The Pilbara - Out and about Picturesque Port Hedland!

Monday, Jun 12, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Monday 12th June
Port Hedland WA

Casual morning during which I tried to secure accommodation in Broome and Cape Leveque. Yay to the latter and Broome stood out due to its common framework of unhelpfulness. “Can’t book, have to be there”. Stairway to the moon on Tuesday night so they may have something for us on Wednesday. I booked us in at the Kooljamon resort at Cape Leveque for the following Saturday.

9:40 a.m. saw us in town at the tourist centre and booked on the tour of the BHP facilities at Port Hedland. The bus was full and again with only a couple of exceptions, we were the youngest on board. The infrastructure at the receiving and loading facility is immense. We have now truly followed the ore from the ground at Newman all the way to it being placed on the ship. We also saw other of the mineral exports including Dampier salt (over 1 million tonnes shipped from Hedland annually), manganese and others. The ore itself is processed at Dampier into blends and distinct ores such as fine ore and lump ore, the latter being the most desirable and expensive to purchase. Lump ore is preferred because it can go straight into the blast furnaces whereas fines has to go through a further process of sintering to get it in to lumps for the furnaces.

The port facilities were awesome also with 4 ships berthed and loaded at once. It’s a 30 hour turn around for ships in the harbour and there were a dozen bulk ore carriers waiting off shore to be loaded. There are two shipping facilities and ore is conveyed to the second loading facility via an underground tunnel several kilometres long. Currently they ship 100 million tonnes of ore a year from Hedland. Paul was telling us that their aim is to be at 250 million tonnes within the next 5 years which means an amazing amount of investing in further infrastructure at Hedland. TRAINS.

After the tour we headed out and explored South Hedland shopping centre and surrounds returning to the park for lunch. A few bits and pieces to be done and then a drive into Hedland to the library and internet before a stroll around some of the facilities and the park overlooking the port and then a casual stroll along the sandy spit between Port and Point Cooke. It is very easy to judge the 7 metre height of the tides from this bar as most of it in under water at a high tide. Low tides exposes rocky flats over a kilometre wide.

Vahid came around once he knocked off work and was introduced to Paul. From there we headed down to a little Japanese/Chinese crossover restaurant for a feed before heading back to the park for a cup of tea. Bed at 9.00 p.m. but it was hard to sleep as the Socceroos were playing Japan in the world cup. By all the commotion around 11.30 p.m. they obviously won the match.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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