|Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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28 May 2006 - Tom Price to House Creek Rest Area
Before leaving Tom Price I checked the A'liner ball-weight after installing our two 20-litre drums of petrol on a carrier mounted on the rear bumper bar. Ball weight had reduced to be more comfortable than previously and, at least as important, we no longer have the slight smell of petrol fumes in the Territory. We left Tom Price on the bitumen road via Paraburdoo; not the shorter gravel road. The road was generally downhill and a good bitumen surface so fuel consumption was excellent. We topped off with petrol in Paraburdoo to make sure that we would have enough to get to Dampier without needed to buy expensive petrol at Fortescue Roadhouse. The 20-litre drums of petrol provide fuel for about 120 kilometres, giving us useful additional range.
The road from Paraburdoo to Nanutarra (a roadhouse on the North West Coastal Highway) trended downhill towards the coast but there were initially some hilly sections. The road was a good bitumen surface, but it was a secondary road and not quite as good as a primary highway, the weather was good and traffic very light, a few sedans and several caravans going the other way. No trucks or transports.
This is still pastoral country but the properties are very big because of the low carrying capacity of the country; we passed access roads to four properties in two hundred kilometres; to the north of the road were two more homesteads marked as "abandoned". There are no fences along the road; the road crossed four normal cattle grids and three grids that were only painted lines on the road (we haven't worked out why grids would be only painted lines). We saw a few cattle along the road, as well as a handful of horses. After the rain the vegetation is as green as it gets - many plants have evolved for the normal desert conditions with blue-grey foliage which contrasts nicely with the more conventional pale and dark greens. The whole area has an empty feeling about it with just the narrow bitumen threading its way around the hills and through the broad valleys. Not even a white line on the road for company. Whenever we stopped the silence was obvious.
The terrain trends gently down towards the coast through the foothills of the Hamersely Ranges forming the backbone of the Pilbara. South of the road are a few prominent mountain outliers but most of the terrain visible from the road is reasonably gentle hills often with a linear rocky outcrop where strata have been tilted and deformed and now stick up at an angle out of the ground. Hills have often formed around these outcrops. Vegetation varies considerably with large areas of two metre scrub and other areas of lower (half a metre) bushy scrub and grasses. The low acacias common around Tom Price have been replaced by other plants with the same low growth. Some of the larger rivers have a lot of running water in them after recent cyclones and more recent heavy rain a few days before.
In mid-afternoon we arrived at the House Creek Bridge rest area we had selected in the guide book and set-up in the best spot. By the time the sun went down there were at least nine caravans or campervans (including ours) scattered around the rest area making it pretty well full. For some unknown reason we had received quite good ABC radio since leaving Paraburdoo and until the sun went down. We couldn't work out where the signal was coming from or why this area with a handfull of inhabitants and hardly any transients should have radio coverage. But we were grateful.
|Much of the Pilbara terrain has been tilted and eroded over hundreds of thousands of years forming unusual formation such as this. A mullah-mullah plant is in the foreground.|
|The Beasley River is a tributary of the Ashburton River which flows into the Indian Ocean near Onslow.|
|A-liner and tow vehicle beside the road from Paraburdoo to the Coastal Highway. The grass and low scrub in the background is typical vegetation in the region.|