August 25. Wilma and I left Karijini and headed south through mining town territory, with Newman the first major town we came to. Newman is about 200kms from Karijini and is the site of the BHP Billiton Mt Whaleback Iron Ore mine. It is the world’s largest single open cut iron ore mine. We were often forced to side of the road as they transported some of these huge machines to the mines in the area.
I’ve recently discovered they also hold the Bloody Slow Cup here (not the Bledisloe, but held at the same time of the year). It’s a fundraising event for Police Legacy and is a Rugby Union match played between the New Zealand and Australian Communities in and around Newman. Hugely successful, apparently!
That night we camped up in a gravel pit about 52kms south of Newman, tucked in behind some trees off the highway….but not so far off for the occasional truckie to blast his horn and wake us up throughout the night!
August 26 & 27 Our little free booklet, Amazing North, had an advertisement for a caravan park at Karalundi and I also checked it out on WikiCamps and it got great reviews so we decided to pull in there for the night.
Wilma’s bus at Karalundi
Karalundi is a boarding school for aboriginal children run by the Seventh Day Adventists, and the camping ground is small but grassed and the facilities excellent, with even a camp kitchen with 2 huge hooded barbeques. I think it was $20 a night without power, but the pleasant environment and facilities made it worth while. Wilma and I were able to catch up on our washing here – still trying to get rid of all that red dust! There is a little coffee shop and store with basic supplies, so we relaxed and stayed a second night. Managed to have a couple of Alcohol Free Days here as they ask that you don’t drink on site. The first day we were there a willy went through just after we’d hung out our washing, but it skirted around the end of the building and everything stayed clean and still pegged on the line. It whipped through the camper trailer of the people camping next to us though and scattered their belongings everywhere. Sorry about the light in this photo, but I had to show you the camp kitchen!
Camp kitchen at Karalundi
August 28 & 29. We left Karalundi and drove the 55kms to Meekatharra, our next major town. Here we descended on the local supermarket to stock up our supplies. Our last major shop was in Karratha, so fresh vegetables and fruit were high on the list. Unfortunately we didn’t stumble on any gold nuggets while there, which is the reason Meekatharra was settled back in the 1890’s. There are still active gold mines in the area and many people successfully prospect there with good results. Only 3kms from town is a local picnic spot called Peace Gorge, which we drove out to. I loved the fantastic rock formations here, but unfortunately there is no camping allowed.
On the way back into town we drove up to the Lookout and took a couple of pics looking back over Meekatharra before we headed a little further south to Nallan Lake for a couple of nights.
Nallan Lake is another free camp with a 48 hour stopover limit on the signs. There was some water in the lake, and plenty of nice level spots to park, plus some gentle walks along the shore.
August 30. Well, there’s no queues in Cue on a Saturday morning! You could fire a cannon down the main street and not hit a soul!
But what a nice little town, so well kept with some lovely old buildings that have been preserved and restored
Shire Office (used to be the Gentlemens Club)
The old jail has also been restored. I tried to lock Wilma up but she escaped!
Old Jail at Cue
From Cue we headed off the main highway – see my orange route in the map above! We were going to Big Bell, a ghost town that was established in the 1930’s for gold mining. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m driving on dusty, corrugated dirt roads again! The ruins of the pub at Big Bell show its 1930’s heritage and reputedly it had the longest bar in a pub in Australia.
Leaving Big Bell we had to get back to the main (dirt) road and make our way to Walga Rock where we were going to stay the night. What an amazing place! Walga Rock is a monolith, about 1 ½ kms long and 5kms around its base. It is supposed to be the second largest monolith in Australia, with Uluru the largest.
It is the home of some of the oldest rock paintings in the world, dating back to 9000 years ago.
I have both good and bad impressions of Walga Rock. The good was as the sun was setting. I looked toward the top of the rock and there was a huge kangaroo silhouetted against the sky. Magic!
Unfortunately, before we left the next day Wilma noticed I had a flat tyre – I had stabbed it with a sharp stick while I was driving around in circles the night before trying to find a level place to camp! I couldn’t get the wheel nuts undone so I got out my compressor and had a quick lesson in how to pump up a tyre! Easy peasy! We headed out of Walga Rock, before looking at the rock paintings I might add, and back onto the rough corrugated road towards Yalgoo, about 120 kms. I had to put more air into the tyre when we were half way there, but limped into the caravan park to wait until the next day, Monday, before I could have it fixed.
August 31. Yalgoo Caravan Park seemed like a pleasant park with lovely new showers and toilets. Several fellow campers came up and offered help with my tyre, notably Phil and his wife Dallas (oops, don’t know how to spell it). Mt Magnet, 124kms away, was the closest town where I could have it fixed, but with loads of confidence now I knew how to use my compressor, I headed off in that direction first thing Monday morning. Wilma and I parted ways at Yalgoo as she headed back to Three Springs, so now I am on my own again, solo travelling!
Well, if I thought the punctured tyre was a disaster, at Mt Magnet I was informed that because the stick had gone through the wall of the tyre it was not able to be mended! Oh no! It was one of my brand new all terrain BFG’s with about 4000kms wear! I had to buy a new tyre – a cheapie to get me back on the road. In a fit of madness I jammed the wrecked tyre in the front of my van and continued on my way.
It wasn’t long before I was reminded that us women don’t like having a spare tyre, so you’ll be pleased to know that it has now gone! Unfortunately, that other spare tyre is still hanging around!!