Monday, October 27, 2008

Mainly Food and catching up with friends

Monday 27th October 2008
It has been 4 weeks since we first broke down in Port Hedland and over a week spent home here in Perth and we are still no sooner to a solution to the problem. Last Wednesday I spent the day sewing with the girls here in Perth. I arrived at Pat’s with Lurline and Julia and we were greeted with lovely 160 degree views of the Ocean. Pat’s house is lovely, on a hill overlooking the beach, and decorated throughout with her creative touches of patchwork, art and knitting projects. There were 7 ladies altogether so I was able to catch up on all the gossip I missed in the last couple of months. (And managed to get a word in) Pat is an excellent cook and we feasted on a gourmet delight. I made DH envious by taking photos of the food that he missed out on (now to those that don’t know DH stands for dear husband not the other as you thought Jenny).

We spent the weekend catching up with Jenny and Shane at their farm and again Shane cooked up a delightful feast. But Bill especially enjoyed the Mulberries and the loquats which grow in abundance in their yard. Sunday saw us dining again with my Bro and SIL at Chatters in Midland and not to miss out on anything after at the Dome for supper. Now we don’t spend all of our time eating we also sleep a bit and do the occasional bout of housework speaking of which I must go and do some. See ya Soon Jan

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Burnt Vehicles

A week has gone by and the latest news on the gearbox is that they are waiting on parts to be sent from China. (There are none available in Australia) So it will be at least 5 days before they arrive here. We have caught up with some family and friends. Celebrated Bob’s birthday with him and settled some business matters. Meanwhile I will show you some photos of one of the vehicles that have been torched since we arrived in Port Hedland. Apparently there have been 4 vehicles torched at the business where our bus is presently located. The last one occurred last Friday night and was about 10 metres from the bus.
These photos are of a Kenworth that was burnt 2 days before we left, it happened about 11 o’clock at night and we were 20 metres away asleep in the bus. There have been at least 32 vehicles torched up there in the past 3 months. We are not sure when we will be going back up but we are hoping it will be soon.
Bye for now Jan

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Flying Home

Hi everyone, There have been a few developments today. Firstly they are still having problems fixing the gearbox and don't know when it will be sent up here. Secondly the good news is they are flying us home and back again when the gearbox comes back up. So tomorrow at 9.30am we will be on a plane back home. Releived to be able to get away from this intense heat for awhile and hopefully catch up with some of our friends and family.
See you all soon

More Photos of BHP

Crushing & Grading Plant, Spaghetti Junction and Cross section of Tunnel please refer to previous posting. Cheers Jan

BHP Tour

The news still isn’t very good regarding our gearbox I think they must be back to square one trying to work out the problem. So yesterday we thought we would do the tourist bit to fill in time. We booked a tour of the BHP Iron Ore Plant and set off about 9.30am. We weren’t allowed to get off the bus and we were not allowed to video so Bill took a few stills. Now girls this probably won’t interest you as they are mainly boy’s toys but I will do my utmost to describe the pictures accurately. The first photo is of a grader, which grades the iron ore when it comes off the truck to three different particle sizes to large rocks which then go back to the crusher. All ore is sold at specific sizes for their furnaces. Photo 2 is of the grading & Crushing Plant. The next photo is what is known as spaghetti junction a network of conveyor belts taking ore from the rail carriages to the grading or crushing plant. Photo 4 is loading the ship with the iron ore. Photo 5 is a close-up of the ship being loaded. These two are at Nelson Point. Port facilities at Finucane Island (now Trent this is pronounced my way not the Qld version) and Nelson Point are currently equipped to load 4 x 160,000 tonne ships at one time. The next photo consists of a cross section of the sophisticated conveyer system that runs under the harbour, through a 1.16 klm tunnel that carries ore from Nelson Point to Finucane Island. A ship loader can load at a rate of about 10,000 tonnes an hour. On average, it takes about 30 hours to load a ship and around 800 ships are loaded each year at Port Hedland. The next photo is of a salt stockpile and the grey section is dust from a recent dust storm that occurred here last Thursday. Don’t worry only 1% of the salt is used for domestic purposes. It is mainly used in making plastics etc. Finally the last one is off a ship coming into Finucane Island to be loaded with Iron Ore. BHP Billiton Iron ore is one of the world’s premier suppliers of iron ore employing 8000 people across the Pilbara – around 18% of the regions total population. The company’s operations involve a complex integrated system of seven mines, more than 1,000km of rail and two separate port facilities. That’s it for now some of the quotes herein are taken from the brochure given to us after the trip. Hope you all have a lovely day, and think of us it was 42 degrees here yesterday and 31 degrees inside the bus with the aircon on. Talk to you soon Jan

Monday, October 13, 2008

Port Hedland

Today (Monday 13th Oct)we ventured around Port Hedland and took some photos of some new statues near the art gallery in town. They are of Turnip Farmers, and Turnip and a statue that represents the Black Rock Stakes. By the way I am pictured with the statues and they haven’t made me into a statue yet. Although if we stay here much longer I will probably feel like a statue. The latest news on the gearbox is that it won’t be on the truck today, they are still fixing the problem and won’t return it up here until it is right. So we are still here for a while longer.

Port Hedland P & Q's

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with the girls from Port Hedland P & Q’s. They are a lovely bunch and very prolific quilters too. I took some photos however I had the camera on the wrong setting and some didn’t turn out very well. A bit blurry. I blamed DH but as he said I should have checked before I took the photos. However I had a lovely afternoon of stitching and bitching and as usual (as quilters do)we all were eating.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Karijini National Park & Wittenoom

Ghost Gums in Karijini National Park Fern Pool Dale Gorge
As the gearbox won’t be leaving Perth to come back here to Port Hedland until at least Friday we decided to spend a couple of days exploring Karijini National Park and Wittenoom Gorge. The Karijini National Park is over 300kms from Port Hedland. It is owned and managed by the traditional owners, who are the Banyjimi, Yinhawangka and Kurrama Aboriginal people. Evidence of their ancestor’s occupation dates back more than 20,000 years. In the park are several gorges and pools. The views of the gorges are absolutely breathtaking. Picture red cliffs, green and brown Spinifex and ghost gums silhouetted against a backdrop of blue skies and green foliage. Cool pools ideally for swimming nestled down the gorge amongst beautiful ferns and lovely foliage. I also learnt something today , the Aborigine people used to grind the spinifex into flour and used it in their damper (damper is a type of bread cooked in the campfires and can also be baked in a normal oven)We spent the day discovering the joys the park offered and settled for the night at Auski Tourist Village. After a leisurely breakfast we set off for Wittenoom.
To those who don’t know Wittenoom used to be a thriving mining town. Blue asbestos was mined here for several years and the asbestos was used in a lot of earlier buildings all over Australia. It has since found to cause breathing problems and many people who lived and worked amongst the asbestos have developed Asbestosis and died a very painful death. The town is now nearly deserted with only about 8 people living in the actual town. The town was actually closed down several years ago but a few people refused to leave. Electricity, phone and water have been cut from the town and there is no evidence on road signs of it ever even existed. We drove up into the Gorge and again we were astounded by the breathtaking views of the magnificent rocks and shady rock pools. We arrived back in Port Hedland and visited Barb and Dave (the couple who were staying at the cattle yards when we first broke down). I have arranged to go to patchwork with her on Sunday. We received a phone call from Heavy Automatics in Perth and Detroit still hasn’t fixed the problem with the gearbox so it won’t be on the truck today. So it looks like we will be here longer than originally thought. Oh well! talk to you soon Jan.
Wittenoom Gorge

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Marble Bar

Yesterday (Tues 7th Oct) we ventured out to Marble Bar which is located 210kms south east of Port Hedland. Marble Bar is reputed to be the hottest town in Australia, hottest meaning temperature wise. However we defied the odds and picked the perfect day to visit. The weather was fairly pleasant and even cool; we were even blessed with a much needed rain. Chinaman’s Pool is a lovely place to visit; it is situated amongst lovely Rock formations and shady trees, surrounded by a grassy carpet which boasts its own resident horses and cattle. The horses were very friendly and it is obvious they are used to being fed a little bread and titbits from visitors to the site. We also met a lovely couple from the Hunter Valley travelling around Aust in a motorhome. Hello Elka and Dave. We enjoyed a cuppa with them under the trees by the pool. After lunch we ventured up to an old mine site and took some photos of the old machinery left behind. There is still a couple of working mines, owned by one man who discovered gold and is now a millionaire. This was related to us by a lovely young lady who worked at the local Motel restaurant so I can’t vouch if this is true or not but it sounds good. We were tempted to have a look around ourselves for the elusive gold but after sighting lots of signs saying you would be fined for removing any rocks from the area (about $2,000.00 I believe) the temptation soon dwindled. Just joking of course. Still the rock formations are worth a good look, I can see where they get the name Marble Bar as the rocks look marbled with colours ranging from white to the deep ochres to deep green absolutely beautiful. Well must go now as I have to venture into town to see if there is any mail (snail mail). Talk to ya soon Jan

Monday, October 6, 2008

Roebourne,Cossack,Port Samson & Karratha

This weekend we packed up and went south to Roebourne, Cossack, Port Samson, Wickham and Karratha arriving in Roebourne at about 8am. We drove up to Mt Welcome (or Marndu Maya in aborigine) this overlooks the town. Not much here, though there is the original Roebourne Gaol which has been made into an Arts & Craft centre and also the Information Kiosk. We arrived at Cossack a short while later. Cossack is a restored former ghost town. First used by Europeans in 1863, the new port paved the way for the pastoral, pearling and mining industries that today generate over $13 billion every year. The first significant industry to develop here was pearling, when large pearl fields were discovered nearby. By the 1800’s up to 80 luggers were operating in the area, and by 1884 more than 400 people were living in Cossack. By 1900 pealing operations were moving to Broome. Even worse the harbour proved unsuitable for larger ships. Between 1902 and 1904 a jetty was constructed in Point Samson and in 1910 the harbour facilities were relocated there. Other enterprises slowly drifted away and by the early 1950’s the town was completely abandoned. Cossack was originally called Tien Tsin. We then made our way to Port Samson, now this was a virtual paradise, lovely clean area and beautiful houses and a lovely seafood restaurant. There is no Fish & Chip Shop in Port Hedland and people travel to here just for the seafood. We were unable to secure any accommodation for the night so we booked into Cossack. We called into Wickham on the way back and went out to Cape Lambert where a lot of the Iron Ore Shipping is done. We stayed in the Cossack homestead in a lovely room reeking of Ole worlde Charm. We met some lovely fellow guests who are a nurse and Doctor for the Aboriginal Medical Centre. We plan to meet up with these ladies when we go back to Port Hedland. Sunday we visited friends in Dampier and Karratha and after going to the chemist to get some medication for the sandflies bites (I am absolutely covered in them) we arrived home about 3 o’clock.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Port Hedland in the workshop

The news is not good. The specialist has spoken and the bus needs surgery. We are camped at the Mechanics yard for awhile so that the gearbox can be removed and trucked to Perth then repaired and returned up here and refitted. However the facilities aren’t too bad if you like the smell of oil & grease. We will probably explore in the jimny the surrounding areas. On the weekend we intend to go down to Point Sampson for the weekend. Talk to you soon

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Port Hedland Breakdown

Hello everyone,
We spent the last two days at Pardoo Roadhouse Caravan Park. The Park was lovely and green and shady. They have their own bore so water wasn’t a problem. We gave the bus and Jimny a long overdue bath. They look almost respectful now. The park boasts a salt water swimming pool and we indulged a few times. We explored Cape Kerauden which was opposite the park down a gravel road to the beach. The views again didn’t disappoint, the only downside was we paid to pay $10 to the shire for the privilege of driving on the beach. We chatted to a couple camped on the cape from Queensland and watched some others fishing. We left Pardoo on the Monday 29th September and made our way down to Port Hedland 170kms south. We stopped on the way as one of our tyres on the trailer was flat. So after pumping all the tyres we made our way to the Truck stop just out of Port Hedland. Here we removed the offensive wheel and took it to a tyre place to have the valve renewed (same problem we had earlier the valves are perishing). After a bit of retail therapy we boarded the bus and the aim was to reach Whim Creek for our next stopover. It didn’t happen. At the moment we are parked alongside a cattle yard with problems with the gearbox. After a few frantic calls to the supplier in Perth we had to settle in for the night. The caretaker at the cattle yards is a fellow traveller from Emerald in Qld. His wife is a schoolteacher. And guess what she is a fellow quilter-we can be found anywhere. They said we could plug into power and we are still here waiting to see where we can have the gearbox repaired. Our first real problem, let’s hope it isn’t major surgery and we can be back on the road soon. It is extremely hot here and the temperatures reach over 40 degrees with no pools or beaches in sight.
Talk to you soon when I have better news see ya Jan
Fire opposite where we are broken Down in Port Hedland