We had breakfast before dawn. Our route took us initially over flat scrubland. Eventually we turned again on to the North West Highway. There was more traffic on the road and some of it showed evidence of the nomadic life of some of the travellers. The signboard showed the vast distances between our location and the rest of the world……
We came across another Overland group in real trouble. Apparently the truck company’s fuel card had been refused at the previous stop and the passengers had clubbed together to cover the cost of the fuel with the promise from the company that money would be put on the said card before they needed more fuel. They had just stopped for that refuelling and the card was still not operational and the passengers (understandably) were refusing to fund the company again for fear and of not getting their money back. We subsequently learned that they were there for three hours before the situation was resolved. When they reached the National Park the rangers went on to the truck, found it wanting in many ways and this, added to the fact that the company had not paid the Park accommodation fees for over 6 month’s, led to the Overland Company being closed down. The poor backpackers were to be taken to Broome, the next major town,where their tour would end. The moral of the story I guess is to check the viability of your tour company….
Back to our trip. We drove on through the day, eating the lunch sandwiches made at breakfast on the way.
Our next stop was in iron ore mining country. By now the hills had turned deep red and showed the scars of mining. The ant hills were markedly darker. Our road had passed over a long conveyor belt that disappeared over the horizon on both sides of us. This apparently is the means of getting the spoils from the mines to distributing junctions. The town built to support this mining activity is called Tom Price. We reached the Tom Price mid afternoon. After a visit to the supermarket (and bottleshop) for supplies we rode the final comparatively few kilometres to Karijini National Park which was to be our base for the next three days. At Karijini we stayed at an Eco Retreat run by the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation.
We were camping again, but once again the tents were already erected. The first thing you become aware of is the red dust. The earth is red. The terrain I felt was very similar to the African savannah. We watched the sun go down soon after we arrived but weren’t really to appreciate the magic that is Karijini until the following day.
After a good meal it was time bed. As I have said, I had known I was in trouble when I opened up my sleeping bag and read the ‘tropical’ label. In my effort to ensure the smallest pack, I had gone for the lightest – not at all good this night when, as happened, the temperature dropped to 3 degrees overnight. I was cold. I had added the fleece and socks to my usual Overland night attire (a silk shalwar chemise built for me in India). All very exotic but not very warm. Even again adding Keith’s travel towel (I have lost mine and now have a Postage Stamp piece of towelling in penance) I was no warmer. I swear I was shivering so hard the tent was shaking at one stage!