Farewell to Broome. Until next time.
We’d spent longer than we’d planned because of vehicle problems but we were still sad to leave. In any case it was the ideal place to wait for repairs. What if it should be Merredin or some place like that.
We turned right at the Roebuck Roadhouse and headed south. Our destination for the first night would be the De Grey River. It is the only self respecting river in a very long way so it was the obvious over-night spot for a lot of folks. There were more than enough stars to share …
Sadly access to the river bank is not allowed presently in an effort to stop the spread of Noogoora Burr.
… a native of the south of North America, Mexico and the Caribbean. It aliawas first noticed in Australia on Noogoora Station, Queensland in the 1870s, where it was probably introduced as a contaminant of cotton seeds. It has since spread over much of Queensland and New South Wales. Other infestations occur in Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and certain sections of the Kimberley in WA. The total infested area in Australia exceeds two million hectares.
We turned off the Great Northern Highway and the bitumen so that we could take in Marble Bar, a small mining town that has the unenviable reputation (not undisputed) of being the hottest town in Australia. It wasn’t quite as we had expected. They had gone to a lot of trouble to water the grass verges and a small park softening the impact of unrelenting aridity on the soul. And the Iron Clad Hotel had run out of stubby holders so no souvenir!
The scenery between there and Nullagine is truly beautiful. It’s well worth taking this back road, the landscape more than compensates for missing Port Hedland. Actually a week in jail would compensate for missing Port Hedland.
The next campsite was just after the Roy Hill mine. This time it was very nearly deserted. The early morning light was delicious …
We rejoined the bitumen and called in briefly at Newman. This is quite a large place with a nice modern shopping centre. A caravan park that we passed seemed to specialise in accommodation for single men presumably fly in fly out workers at the various mines.
Not far south of Newman you cross the Tropic of Capricorn.
At Wiluna the roadside art was a cut above the average. A sculpture celebrates a story of true love …
The Mandidjara were nomadic people living in the Gibson desert but had moved to settlements like Willuna. Warri and Yatunga met in the 1930’s and fell in love. They were forbidden to marry under tribal law because they were not of compatible “skin groups”. To do so would bring severe punishment perhaps even death. They ran off together and lived traditional lives in the desert for the next four decades. They had a daughter who died in infancy and two sons who survived them.
In 1977 there was a severe drought, the waterholes were drying up. The tribal elders had long since forgiven the couple for their crime and were concerned for their safety. They initiated a search for them. They were found alive although near starvation and brought to town. Where they lived until their deaths a few years later. They died within weeks of each other.
Large flocks of Cockatiels were seen along the way, impressive but mostly uncooperative. This flock permitted a tolerable photo.
Bilyuin Pool was our campsite that evening and again it was the morning light that demanded the photographers attention.
Our final night on this leg of the journey was spent at Malcolm Dam near Leonora. From there it was a morning’s drive to Kalgoorlie.
I knew from the media that Kal is a small rough town with a pub on every corner and is surrounded by desert. I was completely wrong about everything except the pubs. It’s situated in beautiful mallee woodland. It has a population approaching 30,000 people. We had lunch in the arboretum beside a nice pond. Then cruised down the main street.
Having been denied a stubby holder souvenir in Marble Bar I was keen to buy one here. Parking with the trailer was impossible so I dropped Gayle off outside the Exchange Hotel and drove around the block. In she went.
She was ill-prepared for the sight that greeted her. Behind the bar was a beautiful and very fit young lady, about six feet four tall and wearing a G-string and fishnet stockings. Nothing else (perhaps shoes and a wrist watch but Gayle was distracted). She asked if she could help but Gayle just gulped. She had by this time forgotten what she had gone in for and after another polite inquiry and another gulp she fled.