We had a really long drive ahead of us today. Over 700km from Exmouth to Karijini. So we loaded up the car at 6.45am, skipped breakfast, and were on the road just as the darkness was lifting. Once we headed inland, the countryside flattened out for as far as the eye could see on both sides of the road. The red soil of the outback was all around us now and the vegetation was sometimes spinifex grasses and sometimes scrubby bushland. The only large trees we saw were along the creek beds and river beds. Most of them were dry, but occasionally there was some water, no doubt resulting from the big rains of a week or two back.
We pulled in at Nanutarra Roadhouse about 9.30am, very pleased that we had already covered about a third of the trip. We filled up the fuel tank and took a short breakfast break. Rod had been driving for the entire trip, but he took a break and handed me the keys. I drove the next section, about 270km to Paraburdoo. We were now entering the territory of the big iron ore mining companies, so the deep brownish-red of iron ore was evident in the ridges rising alongside the road and the desert soil all around us. We came upon a few more road trains on this road, sometimes pulling two trailers behind them. There were plenty of long, straight stretches of road to allow passing. A highlight was when I had to move across to the oncoming lane to avoid a huge goanna slowly making its way across the road in my lane. We stopped at Paraburdoo for lunch in the park. The trees were full of corellas, with a dustier colour to their feathers than the ones we’ve seen in Melbourne. Then we headed to Tom Price and called in at the information centre to check on road conditions and apply for permits to drive on the mining company’s unsealed roads.
From Tom Price we drove another 80km to the Eco Retreat where we’re staying in the Karijini National Park. The scenery is quite stunning, with the reddish-brown of iron ore country most prominent. We’re glamping here for the next three nights in tents. There are limits on our power and internet, so I cannot say how often I’ll be putting up posts here until we reach Karratha in a few days from now.