Today was a day of driving. We needed to get down to Point Samson and make up a little bit of time after spending an extra day in Broome. It’s about 834km’s, so if you are doing that distance, you can expect it to take up most of the day, particularly once you add in some rest stops.
We watched the sunrise over Roebuck Bay and then got underway bright and early.
It’s 322km’s down to the Sandfire Roadhouse, and there is not much between it and Broome, so we had a breakfast stop on the side of the road along the way before a proper rest break at the roadhouse.
There are some rest stops along the way, but Sandfire is the first roadhouse. It’s quite unique as far as roadhouses go.
The exterior is decorated with signs of all sorts from all over the country, including a particularly unique “Leprechauns Crossing” sign.
Then, of course, the toilet signs are upside down.
Out the back is also a caravan park and motel with accommodation available for the weary travellers. Inside you can expect to find some corner store style staples as well as a small restaurant offering decent road food.
In 2007, Sandfire Roadhouse was burnt pretty badly, so there is now a bit of an outdoor museum with memorabilia and newspaper clippings.
It’s quite amazing to see the exploded gas cylinders and read about the devastation the fire caused.
Which brings me to the name Sandfire. I figured it must have been because of a fire in the desert. It turns out though that it actually got its name because it is on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert and Ludwig Leichhardt recorded in his diary that the sand appeared to be on fire. Don’t let that put you off! It may be hot with red sand everywhere, but there are some lovely gardens around the roadhouse, and if you are lucky you may even see peacocks.
From Sandfire we continued another 139km’s to Pardoo Roadhouse where we stopped for lunch.
They have amazing sausage rolls, and the air conditioning is certainly appreciated.
The menu is pretty decent, and while there is a bit of a remote premium surcharge, the prices aren’t too high.
We didn’t spend long here as there really isn’t anything to see at the roadhouse, but you can expect a little bit of Aussie outback humour.
On the road again with some lunch, next stop, Port Hedland!
From Pardoo Roadhouse, Port Hedland is a further 154kms. There is not much along the way at all, but as you enter Port Hedland, the mining infrastructure becomes very prominent. The enormous road trains become more frequent, and soon, long trains start to appear near the road.
On the way into the town is a large monument called “Transformation”.
Funded by BHP Billiton, it reflects life on the Pilbara and is made from materials that represent the transformation of natural resources to refined materials.
You can’t really see it in the photo, but it is moulded with imagery that represents the indigenous and non-indigenous people, the environment and ecology. It is interesting to look at up close.
Port Hedland as a town is split into three suburbs, Port Hedland, South Hedland and Wedgefield. From the Great Northern Highway, Port Hedland is on the coast side, South Hedland and Wedgefield are on the land side. Port Hedland is the old town and is where the Port is actually located. Wedgefield is a residential suburb and South Hedland is the new area that has been developed by the mining companies.
Heading into Port Hedland on Wilson St, just past the Shell service station, is a small park with old mining locomotives and trucks.
It is called the Don Rhodes Mining Museum.
The term, ‘museum’, is a little deceptive since there is not a lot of information and it is open air.
It’s more of a park with a memorial to the iron and manganese mining history of the area.
There are three diesel locomotives, some old mining trucks and some other machinery.
On the Wilson St side, it is nearly all dirt, but once you get further back from the road, there is grass and some nice shaded spots to sit and have a break.
It could use some maintenance and some more information, particularly about its namesake, Don Rhodes.
Nevertheless, it is free still an interesting and free place to stop, particularly for those that like trains and are interested in rail history.
On the day we were there, a coffee van was set up next to the park and seemed like it was there often, so you can top up if you need to!
Heading further into town are some historic buildings and the visitor information centre.
The information centre has a lot of info on the history of the port, surrounding area and mining.
The information centre actually has an old head frame right behind it.
Heading out to the water it is quite a beautiful, but a rough stretch of coast. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop for long, so I didn’t actually get to take any pictures of the historic buildings and coastline. It is a quick and easy drive to circuit around the coast before heading back out of town, so it doesn’t take long to have a sticky beak before getting on the road again.
We didn’t expect to see anything else between Port Hedland and Roebourne, but to our surprise, just past halfway between the two is Whim Creek. We wouldn’t have even noticed it except for the really cool sign by the road advertising the Whim Creek Pub.
We decided to go in and check it out.
There isn’t really anything there except for the pub and a war memorial commemorating the lost lives of a family of Aboriginal men that were killed in the war.
We had a quick leg stretch while we were there but didn’t go into the pub. We weren’t quite sure how we felt about hanging around for the ‘murder mystery’ at a pub in the middle of nowhere that is pretty well hidden from the road.
Roebourne and Point Samson
Coming into Roebourne, we passed the visitor centre. It was 5:00 pm already but we thought we would drop in and see if it was open still. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, so we kept on going to Point Samson to try and get there before dark. The turn off to Point Samson is about halfway through Roebourne. It’s only another 19km’s to Point Samson, past Wickham and Cossack. We arrived right on sunset so went out to the water to get some sunset photos.
The Cove Holiday Village
There are two caravan parks in Point Samson, and we decided to stay at The Cove. It’s a little further from the water (though not much), and in our opinion, looked nicer.
It was pretty quiet when we were there, so even though we had a few caravans nearby, we had the amenities almost entirely to ourselves, and they were quite pleasant.
The sites themselves were almost flat and nicely grassed with concrete slabs. They actually looked like they were quite new. At $40 per night for a powered site, we were very pleased with our stay.