Dampier and Red Dog

Next we headed to Dampier. Well if Karratha was “not pretty” then Dampier is EXTREMELY plain! Steve is amazed by mega industry having grown up in a town dug up by mining but I am mostly shocked by it as I grew up surrounded by Pine Trees. The industry where I grew up was the timber industry which is a bit easier on the eye, now sustainable and they have to clean up their mess- unlike mining. M

Dampier was just what I expected. I have never been here before, but have seen the movie “Red Dog” which was filmed in the area, about the area and it’s residents and they portrayed the place pretty well. Red dog is it’s claim to fame really. There’s even a “Roaming with Red dog trail” which takes you all around points in the town. M

red dog statue dampier
Dampier’s most famous resident- Red Dog the Pilbara wanderer.

red dog pilbara wanderred dog history

Dampier was until recently a closed mining town owned by Rio Tinto.  For this reason the town is situated in sight of and sound of the loading facility. The housing architecture could only be described as “prison camp”. At the caravan park after being checked in by the lovely Lorraine, we could actually sit right outside our caravan and watch Rio Tinto loading iron ore into a tanker! You could hear it too! You don’t get that everywhere! The loading facility runs 24hrs, 7days a week and for entertainment you can go and watch the trains (that we saw leaving Mt Tom Price Mine) that come from 250kms inland end at the wharf to dump their load. That is THE most entertaining thing to do here.

dampier sundowners
Watching the iron ore being loaded over a cocktail
dampier beach
The “beach” in Dampier with a view of the loading facility in the background. Even when you are not working you can see where you work. Great for morale I’m sure.
sams island
Sam’s island can be seen just off the foreshore and yes it too has a view of the Rio Tinto loading facility. Known as Sam’s Island after Sam Ostojich who settled here in 1965. He was supposedly stranded out there for a few days after a storm blew up and fell in love with the place. He then went back out whenever time allowed and began constructing a castle in 1966. He built layer after layer of rock walls carting soil, timber and provisions from the mainland. Don’t know if Sam is still around and we didn’t get out there but it is a nice Picnic spot supposedly. You can get out there by kayak easily from town.

OK, I am not being totally fair because we came here for the Burrup Peninsula not far away but again that is the problem, it is not far enough away! You can still hear and see the industry whatever you are doing out there. You practically drive through the Woodside gas plant to get to the National Park. Steve decided to take the “guppy” out from the boat ramp there and I had a free day and the ENTIRE caravan to myself! M

With the guppy I visited the Dampier Archipelago, which despite the industry to its south is actually quite stunning, with scores of uninhabited islands with white beaches and translucent blue water contrasting with red rock outcrops and the yellow-green spinifex.   It was great to spend the day hopping from beach to beach and bay to bay jumping into the water as I went along.  The tidal variation in this area can still exceed 4 meters, so the currents cause a fair bit silt to remain suspended in the water.   So while there was some coral below, the visibility was poor so not much good for snorkeling.   However I did spot a couple of turtles and a dolphin from the boat as well as several birds including the caspian terns above.    I also got some good views of the north west shelf gas production facility and associated shipping, but I will cover that in another post.  S

The Burrup Peninsula did have something special though. It was Deep Gorge in Murujuga National Park. It is recognised as one of the most prolific rock art sites in Australia with over 10,000 individual engravings or etchings located. It is a new park and has been nominated for world heritage status. Unfortunately we could not do a tour with a local on the Sunday we were there. It would have been nice to have the site explained to us. Mdeep gorge signmurujuga national park

rock risk
There is always a risk!
deep gorge
Industry peeking it’s ugly head between the rock art.   In this case one of the world’s largest ammonia plants using natural gas from the adjacent onshore gas processing plant 
real rock roo
A kangaroo guard not far from a roo etching!
rock boomerangs
Boomerangs
upper deep gorge
Millions of rocks and thousands of art works

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Boomerangs, emus, kangaroos, manta rays, turtles, lizards, fish, emu tracks

hearson cove
Hearson’s cove beach nearby was nice for a swim at high tide

We left Dampier a bit late and were told about a “secret” free camp on the Maitland River which turned out to be a lovely spot for the night. We are a bit fussy about where we will free camp and we loved this quiet, clean, side of the river spot which we had to ourselves. M

waterhole wildlife
While Steve sad waiting for birds to come for a drink the cows stood and stared at him sitting on their “trail” wondering what they should do! Big decision for a cow!
white plumed honeyeater and flowers
White plumed honey eater on a flowering tree on the river bank

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