Week 12 - June 04, 2018 - June 10, 2018

We started this week around Karijini in the little shire of Tom Price.  Tom Price is the highest town in Western Australia and is primarily an iron ore mining town under the watch of the mining giant, Rio Tinto.  Because of the mine's success, the shire is considered affluent as the wages are above the Australian average.  The namesake of the town was Thomas Moore Price, the vice-president of a U.S. based steel company, Kaiser Steel, and Mr. Price convinced the Western Australia government to realize the abundance of iron ore in the State.

We joined John and Michelle for a tour of Rio Tinto's enormous mining operation and by enormous, I mean everything was oversized: the trucks, the conveyors, the diggers, etc.  It was quite the interesting day.

   John, Michelle, Gerson and Me ready for the tour                        All that iron ore yet to be mined
   Overlooking the main pit                                                              One of several mining areas
   Quite the piece of equipment                                                         Massive truck (7 meters wide, 21') - cost $4.5million

    Conveyors 100's of meters long                                                   A local joined us for lunch

After the tour, it was pack up everything and get ready to leave Karijini for the Pardoo Station the next day.  We were a bit sad to leave such a wonderful place and the spectacular 'backyard' view.

   Our campsite                                   Playing with a camera filter and came up with stunning sunset photos

It was a long drive into Pardoo Station, with the last 13km being on the rather infamous washboard (unsealed) road.  Cinderoo did just fine and although we arrived at night, we nestled into a nice camping spot near the laundry.  Anyone that has travelled via motorhome/caravan knows how nice it is to have a good laundry (and a good shower) every so often.   Pardoo Station is a 200,000-hectacre working cattle property covering a diverse range of landscapes from rich tidal flats to rolling spinifex plains and made for the perfect stopover.

  Pardoo Station                                                       John and Michelle passing us on the road

From there, we were off on another long drive and made it into Broome for a several-day stay.  We had a nice lunch at the Sandfire Roadhouse and took a break from the passing mammoth road trains.  And, by road train I mean a multi-trailered transport truck that often has four full trailers being towed.  'Road Train' is an accurate description, not only by the vibration they cause us when they pass.
    Beautiful white peacocks around the Sandfire Roadhouse        One of the many Road Trains that passed us

Broome was to be our chance to catch our breath; however, it did not take long for us to plan a tour and some other outings.  We started with an Astro-tour that had us gazing at the stars, Jupiter and Saturn through multiple telescopes.  Greg Quicke, nicknamed "Space Gandalf" for his long, white hair and beard, has become a bit of a celebrity for his interesting and fun 'Astro Tours' of our celestial skies.  John, Gerson and I enjoyed a couple of hours of locating and viewing well-known constellations, stars, planets, etc.

   A local Broome crab flashing a gang sign                 Lunch at Matso's and sampling of their beers - famous for their Ginger Beer (very good)

   Me, Greg Quicke, Gerson and John all enjoying the Astro Tour       Lots of interesting information and fun equipment to use

With John and Michelle and their trustworthy 4x4, we ventured out onto beaches for a number of special experiences.  Broome is famous for its camel rides along the 22km long Cable Beach at sunset and it was fun to photograph the out-of-place animals while the sun was setting. 

   Famous Cable Beach and the Camel sunset parade            Cable Beach sunset            Beach traffic jam over the rocks
Cable Beach at low tide            John took this picture of Gerson and me - a significant low tide

Broome is a jumping off point to the Dampier Peninsula and specifically to Cape Leveque.  This peninsula is known for its pearl cultivation and we opted to take an all-day tour that included stops at indigenous peoples (Aborigines) towns as well as a glimpse into the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm's operation.  It was quite the day on those wonderful red-dirt, unsealed roads but at the end, we were rewarded with a refreshing dip in the Indian Ocean, off the tip of Cape Leveque.

   Beagle Bay Church and its famous pearl shell altar           Beautiful tree
   Lombadina and its church made of bush timber and

The pearl farm experience was quite interesting and fun.  According to our 'guide', the oyster is seeded with a small 'pearl' found in an oyster from, of all places, Mississippi, USA.  The oyster reacts to the embedded irritant by surrounding it with its own 'pearl' material and thus, making a larger pearl.  After two years, the oyster is taken from its bed, the pearl removed and the meat used in various dishes. 

Our group chose an oyster to open and a beautiful pearl was inside.  We also got to try the very expensive pearl meat and it was much like abalone in texture and taste. 
     Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm                                 Indigenes people wearing their pearl shells and early pearl divers
     Mississippi seed pearls and the oyster         The pearl exposed and a before and after look at the cultured pearl

We enjoyed a nice lunch in the restaurant at the pearl farm and then it was off to have a bit of a swim off Cape Leveque.  We heard quite a bit about the Cape and although the water was beautiful, the access was not easy and the beach was not as spectacular as we were led to believe.  But then, we have seen so many stunning beaches along the west coast, that we did not have much room to be impressed more by Cape Leveque.

    View from the pearl farm restaurant          Cape Leveque - view to beach and lighthouse.  Gerson enjoying his swim.

After our long day of touring, we just ended the week with a relaxing evening and looking forward to the next week's adventure.


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