Newman to Tom Price

Saturday, Jul 25, 2015 at 09:20

Navigator 1 (NSW)

June 17th – June 28th

From our hillside campsite we went to the nearby Ophthalmia Dam for breakfast. Camping was not allowed at the dam.

A short distance south we arrived at Newman to shop, to visit the Information Centre for a mud map of the area and, to find a mechanic so Hugo could have a service.
Where else to spend the night but on top of Radio Hill. We had great views of the town and mine and at night, these views were something special!

Our first adventure in the Newman area was to Kalgan Creek and Kalgan Waterhole. We weren’t expecting much but it turned out to be very special. 6km before the waterhole we found a perfect campsite beside the flowing creek. We spent three nights at this spot and got so excited with the amount of water we washed everything – sheets, towels, clothes and us. The water was warm so we soaked in the deep water holes.
The Ozpig came out for a baked dinner, the Coleman Oven to bake scones and the air chair was slung from a branch.

One day we were joined for several hours by an absolutely drop dead gorgeous young girl, Analeis. She was travelling around Australia with Ash, her dog. Chicka no longer talks about Hailey Berry!!
We finally continued on to Kalgan Waterhole. The trip was exciting as long stretches were actually in the flowing creek. (You wouldn’t want to judge the time of year wrongly for this one or you may float away!)
The waterhole was large and surrounded by colourful cliffs. We camped on one side and a group of two camped on the other. The wind was up and the water cold so a swim was out of the question.
Back in Newman we stocked up on a few more groceries, refilled our water at the Information Centre and then headed back to our favourite Newman campsite. There on the ground was a dog’s food bowl and water bowl. Chicka was ‘beside himself’. How was he going to find Analeis to return Ash’s bowls?
The next morning we headed back to the Information Centre and there was Analeis. The bowls were returned and Chicka got a picture with Analeis and of course, Ash. We said farewell and I dragged Chicka away.

On our way west toward Karijini we had another location to visit just out of Newman, the Wonmunna Waterhole. We had a mud map from the Information Centre but without the GPS we would have missed the turn off as the signpost had been removed. The waterhole was only 3km off the main road, down a narrow, rough gravel track. We arrived early in the afternoon so had plenty of time to explore. It was a peaceful, beautiful place!
The waterhole was within a small gorge with the usual beautifully coloured Pilbara rocks. There was abundance of petroglyphs ie rock engravings. They were similar to others in thePilbara including the Burrup Peninsula near Dampier. This art had been etched into extremely hard rock surfaces, using primitive tools and would have taken a long time to complete.

Just on dusk four miners visited and impressed us with their description of nearby Weeli Wolli. We knew we had to visit.
It meant going 17km back along the highway and then quite a long drive in but, it was all worthwhile. We travelled alongside a huge mine and finally crossed the creek. At this point water, pumped out of the mine, entered the creek and to quote a miner, ‘We have turned an intermittent stream into a permanent flowing creek.’ The water was bath tub warm and so relaxing to soak in. The creek was lined with paperbarks.
It was several days before we left and made our way to Karijini in the Hamersley Ranges. The Park incorporates two billion year old gorges, where rain has cut out 45 metre ravines in the dramatic, spectacular landscape.

In 2009 we spent six days walking through the gorges so this time we were just staying overnight to visit several lookouts, the impressive Oxer Lookout and Joffre Falls Lookout.
After a little reminiscing it was off to nearby Tom Price. At 747 metres above sea level, it is the highest town in WA. It is the jewel in Hamersley Iron’s crown and under the control of mining giant Rio Tinto. It is the most attractive town in the Inland Pilbara with tree-lined streets, modern facilities and a relaxed country-town atmosphere all made possible by the Royalties for Regions program. The town was named after Thomas Moore Price who was instrumental in founding the area’s mining industry. He tragically died only two hours after being told that a rich ore deposit had been discovered in the area
As early as 1952 Lang Hancock carried out aerial surveys over the Tom Price area and detected large iron ore deposits. His discoveries were of little value at the time because the Australian Government had an embargo on all iron and steel exports. This was a result of World War II. After the lifting of the embargo in 1961 the area began to open up.

Tom Price is at the foot of the highest mountain in WA that is accessible by road albeit 4WD. It is situated approx. 4km from town and stands 1128 metres above sea level. From the summit there are spectacular views of the ranges, the Tom Price mine site and the town of Tom Price.
So good was this position that we stayed for 2 nights. From about 2pm adventures joined us for the sunsets. The sunrises, sunsets and the night views of the mine and town were spectacular! It was fascinating by day and night and watching the long ore trains entering and exiting the mine was great.
Next we gained a permit to travel along the railway access road from Tom Price to Millstream NP. After finding out that Crossing Pool, our favourite campsite in the NP had been closed down, we travelled the road only as far as the turn off to Mt Sheila.
Because the summit was once the location of a Telstra Repeater station the access to the summit was sealed. Up and up we went till finally we came to the final pinch. For some strange reason I got a ‘funny feeling’ and said I don’t want to take the truck up there!


There was a lovely little one truck camp site at the base of this climb and there we stayed for 4 nights. We had a view to the east and to the west with hills north and south. We had stunning sunrises and sunsets. On the 1st morning, 30th June, it was my birthday. We relaxed by the fire for most of the day until we decided to walk to the top. Wow, what a climb and what a magic view!
After our third night Chicka said, ‘We’re going up’. All the way I was saying under my breath, ‘Hugo, you can do it, you can do it!’ Of course Chicka had no reservations, he knew what the truck is capable of. Anyway, at the top it was marvelous and we stayed put for another 3 days.
On our second day a Rio Tinto Manager and his family visited and chatted with us for an hour. We were invited to their home for dinner when we returned to Tom Price. Another real treat.

Next Blog: The West Coast at last -Tom Price to Ningaloo
The outback calls
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