It was getting very windy late afternoon on our last day in Broome making waves on the pool outside our room. When we woke the next morning, the sky was much cloudier and the sea much less blue. The Broome Highway took us back to Highway One which then passes through the Roebuck Plains. Some of the shrubs we saw bare in Northern Territory have leaves on here and overall, the bush is greener unless there has been a recent bush fire. The road runs between the Great Sandy Desert on one side and the ocean on the other. At a rest area we watched a pair of crested pigeons in a nearby tree and I finally got a photo of a shrub/small tree I have been seeing for a while. It has red seed pods, and small rounded leaves. It is not in my Australian Tree Book, so I suspect it is a shrub.
The road runs through Anna Plains where the earth is sandier and then into a desert-like coloured landscape. I would have liked to take some photographs as there were even odd bits of fence and other items which would have been good in the foreground. It reminded me a little of the desert in Utah near the Great Salt Lake. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to pull off the road here and a little more traffic than we had seen for a while, so I had to give up on the idea. At the Sandfire Roadhouse, only instant coffee was on offer but as the temperature had climbed up to 40 degrees today, I had a cold drink. Like the Inn at Daly Waters where people leave stickers and other memorabilia, here there is a vogue for leaving your cap behind.
There were also number plates from around the world, road signs
and a selection of old machinery rusting outside.
Continuing along the road we passed a guy riding an electric bike with four panniers stuffed with things. I did not envy him in this heat. Just before Pardoo Roadhouse was a ‘Welcome to Pilbarra’ sign. This roadhouse sells freshly ground coffee, but it was too late in the day for me to have some as I have become a slow acetylator of caffeine and if I intend to sleep at night I can’t have any after 2pm. Our destination for the night was Pardoo Station Stay: a cattle ranch with rooms, cabins and a caravan park. It is near the coast, at the bottom end of 80-mile Beach but we were told you cannot walk there (it is only a few kilometres) and you need a 4WD to get right down to the beach. We did see a lovely sunset and had a chat with a couple of campers sitting around the campfire. It is lit at 5pm every day. They couple told us that they come up here every winter to escape the cold further south and that in peak season the caravan park is full, with people queuing up outside to get in.
Our waitress at dinner was from Ireland. We have met several people from the Emerald Isle on our journey so far. At times I still feel I have not left home: we saw an Everton shirt a few days ago, a child in a Liverpool Mo Salah strip yesterday and the receptionist at the motel in Timber Creek which is not really on the tourist trail, was from Kirkdale in Liverpool. In our room at Pardoo, the mugs were made in Stoke on Trent.
The following morning, we were back on the highway continuing westbound towards Port Hedland. At one point we had to avoid a large lizard who was crossing the road. Fortunately there was were no other vehicles there and we could swerve around him. The soil here is very red and hills began to appear on the horizon. We saw quite a few willy-willies: columns of dust like mini tornadoes.
Port Hedland is a big industrial area with the railway bringing iron ore in from the mines, a nearby limestone quarry and a huge pile of salt that puts British Salt’s heap in Middlewich to shame. Some of the termite mounds here have got white workers’ hats on them. There were long lines of trucks waiting to be filled and a large metal recycling plant. Between Whim Creek and Roebourne, the Sherlock River was the only watercourse we crossed that had any water in it. We passed through Roebourne to take the road off to Point Samson. There are some old stone buildings as you enter the town. These were the regional prison and can be visited. The current prison is on the road to Point Samson. A lookout at Point Samson revealed merchant ships queuing to get to the harbour to pick up consignments of iron ore.
I did some beachcombing and was admiring a new mural that some children were helping to paint on the walls of the toilet block. One of the people there was a wildlife warden, who spotting my camera (I had been trying to photograph birds on the shore), told me that there were ospreys nesting at the harbour and they were very easy to spot down there.