Bustling Port Hedland was a hive of activity, and driving into town we quickly became aware of it’s large mining operations. The big players presence like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto help make it the world’s largest bulk tonnage port (who knew?) exporting over 323 million tonnes a year. Visiting the Port was an eye opener for the Roaming Rowes and watching some of the enormous vessels being loaded was a first. With a population of about 20,000 and a growth rate of 5.5% it’s booming.
As well as the new mining operations which are obvious, Port Hedland also has a Free open air mining Museum. The Don Rhodes Mining Museum showcases many older vehicles involved with building infrastructure as well as equipment used in days gone by. We loved wandering around, looking at the various equipment and reading about the role of each piece displayed. It was yet another example of the growth and people behind the growth, in pioneering and building this great country into what it is today.
For the Roaming Rowes it was a place we could hit up one of those mainstream supermarkets and do one of those BIG shops that we spoke about in our post Fed Up On the Road. When you are a towing a van parking in a shopping centre can be quite a mission, but in Port Hedland it was a breeze. Large car parks and provision for larger vehicle parking made the entire operation a joy! Not only did we manage to wipe out a large grocery shop but it was also the place for us to do a christmas shopping bonanza. Frankly we can’t wait for the look on the kids faces come Christmas morning, where ever we may be at the time. Crikey! we even got a Christmas tree, all 75cm of it, complete with LED lights ($15 Bargain)! The welcoming atmosphere whilst out and about was apparent; Port Hedland for us, was a friendly place.
The visitor centre is well equipped with information booklets and the like, detailing various tourist attractions. A turtle video was playing when we visited which gave us a great opportunity to learn more about the migration and habits of the turtles in the area. We then loved strolling through the open air sculpture gallery and into the main art gallery. The Roaming Rowes have a very high appreciation for art galleries; when at home visiting our local art gallery in Warwick is a regular occurrence. The art gallery in Port Hedland was a gem and well worth a look. With many pieces on display and a variety of styles, there is something for everyone.
Marapikurrinya is the name given by the first Australians for Port Hedland. The indigenous artwork at the gallery was superb. Whilst on our journey we have learned a great deal about aboriginal culture and more specifically interpreting the meaning behind some of the artwork. It is now something we feel great about, looking at a picture and evaluating – “oh this one is medicine related” as an example.
After we left Port Hedland we found a great free camp, right next to the Sherlock River. One of our favourite camp spots so far! Each afternoon we went for an explore and that is the times we love the most. We are fairly shy private people (That’s funny, whats with the public website and Facebook page), so we love having time where it feels as though we are the only ones around. The wildlife around the Sherlock river was fantastic especially the birdlife. For us it was the first time we saw the Western Australian fauna emblem in the flesh, in the beautiful,graceful, majestic Black Swan. Nothing more relaxing to us then the sound of birds, the feeling of wind in our hair while skimming a rock or too across a body of water. How Lucky are We? – WOOHOO!