I was up at 6, just as it was getting light, to get all the food we’d bought yesterday organised into tubs so we could pack the car and the trailer and move on. It was beautiful working in that early morning light amongst the trees. The others came out as they woke up, and we had breakfast then the kids went back up to see the sharks again. Tony discovered some green stuff at the bottom of one of our water containers, so he spent a bit of time cleaning that out and sanitising the container. I had wanted to get away early and was starting to worry that we didn’t ever seem to be able to do it – then realised it didn’t matter. We have relaxed evenings and mornings, there’s no stress and little rush, and we can do this trip at our own pace. Just because most people are up and out between 7 and 8 doesn’t mean that we need to do that as well. And if there is ever a day when we really DO have to be gone that early, I’m sure we will manage it at the time.
So we got away by 10, feeling happy and relaxed and still not sure what our plans for the day were. We’d been thinking of going straight to Karajini (about 400km) but were slightly worried about getting a campsite unless we got there early, and the girls really wanted showers – after 3 days without one here, and with no showers at Karajini, they wanted a shower stop in between. I’d been told there were free public showers near a beach in Port Hedland, so we decided to shower there and then figure out the rest of the day later. We stopped at the railway bridge again because the digger was up on the sand pile and I wanted to get a photo of it – then we jackknifed the trailer as we attempted to back out of our spot. Looks like it’s only cosmetic damage though so it shouldn’t impact on our trip. We reached the beach and it was a beautiful spot, with a creek winding in from the ocean and gorgeous sand hills either side of it. The showers only had cold taps though and no one wanted a cold shower. We filled up all our water containers at the drinking tap there, and Tony rang a station stay we’d heard about to see if we could get in there with our 2WD car – no problems, they said, so we decided to stay there tonight and head to Karajini tomorrow.
We popped back into Woolworths to get bread and cash and petrol, then back out over the railway bridge for the last time, then out of Port Hedland. We only had another 70km or so to go to get to the station, so it was a short days driving today, but makes the trip to the National Park easier tomorrow. On the way to Indee Station we saw more 4-trailer road trains than we have seen on our entire trip so far, they’d be coming past 2 or 3 at a time. I counted the wheels – 84 altogether! They are amazing – although often quite disconcerting as the back 2 trailers often wriggle about a bit as they drive. They always stay well within their lane, but it looks a bit scary as we approach.
There was a big road train in the driveway as we turned off to the station, so we were able to have a good look at it. We drove the 9km in off the highway quite easily. This is dry country, red dirt, sparse trees but with lots of magnificent white gum trees. We saw a few areas where mining workers are obviously staying, and I think there are several mines on the station. Eventually we reached the homestead and were taken out to the camping area. It wasn’t flash, but as usual once we’d put the tent up I felt right at home. The kids played under a big gum tree, LiAM did a magic show, the girls ground up some of the rocks to use as makeup, and we wandered around and explored the place a bit. There were calves wandering through the campground although after LiAM’s cow incident earlier the kids all avoided the cows. They met some people with a dog and chatted to them, I talked to a guy who used to work here and had come back to get his swag which he’d left behind. He said the station was bigger than the whole area of Perth!
Later in the afternoon we drove another 9km into the property to see Red Rock. We had a map to get there, but a couple times we seemed to cross trails that weren’t marked and it was a bit sobering – it would be easy to get lost in country like this. The kids were joking that we were going to see Uluru – and when we saw the rock it felt like we were! It was nowhere near as big, but is a large red rock rising up out of the ground, a similar shape in profile to Uluru.
At the end of the rock was a beautiful rock pool, full of water and reflecting the big rock in it, as well as reflecting the rocks all around it’s edges. The water was freezing! Caitlin had found a path up to the top of the rock, and then saw an easier way up, which LiAM took. Tony followed them and Millie and I walked around the back of the rock looking for the Aboriginal engravings that we’d heard about. Millie decided to go and join the others, so we headed up to the top. The view was fantastic – most of the country was flat with the occasional large rocky hill, and a couple of small mountains in the distance. There was a river which wasn’t flowing but there were many many water holes. The white gums stood out amongst the spinifex and lower vegetation. We could see the big road trains traveling along the highway in the distance. The sun was getting low in the sky and the light was amazing. There was a flat, grassy area about halfway up the rock that Millie thought would be great to build a cabin on – a beautiful, peaceful place to live.
We wandered back down and Millie and I saw a sign that said ‘etchings’ so found one of the engravings in the rock – large emu tracks we think. The boys walked the rest of the way around the perimeter of the rock. Caitlin wanted to go for a quick swim and went to get changed, and found some more etchings – a couple of lizards this time. They were quite cool to see. Caitlin spent a short amount of time getting wet in the rock pool. I put my feet in and felt quite refreshed.
We headed back to the campsite, seeing more cows and a couple of kangaroos on the way. We went over to the homestead for happy hour at 5.30 – byo alcohol, and they provide nibblies. It was fun to sit around a large table and chat to the other campers – most of them were heading north and had just come from Karajini, so we had tips for the northern part of Australia for them, and they told us lots about the National Park. There was a lot of talk about football too – there was enough signal for Tony to watch the Collingwood game on his phone, and everyone was interested in the progress of the game.
LiAM and Millie and I headed back once they’d had enough, and Tony and Caitlin followed soon after. The girls and I went over to have our showers – nice and warm and good water pressure, everyone was happy. We had cup-a-noodles for tea and then set up the beds. Tony watched the rest of the game (with a disappointing result) in the camp kitchen. It was a very cold evening, possibly the coldest we’ve had since we headed north. We got everyone snuggly into their beds and read a couple of chapters and the tent warmed up a bit with us all inside.