80 Mile Beach
I slept pretty well last night, but woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose. The sore throat went away, but I think all the dust around has been bothering me – my nose feels tingly and my eyes are a bit sore. Not to mention, sleeping in the freezing cold and waking up at sunrise each day must be taking its toll on my body. I rarely get sick, and I hate it when I do!
I woke up at 6am in the dark and went off with my camera and tripod to catch the sunrise over the mountain ranges. Unfortunately, all the roadside shrubs and bush blocked the view of the ranges, so I didn’t get many good shots.
We left by 7:30 and stopped at a nearby roadhouse to drop off 2 people who were going back down to Perth instead of continuing north. Driving further north, it gradually got warmer. We got to Port Hedland around noon and stopped for food before having lunch at the port. All the iron ore from Tom Price is carried by train (236 cars, 110 tons each, takes 45 seconds to load 6 of them) to Port Hedland, where it takes 12 hours to fill one barge. From there, it is exported and later used to make steel.
We continued driving across the northern coast and by this time, it was much much hotter – probably 90 degrees or so. We arrived at 80 Mile Beach caravan park around 4 and it was made clear to us (several times) that it had to be silent in camp after 10pm, as the park was full of families and older folks who went to bed ridiculously early, ie 8:00.
I spent the hour before sunset frolicking on the beach at low tide – basically one of my favorite things in the world to do. This beach stretches for miles (80, obviously) and has soft light brown sand and small dunes. But best of all was the seashells and coral that wash up on the beach. All the pretty conch shells and snail shells you find in shops were there in all sorts of colors and designs. I found lots of coral pieces too, mostly beige-colored and some pink ones also. The greatest find though were all the sand dollars!! There were small thin ones, small thick ones, and big nugget-shaped ones. Each had a starfish shape carved in them, which varied in design between the different sand dollars. I wonder if that indicates age?
I wandered back around sunset, observing the dedicated fishermen in the water. I then gave in and had my first shower in 4 days and it was AMAZING! This, by the way, is coming from someone who hates taking showers (but rest assured, I DO shower regularly when I’m not in the Outback… otherwise my hair turns to grease). It felt so good to be clean again. I then proceeded to stuff myself with sausages and pasta and so stupidly had coffee in an effort to stay awake on our last night. Unfortunately, that and my cold prevented me from falling asleep til after 1 or 2am.
Around 10pm, some of us headed down to the beach to set up our swags. I was scared it’d be colder there than in the park, but at high tide there is a warm ocean breeze. We sat around talking for a bit and gossipping about various people. It took awhile for me to warm up to everyone on this trip, but I’m glad it finally happened. I’ll miss some of them! It’s a shame most of them end the trip in Broome and won’t be continuing on to Darwin.
I went to bed around 12, though not tired. The sound of waves crashing was so soothing. I woke up cold during the night once the tide went out, and the sky was full of stars! It was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many. And then I was up at 6 for the sunrise on the beach – 80 Mile Beach is unique in that the sun rises AND sets over it. So I got to see the dark orange and blue I’ve grown used to waking up to, and then fell asleep as it warmed up again.