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Review: Great Northern Highway

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Australia

Our big Western Australian adventure (Part One)

  • By SilverTraveller Dorfia

    1 review

  • May 2012
  • Husband

30 people found this review helpful

In May 2012 my husband Tony and I set off on our big Western Australia adventure, four weeks in a campervan. We set off on the Tuesday from Perth heading to Port Hedland up The Great Northern Highway, we picked up the motorhome & for the first time ever we were given an upgrade! The thought of living in it for a month was a bit daunting, however we got used to it, and we did actually, astonishingly, manage to find homes for all of our stuff! We travelled to Dalwallinu on the Great Northern Highway it was amazing how friendly everyone we met on the way was, we laughed with total strangers! Saw lots of different birds but no kangaroos & unexpectedly the scenery was good so far, but as I’ve said, no kangaroos, not even dead ones!! Dalwallinu is a nice little town and the campsite was lovely, looking out on to farmland. On Wednesday we drove from Dalwallinu to Meekatharra, it took a lot longer than expected to get here, mainly because we diverted ourselves for quite a few kilometres along the wrong road, we sussed this out when the road became a single track & we thought that, even in the outback, roads that have road trains would have a lane going each way! In fact that’s all they do have! I think we may have seen a maximum of 70 vehicles all day (in about 900km & that includes in the towns); most of them were road trains! We still hadn’t seen any live kangaroos, but there were quite a few dead’uns by the roadside, but we did see emus, a whole flock (is flock the plural?) By now the repetitive landscape had become a bit boring and it was rather strange when life revolved around whether a trucker waved at you & how many dead kangaroos you saw! What a day Thursday was, we continued up the Great Northern Highway and we entered the Tropic of Capricorn – we knew because there was a big sign telling us – we made Newman in not much more than 4 hours, the problems were before we set off! On Monday evening Tony had an itchy hand, on Tuesday the back of it was a bit swollen and by Thursday morning it was swollen up past the wrist, you couldn’t see his knuckles. I insisted we went to the pharmacy, the pharmacist took one look & said, “you need to see a doctor.” We went to Meekatharra District Hospital – no doctors there until 10.30 – so we went to Centre Link to see about Medicare, the manager was very chatty, he was only there because no-one wanted the job and they offered him good money & a free house, Meekatharra is a small Aborigine town and not very nice, apparently most people who go there to live go for the money and they only stay for a few years. Back at the hospital the doctor decided it was an allergic reaction to a bite, prescribed steroids & gave Tony a prescription for antibiotics as well in case it became infected, then it was back to the pharmacist for his pills! Everyone was wonderful. It was nearly noon before we actually set off! The journey was good, I was actually quite surprised by the landscape, I had expected it to be much more barren than it was, there was quite a lot of greenery although in places it was very obvious that it’d been on fire fairly recently, we passed over a couple of rivers but they were dry. We’ve still not seen a live kangaroo although by the number of carcasses on the roadside there must be plenty of them about. There doesn’t appear to be any soil as such just red dust & red rocks, no wonder Red Dog was red! Newman’s a very busy and thriving mining town, there were workers everywhere, I would say that more than every other vehicle we saw was a mining company vehicle, there were high vis’ clothes everywhere, we think this campsite was owned by the mining company, the majority of residents worked in the mines. We went shopping to Woolworth’s supermarket, it was quite amusing at the checkout, the girl who served us couldn’t believe that we had gone to Newman on holiday but she felt a little better about it when we said we were just passing through, when I mentioned Meekatharra she was aghast, apparently that’s the place where she found frogs in the toilet – luckily we didn’t have that problem. Friday and we arrived in the Karijini National Park which is absolutely lovely, with waterfalls, gorges and rock pools, we stayed at the Dales Campsite, it was very basic, the only facility was a camp toilet and you’d have to be brave to use that at night, I went in, lifted the seat and a spider looked back at me! (Some of the spiders can give you a nasty nip!) We walked to the Fortescue Falls & Fern Pool, absolutely beautiful but a long way down and even worse coming back up! Still hadn’t seen a live kangaroo but we were assured they do exist! The flies were a pain but that was expected, no mozzie bites yet! It is astonishing is the number of termite mounds we saw in this area, there must be billions of termites! On Saturday we made it to Port Hedland on the first part of our Western Australia adventure, it really is a spectacular country, so far our highlight has been The Karijini where we watched the wedge tailed eagles soaring overhead.

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