Dampier to Pardoo Station

On our second day at Dampier we took a day trip to Point Sampson, for research. And what are we researching I hear you ask? Dog friendly caravan parks! Paul and I have decided after almost a 1/4 of century of being dog free that it’s time to add a four legged companion to our household. We’re both extremely fond of cats, but cats aren’t as practical as caravan travelling companions, nor will they take kindly to the occasional few nights being pet sat at Alice and Paul’s when the need arises, and I’m sure there will be an occasional need. We have our name on a waiting list for a miniature Labrodoodle. It’s almost a nine month wait, a bit like waiting through a pregnancy, and almost as exciting.

We’re spending much of this trip researching pet friendly accommodation in the North West, and yes, having a pet is going to restrict both where we can stay, and where we can go for day trips. So far we’ve found between Perth (but not Perth itself) and Carnarvon will be a breeze. The Winter Sun in Carnarvon will be perfect for a week or two for sure.

There’s plenty of overnight free stops that are good enough for a night or two between major destinations. We just need to determine the best places to put on our list for longer stays of a week or two. We’ve worked out Point Sampson looks to be the nicest of the pet friendly parks in the Pilbarra. There’s nice beaches there for playing with a dog on, good for a paddle or a swim too, and certainly good for fishing. So, Point Sampson will most likely be our 2nd major place to stop after Carnarvon on next years trip. While at Point Samson we called at Tata’s restaurant for a light lunch – good service, a pleasant lunch, and interesting decor, and so, so clean.

Life sized horse sculpture at Tata’s

and beautiful ocean mosaic wall.

Meanwhile back at the caravan park in Dampier the corollas were waiting for Paul to return. We’d no sooner returned to camp and sat outside with a drink when one came visiting.That’s what you get when you give them a nut or two, they remember for the next night. Several watched from the trees while the first one came in to test the waters. Yep! once it was established that Paul was indeed a ‘soft touch’ for the second night, the whole family/flock quickly descended upon us. I’m not sure if some had found water to have a good bath in, or if some had just taken a dust bath.

Clean and white

Clearly this one’s been enjoying the Pilbara dust

‘Soft touch’ Paul

Next stop, ¬†Pardoo Station which gets great reviews for being pet friendly. As it turns out it wasn’t a good week-end to try it. Being a long week-end in WA, every man and his dog from Port Headland, only about 100 kms away, had decided to have a fishing week-end at Pardoo. It was jam packed. We were lucky to get a site, many that arrived later in the day weren’t so lucky and were turned away.

The station was in the middle of mustering, bringing the cows into pens directly opposite our caravan for re-tagging. Being confined to small holding pens after roaming free on the station didn’t make for happy cows. They bellowed their discontent well into the night. The wind was up, in fact, it was blowing a gale, carrying the noise, along with the smell of a couple of hundred penned cows directly towards the campers – but one has to expect that as a possibility when camping on a cattle station. Obviously the cows needs must come before the needs of the campers, and rightly so.

We drove down to the beaches to check out fishing spots. The tide was out, so what we saw I’m sure didn’t do justice to what the spots would look like at high tide. Perhaps, we’ll give it a second look one day, but for now from our first impressions, and despite the glorious sunset on our last night, it hasn’t made next years list.

As the sun drops over Pardoo

And dips a little further, turning from yellow to deep red

Tonight we’re camped in a free roadside camp at Stanley, approximately 200 kms from Broome. It’s a great overnighter with heaps of space and plenty of level areas for parking on. There’s lots of tables under shelters, and the toilets are in reasonable condition. A good, clean freebie before we head into Broome tomorrow is most welcome. After tonight, we’ll be paying Broome’s ‘high season’ prices of more than $50 a night. The caravan parks ¬†fill up despite the high prices, so the cost is just a reflection on how much people love Broome – including us. Can’t wait…..

Colours of the Pilbarra

Finally an opportunity to visit Millstream/Chichester National park. Despite good intentions to visit this national park several times, something has always managed to come up that’s thwarted our planned visits. This time we made it, albeit only a day visit.

The drive from Dampier where we were camped was over 130km each way, much of which was on corrugated dirt roads. It would be an understatement to say the scenery on the way there was gobsmacking – the colours glorious. Words can’t describe the awesomeness of the wide open spaces, the deep red of the earth and rocks, the stunning flowers growing out of the seemingly barren earth….

Hopefully the photos will tell a better story than words ever could. This is what we saw:

Wide open spaces fringed by heat-hazed hilltops in the distance

The rich red of iron ore country

Sturt’s desert peas on the roadside

The approach to Python Pool

The cool clear waters of Python Pool dwarfed by the towering red rock back drop.

The only way to truly appreciate the magnificence of the rocks is to swim to where they join the water, and look up, and up, and up….

Spinefix Pigeons

and wildflowers

giant termite mounds built out of the red earth

And more wildflowers

and more wildflowers

The Fortescue river

Parrots in flight above the Fortescue River

And coming in to rest.

So, that was our day at Millstream/Chicester. The drive to the park with the promise of better things to come had us enthralled – then we came to Python Pool. I’m not sure if the pool is actually in the park, we found the pool before we found the entrance to the park. It’s amongst the best of any natural fresh water pools we’ve ever been in, those rocks towering above you when you look up – words, nor pictures can do that justice. It was awesome.

After our refreshing swim, we journeyed on with eager anticipation to the actual park. And from there on we were a bit disappointed. All the best scenery seemed to be on the approach to the park and at Python Pool, and in comparison the actual park was relatively flat and uninteresting. Are we pleased we went though – absolutely, I would go again. The 260 km round trip to Python Pool was worth every kilometre of the bone shaking drive. To float in clear, clean water looking up to the top of the rich rocks, and the contrast of the vivid blue sky above – an absolute pleasure!

Wildflowers in the Pilbarra

Our eagerness to get back to Perth after having been away for nearly two and a half years has trumped our desire to travel slowly through the Pilbarra on our last leg of this trip.

Iron-ore rich, red Pilbara country.

Iron-ore rich, red Pilbara country.

Balancing Rocks.

Balancing Rocks.

Our planned four day trip has been condensed into two days. We left Broome, travelled through Port Hedland and took the Great Northern Highway via Newman towards Perth. First stop was a roadside stop approximately 280kms north of Newman.

Tonight, our second night, we’re in Cue, 1582kms south of Broome. Tomorrow we’ll travel the remaining 646kms and will be back in Perth at our favourite Perth caravan Park – Karrinyup Waters.

Those distances no doubt sound horrendous to both my overseas readers, and to some of my interstate readers. BUT – in WA, those distances aren’t difficult, even with a fifth wheeler trailing along behind. Since leaving Broome we haven’t been through any traffic lights, and we’ve only been through a couple of intersections ( both in Hedland). We’ve only had two road turns, the first as we left Broome and turned onto the Great Northern Highway, and then again as same Highway turns south just after Hedland.

Being a mining area, the superb roads are maintained to a high standard for the huge road trains. The road train drivers travel at a good speed on the flat or down hill, and are very courteous when they’re on an uphill grind. We have a CB radio which we keep tuned into the truckie’s channel. The truck drivers have a long, clear view of the road ahead, and give us the all clear when it’s safe to overtake. A constant speed of around 95kms an hour is easy to maintain.

A road train with three carriages, (some have four carriages and can be up to 53metres long.)

A road train with three carriages, (some have four carriages and can be up to 53metres long.)

Before we depart in the morning (at around 7am) we fill our thermos for coffee, and we pack our snack and lunch cooler bag to keep in the car between us. Paul drives, and it’s my job to keep him fed, watered, and entertained. A good supply of fresh fruit, nuts, and crackers with cheese, between sips of iced water keeps us sustained throughout the day. The iP0d provides entertainment with a good selection of our preferred music.

We usually have one fuel stop a day, and perhaps a couple of loo stops, at which times we fill our travel mugs with coffee, and on the road again.

So, that’s how we manage the long travel days – easy.

A sea of pink bursts from the red earth.

A sea of pink bursts from the red earth.

Not so easy, bi-passing Karijini National Park, and only snapping all the gorgeous wild flowers from inside the car as we zip past. Promise to ourselves – a slow trip next year over the same route taking time to enjoy all the pleasures whizzing past us this time round.