Port Hedland to Broome (WA) May 2019

I’d had a bit of a look around Port Hedland on a previous trip north/south but thought I would take the opportunity this time to check out the museum.

Dalgety House Local History Museum is situated in Anderson Street, in the main business area of Port Hedland. Unfortunately it was closed so I headed for the Visitors Information Centre just around the corner. “No sorry, it only operates in the tourist season”. My apologies Port Hedland for me arriving in your town “out of season”. Should I leave now?

I had a walk around the block of the main business area but boy, not a very inviting area to be in. Quite horrible to be honest. Mind you it is situated right on the doorstep of the port but the whole business area just looks bleak and tired. The main shopping precincts are further out at The Boulevard and over at South Hedland, some 12km away. There is 2 distinct towns here with a spaghetti like road system in between. South Hedland seems to have the bulk of the business and shopping infrastructure there. Only downside to the South Hedland Shopping Centre is the requests for “a couple of dollars” as you enter or leave the complex. Its sad but it happen at many shopping centres in Perth now too.

I did stop at the Don Rhodes Mining Museum. This is an outdoor park, of sorts, with locomotives and other old machinery from days gone by. Some of the plaques were hard to read, from age or just too small a print and the whole area was somewhat overgrown. It just needs a bit of a spruce up to make it more inviting to stop.

There are a number of Lookouts scattered around the town and these give good advantage points to take in the sheer size of what’s going on in town. There is a good one with information boards at the Rio Tinto Salt works. There are also lookouts where you can watch the very very long iron ore trains. They run 24/7. Here I thought of an old High School friend from Coffs Harbour days, Michael Cains. He used to ride his pushbike from his house near the Golf Club down to the overhead bridge at the jetty just to watch the trains go under the bridge. I often wonder if Michael became a train driver or some other railway employee, such was his passion for trains. Someone out there will surely know?

After leaving Port Hedland my main thought was getting to Broome. There are no towns between Port Hedland and Broome, just a couple of Roadhouses. Nothing to see at either of these.

One place which is inland is Marble Bar and this was on my bucket list (see Bucket List #4). A couple of nights deviation to the hottest town in Australia was a great venture. After Marble Bar it was a few nights at roadside stops until reaching my brother’s world famous 12 Mile Bird Park between Roebuck Plains Roadhouse and Broome. This will be home for about 3 weeks.

About 240km south of Broome, just past the 80 Mile Beach turnoff, I could see smoke in the distance. No fire out in the open is a good thing, apart from in a fire pit, and this one varied from pure white smoke, almost cloud like, to thick black, rubber burning smoke. As I got closer I could see it was burning both sides of the road in a westerly direction. I pulled up over to the left a safe distance away. There was a 4WD in front that turned around and came back to my position as another 4WD pulled up behind me. We got out and from about 300 metres away tried to make an assessment of the situation. By this stage we could see real flames licking the bush on the right hand side. The other two decided to go through. I held back. They disappeared into the smoke. Three cars then came through southbound so I decided to go along with another couple of cars that had caught up with me.

The smoke looked worse from the outside than it did whilst driving through it and whilst there were flames on the right lapping the side of the road, they were not high as there were no real big trees, just low lying bush . Apart from that little highlight, the rest of the way to Broome was uneventful.

Fire north of 80 Mile Beach turnoff

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