De Grey River left us feeling far more well rested and we were ready to face some driving. First stop was Port Hedland, only about 80 km away, for bread and milk, hopefully a laundromat, and a visit to the tourist info centre.
From 50 or 60 km out, the drive involved being surrounded by road trains. All the three- or four-trailer types, they are huge. It seems that most vehicles that aren't road trains are mine utes or four wheel drives - this is a town built on mining! The mining dollar has purchased some impressive facilities too, including a tourist info centre which was full of interesting books and souvenirs. Alas, no laundromat - unless you care to pay for a night in a caravan park...
Sal and the kids hung out in a park at the waterfront while I ducked to the shops for the requisite items, and got to see a large ship arriving in the port. We also had lunch there, enjoying the sea breeze, before getting back into the car for the almost 300 km journey to our destination for the night - Albert Tognolini rest area, just outside Karijini National Park.
What a treat it was, driving down into the Pilbara region as the afternoon wore on and the sun got lower and softer. Rich red earth and rocks covered in varying shades of green, interspersed with the oranges and pinks and purples of the wildflowers, accentuated by the stark red vertical rock faces which rise regularly from the landscape. It's amazing how a landscape can inspire such feelings of wonder and elation and joy. Sal couldn't put the camera away - or every time she did, she would be grabbing for it again a moment later - but even more so than normal we experienced the frustration of the camera not capturing accurately what we felt our eyes were witnessing. The rest area too was a terrific spot - high up on a ridge to one side of a gorge in the National Park. We arrived in time to watch the sun set on the red rocks, and cook two minute noodles for dinner before the bugs arrived!
I think we set a new record for us today too - we came so close to covering the 250 km from Port Hedland to the next roadhouse without anyone needing to stop for the toilet - about 3 km short! That's really good for us! On other trivia, Albert Tognolini was apparently an engineer with the department of main roads (or equivalent) over here, and ended up as one of the top bureaucrats in the department, in part responsible for the positioning and building of a number of WA's highways
The night was cool and in fact turned very windy for a few hours, which is always a little noisy in Old Bess. But, come morning, both us and the other caravan stopped there were still firmly on the ridge and we were ready to enter Karijini.