East Pilbara Day 44 - 80 Mile Beach to Carawine Gorge

Saturday, Aug 04, 2001 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Day 44 - Saturday 4/8/01
Start - 80 Mile Beach
Stop - Carawine Gorge (via Shay Gap)
Trip Odometer - 419km
Stopped time - 2.4hrs
Moving average - 72km/hr
Moving time - 5.49hrs
Total Time - 8hrs

Having our maps in digital format on the laptop and the Garmin E-Map GPS made it easy to plot our way through to some really fabulous areas that we'd never heard about.

After leaving 80 Mile Beach we headed another 51km west along the highway and took a dirt track off to the left marked as "Boreline Road". At this point we were 414km west of Broome and 196km east of Port Hedland.

It was a very scenic drive as you can see in the photo below so I don't know why we haven't been here before!

All along the route are subtle reminders that there are numerous mining operations in the area, in fact Shay Gap is an abandoned mining settlement that you come across after 57km.

The junction at Shay Gap is well sign-posted with an access track coming in from the north-west at Pardoo Roadhouse 68km away or Marble Bar 113km to the south-west.

The recent rains in Broome have certainly made an impact on the area and it is clear that this area would be impassable some of the year during the wet season. There is a concrete causeway at the De Gray River - a perfect stop but it is fenced off on all sides to deter campers.

After a total of 105km on the Boreline Road (or Muccan-Shay Rd) we came to an intersection clearly marked Marble Bar 59km to the right or private station road to the left... that's when our plan came unstuck. Our maps showed the track to the left as accessible to the Carawine Gorge but things have obviously changed. We were left with no alternative but to turn right and go into Marble Bar. This track is now called the Warrawagine Rd and on the left you shouldn't miss visiting Coppins Gap.

Warrawagine Rd meets up with the Marble Bar - Port Hedland Road close to the banks of a magnificent river (dry). Fromt his junctions its left 26km to Marble Bar or right 168 km to Hedland.

We figured we were now close enough to Marble Bar that we should take a look, although we still had to make our way back east to find Carawine Gorge.

Marble Bar was pretty much dead - 12noon on Saturday. Everything was closed except the Travellers Rest but other than frozen bread we couldn't get any food there. We fuelled up and then took a look around the area.

Out the back of town is Chinaman's Pool and the Marble Bar, which are great waterholes with the distinctive flash of jasper stone that gave the town its name when it was originally mistaken for marble.

Camping is not allowed at these waterholes so we picked up our plan and headed back out towards Carawine Gorge. Oh - by the way I asked the locals about this gorge and they'd never heard of it.

Back out of Marble Bar the road is signposted Woodie Woodie and Telfer straight ahead or Nullagine to the right which then meets up with the Great Northern Highway at Newman.

We continued straight on towards Telfer on the Ripon Hills Road. We were so close the Ruddall River NP and if we had've been able to pick up some food in Marble Bar we would have gone but we followed the road as it swung around the back of the Telfer Mine and on towards Woodie Woodie.

Major roadworks are in progress and by now the whole road would be fully sealed. This is amazing for travellers wishing to go to Ruddall River.

Just after crossing the Mt Sydney Creek we found the subtly signed access track to Carawine Gorge. It had rained recently and the track was in a mess. We felt sure we'd be out on our own, having not seen a single tourist the whole day, however we pulled in and found about 10 camps set on the banks of a fabulous gorge, similar to Lawn Hill in Qld. A sheer limestone wall drops into clear water - no crocs just pelicans and lots of birdlife. This is a great place!!!
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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