4 July—5 July 2002
Our last day at Karajini National Park involved a day trip to Kalamina Gorge, which was the easiest gorge to walk down. We went as far as the arch, and lay around sun baking within view of it. The rock patterns were endlessly fascinating. Every three metres one of us would stop and say “Come and look at this!” On the way out, Ruby almost trod on a dead wallaby that had bounded haplessly into the gorge.
At the top of the gorge we stopped at a lovely stepped waterfall with a pool at its base. Clare and I stripped off for a swim, but after I went in I counselled her not to follow. The water was freezing, although not as cold as Kermit’s Pool. She settled for a splash around, going in only to her knees.
We retired to our camp and made a hearty spaghetti bolognaise. That night was the most wickedly cold of them all, however. We had planned to stay another day to get some schoolwork done, and I was going to drive off to Wittenoom to check it out, but Ruby had a rough night because she couldn’t get warm. Susie and I only just managed to stay warm with our thermal underwear on, cuddled up to each other.
In the morning we heard campers complaining of ice in their kettles, and I overheard someone saying it had gotten down to minus 3 degrees. Susie just told me it got down to zero in Newman, so I suppose minus 3 is plausible. In any case, we decided to pull out the next day. Our drinking water and our food had lasted the distance, but the cold had got the better of us. We simply weren’t equipped for sub-zero temperatures.
We packed up as the sun warmed our bones, and we tried to shake the red dust off everything. If nothing else it was certainly time for a laundry stop. Our shortage of petrol dictated a stop at the nearest township, Tom Price. While we were resting at a lookout along the way, I noticed a problem with the suspension on the trailer. The leaf springs had come clear of their housing at the rear, so we are going to try and get that fixed at the local garage.
Tom Price is laid out much like Canberra. The town centre is pretty and incongruously green compared to the rugged ranges that surround it. This afternoon we paid a visit to the local tourist office and booked ourselves onto a tour of the mine. We also stopped at a supermarket to replenish supplies.
It’s not as cold tonight as it has been, but it’s getting chillier as I write. The caravan park is expensive and ordinary. You can’t drive a peg into the ground without bending it. The washing machines work, however, and the dryer is free. I’m off to have a shower now. It’s been a long while since I had one. My chilly dips at Karajini were the only attempt to stem the tide of red dust and sweat that has encrusted my body and clothes. I just hope there’s some hot water left.