Australia, Eighty Mile Beach MP, 03 – 05 July 2020

Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park – I thought I would spend a few days in this remote location relaxing, wrong! It turned out to be a Caravan Park with 150 sites and it was quite full, being a weekend and the start of the school holidays might have something to do with that hahaha. The beach is actually 140 miles or 220 km long. You can drive and camp on it though it is not recommended due to nesting turtles etc but the advice is largely ignored and fishing is the reason, there is nothing else here.

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Australia, Port Hedland, 29 June – 02 July 2020

Port Hedland – the highest tonnage port in Australia, mainly iron ore. It used to be the main town but due to red dust pollution South Hedland was built 18 km inland and the majority of people live there now. They also have street art and an art gallery.

I went on a Harbour Tour organised by the Port Hedland Seafarers Centre. An interesting organisation which I never knew existed. The scale of the iron ore tonnages can be seen in the daily movement of these huge ships in and out of the harbour. Iron ore exports last year totalled 515 million tonnes at US$100/tonne that is 51.5 billion dollars every year.

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Australia, Millstream to South Hedland, 29 June 2020

I slept in the front seat of my vehicle, couldn’t be bothered putting up the tent for one night only, therefore I was able to wake up and depart at 0655, the same as I did at Steep Point. The only disadvantage with leaving so early is I had the sun in my eyes for a while but there is also absolutely no one else on the road.

First stop Python Pool, a short rough track leads to it through the bush and suddenly this absolutely stunning vision appears. Being early morning the sun was shining directly on the rock surrounding the pool.

After that a rough road until I reached the City of Karratha border and then it was a very smooth dirt road until I reached Highway 1 and from there Cruise Control all the way to Hedland.

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Australia, Millstream National Park, 28 June 2020

In order to get to the Millstream National Park you have to travel down private roads owned by the Rio Tinto Mining Company. And before they allow you to travel on these Rail Access Roads you must first watch a series of training videos and complete a test of multiple choice questions at the end. If you get the answers wrong you can keep repeating the test until you get them right. Once you have answered the questions correctly you are issued with a free permit to travel on their roads, valid for 30 days.

The road itself being mission critical is kept in good condition though this can change quite suddenly in the Wet (Cyclone) season. This is winter the dry season.

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Millstream is an oasis in the desert fuelled by a vast underground aquifer that also supplies fresh water to Karratha, Hedland, the mining industry, etc.

I flew the drone at the Cliff Lookout.

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Australia, Tom Price, 24 – 27 June 2020

Tom Price is a mining town and is surrounded by iron ore mines. I used it as a base to visit Karijini National Park. All the National Parks have a $15 entry fee per vehicle, $10 for Seniors, I have an Annual Pass. There are a few narrow gorges with pools of water, I only went to the Lookouts not down into the Gorges, very picturesque.

I also visited the Hamersley Gorge and the Wittenoom Gorge which was where they mined asbestos and has been abandoned.

I went for a drive up Mount Nameless, a very rough track, walking pace, definitely only 4wd.

 

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I was planning to leave today but noticed a slow leak in my right rear tyre, it had only 11psi so I decided to fit a full set of good quality new tyres designed for the roads I am going to travel on. The tyres that came with the vehicle were mismatched, 2 were old and 2 were new but rubbish, one of them got punctured, probably by a sharp stone. This is a common occurrence on these roads, which is why I am carrying 2 spare tyres.

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Australia, Mt.Augustus to Tom Price, 24 June 2020

This was a drive into the unknown, I asked around and checked Main Roads and Google Maps but could not get consistent information on the route. Anyway I set off and very quickly saw that the Gmaps route 297 km was sending me down roads that were private property with locked gates so followed the signs which were few and far between. The first 150 km was a winding road and 60kph top speed if that, good dirt with occasional bad patches and a Grader crew working on it all year round. I eventually came to the Ashburton Shire boundary and a sign that said “Road Closed”, I definitely was not going back and making a 1000km detour so I continued on with a little trepidation thinking it may be a river crossing washed away and I could somehow find my way across. I am carrying 44 litres of drinking water and enough food for a couple of weeks so no worries. The road turned out to be very good, the best so far with again a Grader and crew working on a section. I came to a gate while passing through the Ashburton Downs Station but there were no signs on it and it was not locked so the normal procedure in this case is to go through and close the gate behind you which I did. And continued on uneventfully until I reached Nanutarra road which had a short section of paved road. On the way I overtook one vehicle towing a camper and three other passed me going in the other direction. Arrived in Tom Price completely bypassing Paraburdoo after 442km in 5:20 hrs. The lady at the Visitor’s Centre said the road is officially closed due to road works but she had only heard about it the day before, puzzling because there are no other roads through that area and work on them is continuous, probably typical Shire bureaucracy.

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Australia, Mt.Augustus, 21 – 23 June 2020

The drive from Gascoyne Junction to Mt.Augustus was the most interesting so far, winding dirt roads, a few corrugations, many Dips, Floodways and a few dry river crossings added to the fun. Mainly a good graded surface sometimes not so good, easy to maintain 100 kph. It took 3 hours to cover the 288 km. I met another couple who took 6 hours and were doing 50 kph, at that speed you feel every bump and corrugation, at 100 kph you skim over the top of the corrugations, a much smoother ride.

Mount Augustus – A very large rock. I followed some of the trails and saw some Aboriginal scribbles, not one of the talented.

I flew my drone at the Cattle Pool, it was deserted, click on the link below.

Goolinee Cattle Pool Views from a Drone

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Australia, Gascoyne Junction, 19 – 20 June 2020

Carnarvon to Gascoyne Junction 175 km on a good paved road but after this it will be all dirt roads, we are in the outback now.

 

Gascoyne Junction – population 149, a one roadhouse town and they have a brand new caravan park. Most people stop here to visit the Kennedy National Park.

The Park was deserted and I flew my drone at Temple and Honeycomb Gorges for about 10 minutes each which is how long a battery lasts and I have two batteries. Edited videos shown below. The originals are in HD but these have reduced resolution to have any chance of being uploaded from here .

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Australia, Carnarvon, 16 – 18 June 2020

Steep Point to Carnarvon, after the first 30 km of the sand track an easy drive in fine weather.

Carnarvon – population 4,400, the biggest town in this area, famous for its Bananas and Mangoes. It has a Woolworths, Repco, AutoPro, three tyre places and four Caravan Parks for the tourists. It also had a Tracking Station built by NASA for the Gemini, Apollo and other Space Programs, this site is now an interesting museum.

I noticed my car drifting to the left and a shake in the steering wheel so I took it in for a wheel alignment and balance which fixed the problem.

The caravan park I stayed in had a large number of people stranded there when the government closed regional borders, one a Sax player put on a free concert once a week while she was there, very nice. And there were also a group of young French and Italians on one year working holidays stuck as well. They all started leaving this week.

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Australia, Steep Point, 15 June 2020

Steep Point, the western most point on the Australian mainland. The first 130 km from the main road is a good graded dirt road and you can maintain 110 kph most of the time but the last 30 km of this track goes through sand dunes, along the beach and some hard limestone corrugations, not for the fainthearted though the locals come here to fish hahaha. Once again you need a vehicle with good ground clearance and you must lower your tyre pressures to 20 psi or lower. You also need to carry your own compressor to reinflate your tyres on the way out.

There was one hill that I bounced down with huge potholes and getting back up it would have been a real problem so I asked the Ranger about this hill when I registered and she said going back the road went around that hill, it was one way only hahaha relief.

The hill

Closeup

The night was completely black, no moon, no clouds or any artificial light and the stars were out in force with the Milky Way and Scorpio clearly visible. Look at the photos in complete darkness on a big screen to get some idea of what I experienced, absolutely amazing. I put the camera on the roof of my car and used the self timer and a 6 second exposure.

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