Port Hedland, Western Australia


Monday, October 1, 2018

Indigenous Art
On our 2015 visit to Western Australia we chanced upon an extraordinary indigenous art gallery in remote Turkey Creek. Warmun Art Gallery housed hundreds of canvasses all in the Kimberley style which is characterized by solid Australian colours of ochre, sand, black separated by white dots. We bought one which hangs in our family room.

We are now the delighted owners of 3 more pieces – 2 by Shirley Purdie the wife of Gordon Barney who painted the one we already have, and my very favorite, a simple, graceful piece by Marika Riley, an “emerging artist,” which means she is just beginning to paint. It is the story of a car breakdown in the outback and a 16 hour trek with a baby and 2 children back to safety. All of that in 2 blocks of ochre and sand separated by a diagonal ribbon of black. Stunning!

Caravan Parks
Our “home away from home” is a roof-top tent accessed by a 5 step ladder. Inside is a foam mattress with sheets, sleeping bag and pillows. Mesh windows allow for air circulation especially on hot nights. It is rather like a snail – wherever we go, our home comes too, which means that Geoff puts up and takes down the tent whenever we drive into town for shopping, dinner or the beach.

Whenever possible we stay in national parks but that’s not possible in towns. Dotted all over Australia are caravan parks where backpackers, transient workers, vacationing families, retirees, tourists and longtime residents live or pass through. Some are treed as in the photo, others are pretty barren with cement pads for trailers adjacent to tents. Here in Port Hedland which houses many fly in/fly out mining workers there are dozens of cabins.

Many have swimming pools, some have cafes, all have toilets and showers of varying cleanliness and water pressure. Given the space between campsites in Canadian parks I was initially taken aback by the lack of privacy. The upside as we’ve discovered in nearly every campground is the opportunity to meet people.

Karsten, originally from Germany, now a transplanted New Zealander, and his son who lives in Germany were waiting to be picked up for their next working job on a cattle station. They were out of money and food but had reduced their caravan park fee by offering to clean the kitchen which was spotless after their efforts. They finished the rest of our beef and rice curry and Greek salad. They got food and we didn’t have to store it an extra day.

Geoff helped a couple from Switzerland who were putting up their roof-tent for the first night.

My morning shower was blessed by a little girl, maybe 6 or 7 singing happily as she showered and dressed, her mother and baby sister in the next stall.

Four stylish young women from France had Queen on full blast in the bathroom one evening as they did their hair ready for an evening out. Great music and lots of energy.

Two girls offered to rake our leaves and after I’d said that would be lovely asked how much I would pay. “How much do you usually receive?” I naively asked. “$10.” After much negotiation we settled on a small patch of land for $1 shared between them.

Occasionally you meet people who, if you lived closer, would become friends. We had the good fortune to choose the campsite next to Alan and Pearl from the Danong Hills outside Melbourne. We shared wine and conversation several nights under their awning. Forest fires take on a personal menace when you hear from a couple whose home escaped fire twice, once by mere metres. Pearl and I share similar book interests and they have travelled and camped with their families as we did.

I find it hard not to talk to people, even if only for a brief greeting. Caravan parks gather people from many nationalities, stages of life and ways of living. The people we meet add immensely to the pleasure of travelling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s