|Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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6 June 2006 - Point Samson to South Hedland
A strong wind blew all night, getting stronger just before sunrise. Local inhabitants say that it doesn't usually blow like this at Point Samson. But we are used to hearing locals anywhere say that it's not usually this hot, cold, rainy, windy, humid or dry at this time of year.
At Roeburne we turned left along the North West Coastal Highway towards Port Hedland/South Hedland about 200 kilometres away. The road was good, the weather fine but still very windy, and traffic very light. A handful of sedans, one or two road trains and about seven caravans all told. The terrain was mainly flat but there were hills in patches and vegetation varied from grass/low scrub through grass and taller (2 metre) acacia scrub sometimes with bluish leaves. The road passed through a range of hills where the red rock often broke through the green grass and spinifex clothing the hills. At several places along the side of the road Sturt's desert pea grew in profuse crimson patches; I had been disappointed at how little we had seen of that spectacular flower around Dampier and Karratha. But here is was spread along the road; I stopped at a parking area to take pictures.
|Sturts Desert Pea commonly grows in patches along the highway.|
|The local rock weathers to red from a native grey.|
|Dry stream beds of sandy gravel lined with scribbly gums.|
The region between Roeburne and Port Hedland receives an average of 310 mm of rain a year but recent rains have made things green, or bluish in the case of many plants. Fences along both sides of the road for much of the way belie the apparent isolation and rows of electrical transmission pylons beside the road or quite visible from the road are further reminders of human activity. Some of the rivers crossed were completely dry with only sand in their beds, other rivers still had some water but it wasn't flowing.
Port Hedland is the original settlement and location for the port. But Port Hedland is on the end of a narrow peninsula and expansion of the town could only be onto flood-prone land so the Port Hedland township was not expanded to house the workers needed for the iron-ore port. A new township, named South Hedland, was built 18 kilometres inland to house these workers. That was where we stayed and set up for an extended stay on a grassy site at the caravan park.