Road Train Road

Wed. 5th June 2019

Breakfast in the parkWe wake just before 7am to hear our neighbours leave. Blimey, they must have been up early. It had been a very windy night again but knowing from the previous night that the tent can survive through that, I got a better nights sleep. We are getting the hang of collapsing the roof tent but it still takes us two hours to dress, breakfast and pack up the Beast. We have loved Karijini but after three nights eco camping we are ready to return to civilisation, especially a shower to remove all this red dust!!

One of many road trainsWe are heading to Port Hedland today as a stop over before hitting Eighty Mile Beach. We keep being told there is nothing there. That is a challenge in our eyes and not giving too much away we found more than enough to do in this busy mining port!! The road to Port Hedland is the busiest we have seen in a long time. It is full of road trains which are now 4 containers long and say they are 60m in length. With the wind still gusting it is a challenge to overtake them at times. They are going slightly slower than us so it is a pain to stay behind them and you need your wits about you to overtake.

Lunch stopI cannot believe it when a stone flicks up and chips the windscreen. We are still negotiating over the previous chip on our hire car in Perth, which cost five times as much as they said and we need to claim back off our annual insurance policy. Then, after changing drivers another chip occurs just above the first. What bad luck. Still we have every insurance possible with the Land Cruiser so it’s not going to cost us anything other than time to sort it out. The scenery has changed from hilly and red to flat and green/brown vegetation. Sorry to mention it Jane, but the dead kangaroos have been replaced by dead cattle and some of them are pretty hefty beasts. I slow down a bit and scan left and right for cattle as I would hate to hit one, even in our own hefty beast. It is not really a problem in daytime as there are large verges so very easy to spot any animals grazing along the roadside.

Salt mountainsSoon [Ed. 4hrs after setting off!] the outskirts of Port Hedland come into view and we see where all the road trains are heading. It is one great big storage space for the minerals etc ready to be transported away by sea. There are also a mass of railway lines converging on the port and we pass a few stationary trains both full and empty. I will leave Dave to explain in more detail tomorrow. We also pass salt flats which makes the ones we have seen in Spain and France look tiny. First stop is the Information Centre for advice on planning our time in Port Hedland and also where to stay on Eighty Mile Beach where options are limited. We are told we should go down the street to the Seafarers Centre and sign up for their harbour cruise tomorrow morning at 9am. Better do that then as it sounds interesting to hear the history of Port Hedland and also see the port in action.

The setting sunWe have been told that South Hedland has more shops and hotels than Port Hedland itself but we have booked a room in town with a sea view. The Hospitality Inn is better than the Best Western in Carnarvon and better still has a free self service laundry room which is very welcome and we apologise for all the red waste water that must have come out of the machine! Once settled in and showered we are ready to hit the beach. Well, for a sunset walk rather than a swim. The cloudless sky produces lovely colours but there are no clouds to produce the lovely patterns in the sky. Out to sea we can see a long line of cargo ships waiting patiently to be escorted into port.

Palm tree monument to all who helped rebuilt PH after a cyclone - with a ship entering harbour in the backgroundAfter two nights of BBQ food we are ready for a better option and the hotel provides that too. My lamb, fresh veg and roasted new potatoes hits the spot. Dave enjoyed his beef stroganoff pasta too. We achieve a great deal with the return of internet and make good progress blog wise, so retire content and enjoy the comfort of a hotel room, as it is back in the roof tent again tomorrow night. The roof tent with its mattress is the most comfy camping we have done. It is the wind and early sunrises that bothers (one of) us most.

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