and a chap a hundred yards away catches one about two feet long. His friend hits it over the head and they cart it away for dinner. That's the only excitement.

Christine's been sitting all afternoon with a camera waiting for another action shot but is disappointed. But not as much as me.

At sunset we go to watch the sun go down. It's a wonderful beach and stretches into the distance for as far as you can see. Pure fine sand. As the sun sets the sand is a silvery blue.

The evening is cool and we need a hoodie for the first time.

Friday 21st August

From the main road junction we drive for about an hour and stop at the Paradoo Road House. The journey from Broome to Porthead is descibed in our book as tedious and they're spot on. Same scenery for miles upon miles and a dead straight road with hardly any traffic in either direction.

The Road House is a mixture of old petrol station and transport cafe although it gets a glowing write up in our book.

After a very short break we turn off for Cape Keraudren but when we arrive at gates we can't work out if we have to pay just to visit or only if you stay overnight. Confused we turn around!

Half an hour later we turn off for Paradoo Station. A cattle farm with a camp site. It's a lovely site a few K's away from a creek and the sea over its own dirt road.

Early afternoon we go to the creek and I try fishing again. Within ten minutes I catch something, not sure what, and as I'm de hooking the fish a chap turns up and pinches my spot. We're the only two people for miles.

For the afternoon he catches dozens of fish including a small manta ray whilst I have to move down the creek and catch only one more! Still I'm up to 4 now.

At the last two camp sites we have been badly bitten by sand flies and we can't stop scratching. We spend a restless night trying to get to sleep! During the early hours we hear the cattle being loaded into trailers ready to be taken off to market.

Saturday 22nd August

Two hours on the road and we turn off for Port Headland. It's a town built around mining with huge long trains pulling ore cars to the port where there are big ships waiting to take it Asia.

There's a small market on in town selling home made produce and clothing.

We go along to the port and see some of the ships and that's about it for the sights. On our way out of town we stop at the open air mining museum and see various rusty vehicles and machinery.

Back on the road and the scenery is still very boring. We see dozens of road trains going each way. They're about 60 feet long and mainly full of ore and rock our vehicle when passing us. It can be quite scary at times. The whole area is devoted to mining.

It's another long drive and late afternoon the scenery at last changes to rocky out crops and mountains in the background. Eventually we get more greenery and wild flowers along the road and it's a welcome relief!

We stop around 5pm at the Auski road house for the night. It's been a long day!

Sunday 23rd August

A restless night with more scratching and the noise of all night long road trains going by. For the first time in Australia the temp is below 25 degrees by 9am.

It's a short drive this morning and the scenery is more mountains and wild flowers. A really nice drive before we pull into Karijini NP. We get a bush camp spot with only a long drop toilet on site.

We go to the Dales Recreation Area and park up and make our picnic to take on our walk. Then it's off to the Dales Gorge for a 3 to 4 our walk. It's nice and sunny but only warm. Ideal for walking.

After climbing down some steps into the gorge we go to see Fern Pool where some people are swimming and then to Fortescue Falls. They're attractive but not in full flow. People are swimming in the pool at the bottom and we take off our boots and paddle to relieve the sand fly bites!

Then we walk along the bottom of the gorge for a couple of hours. The rock is in very flat layers and sounds like iron. It's a very attractive gorge with water running along the bottom and forming pools surrounded with flowers.

Eventually we reach the far end and see Circular pool. A deep swimming hole with huge cliffs all around it. We stop for lunch before walking back and climbing up to the rim and visit a couple of viewing platforms before continuing our walk along the top and back to where we started.

We decide to go back down to the pool at Fortescue Falls so that we can paddle again. The scratching has started again!

Back at our bush camp we have a well earned beer and a sleep before preparing for the evening meal.

Monday 24th August

Only about an hours drive to the west entrance of the park and we book in at the Eco Retreat. It means we get showers tonight!

First off we drive to the Weano Gorge and and walk around the rim and then down into the gorge. It's got very steep sides but isn't that attractive. As we walk along the bottom we eventually get to a couple of pools and bathe our itchy legs. As we reach the far end it gets more interesting with larger pools. We then walk on towards Hancocks Pool in Hancocks Gorge.

Suddenly we have to take off our boots and wade through calf high water. Then scramble over rocks, wade another pool and then negotiate a narrow gorge with a stream running through it. At last we reach the end and stare at a huge circular pool with steep cliffs all around. We don't have the courage to walk down the waterfall hanging onto a handrail to get to the pool at the bottom.

We come back the same way and have a well earned picnic. After we go to the Oxer lookout. It's a fantastic view of the gorges. Probably the best we've seen anywhere.

We then set off for Joffre Gorge. We're at the top of the gorge and have to walk down to see the top of the waterfall. It's an easy climb and the falls are very dramatic over the stepped rocks.

On we drive to Knox Gorge and stop at the lookout. It's again a wonderful view of the gorge and we see people walking along the bottom. We wish we had walked this gorge and not the Weano as it's much nicer.

We're gorged out and go in search of our camp spot. It's only about 4pm and we get first chance to use the solar heated showers!

After dark we venture out by torch light to visit the reception area for an ice cream. Whilst there we see our first Huntsman spider. It's only small, about half the size of my hand!

Tuesday 25th August

This morning we drive to Tom Price. A town named after an American who found iron ore in the hills. The town was built by Rio Tinto mining company originally for their employees in the 1960's along with the roads, trains and everything else.

We arrive just in time to take a tour of the mine site. It's a HUGE operation that words can hardly describe.

Everything's on a grand scale. There are 16 open cast mines and the one we see is 450 metres deep, that's nearly 1500 feet! The trucks are the biggest Tonka toys ever. One tyre on a truck is 75,000 dollars! They use 75 million litres of diesel a year on the trucks. Ore trains to port are 2.4K long. The guide just keeps coming out with incredible statistics.

The hole in the ground is just enormous and cannot be believed unless seen. It's a great tour and brings home just how much money can be made in mining and the impact it has on the environment.

Afterwards we visit the supermarket and then book in at a campsite for the night. There's not much else to do for the afternoon.

Additional photos below
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26th August 2015

Road trains
My first experience of the road trains was a bit hairy. Driving along with the window down was the big mistake. If they are coming the other way the wind just hits you in one go, wham. After that, I kept the window up. Good to see Rio Tinto are still mining. My mother has shares in them.
27th August 2015

Very scary!
Hi Dom They shake us as they go by and don't move over very much either! We feel very small at those times. Nice to hear from you again. Steve

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