Karratha, Dampier & Millstream National Park

Another beautiful sunset on the way to Karratha

Try counting all the Correllas in just this one tree and nearly every tree had similar numbers

Weird moonscape approaching Pythin Pool - not a tree or bush to be seen anywhere

Not much water in the Python Pool

Michelle beside the Fortescue River at Millstream National Park
We arrived in Karratha back on Thursday 26th. We were made welcome & invited in for a cuppa with the Anglican minister, Ian. Though there was no work to be done there they were willing to let us park next to the church and use the facilities here. We went for a sightseeing trip to Dampier the next day and also took in a visit to the Gas plant nearby which we found fascinating. From here we went on to see the aboriginal rock carving area. This whole area looks like God dumped piles of rocks in large clumps to form rocky hills. I even thought at first on the way into the Gas Plant that the rock piles were literally dumped from the installation of the facilities for the gas plant. The rocky hills support virtually no vegetation on the slopes though you will find plenty of spinifix grass clumps at the bases and the odd small stunted tree – mostly dead trees at that! Though we didn’t see any Euros, there was plenty of evidence (poo scats and lots of road kill on the approach) to let you know the rock wallaby is plentiful in that area. We did see some crested rock pigeons. Of course there was the rock carvings which ‘they’ reckon could be as old as 6,000 years old. There were a lot of carvings , many were indecipherable mainly due to natural erosion, but there were also quite a few that you could make out. If one climbed the rocks, you could see even more rock carvings. Bob climbed one bit but I declined as I was in thongs that day. Yet I still managed to see well over 30 carvings, some as big as 2 metres, but that was only about 4 of them as most were about 30-80cm that I saw anyway. After clambering amongst the rocks we went into the small town of Dampier itself with its very busy port. On the way back we stopped at the lookout over the Karratha Salt Pans and saw the huge trains taking iron ore to the port. I counted well over 200 cars before I lost count. I reckon there was 250 carriages behind 3 engines and a some other carriage size engine/machine which I have no idea what it was but a type of engine but not a train engine!
On Saturday we travelled to Millstream/Chischester National Park. It is a small NP on part of the Fortescue River. It is a little oasis in an otherwise very rocky barren landscape. The road is basically a loop around the river. There are 2 good swimming spots with adjacent camp spots. The unmanned visitors centre is housed in the old homestead and there is quite a historic display of the region that is quite interesting. There is still plenty of water in the Fortescue River even though it is quite low for this time of the season. The associated wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem here supporting a range of fauna many of which are indigenous to the region and some are even rare. We had lunch by one of the swimming holes with literally hundreds of corellas sleeping up in the trees all around us. It was hard to see them at first as they blend so well into the white paperbark. I counted over 33 in just one tree. We considered ourselves lucky not to have been pooped on, yet later in the day I did notice that Bob had some bird poop on his shoulder. On the return to Karratha we decided to go a little (19km each way) out of the way to the Python Pool. We are so glad we did. If we had thought the landscape barren before, now we were to see what a totally barren land is. The whole vista is just mountain size piles of rock. It is so fascinating. Bob even refers to it as being a moonscape. The pool is at the base of 2 huge sheer rock faces. It must look marvellous when the waterfall is going. You used to be able to swim there but algal bloom has been discovered and swimming is discouraged. We recognized that we must have seen at least 10 trains on our trip that were in excess of 200 carriages long. I tried counting one of them and got as far as 234.
Absolutley lovely Sturt's Desert Pea - not all have the black 'belly'
On Sunday we went to the host Anglican Church. A great sermon with a decent size congregation for the outback towns of about 30 people with a lovely morning tea spread afterwards. After lunch and some craft time we went for a drive to Cossack and Point Samson to the north east of Karratha. Basically it is the beachside escape for the people of Karratha. We found sat in the shady lee of the rock face watching the people at one of the beach coves. It must have been cold in the water as we saw people shivering, even though the outside temperature was probably in the low 30’s. Jolly hot! Cossack is an abandoned town that has been restored and has several buildings registered with the National Trust. Great for history buffs!

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