The wickid orange sand ended far too soon and we were back in Broome in no time. The plan was to get some miniature screw drivers for Aidan to open up my camera and fix it. The Matso’s Brewery tempted us in with it’s famous mango and chango (chilly-mango) beers. We settled at a table on the veranda tucking into some seriously yummy lunch while Aidan dissected my camera and I marked the petrol stations on the map.
Broome has a nice alternative vibe about it and a wickid campsite with lots of long-stay backpackers almost like an outdoor hostel. The decision to treat ourselves for one night’s stay was an easy one. Aidan made another attempt at fixing the camera and I sewed Lea’s saddle bags. In the morning I had discovered tat they had torn in more places than I originally thought and these bits were structural. Shame! I had been so happy with them but that meant they wouldn’t last much longer. Hopefully they’d carry all my stuff to Perth. At dusk Aidan declared my camera a lost cause.
In the morning Skunk was extra happy about his breakfast. He finished the last of the vodka – Aidan didn’t want to carry the big, heavy glass bottle for just one shot. But of course we didn’t want to waste it either.
Back on the highway Aidan suddenly pulled over. His visor had simply fallen off the helmet and escaped over his head. We turned round, crawling along at a snail’s pace, keeping our eyes peeled. It’s damn hard to find the see-through thing. A road train passed and I prayed it hadn’t run the visor over. Luckily the slipstream had tossed it over to the other side of the road and I found it.
The bit where the visor clops onto the helmet had snapped and it refused to stay in place. Aidan rode on without a visor, flies and other bugs smashing into his face. At lunch time I managed to bodge it back together. From now on Aidan would have to keep it closed at all times or it would pop off again. As all riders know that’s a real fucker when it clouds up in the rain.
A quick beer at an odd road house covered in road signs with a resident peacock let us forget our worries for the night. Not to mention the “historical garden” full of rusty old stuff as pointed out by a local tradie sipping a beer out front. I love these roadhouses. You never know what to expect. They are always quirky and decorated in the strangest ways. Some are cold but most are cosy and all have heaps of mad outback character.
As we were steadily heading further west and south it was getting colder. The days could still be quite toasty but in the evenings it was getting nippy and we needed our jackets. We had fitted the inner liners too. And with the coast came the cold winds. Coming from ahead they slowed Lea right down. They also make pitching the tent a nightmare. And when Aidan began taking it down in the morning the wind ripped it off the last few pegs, broke the second pole (the first had snapped ages ago) and tore two massive holes into it.
Oh well, I guess that answered the question whether it was worth investing some money into for repairs. The zippers on both doors kept splitting open, there were a couple of holes in the floor and it wasn’t quite waterproof any more with rain seeping in at the seams and through the floor. Now it definitely wasn’t worth saving. What a shame! It had been quite an expensive investment and was a really good tent. We had hoped it would last many more years.
Approaching Port Hedland the scenery changed drastically. Bushes and trees disappeared and rail roads and overhead power lines criss-crossed the rusty brown dusty country. Road trains no longer had three but four trailers and they seemed to multiply, dominating the roads. We felt tiny and insignificant on our bikes. Oh how I wished I had a camera!
We rolled into town to stock up and stopped by Rio Tinto Salt to take a few photos of the snow white sea salt mountain. The salty water is left in shallow water fields for the sun to evaporate the water. The salt is left behind in dry crust and scraped off with machines. Then all they have to do is clean it.
It was lunchtime and while we were munching away on another tin of canned food a goods train with 135 carts pulled past. At least that’s what I counted. But it didn’t stop there. After two more locomotives in the middle there were at least as many carts again! It took at least ten minutes to roll past.
I looked at the map and realised that this was probably one of the last places for a while big enough to have a shop that sells cameras. A quick search on Google confirmed this. In Broome I had decided we could probably make do with just Aidan’s camera. I had since repeatedly bugged him to stop for lots of photos.
But today I realised this just wasn’t going to happen. We had taken no pictures of this unique industrial area and we weren’t going to see anything like it ever again. I missed my point-and-shoot and the ease with with I could get a few snaps without the hassle of parking up, digging out the SLR, choosing the right lens… You can see why Aidan usually doesn’t bother while we are riding.
So we headed back into town and spent almost all of our contingency budget. We couldn’t afford another good camera like my old Canon. That one would take stunning photos even on the automatic setting. Instead we picked the cheapest one that seemed like it would produce better quality than my phone. It would have to do. So from now on there will be more photos again but I’m afraid they won’t be winning any awards.
With all that faffing about it was afternoon when we finally left Port Hedland. The landscape soon returned to the usual brush and we rolled at into Karratha at dusk to refuel and stock up on food and wine. There were signs all around the area forbidding wildcamping and the sun was setting worryingly fast. There was nothing to it but to ride all the way to the highway rest stop where we were officially allowed to free camp. It was a pretty place by the river and there were quite a few campers there.
We arrived as it was almost dark and rode down the bumpy river bank. A deep muddy puddle blocked the way and I was not keen on sliding around in it on my road tire so I decided to go up and around. Lea bumped back up the steep bank almost falling over. But I opened the throttle in just the right moment and she jumped up the the top.
Aidan followed suit, gunning it up over the bumps. But then Pippa stalled and started sliding backwards on the wet dirt even with the brakes applied. Aidan’s feet were hovering over a deep hole and so they went over with a big crash. Shame my new camera wasn’t charged yet. Lots of guys came over from their converted mini vans and together we had Aidan and Pippa upright and over the crest in no time. Thanks guys!
We rode down the bank in another spot and set up camp by the weather. Miraculously the wine bottle had survived the crash. By now it was dark and Aidan started cooking while I patched up the tent as best I could with duck tape. The tape didn’t stick very well so from now on I would be doing this almost ever evening, adding more tape as we went along. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain for the rest of the trip!