NW Oz: from rusty-modern to untouched-ancient

Elegant when they fly, a dirty rust colour when they land

Newman, a rusty town. The roofs are covered in fine rust, the concrete gutters are rust-coloured instead of the original gray concrete shade, the ‘white’ traffic lines on the bitumen are – yes, rust coloured, and even the cockatoos have rusty feathers. Soon, our solar panels are rust-coloured and – there’s nowhere to stay, because BHP has purchased the only two caravan parks in town to use for their fly-in-fly-out workers.

The poor council, faced with a Covid-related boom of mostly grey nomads, has opened the Visitor’s Centre carpark to as many vans as they can fit. Naturally, when you confine a grey nomad, so used to open spaces, he/she is like any rat when crowded, pretty aggressive. Of all the places we’ve been, usually surrounded with gentle freedom-loving souls, we have never experienced the aggression of the nomads cramped into this Newman Visitor’s Carpark. ‘Your sliding door kept us awake all night!”. Quick as a flash: “ARE you going to pick up the poop your dog is doing?” , “Did you know your motor is still running?” “Who was watching television last night – THAT kept us awake!” “Someone’s got a noisy automatic step!”

…but the most important thing is getting Ted’s crimped back corrected and he’s found a great chiropractor. After a couple of days we move to the Council-owned Sports Oval, where they have made place for nine vans. Suddenly the grey nomads surrounding us are back to being gentle souls.

Not only that, but Ted, forever the architect, discovers one of the best building he’s seen in Australia, and here it is, in this out-of-the-way place. It’s the Pilbara Aboriginal Medical Centre – PAMS, a piece of art in itself:

Elegant inverted roofline of the Pilbara Aboriginal Medical Centre
Metal sunscreens, indigenous artwork

In between chiropractic appointments, we wander the town, chat with the locals (not the nomads), visit the hilltops, mix into the vibrant shopping precinct, the only meeting place in town – and generally, Newman seems to be booming, but it’s time to move on…

To get to Tom Price, our next stop on the way back to the coast, we must drive the main road through Karijini National Park. We already notice the difference – there’s NO introduced European grass! There are miles of spinifex, those elegant bushes as round as half a planet, bright green, with their long yellow tassels – the ‘Pilbara Spinifex’. Then there are many kinds of ground cover between the trees, also usually cylindrical, growing out of the pebbly red earth. It’s almost an alien world. None of the plants are familiar – we feel as though we have landed in a space odyssey somewhere in the universe.

But we can’t venture further into the Park with Charlie, so we head for the Tom Price Caravan Park to have him baby sat for the day with the lovely Jessica, recommended by the Tom Price Visitor’s Centre.

What a site for a caravan park – we go wandering in the wilds with Charlie

Karijini is equal to any of the world’s great geographic sites, certainly any I have seen, even with the greatest ambition, with the added benefit of never having been overrun by Western agriculture or non-marsupial grazing animals. We visit several sites, all magnificent (Dales Gorge, Kalamina Gorge and Joffre Falls) – I shall have to let the pictures tell the story – they do it much better than I could. You can climb down the rocks in places to swim in the cool waterholes, but recently air stairs were installed as ‘there were too many helicopter rescues!’ We needed at least a week, but we only had a day, as the WA coastline is waiting.

Ted taking in the scene
one mustn’t suffer from vertigo to enjoy this experience
Circular Pool -climb down if you dare!
Dales Gorge
These days an air staircase is there to climb back up
So much more to see, but we must move on
See the people swimming…

2 thoughts on “NW Oz: from rusty-modern to untouched-ancient

  1. Your photos are so,so beautiful & reminds me of why I loved my few times in northern WA. You look warm at last as we suffer cold, windy days here.
    Off to Toby’s soccer as Xannie is on canteen today. He won the public speaking for Yr 3/4 in Maitland and yesterday Junior Athletic Champ at Gresford so he is on a roll.
    Lola is flying in for part of the hols & Henry is bringing his new girlfriend to visit too so we have something to look forward too.
    Great to know Ted’s back is improving & we will be swimming soon.

    Love to you both
    Cas xx


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