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On to Nullagine - Day 23

Exploring the glacial countryside to Nullagine

View Pilbara 2018 on Toot'speak's travel map.

Before we left for Nullagine we realised we had to stop off again for the obligatory ice cream. Our fellow traveler had to buy an Aboriginal Dot Painting he had seen previously and we also had to pay our respects to those that had passed this way. We visited the memorial wall in the main street where descriptions of those who had died in the area read like horror stories.20180719_095449.jpg20180719_102932.jpg20180719_102918.jpg One was certainly privileged to have passed away in their sleep! The graveyard was sparse but tended to and the odd Chinese grave popped up between the usual Italian, Irish and the like.
Fueled up we then set off for Nullagine, about 150 kms south, where we decided to stay the night, maybe have a meal at the pub! The trip down was made more interesting as we had several geological stops along the way, and now that we could figure out how to ascertain our longitude and latitude on our car we could find the specific spots mentioned in our book.
It is difficult to imagine while wandering around this rocky, spinifex country that one is wandering over the very ancient remains of a reef that has the structure made from the earliest living creatures - stromatolites. Apparently this area is of such significance that scientists come from all over the world to check it out. We were lucky to have the whole countryside to ourselves. Plenty of rocks observed, spinifex seed removed and wind burnt lips licked before we got away to check out some old diamond and gold diggings further down the road.20180719_125626.jpg20180719_130024.jpg20180719_123320.jpg20180719_125619.jpg
Just before arriving in Nullagine the old remains of these diggings can be seen. Apparently these were originally alluvial sites where water was used to wash the ore body and pan out the gold. Today, aside from the total destruction of the countryside where remaining hills have been scraped removing the top soil and huge mountains of the tailing remain, there are a couple of large lakes. We were lucky to see a family of pelicans, ducks and the odd rainbow bee eater. 20180719_142759.jpg
Nullagine beckoned and we set ourselves up in the neat little caravan park, chatted with the resident gold prospectors and patted the two red healers who had decided they didn't like each other .
Before dining at the pub we popped up to the hill, Lynas Lookout (as of 2016), overlooking the town. They have a memorial plaque and display board acknowledge this WW1 hero who took up residence in the town in the early 1900s and eventually returned after WW2 to settle and die there.20180719_172942.jpg
The Town itself is about 3x3 streets and includes a school, pub and general store, along with a couple of government services. About 1 mile away is an aboriginal community flanked by a large, stony football ground. From where we stood up on the hill we could hear, coming from one of the homes in the community, the sounds of some computer game bellowing out across the airwaves. What it was like for the community one could only wonder.20180720_093453.jpg20180720_092205.jpg20180720_092215.jpg
The pub had a lovely big saloon cum restaurant room alongside some outdoor areas and was managed by an Indian couple who had been there 5 years. I did wonder how they managed the inebriated locals and were told the next day how their windows had been smashed that night. Hard way to make a living. We were joined by a Chinese gent who had come up to the town to fix the IT at the Primary School and we discussed how he had adapted to living in Port Headland, his attempts to assimilate into the town and to placate his parents in China who wanted him to hurry up and marry a "nice Chinese girl". We had a great meal and I was able to take away with me my unfinished Fifth Leg of wine. 20180720_093035.jpgWe were also able to get free Wifi near the local park so our mate propped himself on the water fountain while we checked out the rest of the town centre. Lights out by 8.30!

Posted by Toot'speak 04:18 Archived in Australia Tagged marble hill; bar; lynas nullagine; Comments (0)

Marble Bar and Surrounds - Day 21n 22

Marble Bar

View Pilbara 2018 on Toot'speak's travel map.

Today just the three of us left Carrawine Pool without mishap and made our way to Marble Bar via a particular geological spot. First up was a visit to Mt Edgar which is the remains of a core magma chamber. The volcano has blown and this is the plug into the magma below. It looks like a mini volcano and similar to all the hills around but different composition. We had to do a bit of driving though the bush but were rewarded with the hill all to ourselves. Much fossicking provided all the rocks we needed. 20180717_130916.jpg20180717_131611.jpg20180717_125910.jpg20180717_131307.jpg
Into Marble Bar and we set ourselves up at the caravan park which had plenty of shade, water, grey nomads and hamburger night! For $15 we joined the others in the camp for a huge hamburger, providing you were at the front end of the queue. As we were in the younger age group we waited for our older pensioners to go through and we picked up the scraps! What they piled onto their plates would leave a sumo wrestler challenged! One couple had both sides of the bread stacked high claiming that's what they thought a burger was, while (to be fair) a young couple had 3 and 2 respectively. Mine host who was new to this phenomenon has learnt very quickly to control the horde of locusts next time. Still we sat around a log fire under a lovely clear starlit night and munched on our somewhat emaciated burger.
Next day was for exploring Marble Bar.20180718_112037.jpg With an icecream to start us off we visited the bar that makes the place famous. The massive wall of rock that crosses the water way is not marble but a rock called jasper, made up from very hard assorted silca based minerals. There was still water in the lagoon but certainly not for swimming. 20180718_115803.jpg20180718_115918.jpg20180718_115220.jpgThere is a $6000 fine if you are caught taking rock from here, and after we had a quick cuppa and a check of the adjoining Chinaman Pool we set off for an area where jasper collecting was permitted. The gents set off with picks and returned with copious quantities of the rock.20180718_144238.jpg
We then set off to see Glen Herring Gorge some 50 odd kms away. This gorge has the most amazing geology with huge chunks of different rocks all cemented into a conglomerate. There was a section where it looked like lava had oozed through the rocks giving a snake-like appearance. Even if one isn't interested in rocks this gorge really is something to see and although the various pools were partly filled, it was a spectacular scene with the setting sun. We'll go back there.20180718_163533.jpg20180718_163246.jpg20180718_162137.jpg20180718_162326.jpg20180718_161116.jpg20180718_161723.jpg20180718_161137.jpg
After such exertions it was time to to check out the iconic Ironclad Hotel built way back in the late 1800s and one of the first pubs in WA to have air conditioning. The owner of said pub who also owns half the town, was currently caught up with the muster on his station some distance out of town and we gather a tad busy. As a result of the cat being away the mice played up and the manager fired the cook the night before - apparently many bar staff had also left over the past weeks. We were greeted by a tattooed, assertive, somewhat butch lady at the door who asked us what she could do for us. Momentarily bewildered ( and even Mark didn't state the obvious) we were invited into the pub which had walls plastered with assorted photos, old signs, flags, paintings and other paraphernalia. The saloon bar was tiny and next door contained the pool tables, assorted lounge seats (one with a dog flat out sleeping) and a duke box belting out the latest noise.
As it was rush hour for about a dozen of us nomads, we cluttered up the place making the only lady move a little quicker. "What beer did madam serve?" "Everything except Tasmanian" she replied.. that was very helpful. Orders given and she delved into the ice - filled esky containing our beers. One brave soul asked for dinner - pizza only. "What type pizza did madam serve?" "Whatever you want", came back the helpful reply. She then asked a young gentleman, earing, tatts and cap on backyards, if he knew how to make one. "Yeah, I think so," came the reply. We decided we'd rather have some meal fished out of our freezer. Hopefully next visit will encourage us to stop and have a bite.

Posted by Toot'speak 03:41 Tagged jasper glen iron marble edgar herring bar; gorge; rock; chinaman pool; bar;mt Comments (0)

Mt Webber to Carrawine Gorge - Day 18 n 19

Mt Webber to Carrawine Gorge via Spear Hill and Comet Mines

Today we spent moving from the lovely lagoon at Mt Webber to another - Carrawine Gorge and on the way popped into an old tin mine site for a bit of supermarket shopping of the rusty kind and visited the old mine at Marble Bar.
Having spent a couple of days at Mt Webber listening to the incessant drone of the mining trucks going back and forth, it was time to take off further east towards Marble Bar, so we were up and at it early. Our first stop off was at the remains of an old tin mining township of Spear Hill Mine where nothing but the concrete bases of the homes remains.20180714_103956.jpg20180714_105510.jpg20180714_105333.jpg As you wander around you can see what a place it may have been with the bones of an old house and remnants of the garden that once was, the only indicator. We wandered around picking up the odd piece of rusty junk but the place had truly been cleaned up. 20180714_105113.jpg20180714_104940.jpg
Next stop was the Comet Mine just out of Marble Bar. The mine site is closed off to visitors but there is a museum run by a lovely ole gent who lives on site and is a mine of information. He had many tales about the mine and its history and it was a shame we couldn't go down and have a decent look. 20180714_124110.jpg20180714_124120.jpg
As we were aiming to head further east, we decided to have a quick lunch break in Marble Bar, refuel, clean the joint out of icecreams and pick up a few beers at the iconic pun. We left with a trusty book "Discovery trails to early Earth -- a traveller's guide to the east Pilbara of Western Australia"
Author: Van Kranendonk, MJ, Johnston, J., which gave us specific directions to assorted geological features. I was amazed to learn that the area we were traveling through had glacial history, and also learnt that our Ranger had the capabilities of providing us with specific lit and long data, after we had attempted to discover the features using mileage.20180716_105551.jpg20180716_100959.jpg
On arriving at Carrawine Gorge, we were lucky to have most of the lagoon to ourselves as it was the end of the school holidays and only a few campers left. Our camping area was sided by the lagoon which was sandwiched between a large wall of granite, and the washed away, very large scree of the previous water way. Apparently the 2006 cyclone completely denuded the river bank of mature red gums and all that's left is the huge area of washed rocks, pebbles and coarse sand made up of every type of mineral imaginable. The various car tracks that lead to the bank provide many stories of bogged cars and the squashed seedlings of the tough plants that attempt to get a footing in this rather hostile environment.. The lack of trees would make this place a hell hole in summer and the remaining paperbarks also show signs of previous floods and the damage they cause along with the tell tale signs of the odd chain saw. Still this is a rather popular site with the nomads who I believe camp here for months with some setting up cottage industries to help bring in some income.20180716_110635.jpg20180715_173307.jpg20180715_173221.jpg
The evening light was amazing and the temperature such that we decided to not light the fire and watched the sky lab cruise past accompanied by many satellites and the odd shooting star. Magic.
Next day we woke to the sounds of the birds going about their business and demanding we do the same. We decided to climb the nearby hill and took off with the midday sun to navigate between the spinifex and roughly cut rocks to the top. We were rewarded on the way with the appearance of the beautifully camouflaged spinifex pigeon poking its head out from under a bush. The view at the top was spectacular with the large lagoons nestled up against the huge red walls of the countryside and the appearance of a large sea eagle lazily riding the thermals above us. 20180715_122524.jpg
After such exertions we decided on resting the remainder of the day but I did try to have another attempt at having a hot shower. Like to report that the attempt was unsuccessful and I whooped into the quiet evening shattering the peace.

Posted by Toot'speak 03:26 Archived in Australia Tagged hill marble spear carrawine mine; bar; gorge; Comments (0)

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