The end for Wittenoom?

Submitted: Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 18:04
ThreadID: 43346 Views:5818 Replies:9 FollowUps:7
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Article in the SMH

Is there actually any discussion in WA on the subject and the proposed closure of access to Wittenoom Gorge?

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Reply By: Im.away - Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 18:52

Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 18:52
We went there in the late 70's. We knew about asbestos but thought it a bit blown out of proportion. We took precuations. Drove through Wittenoom with the windows up and the air on recycle. Went to all of the tourist traps.

Now of course, we see people dropping like flys from this mongrel disease. We understand the latency of it. And I wonder all the time whether my wife and I have unwittingly given our children (now in their thirties) a death sentence?

I say close the joint down, lock it up and forget it ever existed. Even the Gorge. There are so many tailings and fibres there, it's just not worth the risk.
AnswerID: 228017

Reply By: Exploder - Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 19:35

Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 19:35
I say leave the track in open, put up waning signs and all that stuff and if people still feel the need to venture in there that’s their option.

I wouldn’t mind ducking in for a look next time I am up that way no doubt with a respirator on my face.

AnswerID: 228023

Reply By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 20:18

Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 20:18
I have always had the feeling that the problem was very much over-rated.
I, along with a lot of my generation, worked with asbestos on construction sites and was often coated with the stuff and we did not have respirators either. I do not know of any person that I worked with who has had a problem. I do however know that a lot of my mates smoked and several of those smokers have had severe respiratory problems. I am not saying that asbestos does not cause problems, just that some people must be more susceptible then others. Just MHO
AnswerID: 228032

Follow Up By: Des Lexic - Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 21:33

Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 21:33
Kiwi, unfortunately, you could be a walking time bomb. (as I am myself) Only about a month ago, a local electrical contractor aged 49 died from his working with asbestos and it will keep on killing for years to come.
We actually visited Wittenoon a couple of years ago and it was a very eirie sensation walking around the place. I just did not feel comfortable there as there is blue asbestos lying around every where. Even saw some that tourists had been sampling in the gorges at Karijini.
We heard on the radio last year that the township of Wittenoon will be totally demolished and all references including access roads and road signs will be removed from all maps and tourist brochures.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 21:59

Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 21:59
Interesting Uncle Donut

We went there in the early 80's and drove around the place and right up to the mine and did some fossicking and collected some specimens and carted them around for years but have lost them along the way somewhere.

It was only after visiting Wittenoom that I realised that the fabulous precious stone Tiger Eye is pure asbestos(polished). I still have one here in our collection.

I don't think that a brush with this stuff would be harmful. People who have the asbestos related disease worked in the industry for years inhaling fine powdery asbestos dust. It is poretty much the same thing with MDF board. Occasional exposure to the the sawdust is not going to do damage. Probably get more damage from second hand smoke.

Wittenoom didn't spook me. But then I am more robust than you (Ya plurry sissy!!!)
FollowupID: 488825

Follow Up By: Trevor R (QLD) - Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 22:17

Saturday, Mar 17, 2007 at 22:17
tick tick tick Kiwi,

Took as much as 60yrs to take my F_I_L. Bloody horrible way to see a wonderful bloke go. I do not agree that some people will be more susceptible to asbestosis, rather that a lot of people will expire before asbestos will have time to take them. The blue rock is not the prob, the dust and fibres are your enemy.

I do not wish anyone to go this way but I am realistic to understand many more will (sadly). Like anything, enjoy what time you have been granted on this planet so if you do get an early exit, at least you have smiled all the way through the ride.

Cheers, Trevor.
FollowupID: 488826

Follow Up By: 10 Para (Qld) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 09:35

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 09:35
Thats good to hear Trevor we never went to the mine just drove through , but used to swim in the water in the gorge in the late 60,and early 70,s also never knew that it was bad for the health we had a great rope swing and would spend most at least i weekend a month in the summer down there also did not have the Air con mentioned above just used the old method windows down and towels up to keep the flys out. Should they close it i would say yes, if they put up signs as they have in the "K" NP (can't bring myself to refer to it as that K word) there are people that will not comply.
FollowupID: 488878

Follow Up By: Member - Bentaxle - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 10:13

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 10:13
Kiwi, we were there in 2005, for look round, the track from Karajini to Wittenoom is 'officially closed' blocked by a couple of truck loads of rubble. Accordining to locals you can drive around it with little difficulty, at the same time we were there the localls had a petition running re the reopening of Yampire Gorge. Dales Gorge has blue asbestos visible and reachable in the side walls.
BTW My wife and parents lived and worked in Wittenoom for a number of years, she was at school there and the kids would play in the fibres in the school yard, both parents are now dead - neither from asbestos related causes. MiL laundered workers clothes, FiL was house painter, SWMBO has plenty of life left.
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FollowupID: 488885

Follow Up By: Trevor R (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 11:57

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 11:57

It took three weeks from diagnosis to death in my F_I_L. Two months prior he was still building extensions at his sons place. Like I said, I do not wish this upon anyone, so I do wish you, and your SWMBO, live happy and full lives. Don't take my pessimism on this subject as criticism of your opinion (as it is not directed this way).

Best regards, Trevor.
FollowupID: 488897

Reply By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 10:49

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 10:49
My mates aunty [94yrs old] has recently had both legs amputated and a breast removed. The doctor told her that if she gave up smoking she would live longer. ??? When pressed, he admitted that her health problems were not related to her smoking but more to her diet over the years.

The point I'm trying to make is that, where do you draw the line.
To stay healthy and live a long life basically means; dont eat, dont drink and dont breathe. Just about everthing in this world seems to be contaminated to some degree. I am aware of the risks of asbestos just as I'm aware of the risks of smoking, eating takeaway food, breathing exhaust fumes, talking on my mobile, drinking chinese beer the list would be as long as you would like to make it.

Educate people - yes. Warn people - yes. But please allow people to make their own judgements and be responsible for those judgements.

I would love to visit Wittenoom in the future as I would many other places.

Just the way I see it.....................Lionel.
AnswerID: 228101

Follow Up By: Member - Ed. C. (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 11:14

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 11:14
What he said,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand,
....Not necessarily mechanic!!"

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Reply By: Member - John L (WA) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 11:18

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 11:18
We passed thru the day they buried Wittenoom - 12 months ago. Literally buried eveything including the generating plant. No access to Gorges. 50kms of road either side not graded, all signage removed. Florence Station great spot to camp.
AnswerID: 228107

Reply By: JimDi - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 14:45

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 14:45
Lost a brother in law to this stuff. He was a carpenter died at 54. He had no idea where he got it from,he said he could vaguely remember demolishing a building in London 20 odd yrs ago. But as they say what can you do.
AnswerID: 228127

Reply By: blown4by - Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 16:51

Sunday, Mar 18, 2007 at 16:51
Nah we do not see much in the local press about it other than the odd snippet from time time to time. You have to remember we only have one newspaper in WA so if something happens East of the Darling Range or further North than Geraldton it is unlikely to rate a mention. The Govt has been slowly removing all services from Wittenoom over time to put pressure on the remaining locals to leave. They no longer provide power or water, the Ashburton Shire no longer provides a refuse removal service (not sure if they still charge council rates though) and Telstra have moved the public phones several km down the road so their employees don't have to enter Wittenoom to service them. The Bureau of Meteorology no longer allow their employees to enter the town to service and calibrate their weather recording equipment there either. The chap, (in the picture in the article you provided the link to) Paul Fitzgerald still takes weather readings and forwards them to the BOM every 6 hours I think it is and Wittenoom is a fairly important weather station for the BOM because it has a long history of weather recordings which the other Pilbara mining towns don't having only been around since the 60's which in terms of weather historical records is not that long. Paul also owns the Catholic convent (part of it in the picture) and I have stayed there overnight and when I did he was charging a modest $10/night for a bed on the verandah. The Govt tried to "buy-out" as many properties as it could years ago including the Fortescue Hotel which a lot of controversy surrounded when it mysteriously burnt down?? Road signs and maps haven't had any reference to the town for years which is the Govts way of covering it's butt by not encouraging anyone to go there and pretending that it doesn't exist. Funny thing is with the new roads they have built from Auski Roadhouse and Tom Price and all the publicity and tourism surrounding Karinjini National Park and Karinjini is only a stones throw over the other side of the Hammersley Range to Wittenoom. Years ago the road from Karinjini to the old Wittenoom to Port Hedland Road via Yampire Gorge which was shortcut to Wittenoom was washed out in a flood and that road hasn't been re-opened either for obvious reasons, nor will you find it on any maps. All part of the Govt keep quiet keep out strategy. Before Karinjini was promoted and developed Wittenoom was the focal point of that area and you either entered the town from the East after turning off the old Mundiwindi to Roy Hill Road or from the South via Rio Tinto Gorge on the Nanutarra to Duck Creek Road or from the North on the Mt Herbert/Python Pool/Millstream/Port Hedland Road. Generally you stayed at Wittenoom at either the pub or one of two caravan parks while you toured Wittenoom Gorge, Yampire Gorge and Dales Gorge. You have to remember that Wittenoom was one of the greatest tourist attractions and scenic spots in that area in a time (sadly since passed) that there were few accessible maintained "roads" in that area and to go there for a holiday was not for the faint hearted or anyone who couldn't handle "roughing-it" with flat tyres and damage from wildlife commonplace and very few services to help anyone unfortunate enough to break down. Back then there was only one type of 4x4 in Australia and that was the good old Landy and no one from any city area would have had one as an everyday vehicle except for landowners and Geo's, etc. Sounds like I'm talking about the 1800's but actually it was only about 45 years ago.Towns such as Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Newman, Pannawonica, Dampier, Karratha, Wickham, just weren't there then because none of them had started mining operations so the sealed road network of today was not there either.
AnswerID: 228143

Reply By: Gob & Denny - Monday, Mar 19, 2007 at 17:08

Monday, Mar 19, 2007 at 17:08
goodday all
just to ad a little doom and gloom but it only takes a few fibres to start the ugly death process it has been prooven that women who washed the husbands clothes after he worked with the asbestos have died of asbestosis
i personally have some pleural plaques in my lungs and have xrays every 12 mths and a full check up

1 fibre inhaled is enough to start the worst process people can go thru

AnswerID: 228366

Reply By: Member - John R (NSW) - Monday, Mar 19, 2007 at 19:24

Monday, Mar 19, 2007 at 19:24
Exactly, Steve.

Never underestimate the power of this evil substance.

AnswerID: 228401

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