Cheela Plains – Paraburdoo – Tom Price – Karijini Eco Resort (Karijini National Park) (256kms)
Frankly, a weird day, as we wasted time in various ways, some productive but some not. First hiccup was at Cheela Plains, where I went to the dining hall to check my email – the only place where wifi worked (amazing really considering we are in the middle of nowhere). Informed by a lady that only people dining can use the hall, and she said I could stay if I bought coffee and cake. F**k that, I thought, and left – not impressed. Got to Parburdoo (wonderful name, aboriginal for “white cockatoo”), where they have a massive Terex dumper truck displayed. Decided to try and get a permit for the rail access road – private road from Tom Price to Karratha following route of iron ore railway. Used the free wifi provided by town, and reached screen 13 of 14 of the “course”, when the free bandwidth ran out – frustrating! In Tom Price, visited the Tourist Information Centre, where we were told we needed to watch an instructional video (again!) if we wanted the access road permit. Reluctantly sat down, and found the slightly different video fascinating – trains weigh up to 35,000 tonnes, are up to 2.5kms in length, hundreds of wagons, and take up to a kilometre to stop. Good banter with the ladies manning (ha ha) the Centre; was she joking about being able to “put a man down with a gun”, I wonder. From Tom Price, we travelled on to Karijini National Park, and secured a campsite at the Karijini Eco Resort.