A Travellerspoint blog

August 2018

Mt Webber - Day 15 n 16 n 17

Pebble mice to dingo howls

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Another day off into the bush to camp by a large lagoon in the Mt Webber station countryside.
Prior to leaving Weeli Wolli, we climbed the banded iron cliff face to wander along the tabletop that was littered with rocks. One of the group, who had been walking along the top previously, had found three pebble mouse nests all within the one area. He did find another nest earlier, which appeared to be more active, but was unable to find it again. This species of mouse is endemic to the non-coastal, central and eastern parts of the Pilbara, and while it may be prolific we didn't see so much as a scratching!04e2b300-a94a-11e8-8261-53349e85886b.jpg04d08a90-a94a-11e8-bacc-17dcb4d5eb9e.jpg20180711_100037.jpg
We were however not short - changed as the rock people amongst us found very lovely specimens of banded iron and commenced to bring back with them the results of their finds. 20180711_101056.jpg
On leaving Weeli Wolli we arrived at our next spot within a couple of hours and set up camp against the back drop of the passing road trains hauling the ore to the railway siding way off into the distance.Those that sleep more lightly than us said it went on throughout the nite. On our way in we were held up for around five minutes while we waited for one of those very long iron ore trains to pass by. No such thing as wilderness!
On arrival we were greeted to the wonderful site of a pelican taking flight alongside two or three white spoonbills. The bird life was fantastic and the camp stood still while everyone grabbed cameras and the like. We were lucky to witness the evening parade as birds came down to the water and a flock of corellas squawked its way into settling on a large beautiful white gum. Movement by one of us sent the whole flock off into the sunset and the deafening roar by the birds told us in no uncertain words what they thought of us! 4d6bee30-aa98-11e8-ad09-6bd3578e764b.jpg4d5d2120-aa98-11e8-bb66-53e4e6394995.jpg20180712_154452.jpg20180712_104005.jpg20180712_165815.jpg
We were able to wander down the waterway further and found the site where early Afghans must have camped with the evidence of a very large palm tree embedded in the water course.20180712_171342.jpg20180712_171412.jpg20180712_171511.jpg
Later into the night we were serenaded by a couple of packs of wild dogs or dingoes who howled away eerily into the night. This didn't make one feel overly comfortable whilst having another cold shower which was located some distance away from the crowd clustered around the camp fire. We decided to bring in the rubbish just in case.
Day 16
We woke to the sounds of camp chatter, one hour later than the normal 7.30am, and much warmer than we had experienced earlier; made for quick exit from bed. With all the bird life around us we eventually decided to spend the day at camp checking out the wild life. A list of the birds would reach over 20 varieties but the corellas, galahas, budgies and weerios made the most noise while a dozen odd cormorants, darters and herons gracefully perched most of the day in one spot providing a great opportunity for photographers. We were delighted by nesting families of zebra and painted finches, who visited our campfire coals for a nibble, while the odd whistling kite flew overhead sending all and sundry into panic modes.
It was a great day and one that we needed. just relaxing, reading, bird spotting, washing etc. One soul braced the water in the lagoon but I continued being brave and subjected myself to a kettle of hot water mixed with a bucket of cold. Who needs glamping!
Having rested up a day we then decided to go out and try our luck with a bit of gold prospecting along an old mining road. Needless to say we took a while getting there as the wild flowers were engaging and the creek bed, while devoid of water, supplied many more interesting rocks to collect. 20180713_115523.jpgThe more enthusiastic amongst us finally got serious with the gold hunting and walked three metres off the road and gave it a whirl. Much excitement was noted very quickly and the small crowd surrounding the machine was keen to dig up the dirt - their effort was a tin can! End of gold prospecting and off we went in search of diggings and more flora further up the hill.20180713_125002.jpg20180713_121637.jpg20180714_114616.jpg
On our way back to camp we decided to deviate and go check out a caravan we could see in the distance. The old tract took us through old creek beds and up over spinifex country until the road petered out and we didn't want to chance further travel given the time. Several energetic walkers took off over the hills and dales till they got to the site which looked to be derelict with the caravan in a run down state. After exploring the site they deduced it to be an old gold mine that had been reworked but was now quiet. It was certainly an odd site - a caravan out in the wilderness!
Back to camp to find others had joined our site - it was time to go!20180713_155810.jpg

Posted by Toot'speak 01:40 Archived in Australia Tagged mt webber Comments (0)

The delights of Weeli Wolli - Day 14

Mining with Aboriginal heritage

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Today we took off to a site, some 100ks east of Newman, with the lovely name Weeli Wolli. The ride in was through Rio Tinto mining country with plenty of areas fenced off indicating Aboriginal Sites, while the roadside metal poles covered in white plastic showed signs of being subjected to extreme heat. Many had melted plastic buckling down the sides providing an artistic display! The corrugated road provided us with a musical tune and we jerked in our seats as we roller-coastered our way to the pool. Despite the leisurely ride in we did a shock absorber. Thank gawd it wasn't the Kalumburu road or we would have done the entire lot!20180711_105526.jpg
On arrival at our end point we were greeted with a large wooden platform shaded with shade sails and table and stools, as well as interactive boards providing us with Aboriginal information about the area. The platform covered the entrance to a spring that was pouring out water similar to that found at the bottom of a hydro dam and it tumbled very strongly down a series of natural steps. The water was mildly warm and did provide Mark with his daily wash later on that night. 20180710_115438.jpg20180710_112136.jpge1bd4ab0-a2a6-11e8-97b8-9534aef4ee46.jpg20180710_112448.jpg20180710_112515.jpg
This platform provided by the mining company was oddly built in that it completely covered the spring source and even attempting to check underneath was foiled by the construction of stone walls to channel the water. Given the tourist's propensity to check things out, this did not accommodate that need, and this design may have been built with cultural sensitivity in mind. I did however find out later that this spring was indeed artificial in that Rio is de-watering the underground water table for mining uses, and the the water is being pumped back into Weeli Wolli creek to a point below the natural spring. This area and water course is believed, by the Aboriginals, to contain the spirit of the Yurduba ( Rainbow Serpent) and one can only surmise that with time the natural spring may dry out and this will in turn further diminishes the significance of the area.c15220b0-a946-11e8-bacc-17dcb4d5eb9e.jpg
We spent a couple of hours checking the area out finding no aboriginal sites, very little rock of consequence but a lot of interesting flora. We were unable to find a decent path to the river as rushes or reeds smothered the edges and we weren't prepared to navigated thru what could be hostile vegetation. There was a road crossing but what with the strong currents and rather deep platforms to drive over we decided to give it a miss.20180710_122726.jpg
We put up camp a small distance away beneath a cliff face of banded iron and before settling in we muffled the rhythmic sounds of a pump nearby spurting out air. We ended the day with the sun setting over the tall gums on the cliff edge high-lighting their tops with a yellow tinge.e9a27e00-a948-11e8-baa2-dd22cafaad3b.jpge8b81e00-a948-11e8-bacc-17dcb4d5eb9e.jpg

Posted by Toot'speak 08:37 Archived in Australia Tagged rio tinto weeli wooli Comments (0)

From the Bush to the City - Day 12 n 13

Recooping In Newman

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Today was another travel day as we made our way to the metropolis of Newman. On the way we passed massive haul trains with 4 -5 trailers attached making passing them an exercise in caution. The countryside is dotted with mining activity and plenty of Toyotas, with their ubiquitous flags flying, driving back and forth ensuring that one doesn't nod off.
Newman, which we haven't visited for years, was a different place. It was bustling with tourists, people in their high vis gear and the odd local with school holiday- tired children. It certainly has more oomph that 10 odd years ago and I believe that the mining companies have bought the remaining caravan parks to house their staff, as they are returning to the days of leaving staff in the town instead of fly-in fly-out. As a result we campers have a smaller choice of accommodation. Newman.jpg
Our campsite for the two nights was at the back of a motel complex that catered for the mining fraternity. Caravans were catered for at the back in a section that is currently treeless and bare ground without any redeeming features. This meant that the caravans heading further north only stayed the night so there was massive movement every morning as they all got out before the rush. We stayed the two nights in an area of natural bush some distance from the complex. Still we had free showers, washing machines, telephone contact etc and were able to have a grand 3 course meal of soup, roast chicken, pork, beef or what not and dessert of a variety of ice creams, assorted sweets and finally fruit and many cheeses. This was like Christmas, and for $25 we waddled out swearing off food for a day.
We did experience some downside when one of our lot had the old sleeping bad which was storing his dried clothes stolen and he eventually found his clothes hidden in a used towel trolley. Apparently one of the regular mining blokes had some of his work clothes stolen as well.
Time in Newman involved checking out the supermarkets for replenishment and hardware stores for hoses, lights etc. We had a win at the op shop where everything was for a dollar so we availed ourselves of several books. We visited the Information Centre where we sampled the delights of a Devonshire tea - cold scones with dairywhip cream - along with the group which had just finished the tour through the open pit mine.
After exhausting the delights of the shops, we took a ride out to visit Ophthalmia Dam which, although owned by BHP, is accessible to the public for swimming etc. Given the amount of warnings - Ophthalmia Dam water is prone to contamination by a range of viruses, bacteria, toxic algae and other harmful microorganisms and mosquitoes are common near the dam and may be carrying Ross River Virus or Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus, which are harmful to human, we decided on a cuppa and a wander. There were many birds there and the area was set out with covered barbies etc so it was a lovely place to stop off for a break.20180709_144115.jpg49508c50-a202-11e8-b53e-9b79f3c69c24.jpg20180710_111819.jpg
A couple of the others took off to visit a couple of gorges that are in the surrounding area but got lost and ended up at an amazing Aboriginal "Museum" of hundreds of petroglyphs or "rock art" - Wanna Munna. As many of the sign posts have been removed their trip wasn't as easy as others but they did get time to wander around the hill checking out the artwork. On our bucket list next trip.
In the evening we did drive up Radio Hill which provided us with a bird's eye view of the town which appeared neat and orderly compared to previous visits. We also had a Chinese /Thai meal which was freshly cooked and as we were the only guests, we had great service. Enough of this city life, tomorrow back out to the bush.

Posted by Toot'speak 20:49 Archived in Australia Tagged dam dam. newman opthalmia Comments (0)

Further into the Outback - Day 11

Nature in the Outback (along with a bit of collecting!)

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Day 11
Our last day spent on the station we decided to drive out to place recommended by the owner as one to find the birds. We were lucky to see a mob of kangaroos in full flight across the countryside, reminded me of that Qantas ad where they follow the roos across the plains. We haven't really seen too many roos and not even one lizard. Makes one wonder a bit.
We stopped off for morning tea at a creek crossing which had a the more modern day set up for a windmill and water trough and standing proud next to it a nest, which we think belonged to a Wedge-tail, perched up on the top. We also found the scantiest remains of some man made structure buried up the banks.4f2a2740-9ed7-11e8-a496-959680411c65.jpgaec4cb10-9ed7-11e8-a496-959680411c65.jpg20180702_142104.jpgc4492ab0-9d3f-11e8-bd9d-35b0cb5b1324.jpgc46bf4f0-9d3f-11e8-ba58-1f814cba09fa.jpg
We came across a very large muddy waterhole which appeared to be permanent and on the the shore of the waterhole we found many Aboriginal artifacts - grinding stones, horseshoe core stones, and a variety of cutting tools. All those marvellous grinding bowls that the Aboriginals used have long been taken but what was left strewn around the lakeside indicated that this place must have once been an important one. However despite the amount of water present, no bird life! 1ec9ce90-9d40-11e8-af7b-130593ea5abd.jpg
By this stage we weren't too far away from 6 Mile Pool on the edges of the Little Sandy Desert so we decided to go check it out. After all, there may be birds or rocks! The drive though this part of the Pilbara is dominated by 2-4 metre high red sand dunes which were sparsely decorated by burnt, black, spindly bushes and the remains of flora that had escaped the fire. Interspersed amongst this scene was the odd dried up creek bed flanked by eucalyptus trees. We were lucky to see a couple of donkeys hiding in the scrub and they gave us a surprised look as they slid back into the countryside. We did find the pool which was a remnant in a very large, dry river bed. Aside from the odd polishing rock, the pool was bereft of anything interesting from the point of collectables, and the drive in and out was the highlight.2ae366f0-9eb7-11e8-bad4-b76313f8aeed.jpg
On the way back we were fortunate to find another supermarket which specialized mainly in glass and the odd rusty artifact. We were judicious in our choice of products removed and little was brought home.8b1ea280-a062-11e8-b47d-254547224850.jpg
Back to base in time for cheese and bickies with a drop of wine and another clear starlit night and satellites. My vacuum packed meals also mean that I can just arse up into the freezer ( it's too high and requires I get a step ladder to reach into the back of the Ranger) and rapidly produce a meal without too much ado. Glamping!

Posted by Toot'speak 01:19 Archived in Australia Tagged pool mile six Comments (0)

Out in the outback - Days 9 & 10

Commuting bush style

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Day 9
A travelling day today going from one bush camp to another via the Kumarina roadhouse. We were up and off in time and were able to pass our regular supermarket of junk without stopping so that we could to stop for morning tea near the remains of an old town site Peak Hill. We did make one last call to check out the old pit and the sites where the further processing of the ore took place. Amongst large dried out areas surrounded by earth walls and the huge pit area where machinery stood aside a large pond of cobalt blue water, all that remains are broken down fences and signs blowing about in the wind. This is obviously not the current mine, but it sure leaves a sour taste to think that mining companies can just up and leave this mess behind.22651ee0-9bad-11e8-86b8-27846ee271f0.jpg20180703_122501.jpg20180703_121946.jpg
We didn't get to see the old ghost site of Peak Hill, but ended up instead at the remains of an old mine site which we think was named Jubilee. The old office was a caravan, resplendent with the shopfront sign of some more well known mine alongside the remains of the house and outside toilet. A shed nearby with assorted mining remains made up the remainder of the site. Again fossicking became the prominent sport as we all fanned out to find treasures amongst the remnants of the home, vegie garden and sheds. All treasures were sorted and secreted into small spaces in the car.750316b0-9d3e-11e8-ba58-1f814cba09fa.jpg74cfaaa0-9d3e-11e8-bd9d-35b0cb5b1324.jpg73d8ee90-9d3e-11e8-8446-85e01b8bb259.jpg738f3b60-9d3e-11e8-8446-85e01b8bb259.jpg7341deb0-9d3e-11e8-8446-85e01b8bb259.jpgWalls.jpg
We left on time to head to Kumarina roadhouse to have a much needed shower, connect to the world and stock up on essentials. Forgot washing hair in bore water results in tar textured mayhem but it was piping hot so small price to pay. Feeling human we braved the shop and succumbed to a chicko roll for Mark and the special of the day for me - chicken n chips. Mark very happy with his choice but mine was diabolical; the chicken was covered in something like paprika to mask the age of the greasy, reheated, offending mess and the chips were from a previous period in time - floppy and disinterested in presentation! Yukl While parked at the roadhouse we had the pleasure of the Pee Wees (magpie-lark) who manage to mangle our mirrors in an attempt to savage the corresponding offender, and even they passed up on the chips! I guess we could have been done by the RSPCA for attempting to kill the wild life! Still the roadhouse provided us with a break from the bush and a shower that worked!
Formalities over and we set off to camp on Weelarrana station where we had permission to camp on their property for a couple of days. By the time we got there the sun had set and we were putting up camp in the dark on a stony plain. The wind was howling, the night sky was clear and the temp was dropping .

Day 10
Next day was down time as we made ourselves at home ; the dunny went up discretely under some trees a and we bravely faced the howling winds and put up our annex and shower.
One of the Nat Club's duties was to set up some machines with which to capture the possible sounds of the rare ground parrot. At two different sites we duly set out to place a recorder in a tree and a camera to capture movement. We did see evidence of camels but nothing else to report. While the station does not permit the shooting of their camels, they were still touchy when we pulled up and the the male quickly herded his harem away from us. We were to pick up the machines when we left.b29ae930-9d3e-11e8-ba58-1f814cba09fa.jpg
In pursuit of bird life we then set out to the station out-station where there was a bore with small waterhole. On arrival, not a bird to be seen - the earlier rains have provided them with many waterholes to visit. We spent time wandering the out - station, although it had a current campsite, provided us with an old but profitable tip. I was able to collect some old 1920 cigarette tins and match boxes and, for a change, rocks weren't on the menu. there was also a run down caravan obviously not in use, but it did provide us with memories and memorabilia of the 1960s n 70s. da891ec0-9d3f-11e8-af7b-130593ea5abd.jpgc5d6a880-9d3f-11e8-af7b-130593ea5abd.jpgc447f230-9d3f-11e8-af7b-130593ea5abd.jpg
Back at base we then wandered around the campsite climbing several hills and break-aways. One rather bare hill was capped by a black rock cap which resembled stromatolites, giving one the impression that this may have once been an inland sea where these primitive organisms grew. We duly photographed flora, fauna, old mud birds' nests and golden-bottomed ants and, of course, brought back more rocks..10dac280-9d40-11e8-af7b-130593ea5abd.jpgec60fdc0-9d3f-11e8-af7b-130593ea5abd.jpg
That night was again star lit, clear and cold. We both tried again for a warm shower, and while I was rewarded with a couple of warm bursts the rest was icy cold. I'm having cat washes for the rest of the trip. We did also do some scientific investigations with the collected rocks and popped a couple in the fire to get the most beautiful bluish-green flame, probably from the assorted minerals they contained. We also shone UV light on several to check out their fluorescence and were delighted to find many "glowing in the light". Suitably educated we hit the sack at about 8!

Posted by Toot'speak 01:49 Archived in Australia Tagged station mine roadhouse jubliee kumarina weelarranna Comments (0)

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