Friday 15th May 2015
Karijini to Indee Station
We pick up the Great Northern Highway again for the first time since New Norcia. Amongst all of our recent knowledge gathering we’ve now learnt that a road train with 4 trailers is called a Quad. We’ve counted 44 wheels on some of them. And we were worried about the cost of the next set of boots on the Jeep!
By the time we reach Auski Roadhouse (which sounds like it should be near Mt Buller doesn’t it?) we have left Karijini behind for green sweeping plains and Brahman cattle. For fifty kilometres or so we cross dry catchment creeks but the road is raised so the creeks must flood pretty badly in the wet season.
The road is quite busy with ore trucks and there are a few very dead cattle on the road. Legs in the air and all blown up like big furry brown balloons. The Ollies cop a star crack in the windscreen so we pull over and have a bit of a ‘you show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ moment.
About 70 kms south of Port Hedland and 9 kms off the highway is Indee Station. Alison greets us in the cool of the homestead. It turns out that she’s from down in Melbourne and ‘does the season’ here. We park out back behind the machinery sheds where there are spotlessly clean portable bathrooms. In fact everything seems portable. Dongas for accommodation cabins and a shipping container makes for a pretty good camp kitchen. Everything is chained or bolted down and the buildings that have conventional roofs have them strapped down and the wire straps are affixed to concrete filled 44 gallon drums. This is cyclone country. The machinery shed is a beauty, it smells of sump oil and dirt and is surrounded by cut down vehicles. They look like old bombs but I’m sure all would run if needed. Shirley Temple reckons the place looks like a tip. Did I mention that there’s a young bull called ‘Little Guy’ wandering about?
As we’re preparing dinner a helicopter flies in and lands out back. We drop everything and go down to have a look. Out pops Niff (Jennifer) the pilot, looking every inch a very cool helicopter muster pilot. Niff and partner Jason are here to start the mustering.
Owners Colin and Betty put on an unmissable happy hour in the homestead for campers and staff and they are quite a pair. Betty tells me that they have over 400,000 acres, eleven staff and their business is cattle, tourists and railway lines. Gina (Rinehart, everyone in the Pilbara refers to the Hancock Mining business as Gina) and Fortescue Mining pay rent on the land that their railways cross. We later learn that Rio Tinto pay station owners $600 for every bull that is hit by a train, a little less for cows. Not surprisingly only bulls wander onto the tracks.
Happy hour goes on for two hours and Colin and Betty keep us entertained with their stories of Pilbara life. For a mere twenty bucks a night, Indee is indeed great value for money.
Travelling Kms: 272Kms
Glossary: Donga = Container style accommodation.
Gina Rinehart = Australian mining magnate and Chairman of Hancock Prospecting