The Pilbara - Out to Newman via the Mike Mine, Carawine, Running Waters and the Skull Springs Road.

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 at 00:00


Monday 28th June, 2010
Newman WA

It was an early start to the day today as we were back on the road and heading north. There was plenty of wildlife about early in the day including the odd camel and more than a few roos. It was pleasing to see the roos as they are a rarity out in the back country these days. Not enough water due to those bloody camels! The road north to the Mike mine remains in good condition and had even had a lick of grading since our visit last year no doubt prompted buy all the mineral exploration in the area. It appears that Woodie Woodie and its manganese production have some major expansion plans for the future.

It wasn’t too long before we reached the remains and deep open cut pit of the Mike Mine. The water in the bottom was an iridescent blue. It took all of our coercive powers to keep JW focussed on the road and out of the junkyard on the mines extremity. I could almost see how his mind would be ticking away as he passed all that treasure. If we’d slipped the leash, we’d have lost him for hours and the 80 would have been weighed down with loot ha ha. We hit the Skull Springs Road at the Woodie Woodie airport and then onto the bitumen of the Rippon Hills Road. A heavily corrugated track of 15 km delivered us to windswept Carrawine gorge. In my three visits to this place, I have never known it to be peaceful. There has always been an ill wind blowing along the length of the gorge. Apart from the water, I’ve always wondered why people rave about this place. We had a quick look around and managed not to fall victim to the deep, loose gravel that forms the base of the gorge. A few photos and we were on our way back out to the bitumen and then south to the Skull Springs Road.

As far as outback travel goes, we had the equivalent of a lotto win today in that the Skull Springs Road had been recently blessed by the grader gods. It was in superb condition having been graded within the past week or so. It’s a winding track picking the best route through the hills and ranges of the Pilbara. With time up our sleeve, we took the opportunity to check out Running Waters. This series of pools is a firm favourite with the local mining and exploration teams. It is more commonly known as Eel Pool. The commencement of the track in was a little bit hard to find being slightly off as far as mapping is concerned and situated on a sharp right hand bend. Being well patronised by the locals, the track in is easy to negotiate to the point where the bed of theOakover River commences. Here you wouldn’t bother trying to tow in anything more substantial than a reasonable sized camper trailer. The track is 4x4 all the way being boggy, enclosed by scrub, rocky and generally difficult to negotiate. We’d secured good parking at the edge where several others were already set up. We opted to walk the 500 metres or so into the pools on foot. The pools themselves are actually long deep channels that obviously make up part of the oak over river. The main river is still further to the west. The waters are pristine and the banks are shaded by some of the biggest, gnarliest old paperbarks I’ve ever seen. Given the strength and amount of water that flows down these streams in the west, the flora would have to be able to stand a flogging or two. I don’t mind saying that we were all tempted to stay a while but given that Outback had to be in Newman to catch a plane, Eel Pool has been relegated to the “must do” list for a later date.

Continuing west, we passed the miracle worker on his grader and reached Nullagine in fair time and without incident. A bit of fuel for Scotty at the local store and we were then heading south on the Nullagine Road, again in good nick (comparatively speaking). A bit more traffic on this one. I was amazed just how many mining operations there are along the way. Strangely enough we seemed to be passing someone’s kitchen and home wares as we travelled along. A lamp here, a salad bowl there and then a snorkel head. Some of the items prompted a good laugh now and then.

Reaching the outskirts of Newman, we just beat an ore train to the crossing. With dusk upon us we were straight to Dearloves and into the only sites we could get, a couple of which had been the clearway for access to the pool filter. Beggars couldn’t be choosers though so we took them with the promise of a better site once a few other visitors departed in the morning. A quick shower and clean clothes and then over to the pub for dinner and a few jars. A good night.
''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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