A colleague and I were asked to spend about a week in the Pilbara region. This request came when the temperatures were hanging around 35-39 degree celsius, deep in mining country. I had never been to one of the towns and neither had my colleague. We planned the logistics of the trip carefully. We felt a quiver of excitement, despite the harsh conditions we were about to experience.
At the airport, we chatted like excited schoolgirls, reassuring the other, “We’ll be okay!” anticipating a long, hot drive that would take us over 500 kms in extreme heat. Maps, google maps, directions and safety plan in place, we were off and ready to experience whatever the trip threw at us.
Our work over in Port Hedland, we left early morning on a Sunday, our car heavy with water. “You can’t have too much water!”, we reasoned with the other. We laughed when we realised, each of us had brought two phones each! Well charged! Left on our own, neither of us are good navigators but between the two of us, we are excellent!
Outback! Here we come!
Like me, my colleague thrilled to the grandeur of the landscape on either side of us and before us. We gasped in delight! “Ohhhh! looooook!”
Having left Port Hedland early to avoid heat, we were nearly at Tom Price when we realised we were too early to check into our accommodation. As our trip took us through Karijini National Park, we stopped for lunch in the afternoon. We could barely open our eyes to the heat that radiated from this landscape.
We walked slowly towards a bench, hoping to rest and enjoy a snack. We walked in silence, one behind the other. Taking it all in.
I lagged behind, looking at small things. The burnished seed pod caught my eye.
The delicate mulla mulla stopped me in my tracks.
The trees were huge and yet, looked like they were made of soft dough, spreading like ooze on the red earth. I was tempted to poke it. It gave the illusion of softness and delicacy, but it was strong and firm. The tree reminded me of the nanny I had during childhood. A sparrow of a woman, she was my role model of grace in adversity. I stopped and touched her in memory. The moment made me catch my breath. She held my hand when I would refuse to go from one room to another at night, unless I had someone with me. I know she would be proud of me today!
Below us were the most amazing gorges and waterfalls. Water looked icy cold and tantalizing. The walk down in heat, was something neither of us wanted to do, especially as we had not anticipated the stop and had not dressed for weather conditions.
An hour later we were at Tom Price, the highest town in Western Australia. Cradled in the palm of ranges, it is a pretty town and took us by surprise. We were expecting red flat, dust roads everywhere. Our accommodation was at the foot of Mt Nameless. Magnificent!
Two weeks before our trip the area was ravaged by a controlled burn that went wild. The flames licked the edges of the park we stayed at. The smell of destruction, still pungent.
I love this sunburnt country. It is harsh. It is unforgiving. It is humbling. It demands respect. It also gives glimpses into the most delicate of hues. Or the most vibrant. Always surprising. Always taking one off guard.
I was thrilled to make this journey with my colleague. There was so much we didn’t know and had to research. The joy of discovery was contagious. It made the journey an adventure.
And, isn’t that what life is supposed to be?
Until next time,
A dawn bird