We had only been driving for 45 minutes this morning when we came to a standstill behind a queue of traffic at a level crossing. The cause was a stationary train with over 200 empty trucks. Various people had got out of their cars and James was talking to the truck driver behind us. He said that he had never seen this before and that the trains were automated so there must be a problem. Eventually a horn was blown, and the train began to move slowly.
As we drove further away from Port Hedland and Dampier we left the quarries and gas plants behind but not the mines. The road crosses the Fortescue Bridge which has 22 spans and was built in 1973. There was a little water in the river. As we entered Ashburtonshire, termite mounds made a brief reappearance having not been seen on the plains since Port Hedland. At the Mesa Mine, the highway goes over the mine road on a large bridge. Before the Nanutarra Road House, some purple mountains appeared on the right, a brief respite from red rocks and hills. I was loving the colours of the landscape and wished I could have travelled more slowly and explore some landscape photography but our three-month visa limits that and an exploration of the nearby coast. Back in the bush where there are several rivers, the land was greener but soon reverted to red earth. There were many wildflowers in bloom. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn at 12.32h between the Mia Mia rod junction and the rest area at Lyndon River. This was where we stopped for lunch. There was a dilapidated caravan and 4WD at the side of the area with a guy in his seventies fiddling about underneath it. Two council workers were emptying the bins and cleaning the toilets. After photographing some birds, I was chatting to the female worker while her colleague was assisting the man. He was an itinerant and one of the caravan tyres had blown. His jack would not fit to lift the van up. The council worker found theirs and went over to help. James said that the spare tyre was not in great condition. I complimented the woman for the help they were giving, and her response was ‘we see them all the time’.
We carried on and about 90km outside Carnarvon, our destination, spotted two emus but could not stop for photographs. The town provides 80% of the fruit and vegetable needs of Western Australia and sits on the Indian Ocean coast. We were back in banana plantations and with palm trees not really seen since we were in Queensland. The town has a wide main street from the days when camel trains brought wool to the coast for distribution and it needed to be wide enough for them to turn around. One of the old tramways is now a walkway to one of the old jetties.
We stretched our legs around the inlet and had our evening meal watching the sun go down, now a little later than further north and a little cooler.
Yesterday we drove 221 miles and today 419 making our total 6,490. Tomorrow will be a slower, shorter journey. Hopefully we will have resolved one of our tech problems. I sorted out James’s phone yesterday but the eternal problems with 2009 classic iPods and car audio systems continue. You need your iPod if you want to drive with music out here. Radio signals are limited to towns along the road. Two years ago my iPod and carefully constructed playlist would not work with the rental car we had in the USA. At that time, the suggestion was to reset the car system. I might have tried that with my own car but not a rental car and I needed the satnav to get me through Manhattan to the Lincoln Tunnel the next day. This year the iPods have been crashing after variable lengths of time when playing through a car. Researching this, some folks have suggested getting rid of album cover art (some of it I have been looking at since 1974) so that has been done and it no longer crashes but skips a lot of tracks. These are not corrupt and play on iTunes and when we are listening with headphones. We may get to the solution eventually.