Pilbara - Carawine Gorge and Skull Springs Road April 24 - 25 2018
  The water at the gorge is a little high, limiting walking access through the gorge, so we decided to climb to the top of the surrounding hills.

We think this is a wattle. We haven't seen one for a while.

Perhaps the biggest difference we've noticed in being out of the desert is fewer flies. So many less that we no longer need the fly screens during the day. There are still some flies, but not the vast cloud that gets in eyes and ears, that is almost enough to drive one to insanity. We now just need the occasional wave.

  Just a hill in the middle of tortuous country. The track we came in on is to our north, running across the pic. A side track into this valley.
  We'd like to walk along the edge of the river but suspect its a bit too high. Though we'll have a closer look.

The un-vegetated bit is coarse gravel. There's been a big flood somewhen in the last few years. It would have taken a lot of water, flowing fast, to move the gravel.

If it were flowing the Oakover River would be flowing towards us, from south to north.

  Looking south. Its evident the land was once at the level of the flat topped hills.

We are on top of one looking across the gorge.

  And looking into the gorge where the white box that is our temporary home temporarily resides.


  A broader view.
  A eucalypt.

Not a variety we have seen elsewhere. But then there are so many.

  The exit from the gorge for the water. Our entry.
  Where's the bird book?

If we were beside the sea we would immediately think "dotterel". Its picking food up in the drying weed at the edge of the water.

We guessed right. A black fronted dotterel.

  Ground level. Nearly back at the truck after a 90 minute stroll.
  Still behaving well.

I'm more comfortable with the tip of the second leaf having broken off.

More confident as time, and km, go on. And the roads become easier. We achieved 50 km/hr on the sealed Woodie Woodie road.

Lots of grease. Looks like my initial spacer has become more squashed. There may be enough room to remove it.

I remain intrigued as to why the helper leaf is not required. I'll keep staring at it until some inspiration, like "its bent", hits me. I'll compare old and new spring before new is fitted.

  nearly 4pm on a hot day and some birds decide its time to be active. A sort of late dawn chorus.

A white plumed honeyeater. I think. It did the usual bird acrobat thing of hanging upside down to extract nectar from the flowers.

Even with the bird book its hard to know when the landscape is unfamiliar.

  There was a small gang of these.

Fairly distinctive. Which should make it easy to identify.

But for me it doesn't make it easy. We suspect it may be young. At least that's our excuse. It gives us an impression of being a female bower bird but doesn't quite match aything that "the book" says lives here.

We also thought we took a pic of a forest kingfisher. But the book says they don't live here either so it couldn't have been!

And rainbow bee-eaters. Which are lovely and hard not to recognise.

Plus lots more ..... a veritable wonderland.

  Its good to be flexible.

The spring has arrived in Newman. Today is Tuesday. A plan may be to spend Wednesday and Thursday driving to Newman then have the spring fitted on Friday.

Alternatively drive on Saturday and Sunday to have spring fitted on Monday.

We figure that the sooner we know we have the right spring, fitted, and are fully mobile again, we will be happier.

Its relatively easy to examine the broken spring and, with some knowledge of how they are designed to work, take some remedial action, and believe the spring will last until Newman.

However. Having that happen is quite different. One can't really know until after reaching Newman.

So far so good. But there is always some doubt.

The gravel at Carowine is a bit soft. One wonders if we should have made the detour.

  The marks of the last flood. About where the track across the end of the air strip meets the river.
  We aren't travelling fast. The calves think they can do better.

We win in the end.

  Despite wondering about detours we visit the shiny glacier polished rock outcrop.

There's a sign post.

But even then we are sometimes unsure if we are looking at the right bit.

Rubbing one's finger across the smooth surface discovers its polished. The rock, not the finger.

There are also parallel scratches visible which indicate the direction the ice moved.

  They aren't big outcrops, and have eroded and moved a bit since being polished.

More research to do when internet available.

  Truck shows the size.
  Back to the main Woodie Woodie Road.

Four trailers on this road train. Carrying ore or concentrate.

  Woodie Woodie Mine is big.

At least the mullock heap is big.

We aren't allowed to drive straight on into the restricted area.

So we turn right onto the wonderfully named Skull Springs Road.

Its marked as a major unsealed road.

  This is the detour into "Running Waters".

Swimming and a campsite if we wanted one.

  With a kangaroo sculpture overlooking the track.
  Running Waters is on the same Oakover River as Carawine Gorge. Upstream of it.

We have to stop short of the water. There are large paperbarks and overhanging branches.

About 300m to walk. Too far for us to carry water to fill up tanks.

  The water is greenish and crystal clear. We watch the fish before deciding we should be swimming too.

Its deep, and the sides are vertical. Access by hanging onto a convenient tree branch. I couldn't detect any flow.

After open plains the atmosphere is somewhat ethereal.

Whatever that means!

The paperbarks form an arch over the river.

  The track was a bit rough. Rougher than Carowine. Another of those "should we be here" moments. This is the way out.
  Skull Springs Road is not in very good condition.

Corrugations and rocks slow us. Helped by washouts. By the time we get up to 20 - 25 km/hr we have to slow, change down a gear, negotiate a washout, then build up speed again.

The scenery is magic.


  Here the dark red was almost black.
  Occasionally we meet a rise and another valley on the other side.
  Working grader.

Smoothing out the washouts. Which helps us enormously.

  Flowers among the spinfex.
  The overflow from Hays Spring.

I think there is an alternative Skull Springs Road to the right in the middle of the puddle but am not about to explore.

After the customary moments hesitations - can I see the bottom etc. - its an easy drive through.

  Our regulation one vehicle seen per day.

A very well dusted tug and caravan.

I saw the dust before I topped the crest and pulled over.

We have entered a very wide, very long looking, east-west valley.

  The geology looks fascinating. Which is probably why there is lots of mining activity.

This is a "rock wall". A relatively thin seam of rock that is different to the surrounding rock, so has eroded differently.

  Another rock wall.

They seem to be across the tilted bedding planes of the hills.

  Distinctive epicormic growth, where new growth emerges from the trunk and branches rather than the tips, on the eucalypts suggests the hills have little vegetation due to recent fire rather than anything to do with the rock.

It allows us to see the fold of the land.

  This is a very twisted landscape. The ranges are not labelled on our map - apart from "Pilbara", which is a much bigger area.
  Will it rain?

We watch the clouds build during the afternoon. This is the rain we heard forecast for the Gascoyne and SE Pilbara.

Does that mean us?

  Oops! A sign for people driving the opposite direction to us.

No wonder we found it a bit rough.

The road has been steadily improving, and continues to do so.

We are back to 40 km/hr for lengthy periods.

  It definitely looks like rain ....
  The day, and the road, have taken their toll. 155 km plus a swim!

Its about 4pm. We are looking for a campsite.

There's lots of flat clear areas next to the road.

  We choose a spot opposite an old mine site. Next to Twenty Mile (Sandy) Creek. About 26 km east of Nullagine.

As darkness falls the rain becomes consistent, but light, then stops after about an hour. Not enough to contemplate collecting from the truck roof. We are facing the road, not far from it. Hopefully it doesn't turn everything to mud - unlikely, we think.

We hope to reach Newman tomorrow. Less than 200 km. On good roads.

A nice side effect of rain is coolth. At dark the temperature is 26 degrees C. We won't complain about being cold.

Pilbara - Newman and Kalgan Pool April 26 - 30 2018

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