Monthly Archives: August 2022

Day 96 – Sunday, 28 August 2022

Chores to be done today. Washed the sheets, filled the water tanks in the van, shopped for bread, water and milk at Woolworths, and put prescriptions into the chemist to be filled.

And time spent finishing off the photos and typing the diary into the computer.

The caravan park is amazingly empty today. Whole rows are without caravans. I am sure it will not be too long before the new arrivals start to appear. We have had the water cut off for half an hour today. They have a public address system that notifies you of what is about to happen which is pretty cool, and they let you know when the water was back on again.

Russ took me out to tea at Sails Restaurant. We both had Seafood Chowder which was full of fish and other edibles. It was a shame that the garlic bread was mediocre, but at least I got to have what I wanted, and it hadn’t disappeared from the menu.

We would have stayed to enjoy a dessert except that no one was interested in asking us if we wanted anything else. They hadn’t cleared our table so once we had finished our drinks of coke and lemon squash, which was our designated cut off time to order desserts, we headed up to the counter and paid for what we had eaten

Day 95 – Saturday, 27 August 2022

We left the caravan park at 9:54am after Russ had re-arranged the occupants of the canopy once more. He removed the pieces that made up the stone guard which are tightly wrapped together and cushioned with old towelling, and they have been packed under the bed until we get home. If they squeak while the van is moving, we won’t hear them, and it just might stop the squeak in the canopy.

Today, out to sea, there are dark clouds on the horizon. Luckily the wind is pushing them further away from the coastline. The temperature was 22 degrees, and I had got out my jacket.

We took the Bibbiwarra ford and track once again but turned off onto the Miaboolya Beach Road. And how very fortunate that decision turned out to be.

The highlight of the day for me was seeing Dawson’s Burrowing Bees.

Dawson’s burrowing bee, Amegilla dawsoni, is a species of bee that nests by the thousands in arid claypans in Western Australia.

This dark-winged bee species is among Australia’s largest bees, similar in size and colouring to the carpenter bee species. The bee can get up to 23 mm in body length and 45 mm in wingspan.

Both sexes are densely furry, with the exception of their lower facial regions, which jut outwards and tend to be bare, and are coloured anywhere from light yellow to dark brown if male, or brown and white fur if female.

Males play no part in nest building and provisioning of the nests and serve only to ensure that all females are fertilised. While females shelter in their burrows overnight, males roost on vegetation gripping leaf tips or stems in their jaws and folding their legs beneath their bodies.

This bee species practices solitary nesting, though often the nests are clustered close together. An active nesting colony may contain up to 10,000 burrows. The female bee builds her nest by digging straight down into clay, or other densely packed soil and dirt. She will dig to depths between 15 and 35 centimetres. The female bee will then turn to dig horizontally.

In the horizontal shaft, she will dig downwards to create brood cells. The horizontal shaft is extended with each subsequent brood cell that she creates. Occasionally, females will layer two brood cells on top of one another in a doublet formation.

The female bee will prepare the inside of each cell by laying down a layer of wax. She fills the layered cell with nectar and pollen from four different plant genera. With this wet mixture in place, she will lay the egg on top of the cell, and then cap the cell with mud. She repeats this until she is done laying her eggs. Exhausted by her labours, she may then die on the ground.

Females indicate receptiveness or lack of receptiveness to mating by emitting particular mixes of chemical signals based on whether she has mated previously. Female bees will rarely mate more than once – this causes fierce competition between males for mating opportunities.

The larger males – called majors – tend to aggressively patrol emergence areas and will compete in physical fights to mate with virgin or recently mated females. On the other hand, the smaller males – called minors – which make up 80% of the male population, will wait at

the fringes of the emergence area and will mate only with females who are able to fly away unmated from the immediate vicinity of their natal nests.

The bee feeds only on 4 genera of plants located in the deserts of Western Australia, of which camel bush is a favourite.

On the other hand, the highlight of the day for Russ was to find and photograph a white-winged fairy wren, which is totally blue in colour apart from the wings.

Russ took 215 photographs, and I topped out at 604, most of them to do with the bees, and a lot of them had to be deleted as being of no use whatsoever. They are very loud bees, and they move incredibly fast.

We then backtracked to Bibbiwarra Road and continued along the 4WD track. However, we came across no new wildflowers or any birds that we could find. We did hear them, but they were not co-operating today.

We then turned out onto the North Coastal Highway and headed back to Carnarvon. We did stop along the way to photograph a huge patch of yellow velleia.

By the time we got back to the van it was time for a late lunch. Russ then napped and I spent the entire afternoon swearing because the flower identification books, we bought did not have some of the flowers for which we had photos.

In all probability, they are sure to be so common for the area that everyone with an interest in wildflowers knows what they are named, but it was not very helpful for me.

As a reward Russ decided we should go and get fish and chips for tea. Unfortunately, the only fish and chip shop on Google for Carnarvon was closed. I am beginning to get a complex about eating out!

We ended up buying a half a hot chicken at Woolworths with some bread (that could have been a lot fresher than it turned out to be) and we had sandwiches for tea.

On the way home I did take the opportunity of making a booking for tomorrow night at the Sails Restaurant which didn’t overlook the harbour, so we missed the sunset. On their menu on Google (fingerts crossed) they have Seafood Chowder.

A bonus to all the exploration of native flowers was that I have finally found a name for one of the prettiest flowers that Russ and I had ever seen. It was while we were adventuring around the Avoca area. It turns out to be called Crown Vetch, and you guessed it, it is a noxious weed introduced to Australia. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used for animal fodder and erosion control.

I spent more time identifying photos before heading to bed about 10:00pm.

The day has been cold with heavy gusts of wind blowing from the east. We are back to a blanket as well as the doona, and we are wearing jackets

Day 94 – Friday, 26 August 2022

Happy birthday, Pete.

This morning we had a sleep in and didn’t wake up until 8:45am. By 10:00am we were leaving the caravan park with our lunches and coffee packed ready to head off to the Visitor Information Centre.

We purchased a good map for further south on our journey, and two different wildflower of Western Australia books for reference material.

Russ took a walk – sorry, drive – on the wild side and we went along the foreshore of the town. There was not a lot to see. We then headed off

to the BP Truck Stop to refuel before driving back on ourselves and diverting onto Bibbiwarra Road. The Bibbiwarra Ford crosses the Gascoyne River although there is no water in it at present, and it is made of concrete slabs, and is approximately half a kilometre long.

Shortly after the ford crossing the road turns into a good 4WD track which meanders around the country before joining up with the Quobba Point Road.

It is 75 kilometres to the Quobba Point Blowholes from Carnarvon – mostly sand dunes covered in vegetation, and lots of salt flats. Rio Tinto have another depot of the Dampier Salt works here.

Along the way there are absolutely no trees for as far as the eye can see. Some brilliant person has organised for old car rims (minus the tyre) to be attached to the power poles so that the birds can build their nests above the ground. Most of the rims have sitting birds in them today. We have seen predominantly crows and Nankeen Kestrels at the top of the poles.

While at Quobba Point we saw another of those tiny camper vans that so intrigued us before. They are called Cool Beans and are manufactured in Fremantle. I checked out their website and the starting price is $41,000 for very little. Russ would have the greatest difficulty in getting inside their D-shaped doors.

We had our lunch when we got to Quobba Point camping area. There are toilets (chemical ones) but no water unless you bring it with you. The water in this little bay is a pristine turquoise and a haven for snorkellers of which there were several already swimming in the waters and others sitting on the beach. This particular spot is called ‘the Aquarium’ because it is a safe and protected area one kilometre from the action of the blowholes.

We took lots of bird photos, then some of the surf, the blowhole and the wildflowers. I just love trying to capture the ferocity of the wave action as it pounds onto the rocky shores. The sign at the entrance to the area is “King Waves Kill” and they are not wrong.

Another sign asks if it is worth losing your life for a fish from this location. Several people have been swept off the rocks to their deaths, and apparently, you cannot see the king wave coming. We took our photos with a dash of trepidation.

The blowholes are formed by the powerful ocean swell which have broken through the rocky limestone in several places. The very large waves expel jets of water into the air, some of them to a height of 20 metres or more, which creates a spectacular sight.

Altogether Russ took 428 photos, and I clocked over 819. I diligently comb through them all for only those that are of some interest.

Day 93 – Thursday, 25 August 2022

We had a lovely sleep in the dark and quiet of the Rest Area. When we left at 8:45am the temperature was 22 degrees. We emptied the toilet cassette at the dump point and were then on our way again.

We had no phone or internet service at all overnight so we both put our phones into Aeroplane Mode so it would not drain the battery, and the phone would not use power to keep searching for a signal that didn’t exist.

We began the day heading in a south-westerly direction and in rolling hill countryside. The road cut through red sand dunes which are lying north-south. Up Mildura way the sand dunes always lie east-west.

Most of the countryside was bushland and there are some dense patches, while the birdlife was amazing.

We stopped to stretch our legs at a Parking Area 100 kilometres southwest of Lyndon River about 10:00am. We were amazed at the amount of traffic that zoomed past while we were taking our ten minute break.

Yesterday was very hazy, but today is much clearer. My nose is enjoying the improved experience.

Russ uses Ozi Explorer Maps on his tablet while we travel, and the mapping app has indicated that we have now switched over to Southern WA.

We passed by an old well – called Yoondoo Well – which could be seen from the road. It looks to be in good condition still.

At 11:00am it was 27 degrees and we have now officially moved from iron ore country to limestone. We arrived safely at Carnarvon at 11:25am. The ladies in the office (and I know I keep saying this) were delightful, and at the Wintersun Caravan Park you are greeted at your site by an experienced guide to ease you onto the site. It was a hassle-free experience.

The gentleman we had actually complimented Russ on his skill at following directions. They had the van parked within about three minutes. The guy told us that he had had a small, single axle van to guide in yesterday, and it took the driver fifteen minutes to finally get onto his site.

The caravan park is quite large but is well set out. Each site has a concrete pad for the annex area, and a car space on the other side of the van. They even have their own bowling green on site.

It didn’t take us very long to be set up and I immediately put some washing in the machines and swept the floor while waiting for them to finish so I could hand it all on the line. Conveniently, the laundry and clotheslines are directly behind our van.

Russ sat down and uploaded the photos and the blog, and we finally got to print out the next episode of the journal for mum and Trish. We are only a day or so later than usual, but it is a big print and I had to use two stamps on each envelope.

We are staying in Carnarvon for four days and there are a lot of places we wish to visit. The journey today was mostly downhill. We left Lyndon River at 55.2 metres above sea level and Carnarvon is at 19.2 metres.

Photograph wise we passed many wildflowers, even some I haven’t photographed before, but we didn’t stop today to smell the flowers.

I think a record has been made though as I only took 21 photos for the whole journey and the majority of them were showing the road and vegetation we passed through.

Carnarvon is a coastal town situated approximately 900 kilometres north of Perth. It lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean. At the 2021 census, Carnarvon had a population of 4,879.

The popular Shark Bay World Heritage Area, and the Ningaloo Reef, lies to the south of the town while the popular tourist town of Exmouth lie to the north.

Within Carnarvon is the Mungullah Aboriginal Community. Inland, Carnarvon has strong links with the town of Gascoyne Junction and the Burringurrah Community.

The Inggarda people are the traditional owners of the region around Carnarvon. Before European settlement the place now called Carnarvon, was known as Kuwinywardu which means “neck of water”.

The town was founded in 1883, initially as a port and supply centre for the surrounding region and is the administrative centre for the Shire of Carnarvon. The town site was officially gazetted on 4 June 1891, named after Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, a past Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Carnarvon has had three tramways.

The first, shown on a Public Works Department map of 1884, ran from a landing site on the river, across Olivia Terrace to a shed on the other side of the road – A very short tramway indeed. The trolley used on this tramway was supposed to be hand powered, using a lever attached to a crank on two of the wheels. However, there is a reference to the use of wind-power.

The second tramway, constructed between 1886 and 1887, ran west from Olivia Terrace in a straight line to the jetty, which was halfway between Mangrove Point and Conspicuous Clump. It was horse drawn.

The third, and partially remaining, tramway was completed on 9 November 1900. It runs from the townsite, across Babbage Island to the deep-sea jetty. It was constructed with a rail gauge of 2 feet (610 mm) and was 2 miles 5 chains (3.3 km) long.

Due to the heavy loads of wool being carried on what was a very light railway, it was decided to convert the tramway to 3 feet 6 inches (1,070 mm) gauge in 1908–09. This tramway was worked with a steam locomotive. The tramway ceased operation in December 1965.

The Carnarvon Light Railway Association operated trains along restored tracks on the jetty; however, due to unsafe conditions the jetty was closed to the public. In 2021, it was destroyed by Cyclone Seroja.

From 1964 to 1965, 12 sounding rockets were launched from Carnarvon to a maximum altitude of 120 km (75 mi).

During the 1960s, NASA set up a tracking station nearby to support the Gemini and Apollo space programs. The tracking station was closed in the mid-1970s. Only the foundations of the historical site remain. The site is adjacent to the OTC Satellite Earth Station Carnarvon.

In 2010 the Gascoyne River flooded, and this was regarded as the most severe flood to take place along the Gascoyne River in Western Australia on record.

Triggered by record-breaking rainfall, amounting to over 6,000 percent of the monthly mean, 313.6 mm (12.35 in) and 5 mm (0.20 in) respectively, in just four days, the floods caused widespread damage in the region.

By 17 December, the river began to rise in response to the heavy rains, eventually exceeding its banks within two days. Water levels reached record values at three stations along the river, cresting at 15.53 m (51.0 ft) near Fishy Pool.

Evacuation orders were issued for several towns affected by rising waters, but the most substantial impact was felt in Carnarvon where entire homes were washed away.

Following the disaster, emergency supplies and funds were distributed to affected residents to aid them in restoring their livelihoods. Though

no people died in the event, an estimated two thousand head of cattle perished, and damage was estimated at A$100 million.

Climatologically, the region affected by the floods is a dry area, with annual rainfall in most areas averaging between 200 and 300 mm (7.9 and 11.8 in).

December is regarded as the third-driest month of the year, with a mean rainfall of just 5 mm. Prior to the event, much of the Gascoyne River catchment was suffering from a drought and many places abruptly shifted from drought conditions to record floods in less than 24 hours. Additionally, the river had no water flow before the floods, being a dry riverbed.

Between 16 and 20 December, a low over the area produced heavy rains over much of the Shark Bay area. These rains reached record amounts in numerous locations and greatly surpassed the monthly mean December rainfall. During a 24-hour span on 17 December, a record-shattering 247.6 mm (9.75 in) of rain fell in Carnarvon.

This value greatly exceeded both the previous record of 119.4 mm (4.70 in), set in 1923, and the city’s annual average of 228.8 mm (9.01 in). Several other locations recorded similar rainfall in the region, also surpassing their annual rainfall totals in under two days.

During the five-day span in which there was rainfall, a maximum of 313.6 mm (12.35 in) was measured in Carnarvon. A total of 23 stations and towns recorded record 24-hour rainfall for the month of December in relation to the storm.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Carnarvon Airport measured its wettest month on record, with 255 mm (10.0 in) of rain falling in just four days. The previous record was set in June 1895 at 219.7 mm (8.65 in).

The most severe losses took place in the horticultural plantations which flank both sides of the Gascoyne River in Carnarvon, and in small communities and stations upriver. Several homesteads near Gascoyne Junction were washed away in the floods. and the centre of the Gascoyne Junction township was referred to as an “obliterated ghost town.

Power restoration, especially in Gascoyne Junction, was unusually sluggish. Dozens of residents were without power for eight weeks, as electricity was finally restored between 12 and 13 February. This coincided with the arrival of replacement furniture from Paraburdoo; however, heavy rains renewed flooding and prevented most residents from picking up the supplies.

Main economic activities of the Gascoyne region include:

mining, at a salt mine on nearby Lake Macleod and at inland mines; fishing (major focus is a prawn fishery); tourism; agriculture, including cattle, goats, sheep and wool, and horticulture, the major industry of the area.

A range of products are grown along the Gascoyne River, particularly bananas (mainly Cavendish bananas) and tomatoes, as well as grapefruit, mangoes and table grapes. Climatic advantages enable the growers to meet out of season demand both locally and in export markets.

Radio Australia had a shortwave relay station (built during the 1970s) that used to relay programming to Europe, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Day 92 – Wednesday, 24 August 2022

We left Karratha at 8:45am. It was very windy, but not as bad as yesterday. However, the wind and the dust are giving me hayfever. It was registering as a pleasant 23 degrees, but the wind made it feel slightly cooler.

We headed west among green spinifex, wildflowers and saplings on fairly flat plains. There were some hills in the distance.

Maree Pool is a 24-hour free camping Rest Area (RA) on the banks of the Maitland River, which actually had lots of water in it. As we passed, we spotted many campers already set up for their overnight stops on both sides of the river.

We drove through a sea of mauve and cream Mulla Mullas, saw beautiful ghost gums at Devil’s Creek. Russ commented, when we passed a gas plant, that the bumpy hills of rock looked like the spine of a dragon, and the gas plant is the dragon releasing wind. (He was slightly blunter than that.)

Around mid-morning, and having been overtaken by traffic all the way, we passed through a carpet of Sturt Desert Peas. We pulled over at one of the parking areas to stretch our legs, and I found five different wildflowers in the one spot. The wind is not helping the photography.

About 80 kilometres north of Nanutarra Roadhouse we stopped to put some diesel in the car, and I spotted a gorgeous caterpillar that we would have run over when we left if Russ hadn’t taken the time to relocate it. I took some photos of it on the road, and again when it was resting on Russell’s gloved hand, and it turned itself into a half circle. It had what looked like a set of eyes in the pattern of its skin, and it was wonderful.

For most of the journey we had been climbing steadily. There were no big inclines, just a little progress higher with each kilometre. It turns out that we were at 18 metres above sea level at Karratha, climbed to 131

metres at Nanutarra Roadhouse, and we came down to 55.2 metres when we reached the Lyndon River 24-hour Rest Area.

Russ was very devious as I kept mentioning all the wildflowers we were passing. And he asked me to read him the latest episode of the journal. I don’t think I have ever talked so long without an interruption. I do know I drank a litre of water, and I didn’t get a chance to spot more wildflowers, so there were no hold-ups.

The West Coastal Highway passes through the middle of the Cane River Conservation Park for about forty kilometres or so. The vegetation didn’t change all that much, and there was water, or waterholes, in most of the rivers and creeks we crossed this far south.

I don’t believe I mentioned earlier that many of these coastal caravan parks have big steel cables buried around each site. The part that shows above ground is an eyelet. It is pretty scary to know that in the event of a cyclone these eyelets are used to strap down the caravans. Thankfully we haven’t experienced that need so far, and long may it stay that way.

When we arrived at Nanutarra Roadhouse where our schedule had us staying for the night, the place was packed, and lines of cars with vans were waiting their turn at the fuel pump.

Russ got out to see where the diesel pumps were and was able to drive straight into a bay and fill up. When I went to pay for the fuel and asked about site availability, I was told they had no powered sites left.

To make the shambles worse, two busloads of tourists had arrived just as we did (lunch time, and the staff were hammering the food out as quickly as it was cooked or heated), and there was a long line of ladies waiting to use the facilities. Russ says we could have made a bit of extra cash if we had wanted to do so.

Anyway, after discussion, we decided to move along which is always a bit of a hit or miss proposition. Needless to say, we found a nice spot in one of the 24-hour rest areas by the Lyndon River. There are about six other rigs who are also set up for the night.

Just before we reached the Lyndon River RA, we passed over the Tropic of Capricorn at 15:25pm, and the temperature had reached 30 degrees.

We were able to use a generator at this rest area if required, but the temperature was sure to come down once the sun set.

We also set up our big invertor to work the fan, and the fridge and hot water were on gas.

We ended up travelling a total of 452 kilometres for the day so tomorrow will be a very short leg to Carnarvon.

Day 91 – Tuesday, 23 August 2022

We woke up this morning to a very blustery wind, with gusts up to 60 kilometres per hour. We had to close all the skylights and windows as the wind was trying to blow the shades inside the van.

Today we headed back onto the Great Northern Hwy and went to see the Heritage Town of Cossack. As we were approaching the turn off for Cossack, we were pulled over by the police for a breathalyser test. The wind was still so strong that the officers were in danger of being blown away.

Cossack is an historic ghost town located 15 kilometres from Roeburne, within the City of Karratha. It was originally named Tien Tsin after the boat that carried the first settlers to the region in 1863, and the town was once the North West’s main shipping port.

It was renamed Cossack after the warship that carried the State Governor to the Pilbara in 1871.

It has carefully maintained remnants of the early settlement and includes some of the oldest buildings in Western Australia, positioned on the waters of Butcher’s Inlet.

While Cossack no longer supports a resident population (during tourist season the caretakers live in caravans at the back of the buildings), it does have some facilities and services available, such as a backpackers accommodation, venue hire for weddings and events, and recreational activities including kayaking, Staircase to the Moon (depending on the position of the moon over the mudflats), as well as observing birds, turtles and mudskippers etc.

It was a fascinating look at some of the hardships our early settlers experienced.

The Tien Tsin brought pastoralist Walter Padbury to the harbour at Cossack in 1863. His settlement on the banks of the De Grey River was the first pastoral enterprise in the Northwest.

The early settlers at Cossack were prevented, by law, from bringing cheap convict labour with them, leaving them at the mercy of high freight rates and high labour costs.

The Aboriginal people of the Harding River area (Ngarluma People) were therefore incorporated into the colonial work force surprisingly quickly and had mainly replaced expensive white labour within two years of settlement.

Galbraith and Co advertised themselves as being merchants, shipping, stock, mining and general commission agents, who also bought and sold pearls and pearl shell.

Galbraiths were based in the Southwest of Western Australia, and they were the forerunners of many companies from the southwest taking over the frontier by outside interests. As such, ownership of the Northwest industries changed.

Pastoral stations also changed hands and merged until, by 1898, fifteen mainly Southwest owners monopolised the land in the Northwest districts.

At the same time as this was happening the pearling industry and coastal trading were taken over by British interests. Cossack stores ended up in the hands of merchants from Fremantle and Perth.

While earlier stone buildings in Cossack were built out of sandstone collected from the beachfront, the Galbraith Store was the first building constructed from local ironstone (or bluestone some call it). It was completed in 1891.

Much later the building was almost destroyed by a cyclone, but was restored in 1984, and has now been used by the Cheedtha Aboriginal Community as a workshop, art gallery and cultural tourist outlet.

The Courthouse, built in 1895 during Cossack’s declining years (as were most of the stone buildings still standing today) is admired as a fine example of Government Architect, George Temple-Poole’s work.

Local stone and bricks, brought to the port as paying ballast, were utilised. Large masonry rusticated piers (Hello!!! English please!) supporting a verandah on all four sides. The roof rises high to a clerestory, which adds scale to the single storey building.

Masonry rusticated piers are a type of masonry treatment in which the blocks making up a wall etc are articulated by exaggerated joints rather than being flush with each other – I had to look it up myself.


Think _l l_ style (but turn it sideways). That’s the best I can do until you see the photographs. It really looks beautiful.

This beautiful building never really had the long and glorious career imagined for it by its architect. Since the restoration of the old Courthouse (beautifully done) it is now used at house the William Shakespeare Hall Society History Museum.

William Shakespeare Hall (1825-1895) was a pioneer settler of the Swan River Colony. He was an explorer, pastoralists, pearler, Justice of the Peace, and Chairman of the Cossack Municipality.

Born in London, he arrived in Fremantle in 1830 with his parents, and for a while they lived in a rusted-out hulk before his father received land grants in Mandurah. The locality of Hall’s Head is named after the family.

Hall joined the Francis Gregory’s expedition in 1861 to explore the Northwest. In 1863 he managed the first sheep station in the Roeburne district for the owner, John Wallard. It was called Andover Station. After two years he had established the station and returned to farming in Perth.

In 1865 he married Hannah Lazenby, and she came to live with him in Cossack. They had five children but only three of them survived to adulthood. They went on to achieve great things in their own fields, just like their father.

William gave up farming and followed various business pursuits over the following years, including shop keeping, pearling and pearl trading.

He drowned in Cossack Creek during an early morning swim in February 1895, as a result of a heart attack, and he is buried at Cossack Cemetery together with his wife and sones. He was 70 years old.

The eulogy in the West Australian paper read, “the mortal remains of the father of the district, the model of intrepidity, integrity and honour, an honoured husband, a revered father, and true friend, and unquestionably the most esteemed personage who had ever associated himself with the North”.

The Cossack pearling industry peaked in the 1870s, before the fleet relocated to Broome, due to the depletion of the shell beds and regular destruction of the fleet caused by cyclones. (They had some beauties.)

Mother of Pearl shell was used across the world for buttons, cutlery, hair combs, jewellery items and inlay for furniture, and pearling became a profitable secondary income for pastoralists.

Diving suits, introduced in 1881, helped to combat many of the hazards associated with diving. The suits allowed divers to search and gather shells in deeper water, and the crew could work outside the hazardous cyclone season, collecting shells between March and November.

Cossack was a multinational town. In 1890 it was recorded that 1,173 people comprising 86 Europeans, 92 Aboriginals, 19 Chinese and 976 Malays – Japanese, Indonesian and Filipinos – were employed on a total od 171 steamers, luggers, schooners, cutters and small boats.

The most capable divers were Aboriginal women who could dive to a depth of 60 feet – 18.3 metres.

Three attempts were made in Cossack to establish a viable turtle soup and oil industry in the 1880s, 1920s and 1930s. The products harvested from the turtles ranged from turtle shells, turtle soup, jelly, oil, meats and

Only turtles over 200 lbs (pounds, equal to about 91 kilograms) were harvested, and a 250 lbs turtle would return 80 lbs of red meat. Each turtle produced about 50-pint tins (28 litre tins) of soup. Green turtles were the most prized for their meat, and Hawksbill turtles supplied the best shells.

By the 1930s the project failed for several reasons; the economic depression, the company’s failure to establish a domestic market, and the high cost of shipping the canned soup overseas, mainly to Britain. (I am sure the turtles were very happy that it failed.)

The township of Cossack was dissolved in 1910 following the construction of the Point Sampson Jetty. It was eventually abandoned in 1950 after much damage from several cyclones. The port at Cossack was not built to handle modern shipping.

In 1977 the township was classified by the National Trust and restoration works on various remaining buildings was carried out in the 1970s and 80s. In 2006 the Cossack Township Precinct was placed on the State Heritage Register on a permanent basis.

In January 1910 land adjacent to Cossack was gazetted as a Quarantine Reserve. However, in 1911 Bezout Island was chosen as an alternative site. It was 19 kilometres from Cossack across the bay, and great difficulties were encountered while maintaining the camp with fuel, water and stores, often in very dangerous conditions.

It was abandoned in 1912-13 and the quarantine area at Cossack was re-established. The first suspected case of leprosy in the Roeburne district was that of a Chinese cook who had worked several pastoral stations where cases of leprosy subsequently occurred.

Mozzies and sandflies were a constant source of discomfit. Those patients who were physically fit could earn extra rations by working teo hours a day in jobs such as cutting wood, building amenities and making paths.

By 1931 more than 1550 metres of path were constructed using shingle and shells. (Some of the shells can still be seen in the pathways today.)

The Cossack Leporsarium was closed in 1931, and the seventeen remaining patients were transported to Darwin. Furniture, stores and sundries were dispatched to Perth, and mia mias (temporary shelters made of bark, branches, leaves and grass), sheds and the main ward were burnt to the ground.

The first recorded policemen in Cossack were the Water Police. They were responsible for law and order among the pearling fleet and trading vessels.

They were also responsible for ensuring pearlers conformed to the working conditions for their divers, such as policing the use of Aboriginal women and children.

That their task was very difficult can be seen by the number of Acts of Parliament passed into law to try and regulate the industry. No less than 19 Acts, sets of Regulations and reports were generated between 1869 and 1905. Whaling, another maritime industry, required only one Act, as did the Pastoral Industry.

The handsome Customs House and Bond Store was completed in 1897. It incorporated a 7,000 gallon (27,000 litres) underground water tank, as securing reliable water was always a problem for Pilbara residents. Despite its strong construction it was severely damaged by a cyclone in April 1989, which also ravaged the town.

Since the renovation is 1983 the building has been used for events such as bush dances, weddings and theatrical performances.

The first building associated with commerce was Howlett’s Store, built in 1872. It was the first constructed in the area designated for commerce. McRae and Company bought the adjacent lot at the same time.

The McRae and Co store was renamed the North West Mercantile Store after the owner, Farquhar McRae (don’t you just love Scottish names?) died during the measles epidemic in early 1887.

The Post Office and Telegraph Office were housed on the top floor od the building constructed mainly of friable stone (stone that breaks into smaller, more manageable, pieces when hit) and local shell limestone in 1884.

As early as 1872 people living in Cossack had been calling for their own post office as they had to wait for their mail to reach them from Roeburne, 13 kilometres away.

The completion of the building was more than a convenience as it meant the Telegraph had arrived, and the Northwest frontier had taken a giant step forward. For the first time they were directly connected to the rest of the world and news could be instantly relayed.

The first light beacon at the Port of Cossack was a crude timber frame on Reader Head (magnificent views), the dark bluff point on the north entrance of Butcher’s Inlet. From the frame hung an oil or kerosene light.

The Jarman Island Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters were built in 1887-88. When completed, the lighthouse was the 7th along the West Australian coastline, and the only one north of Geraldton.

The Lighthouse was built with prison labour, using pre-formed cast iron sections from England, and it was named after Captain Jarman, the skipper of the barque Tien Tsin.

On the way back to the van we called into Woolworths for some fresh bread and some water. Then I spent the entire afternoon and evening going through photos and finishing the entries into the diary. It is now Russell’s turn at the computer while I wash the dishes that he will then dry

Day 90 – Monday, 22 August 2022

Happy 70th birthday, Kaye. Hope you and the family had a wonderful time celebrating.

Happy Birthday, Jacquab. Hope you get over the Ross River Fever real soon.

Lots of people were on the move first thing this morning. By late afternoon all the empty bays had been refilled with the next crop of travellers.

It was a lovely sunny day and the temperature reached 31 degrees by late afternoon. There is a fair bit of bite to the sunshine still and Russ is looking forward to cooler climes going south. (I don’t know that I am.)

Karratha (aptly named ‘good country’) was founded in the late 1960s due to the tremendous growth of the iron ore industry. Today, it is a powerhouse of the Pilbara and a vibrant, bustling city home to modern facilities and shopping, stylish restaurants and an innovative arts precinct.

We headed out to the Visitor Information Centre but all we saw as we approached were a lot of boards in a layby area, so we continued into town. We did find out later that the house sitting behind the boards is the Info Centre, but by that time we had already had a wonderful time drive around seeing things for ourselves.

We travelled to Dampier which is a major industrial port in this region and is located 27 kilometres past Karratha. Dampier is primarily a port for export of iron ore from Rio Tinto Mines, Liquified Natural Gas and salt. It was founded in 1965.

We saw lots of big machinery, salt pans galore with cute cut-outs in the middle of them (we were travelling too fast, and the photo didn’t turn out of Elvis), port operation and wildflowers.

We then turned off the major highway and went down Burrup Road to the Burrup Peninsula, which has the most humungous gas operation and buildings, so big that they wouldn’t all fit into the frame even with the wide-angle lens on. They were also burning off gas residue at the top of some of the towers. It was an amazing sight.

Then there were the hills of red stones, and in the valleys where the streams meander when it is wet, there are beautiful ghost gums lining the banks and against the backdrop of red they are just stunning.

We called into IGA to get more nuts. Unfortunately, they don’t stock our favourite, so we had to accept the next best thing. They also didn’t carry any frozen chopped onions so I may have to cry a bit during the next cooking day.

They did have roast meats with vegetables, so I bought a roast beef for Russ and a roast pork for me. We actually ate it at lunch time while it was still hot and then had a little snack at teatime. Russ said his roast meat was melt in your mouth, and I enjoyed every bite of my pork, especially the crackling.

The roundabouts in Karratha are works of art. They have different sculpture pieces in the middle of them, and some of them are lovely.

When we got back to the van, I did a load of washing. It is still free here, but I am sure that it will change now that the mining dongas have been removed, and the park will be paying for their water usage.

Later in the afternoon, and into the evening, we sat and watched the replay of the Collingwood versus Carlton game. Even knowing that we won there were some tense moments.

Day 89 – Sunday, 21 August 2022

We left South Hedland at 8:55am. By 9:20am we had left the Great Northern Highway and turned onto our new pathway, the West Coast Highway, which become the A1. The Great Northern Highway becomes the Route 95, and it heads inland on a much straighter path south,

cutting off hundreds of kilometres to Perth into the bargain. The scenery is also a lot different to the coastal route we are taking.

We passed through areas of green spinifex plains, dotted with small trees. At times throughout the day we veered from our south-westerly direction and headed west, and north-west. It seems strange but that’s the way the road takes us. I began to think we couldn’t go much further west without falling into the sea.

We stopped to stretch our legs by the roadside today and found several patches of wildflowers, including the Sturt Desert Pea. It is such a pretty, but unusual, flower.

The further south we went the more prolific the patches of colour on the roadside verges.

We were surprised to water in the Sherlock River when we crossed over the bridge. So many of the rivers and creeks have been dry.

About 10kilometres south-east of Karratha (yes, I know it doesn’t sound right, but it is – we did a big loop around), the vegetation started to get very green with patches of wildflowers clearly visible in amongst the grasses.

We arrived at the AAOK Karratha Caravan Park just before midday. When I went into the office and said we had a booking for three days the lady asked me to repeat my surname while she searched the computer.

I was able to tell her that I had called on 15 July and spoken with Levi who took the booking. She replied that Levi was not working there anymore, and I sensed trouble.

I was right! Levi did not make the booking into the records, and it was apparent that we were not the first people who had rocked up with a booking that didn’t exist.

She and her husband have only just taken over management of the park three weeks ago, and there have been upheavals galore in that short period of time.

The park has had a series of dongas especially for the mining workers and it was decided to move the dongas from the park about the same time they took over the management.

Both husband and wife remained very professional but very frazzled and discussed the best place to fir us in to honour the booking. Although the removal of the dongas has made a lot more room for caravans, there hasn’t been enough time to hook them up permanently with power and water safely.

The husband walked us down to the almost empty row (some tents in places) and we could clearly see they were in the process of re-numbering the rows.

To cut a long story short, we are parked on site 90 with power and water, and a very frazzled and hot Russell, who had little room to manoeuvre due to the sites across the way already being used by others. We had to watch out for copper piping sticking up from the ground, and water outlets on the way.

Once we were on the site it didn’t take us very long to set up and have lunch before I logged onto Kayo (yes, 2 different earphones – one in the computer, one in the phone) with great trepidation and was ready to watch the Pies play against Carlton, our long-time foes.

I swear the way our guys are playing they are going to deliver a heart attack to some poor supporter. We won, by 1 point!!!!!

We called mum at 5:00pm our time – 7:00pm her time – and had a good chat. She has not received any letters for the last week so it now two journal entries short of where we are. At least when they arrive she can enjoy her coffee with plenty to read.

Hopefully the mail will start to arrive more quickly the further south we go, and the closer we get to Perth.

Day 88 – Saturday, 20 August 2022

Well, we went into Port Hedland and found the Tourist Information Centre and the ladies were lovely. Russ ended up buying a long-sleeved t-shirt in the wick material that has Port Hedland on the sleeves, and a huge train and a huge boat on the front of it.

The place was so quiet for a Saturday morning that I thought I was back in Ouyen on a Sunday. Very little traffic, no people on the streets, it was beyond weird.

The Port is enormous, and we were able to get some photos of some of the ships, and some more of the long ore trains. Not much bird life except for seagulls, and some patches of wildflowers, mainly mulla mullas.

We also went up to Koombana Lookout which was very interesting.

In March 1912 the coastal town of the North-West, together with the Nation, were shocked with the news that the steamship, Koombana, had not arrived at its destination after sailing from Port Hedland during the height of a fierce cyclone.

(I’m now up to my 7th biro for note taking purposes.)

The Koombana, a 3,700-ton vessel was just three years old and the pride of the K-Line fleet for the Adelaide Steamship Company. As she

prepared to sail out of Port Hedland enroute to Broome the small community of Port Hedland were preparing for a cyclone.

At the time another vessel, the Bullara, was also at berth with the Koombana. The captains of both vessels confirmed their intentions of setting sail and riding out the storm, which is customary even today.

The Bullara sailed south while the Koombana sailed north.

The crew and passenger list for the Koombana numbered 147 people. The cargo stocks were low having been partially discharged along the coastal towns. And many locals recalled that as she sailed into the already rough sea, the rudder could be seen rising out of the water.

Also visible was an inherited and permanent lean to one side that was a result of an earlier incident when the vessel ran aground.

Locals stated at the time that the normal period a vessel would remain visible from the shore was 35 minutes. On this occasion the Koombana could be seen for over two hours as she pitched and tossed her way into the heavy seas.

The Bullara enroute south arrived at Cossack (Karratha), her deck cargo having been swept off by the storm though all her crew and passengers had survived their ordeal.

One week after the news of the loss of the Koombana, a stateroom door, believed to have come from the vessel, was picked up by a search vessel – the Una – near Bedout Island, which is 25 miles north-east of Port Hedland. Cushions and straw sleeves used to store bottles were later found, but the resting place for the ship has never been discovered.

The stories and theories of how the Koombana would have sunk in the cyclonic seas were aired in many of the Nation’s newspapers at the time, and often since then, but the real ordeal still remains a mystery, known only to the crew and passengers who share her watery grave somewhere north of Port Hedland.

During 1912 an enquiry was held into her loss, but no positive conclusions were drawn, and the final report reads, “After the Koombana sailed from Port Hedland on 10 March 1912 her fate passes beyond human knowledge and remains a mystery of the sea.”

Those who have looked through the manifests report that the ship was not carrying cargo of any great value. There are reports of one registered package in the mail that had been dispatched from Marble Bar and rumours have grown that this was a large quantity of gold.

However, the story of the Roseate Pearl is the subject of the book “Forty Fathoms Deep” by Australian author, Ion Idriess.

The story goes that a large and beautifully hued pearl had been found in Broome. This pearl, whose history was never disclosed to the boat owner, was considered cursed, as whoever had its possession, was murdered.

The pearl passed from hand to hand and eventually came to Port Hedland with a Broome-based pearl dealer, Mr Davis. The curse held good as Mr Davis booked passage on the Koombana and went down with the ship. Legend says that his ghost haunted the Bishop’s Manse in Broome after the Koombana disappeared.

Whatever, the real truth of the matter, the pearl would not have survived years of immersion and has returned to the sea.

The sinking of the Koombana was the largest civilian shipping tragedy in West Australia waters during the 20th Century. Many have claimed to have found her, but none have been substantiated so she continues to elude us.

After her disappearance a large number of vessels were mobilised and diverted to search for her. Flotsam was reported over a distance of 100 nautical miles (approximately 190 kilometres) of sea, but nothing substantial was found.

The skipper of the Una who discovered her stateroom door and several cushions a week after her disappearance, telegrammed authorities to say that more debris had floated to the surface, and there were a great many sharks present at the location. He concluded that the wreck must lie somewhere in that general area.

During 1985 the Port Hedland Maritime Historical Society searched the Una area north-west of Bedout Island. The search continued around the clock for a period of four days using state of the art equipment in water approximately 100 metres deep. They found nothing.

In the early 1990s and American P3 Orion aircraft searched, during four missions, for the steel hull of the Koombana using magnetic detection equipment usually used for hunting submarines.

They found the task extremely difficult because of the presence of a large undersea iron ore deposit that would have completely obscured the presence of the wreck.

During one mission in another non-magnetic area, their equipment recorded the presence of a steel hull during one particular run but repeat passes over the same location failed to locate the same magnetic signature.

We took a tour of the outskirts of Port Hedland. It sprawls everywhere. We stopped off at the lookout at Redbank Bridge and took some photos of the salt operation where the conveyor belt was pouring salt onto a new stack, and the drying beds located beside them.

We were there when the next BHP Billiton iron-ore train came past – all 2.5 kilometres of it. It is so big that there are slave/breaking engines in the middle of all the fully laden ore trucks to assist with the stopping process.

And a Nankeen Kestrel stayed near us for another phot opportunity. We even caught it hovering the wind was so strong.

Then we went out to Finucane Island and saw how large the mining complex in this region is – really ginormous!

In 1920, William Banger, owner of a pearling fleet, set up headquarters in Port Hedland with his five luggers. He employed Japanese divers and situated his luggers and his hut on Finucane Island.

Finucane Island became the site of the ore crushing, stockpiling and loading into waiting ships. Ore arrived from Mt Goldsworthy, Shay Gap and Sunrise Hill.

By 1966 the railway from Goldsworthy to Finucane Island was completed to take its first shipment of iron ore on the Harvey S Mudd. With the mining of iron ore came the mining of salt.

BHP’s ambitions to export iron ore from Port Hedland began its planning in 1967. The harbour was dredged, and the spoil was placed over the reef.

By 1969 the ore crusher was built, and the first iron ore shipment was loaded and sent to Nelson Point. The Osumi Maru was loaded with 100,000 tonnes of iron ore and was headed to Japan.

By the 1970s the dust over Port Hedland was unbearable for most locals who can recall hanging their washing on the line only to be covered in dust and needing to be washed again.

In 1976 BHP continued to expand its production with a second processing plant at Nelson Point which increased annual production to 40 million tonnes, including the dust.

In 1982 Port Hedland experienced an earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded.

On record, Port Hedland has only ever experienced Category 1 cyclones.

BHP is involved in an Australian – and World – first at Port Hedland involving the about to be constructed wind fences, and the testing of two new automated ship loaders at the port operation.

The automation is aimed at providing significant safety, production and cost benefits, using 3D laser scan technology as part of the project which will fully automate eight ship loaders by 2023.

Some of the ship loaders will be based at Finucane Island and will be responsible for loading 1,500 bulk ore carriers every year. Once the ship loader testing is completed the ship loading operations will be done from the Integrated Remote Operations Centre in Perth.

The wind fences have been designed to reduce dust emissions as part of BHP’s air quality commitment. Constructed for the Pilbara’s unique weather conditions, and rated specifically to withstand cyclones, the fences will include mesh panels designed to reduce wind speeds thus shielding stockpiles and reducing the potential for dust lift-off.

The wind fences will be fabricated and built in WA, involving 3,000 tonnes of structural steel, and will be the first of their kind in Australia. The 30-metre-high fences will span a length of 2 kilometres, and the mesh curtains will open as the wind reaches a certain limit, letting the air flow through the fence.

On the way back from the island we stopped for me to take, hopefully, an artistic shot of the wildflowers, and then we stopped to fuel up at the BP truck stop.

Our ice maker is a little beauty. It is marvellous when it gets quite hot that our drinking water is still cool enough to enjoy.

It got down to six degrees last night. I needed to put a blanket on the bed for me, but the temperature topped out at 31 degrees for the day

Day 87 – Friday, 19 August 2022

We had a good night’s sleep, and the trains did not bother us at all. Russ did mention that the traffic noise in the early hours of the morning woke him up, so he was only able to doze after that. On the other hand, I didn’t hear a thing all night (it was the butcherbird’s fault).

Today was a day to catch up on odd jobs. So, Russ repacked the back of the vehicle because there is a rattle happening and we cannot identify the culprit. Fingers crossed it has been solved.

I changed sheets, washed everything like sheets, towels etc, and then cleaned the shower and bathroom area, washed the floors and reorganised the items beside the bed.

Russ uploaded the photos to the website, and I hunkered down and made sure the diary entries were typed up into the computer ready for upload tomorrow. Russ also did some calculations regrading fuel places on our upcoming legs and where the best prices will be. I checked over the latest news on wildflowers sightings.

We then went off to Woolworths and picked up a few items and got some lovely bread. After that I had a couple of hours to read before we went to the Trattoria beside the caravan park entrance. On the website they had paella.

I should have known by now that it wouldn’t be available as they are also operating on a shortened menu and the paella got the flick.

Instead, I had fish and chips, which were quite nice, and Russ had pizza which he thoroughly enjoyed.

It may be that I will need to make some paella for the both of us further down the track.

Tomorrow we will go to the Information Centre and decide what we want to see for the day. Port Hedland is a very spread-out place.