Pilbara - Karijini National Park - Milli Milli Spring and Coppin Pool May 16 - 20 2018
  Crop circles.

Those mysterious circles in the land made by who knows what.

Just across the road from our campsite.

Mysterious entrances with "no entry" signs.

The water from the Marandoo Mine is used for irrigation.

Big, circular, plots of ......

  ....... hay.

It was an unnatural green colour in the satellite pic. And so it is from the ground.

  There's a tractor working in the distance.

Round and round, looks like its sowing, or fertilising.

Many years ago I visited a house which had its own circular lawn in the middle of a driveway. Mowing the lawn was by attaching a rope to a self-propelled mower. Every circuit of the tree in the middle the rope was shorter.

I'm sure it would work for a tractor.

  We headed towards Tom Price.

We'd considered this parking area as a campsite.

Pleased we found a "better" place. Though there looked like plenty of opportunity to hide behind the back.

  If anyone wants to try it, its just before the Marandoo Mine railway crossing
  More mountains, more flat plains.
  A ridge to go through, the RIP Lookout at the top.
  With the road disappearing onto another plain.
  Tom Price wasn't far.

A supermarket (Coles this time) with chocolate biscuits. Fuel with 4c off with the supermarket receipt. An info centre, where an old printout of "waterholes" was unearthed and provided. And a doctor's surgery where a flu shot was provided.

  We headed for Milli Milli Spring. The first in the list of waterholes.

A reasonably formed track, east off the Paraburdoo road.


  There's been some recent traffic, but not much.
  And the colours are superb as the sun edged lower in the sky behind us.
  And more superber. The spring is just round that hill.
  The instructions said "left for upper spring" and "right for lower spring".

This is the upper spring. A bit cool for swimming.

  So we headed for the lower spring. Until it dawned on us that "lower" may mean something different than our interpretation.

Our map shows the track running another 15 km to Turee Creek. We are nearly a km from the "upper spring" and a few hundred meters from the creek bed.

There are lots of little tracks.

  So we did what any sensible sailor would do. Throw out the anchor and stop for the night.

We have no desire to be driving round in circles in the dark.

We thought we might, we have 1-2 bar of 4G internet. For crows its 27km to Tom Price across the plain. We can see where we are on the google map satellite view. Nowhere near a spring.

We'll head to Coppin Pool in the morning. It looks large and enticing. Described on the info as "good camping". There are also some petroglyphs. We are hopeful they are the variety referred to as being Juna Downs which are distinct from the Munna Wanna and Pundu petroglyphs.

  Next morning we spotted the old fireplace. Some charcoal still there, and the firewood pile.

We don't like breaking new ground for a campsite unnecessarily. We are now a little happier.

We fleetingly try to imagine why anyone else would want to camp here. But can't.

  Found our way back to Milli Milli Spring, the way we came.
  Another quick look at it.
  Then across the plain, the track more or less follows Milli Milli Creek south east until it joins Turee Creek.

The track is on only one of our maps. But is also on google maps and is visible in satellite images.

It is Turee Creek which drains this whole area, the south of the park southwards, into the Ashburton River.

  We have no idea.
  But we do recognise horse poo. Or maybe its donkey poo.
  Some of the outcrops and hills are lighter. Quartzite. And some quartz.

Apparently there may be some perroudite (mercury, silver, sulphide, halide mineral) in the vicinity.

  There's the remnants of a shack at Coppin Pool.

Steel framed, tin shack. The corrugated iron sheets that form the tank are bolted together with a bitumen seal. A bit like meccano.

  And a bit north of the shack, Coppin Pool.

Just where the instructions and map said it would be.

We have 0 bars of 4G internet with modem on top of our 5m pole. Good for normal internet use. Nothing at ground level.

  The satellite view shows a few vehicles south of "our" pool.

We positioned ourselves in a convenient, ready made, cul-de-sac.

There's some ropes hanging from the tree behind the truck near the pool. Well away from the water. Perhaps an indication of how high the water is sometimes. We are here at low tide.

  Late in the day we walked downstream, down on the 4wd track, back along the creek bed. A lazy 4km.

Lots of the ubiquitous river red gums.

  This annoyed me so much I took a pic. Harsh and prickly, it curved over the track.

In a momentary lapse of concentration I decided to move it out of the way with my nose.

I'm sure it will heal soon.

An acacia, with flowers and seeds.

  Not many pools or surface water, but lots of reeds. Beautifully green.
  The petroglyphs are either not prolific or we are blind. Not a sufficiently major rock art site to have defined "Juna Downs" as a distinctive style.

The rock seems to have been eroded lots.

This was the first image we saw.

Obviously male.

  Not so much the obvious marks towards the top of the rock, more the vague marks lower down. Too vague for us to interpret.
  One image or two. Drawn at the same time or one on top of the other?

The circles intrigue us. I am totally incapable of drawing a circle freehand. Presumably there were people who were better at drawing on rock than others so got the job.

I guess if the pools are full there is no need for the circles. If they are empty the circles may help confirm its the right place for water. I struggle to find anything in the circles that may lead me to the next water. Its a bit like trying to understand a foreign language, without a dictionary.

I have lots of trouble with the current fad for icons and emoticons, of which there are far too many and increasingly difficult to decipher. Maybe one day we'll all use hieroglyphs again.

  The rocks are on the east side of the creek.
  Too indistinct and confused for us.

But decidedly not natural.

  Upstream. Bushes that don't look like they belong in arid country.
  The creek was a bit heavy going, despite parts of gravel bed there was a bit too much vegetation.

So we followed a ridge to the west. And found a cairn. Not on the top of anything, nor alongside a track, nor near a grave, and without any markings.

Possibly one of our more bizarre findings it seemed to mark a 20m rectangular area that had been cleared. Recovering well.

  Having followed the ridge for a bit we headed south, across the plain, to intersect the vehicle track.

We didn't expect to see this lonely cypress pine.

  Then followed the vehicle track back to the truck.

We spent a bit of time looking at a quartz outcrop about 50m from the truck.

Really though, our chances of recognising anything significant are remote. Less than winning lotto, and we've never achieved that.

But its fun, and we can imagine the thin red veins running through the quartz may be interesting to someone.

Looking at a lump of quartz through a very powerful magnifying glass (not quite a low powered microscope) reveals all sorts of nooks and crannies and crystals and deposited dust. Fascinating. Beautiful. And unphotographable even with our macro camera setting. Apart from which, nothing resembling perroudite.

Perroudite occurs at Coppin Pool as coatings of prismatic crystals from 0.05 to 0.025 mm in small cavities. Not very common, and very very small.

Of course, even if we found something we believe the rules are that we can't keep it.

  It should be easy to identify with the white streak behind its ear.

A white-plumed honeyeater. The book says seldom far from water courses, mostly in river red gums. And so it is.

On reflection, it looks much the same as the one we saw at Carowine Gorge. Just very different light. Just as well I write a blog!

Returning to Milli Mill Spring today.

  Having been captivated by quartz we stopped at a few outcrops.

We have seen neither Perroudite nor the mounds of pebble-mound mice.

  About 2 hours for 18 km.


And stop at Milli Milli Spring.

Lots of small birds, again, but far too fast for a pic.

  This time we notice the two posts. They look like gate posts, without the gate. There are no other posts near.

There's a larger pipe in the ground, then post stood in that. The posts are loose enough to lift. This is serious engineering, with sense of purpose.

Two bolts in each post. Its almost as if they used to hold a sign.

There is nothing near that we can find.

  A walk up the creek resolved the "upper" and "lower" mystery. Ali decided to practice some mandolin.

We are at the lower pool. There is an upper, much larger, pool, upstream.

The description we have is a bit old and a bit off. But at least it knew there were two pools.

Its been so long since we've seen corellas and cockatoos that I'd forgotten what they sound like.

  The upper pool. With more cycads.
  I wonder if this is festooned with kapok seeds. Or even if it is kapok.

It does look a bit like what fell out of mattresses when I was young.

An imported weed.

  Big cycads next to the pool.

Two more posts. Same design.

A nice flat area. With an overgrown 4wd track.

If the posts held a sign they were aligned so it was obvious to anyone arriving on the track.

  Too hard to resist.

Follow that track.

Surely it will join the track we drove in on.

  But no. At least not in the first km.

It heads persistently west. No matter how hard I will it to turn south.

It went up and over a ridge, with lots of scratchy mulga on the other side.

So I followed the ridge southwards. This is looking back, to check I knew where I was.

When we leave we'll have to look for a track to the north from the main track. A bit overgrown, and not worth following, but nice to know where it is. Without really knowing why.

  The ridge ended and I followed a creek, south east across the plain, on the assumption I would meet the track we drove in on.

But couldn't resist admiring this tree in the evening light. Not far from the creek in the background.

The going was easy, just a few short stretches of spinifex, otherwise stony with very short vegetation.

  Round trip about 4 km. The new hand held gps helping me find my way home.

Next morning our coldest yet. 11 deg C. The price of being in a creek bed. Daytime temperatures are mid 20's. Just right. Hard to imagine that three weeks ago we were still in days above 30 deg C. No pleasing some people.

  A slow trip west to the main road. Then south towards Paraburdoo.

Tom Price mine in the distance.

  To reach Bobswim we travelled beside the rail line for a few km. Then east.
  Park boundary. The yellow sign says "Aerial Burn Planned" and scrawled dates of 26/4/18 to 31/7/18.

Not quite our cup of tea so we turned round.

  The shadows are growing a bit longer.
  We are camped a couple of km west of the park boundary. Someone camped here previously.

Stood on top of a hill beside truck. Looking forward to sunset.

Pilbara - East of Nanutarra May 21 - 23 2018

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