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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Bridgetown to Derby
Our 2008 trip was planned to enable us to spend some weeks touring the vast and fascinating Kimberley region, as well as visiting central Northern Territory during the milder months of winter.

We left Bridgetown in the South West on a very wet day, heading to Perth via the Albany Highway then to Geraldton via the Brand Highway. After leaving Geraldton via the North West Coastal Highway, our first night was spent at the Galena Bridge Main Roads 24 hour rest area, near where the highway crosses the Murchison River.  A willy-wagtail joined me in looking upstream from the old Galena Bridge at dusk.

Heading onwards, this was taken a little to the north of the Exmouth turnoff.  Although the Coastal Highway is flatter and generally less scenic than the inland North West Highway, the scenery is always colourful and changing. 

 

We had previously visited Karratha, Dampier, the Burrup Peninsula, and Roebourne where the museum is one to visit but that also predated digital photos.

On Jarman Island near Cossack is an old lighthouse and ruins of the lighthouse keeper’s house.  Jarman Island lighthouse has recently undergone a major restoration programme. The lighthouse operated from 1888 until 1985. 

We stayed a couple of weeks at Wickham, mainly ‘dog sitting’ for our son and daughter in law while they took a short holiday. The neatly laid out town was constructed in the 1970s for employees of the Cape Lambert iron ore exporting operations near Point Sampson.   

Cape Lambert, with its huge 3.5 kilometre long jetty (one of the highest and longest open ocean wharves in Australia) is capable of loading three major iron ore carriers at the same time.  This port facility is being extended as well as an addtional four berth jetty being constructed.

The Harding Dam normally supplies water to Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham, Cape Lambert, Point Samson, Dampier and the Burrup Peninsula, but due to low levels, water for these towns is once again being provided direct from Millstream.

22nd May to 26th September 2008 – featuring the Kimberley region in the north west of Western Australia, and in the central Northern Territory featuring the MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

 

We started out on 22nd May, a little later than originally intended, and headed to visit our son at Wickham with a tight time frame.  The drive north did not include visiting any tourist features, as we have been through much of the region on various routes at other times and we other sights in mind for this holiday. 

 

We missed many wonderful places along the way, some of which we had been to before, but prior to digital cameras and blogs.  Favourite places from previous trips have included; New Norcia, Kalbarri, Peron Peninsula, Exmouth and the Ningaloo coast, Mount Augustus, Karijini, Millstream-Chichester and Marble Bar. 

Three days after leaving Wickham we reached Derby, having bypassed Broome which we have visited before, and find it too full of tourists in peak season. 

After a relaxing two weeks at Wickham, we headed north again.  After passing Port Hedland, this small outcrop which marks the turn off to Marble Bar has a crest like an open cocky’s beak.  Clouds and showers continued to follow us. 

From the top, we watched the long iron ore trains way below heading towards Cape Lambert.  Second picture shows part of an iron ore train heading into Cape Lambert. 

Beyond the Harding Dam, we took a track to the top of Table Hill.  Rocky hills in the Karratha region look like piles of bare dark red stones, usually with little or no vegetation. 

This Boab tree, estimated to be around 1,500 years old, was used to confine prisoners being transported to Derby in the hollow interior.

Near Derby is the longest water trough in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is fed from a nearby bore and was constructed from concrete around 1916.  It is 120 metres long, and was used when cattle were brought on foot from the stations to be shipped out from the port. 

The present wharf at Derby is a semi-circular jetty which was constructed in 1964.  The first jetty was constructed in 1885. Passenger ships and large freighters no longer stop at Derby.  Dusk saw the jetty lined with people fishing.  The rise and fall of tides at Derby is huge with a variation of up to fourteen metres, and the incoming tide rushes in.  Derby has retained its character as a sleepy North West town. 

This first part of the travelogue takes us to Derby – the starting point for the Gibb River Road.

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Our 2008 trip was planned to enable us to spend some weeks touring the vast and fascinating Kimberley region, as well as visiting central Northern Territory during the milder months of winter.  

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