The Pilbara Experience
My planned stopover for 6 months in iron ore country stretched into 10 months … and I enjoyed every minute of it. Also, I was working on a Fly-In Fly-Out roster, which gave me a chance to go back home to Sydney once a month anyway.
I've made the most of my time here – I mean, as much as you can, having only one day off every three weeks – but even every day at work was a sort of adventure. And on the days off, I was back on my bike exploring the region.
I feel I belong here …
Even though many think Pilbara doesn’t have much to offer, from my perspective there was so much to explore and I've truly become attached to this region. Living in the outback, next to the ocean, surrounded by desert, yet still finding magical gorges with natural pools and swimming holes. Just amazing.
That and, as an engineer, I’m absolutely fascinated with mining technology and the industry as a whole; the production of iron ore, sea salt and natural gas is incredible to witness.
I feel like Karratha is my second home - after all I’ve spent more time there than in Sydney for almost a year now. This is where my Pilbara work experience started, and even though at the moment I’m located next to Tom Price (350km in land), I still feel Karratha is my other home. The town has everything you could want from a town in such a remote area: pubs, a club, a shopping centre, a leisure centre and, a must for me: well supplied (albeit pricey) hardware stores. And I have to mention the FeNaCING (Fe – iron Ore, NaCL – salt, NG- natural gas) Festival - if you're here in August you're guaranteed a great day out!
This is a most charming industrial town – and it’s all happening: ships are loaded with iron and sea salt, exporting it to the world! There are some cool 4WD tracks at Burrup Peninsula that are worth exploring, and they serve THE BEST STEAK SANDWICHES in the world at Roadrunner Cafe– you'll get addicted.
Cossack & Point Samson
The real gems on the coast are Cossack and Point Samson, surrounded by the most beautiful sandy beaches in the region. Cossack is a heritage ghost town which, back in the day, was a centre for pearl diving but is now famous for The Cossack Art Awards. This amazing exhibition is the most isolated art award of its kind in regional Australia. If you're in the area in July then this is a must-see!
Point Samson on the other hand is a stunning little town famous for excellent caravan parks, B&Bs and a four star resort, but my favourite and most frequently visited place was the Samson Beach Tavern – where you can order the best fish'n'chips in the area!
Passing through Roebourne on North West Coastal Highway gives you the feeling “it's just another town” but I’m so glad I didn’t judge the book by its cover: there's many heritage buildings hidden away from the main road. The Old Gaol Museum is worth a visit, where you'll learn about the history of the settlement from pictures, stories and displays. Roebourne is also home to many world renowned Aboriginal artists, so a visit to Yinjaa- Barni Art Centre was a real experience; I had the chance to chat to local artists and watch them working.
Well, it’s time to complete Tour De Oz! Starting my journey in two weeks, I’ll be going through south of WA, SA, VIC and finally home to Sydney. I’m feeling a little bit unprepared for this trip – didn’t have the time to do proper research like last time, and I haven’t ridden my bike for few months … but I’m sure once I’m back on the road it’ll all be fine. Like riding a bike.
If you have any suggestion for things to do, places to go, people to meet, then I would love to hear them!