Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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29 May 2006 - House Creek Rest Area to Dampier

Location map After sunrise the rest area came alive as caravan and campervan occupants prepared to move on. We were last to leave at half past eight, making our way back onto the road and turning west towards the Coastal Highway. A few drops of rain on the windscreen as we left made us wonder what lay ahead. The road continued the downward trend of the previous day passing outcrops of rock, often the upper edge of steeply tilted strata forming the backbone of a hill or series of hills. For a while we passed boulder outcrops, probably where exposed strata had been weathered into individual boulders.

Vegetation beside the road was mainly scattered grass with one to two metre high scrub in patches. Grass and scrub interact in a recognised cycle in this environment. Full coverage of acacia scrub is destroyed by bushfires allowing faster growing grass to prevail until the slower growing acacias emerge and re-assert themselves until the next bushfire.

By the time we reached the North West Coastal Highway the road elevation was 86 metres, we had obtained fuel consumption of 13.1 litres per hundred kilometres on the long downhill run from Tom Price (747 metres elevation), but that was not typical of level running and would not continue. There were still very few vehicles and no buildings to be seen, but at least we now had a white line on the road for company. According to the ABC radio the town of Exmouth, south of us, had received 100 mm of rain in four or five days and it was still raining there; possibly that was the black cloud we had seen away to the south-west as we turned north onto the Coastal Highway.

Once we had left the junction with the Tom Price road the road became flatter with lower vegetation tending towards grassland. We passed the first Sturt's Desert Pea in flower just before Fortescue Roadhouse.

Arriving in Dampier, via a direct road from the Highway so we didn't have to go through Karratha, we found the caravan park. As a reminder of the reason for Dampier (it's the port through which iron ore from Tom Price is exported) there is a bulk carrier loading wharf just along the beach and from the park we could see hundreds of thousands of tonnes of iron ore pouring into ships to be taken to China.

Paraburdoo-coast road The road from Paraburdoo to the Coastal Highway.
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