28 September to 4 October
Millstream National Park, Port Samson, Karratha, Dampier and Old Onslow
We are sitting on the banks of the Ashburton River (photo above) enjoying the piece and Quiet and updating the blog. We are here for 3 days free camping, instead of paying $40 a night for a caravan pRk in Onslow. We have plenty of power now that I have sorted out the electrics, plenty of food and water, and also we have our own toilet facilities. This is truely a magical place with the nearest campers to us being over 200 metres away. Totally private. I'll get back to the blog before I get really carried away.
As I said in the last blog we stayed in Tom Price a night as the chance for a hot shower was too good to pass up. Next morning we headed off to Millstream National Park which was about 280klms up the dirt road. There are two sections to see in this Park. The first is where the camping ground is and is the site of the original homestead and also a natural aquifer that feeds the local river. The water is also harvested to supply Karratha and surrounds with a reliable year long water supply ( but not the National Park). We visited the local sights and did a walk through the wet lands. There is also a popular swimming spot in the river. It is different scenery than Karijini but worth visiting.
Next morning we were up early and headed off to Karratha to restock. On the way and still in the National Park, we drove through spectacular scenery as well as visiting another famous water/swimming hole, Python Pool. The drive to Karratha was 150 Klms with some stops along the way at Roebourne and Port Samson. Karratha is a recent town having been developed in the 1960’s to service the iron ore industry. Port Samson and Roebourne date back to the 1800’s as they were developed to service the emerging pearling and pastoral industries. Port Samson appealed to us so we checked into the caravan park for two nights. The reason for two nights was that a tavern was adjacent and we could watch the AFL grand final live. On the first day we went out and explored the ruins at Cossack. Being at the mouth of the river it was the old port developed in the mid 1800’s. Roebourne became the main administrated centre but is some 20 Klms inland. There are some beautiful govt buildings still standing in Cossack. The interesting thing is that there construction was completed when the town was in its dying days because everything had moved to Roebourne.
We had great fun on grand final afternoon. Being 2 hours behind Melbourne the game started at 12.30pm. We decided to back the Tigers as they were the underdogs. The crowd at the pub was evenly split with some diehard Crowe supporters there in all their football gear. They were very vocal for the first 10 minutes of the game but gradually quiet down as the tigers took and kept control. Not so us as each of Richmonds goals was met with even more raucous noise from us. One lady even photographed our response to each Richmond goal. It was a great fun afternoon.
Next morning we headed into Karratha to stock up. The reports of the caravan parks in Karratha are not good so we had decided that we would stay in Dampier once we had got our supplies. Karratha is a mining town, as I previously reported, set up to service the iron ore industry as well as salt production.more recently the gas and oil discoveries on the north west shelf has greatly boosted the population and is now over 20,000 people, by far the largest town we have visited since leaving Alice Springs. It even has multiple sets of traffic lights, something we haven't negotiated since Alice as well. It is also a growing town with a lot of new developments taking place.
After stocking up we headed to Dampier another mining town set up in the 60’s. it is named after the English explorer, who discovered the desert pea. For some reason it was not named after him but after Sturt.
Dampier is the port for Karratha with a loading facility for iron ore and salt. As well it is where Woodside process all the off shore gas and load it for export and the WA market. The other thing not mentioned is that it is not far from the Montebello islands where the British tested their atom bombs in the 1950’s. also Barrow Island is nearby as well. However, outside that Dampier is a dying town with what it looks like most residents moving to Karratha. We stayed in the caravan park there with a spot that had un interrupted views across the harbour to the loading facilities.
The other reason for visiting Dampier is that it is the home to the largest number of aboriginal peckings to be found in Australia, most dating between 10,000 and 20,000 years old, and some being carbon dated at over 40,000 years old.
Dampier’s other claim to fame is that it is the home of Red Dog. I have not seen the film but the locals tell me that the film story is not the true story, which is available to read in the local library.
We were up next morning and visited Deep Gorge in the Murujuga National Park. You walk through a pile of jumbled rocks and there scattered amongst them are the peckings. Truely remarkable.
After we walked through the Gorge we headed off to the gas processing facility where they have a visitor centre. The complex is massive, processing gas for both the domestic and international market. They have a loading facility that loads the boats with gas for Japan and others plus a pipeline that delivers gas to Perth and south WA.
In the afternoon we visited the library and I read the real story of Red Dog. I'll now have to see the film to compare. While in the library we came across another interesting story about another interesting local. His name was Sam and he came to Australia after the Second World War. He was Yugoslav by birth and fled to USA when the Nazis invaded his country. There is a small island in Dampier Harbour and he squattered on it and built a castle in the Yugoslav tradition. He became a celebrity as he carted all the material he needed, including water to the island by boat. He even carted across sand to make a beach so others could visit. Owing to a fire that destroyed part of the castle because he did not have water, Hammesley Iron built a pipeline to the island and than granted him a 99 year lease over the land. He died in 2005. The town got together and organised his funeral and council passed a special resolution to allow him to be buried on the island. Several years later a cyclone destroyed a lot of the castle he built, but again the local community came together and restored his works. It is all there still today and open to anyone who wants to boat out there to see it. It is now protected by council resolution. The local school documented the story as Sam used to invite the children across to the island to visit each year. This to me is a great Australian story.
Next day we headed off the Onslow, but discovered the free camp spot at Old Onslow where we are now. Onslow is a small town that is close to another salt mining operation run by Mitsui. As well there are two huge gas processing plants, one of which is run by Chevron who will be paying no royalties on their extraction for at least 20 years. What idiot negotiated that contract where they take our resources and pay us nothing. We did not take to the town so headed off to old Onslow where we are now and will be for two more days. We are then heading down to Exmouth but on the way will be camping for a couple of nights at a station stay. We are going to stock up at Exmouth and then camp for three nights in Cape Range National park, so our next blog won't be for about 7 days. If you want an idea of Where we are and the ground we have covered you can follow our tracks at
Also keep in mind that all my blog posts are available at http://christopherwilsonphotos.com/blog/
It updates whenever we pass a phone tower so you can see where we are. If there is no phone tower it will give you our last position. To date we have travelled 11,000 Klms since leaving home.