A couple of months back we were sitting having lunch with good friends B & M when B announced ‘We’re going on holidays over Easter’.
‘Are WE?’ I said… ‘I didn’t realise.’
‘You can come’ says B… and the rest was history. A whirlwind trip was planned to the Pilbara to visit the gorges in Karajini and a return visit to Wittenoom. It was the first serious jaunt for the big 60 and while I was confident, it is always a little nerve racking taking a 27 year old car into that kind of territory.
We headed off on Easter Thursday evening following our church service. After a route stuff up which saw us backtrack 40ks we finally got somewhere south of Dalwallinu around 11.00pm and called it a night on the side of the road.
An early start got us on the road headed for Newman. We stopped in Dalwallinu for fuel and iced coffees and I made that horrible mistake of forgetting to check if there is toilet paper in the holder… There was no easy solution this time…
Back on the road, we managed to get to Newman by 5.30 and set up for the night. The most tedious part of the drive was over and apart from some sore butts we had done it in pretty good time. On 100k/hr the Cruiser averaged around 14l/100kms which I was pretty happy with as we were going hard and were fully loaded.
From Newman it was that sensational drive into Karajini. I don’t think there are many more stunning drives around than leaving Newman and seeing those rugged rock mountains, covered in spinifex rise out of the ground. Its a very masculine landscape and yet awesomely beautiful at the same time. It was one of the most worshipful moments I have had for a while.
We made it to our camp spot just out of the national park and where we could camp for free. We did the set up and made for Weano Gorge. It was mid 30’s and pretty warm so we were ready to get wet.
On the walk out to Handrail pool I managed to slip my leg between two rocks and scored a massive bruise all up the shin. Very painful and not fun on the first day.
The next few days were spent visiting a couple of gorges each day – Circular pool, Fortescue Falls, Joffre, Knox and a couple of others. We’d get home late in the afternoon, send Danelle and the kids out to collect firewood and then relax for the evening around the campfire.
We left Karajini after 3 days and drove into Tom Price for a night to top up our water supplies, get some food and fuel up again. It was a shame to leave the bush, but the Tom Price park at the bottom of Mt Nameless is pretty spectacular too and it was nice to have a shower…
I had managed to get a puncture while in the gorges so we got that fixed and enjoyed some coffees from the coffee machine. The next day we left Tom Price for Hamersley Gorge before heading on to Wittenoom and managing to score the prime camp spot by the gorge with the most water in it. Its a stunning spot and as remote as you will find anywhere. We hit the tracks and followed the road into the old mine, but with a heap of asbestos tailings lying around we thought it better to head back out.
We spent the next two days exploring that area and just relaxing. I still find Wittenoon a fascinating place.
No one was inspired for the drive home, but then that’s how it goes when you’ve had a fantastic holiday and are looking down the barrel of 16 hrs of driving..
We tried to leave Wittenoom around 9, but discovered that the newly fitted radiator in the Cruiser was getting hot and had actually lost 5l of water over the time we were there. It was good we discovered it before actually hitting the road as it was well past coping. We decided to try and top it up and get by. Fortunately it worked and got us home with no dramas and its going in for its fix up tomorrow.
Our halfway stop on the journey was the aboriginal mission at Karalundi about 60ks north of Meekatharra, a great campsite with grass, showers, toilets and all you need for an overnight stop but back from the main road. We only saw it briefly but given the options are limited in that part of the world we thought it was great.
The drive home was nasty… Rain started in Cue and by Wubin it was pelting down. The final 300ks was just a case of smashing along bumpy roads in the rain and then when we finally reached home we had to unpack in driving rain.
The sunny days of the northwest were gone and it was back to the hard and (very) cold reality of home.
Until next time…