Leaving the Kimberly for the Pilbara

We left the Kimberly coast and turned inland to the Pilbara. It was sad to leave the beautiful coastline behind but better for my shell collecting addiction. 80 mile beach was just littered with temptation. It was also exciting to be getting back out into the deserts again on the Marble Bar road.

80 mile to dles gorge

This area had had a big dump of rain in March and it looked much greener than most places we had seen on this trip. The most exciting thing about this, was that there were wildflowers which you only see after rains. It was the first time we had EVER seen the Sturt Desert Pea in the wild and they are really striking little flowers. M

sturts desert pea pilbara roadside
The very striking Sturt’s Desert Pea on the side of the road.
sturts desert pea roadside closeup
Sturt’s Desert Pea, a very unusual looking flower that really stands out. They sort of look like little alien beings with big black eyes!
fluffy wildflowers
Wildflowers after rain on the side of the road

yellow flower bushyellow flowers

Our first night away from the coast was at a really beautiful free camp on a river bed at Dooleena Gorge. There was not much water in the river but it didn’t matter as we were surrounded by gorgeous red rock. It was all birdsong morning and evening but no new birds at this lovely spot. There were only a few other campers surprisingly. M

doolans gorge free camp
Doonleena Gorge free camp
dooleena camp2
The spinifex covered hills around Dooleena gorge and Keddie tucked into the trees on the edge of the riverbed.
dooleena camp
Relaxing on the dry river bank.
pool at dooleena
A tiny bit of water left in the river.
ibis herons and egret at dooleena
Straw necked ibis, Great egret, White faced heron and White necked heron all competing for what was left in this drying pool.
caught with his pants down
Greater Egret heeding the call of nature!
Peregrine Falcon.
Peregrine Falcon watching us from high above and complaining the whole time!

doolans gorge free camp 2

green happy spinifex
Very happy green spinifex surrounded us on the hillsides that looked more like wet season plants due to a big dump of unseasonable rain.

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We headed to Marble Bar next which is in the Guiness book of records for being Australia’s hottest town by having 161 consecutive days over 37.8 in 1924. Oodnadatta which we had visited earlier on the trip was said to be Australia’s hottest town by having the highest ever recorded maximum of 50.7 in 1960.

marble bar temp
Only 29.7! Not so hot today.


After a quick look at the museum we headed to the Iron Clad Hotel for some “man food” as Steve is now calling it. We had the burger and chips, so it’s woman food for dinner! It was one of those interesting old outback pubs with plenty to look at while you ate.

Marble bar was named after a stone bar at the Coongan river crossing nearby. The only problem is the stone is Jasper not marble but once they figured that out, the name had already stuck. I think Jasper Bar would have sounded fine. The best thing about this town was the beautiful Jasper and lovely swimming area near it!


bringing out the colours at marble bar
The jasper looked even better when you wet it!

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Above is the “marble bar” on the Coongan River. It is really jasper stone which you probably would not notice but for millions of years of it being “polished” by water flow, sand and rocks running over the top of it. Afterwards we went to a nearby fossicking area to get us a piece of this beautiful rock but there were none as beautiful as this polished river bed.

swimming hole at marble bar
Marble Bar swimming hole
pink eared duck ears
Pink eared ducks. We often see these on sewage ponds so we were happy to see them in some clean water for a change.
gypsey wagon marble bar
A grey nomad with a hippy twist seen in Marble Bar.

Marble Bar sprang up as a part of the gold rushes to the Pilbara in the late 1880’s. The gold rush was short lived and miners soon headed south for bigger discoveries. We stopped in at the old Comet mine on the way out the next morning. An old Dutch Farmer named Gerald told us the history of the mine as we sat on the veranda of the old mine managers house, now the museum. The mine is too “dangerous” to take tours groups through.

comet mine
Comet mine with tallest smoke stack in the southern hemisphere when built to clear mine of arsenic gas.
pilbara colours
The colourful hills of the Pilbara


After a night at the caravan park in Marble bar it was great to get to our next free camp. It is another beauty at Tambina Creek which we have to ourselves. The screeching of the corellas here will be waking us early but that is OK.

tambina creek free camp 2

tambina creek free camp
Tambina creek free camp
Tambina creek camp
Sunset from a nearby hill.


6 thoughts on “Leaving the Kimberly for the Pilbara

    1. Hi James, We got in with no problem with a 17ft van, just have to watch the trees a bit. Someone before us did some “trimming” with a chainsaw. There were easier and harder sites to get into and not heaps of turning room but no problem if you take your time. Worth it as a lovely and tranquil spot. Don’t know about dogs but it is not a Nat Park. Are you on the road now? M


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