13/09/16 Our stay at Barn Hill extended one more day because Di reckoned that Birthday Boys shouldn’t have to drive on their special day. I agreed (easy decision) and we celebrated with a lunch at the Ramada Eco Resort just up the road at Cape Villaret. Truth be told, we’d have stayed at Barn Hill much, much longer except we’d already committed to a camp site in Cape Range National Park, and the booking couldn’t be cancelled or rescheduled without forfeiting monies already paid. Consequently, we very reluctantly departed after our eight-day stay and headed to Pardoo Station, 370kms south on the Great Northern Highway (which fortunately and despite its name also goes south).
After two days at Pardoo Station, the pantry, cellar and fuel tank were restocked a little further on at Port Hedland and we continued south-west, via the North West Coastal Highway (Who named these roads?) to lunch at the renowned hotel and drinking spot at Whim Creek. This pub truly ranks as one of those interesting “in the middle of nowhere” places. Nice menu and cold beer, though.
We were both pleasantly surprised by the town of Karratha, driving through it on our way to see the Red Dog statue at the nearby port of Dampier. The small town populated by beer-bellied blokes in blue singlets as depicted in the movie was instead a large, modern and prosperous community. Not a toothless grin in sight.
South of Karratha, we camped alongside the Miaree Pool on the Maitland River. We’d set up beside a seating area shaded by an impressive laser-cut steel roof, as it was the only reasonably flat piece of ground for the van. I commented to Di about what appeared to be light fittings on the structure but dismissed the idea as the location was so isolated. Why would they bother with lighting? Shortly after dusk, the structure lit up like the Storey Bridge on New Year’s Eve, with LED strip lighting around the perimeter of the roof and underneath, powered by a solar panel and battery on top. Our site looked like Party Central in the Bush. We had our own private solarium. Apart from the nightly lightshow, it was a nice camp spot and we stayed on a second day.
The picturesque waterhole, fringed with shady trees, was set in low rolling spinifex hills. The occasional brilliant blood-red and black flashes of Sturt’s Desert Pea flowers contrasted with the green of the spinifex and the desert red soil. Lots of birdlife was attracted to the waterhole, aggravating the itch in Di’s shutter finger and we regularly took walks along the waterhole looking for new “prey”. She scored a new bird – Star Finch – as well as an unusual albino Australian Reed Warbler that sang next to the van for most of the night. I thought birds were supposed to sleep at night like I was trying to do.
“A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” ― A.A. Milne, If I May