Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

Western Australia at the end of our journey

22-Jul-2005
   

Another 230kms along the edge of the Great Sandy Desert has taken us to Port Hedland. Actually we are staying in South Hedland, which is about 15kms south of Port Hedland. The best way to describe Port Hedland is that it is brown! The whole place looks like it has gone rusty because of the dust from the iron ore terminal alongside the town. I think they built South Hedland to get away from the dust. The other main industry here is salt, which is made by evaporating seawater in vast saltpans. The climate is fairly constant, dry and warm, which makes it ideal for the process. The enormous mountain of white salt makes a pleasing contrast with the brown just along the road.

The salt works near Port Hedland

Salt at Port Hedland
Port Hedland from space

Here is what it looks like from space:

Satellite view of Port Hedland and the salt pans Sorry but Ali moved just as the picture was taken so she has come out a bit blurred.

Talking of colours, we crossed over the De Grey River on the way but it turned out to be red!

The De Grey River

The DeGrey River
Iron Ore Train at Port Hedland

The iron ore is transported to the terminal from the mine 450kms away. It's the longest privately owned railway in Australia and the trains are massive. The end of this train is on the horizon near the electricity pylon in the centre of the photo, 2.6kms away. For all you railway anoraks: six locomotives are used up to 4000hp each, hauling 240 ore cars (Ali reckoned that there were over 300 in the one in the photo!) each carrying 115 tonnes of ore. The locomotives are spaced evenly along the train and are radio controlled by two operators in the lead loco. The trains have a gross weight of 34,000 tonnes and travels at speeds of up to 75kph and there are seven trains scheduled each day. I wonder if they have problems with leaves on the line?

2.6km long iron ore train