Coral Bay to Port Hedland via Karijini National Park

 Coral Bay to Port Hedland via Karijini National Park

A long but interesting ride to Tom Price followed by two nights camping in the spectacular Karijini National Park, then another long hot ride dodging Road Trains to Port Hedland

And then….another problem with AZULO that actually saved me from something much worse…….Are you intrigued?…How’s that for a dramatic intro?..

Coral Bay to Tom Price was an interesting ride through rugged country. The scenery changed frequently. There is something quite magical about the Australian Outback.


The ride is some 550k to Tom Price but I decided to take it easy and break the journey. I found a Roadhouse (actually the only one on the route i think)

I had booked a room just in case. Here in the Roadhouses they use shipping containers as rooms and they call them “DONGAS”

I was bemused when i made the booking. I was told a SINGLE  “DONGA” cost $155.00. I asked if there was anything cheaper and was told no. I looked up the website and found they had double “Dongas” for $135.00….I rang back and asked how much a DOUBLE donga cost and was told it was $135.00…I never found out why a double is cheaper than a single.

It was hardly value for money at $135.00…No windows and a VERY noisy air conditioner.


My Donga with no windows. Only $135.00

My Donga with no windows. Only $135.00

There were some friendly visitors…


Karijini National Park


I camped at the Eco Lodge in the Park. They have up-market tents there…but.they cost $280.00 per night so i opted for the unpowered site for $20.00!

However I did treat myself to meals at the very fine restaurant.

This is truly a fabulous place to stay and the Park is spectacular. Again the photos don’t do justice to the scenery.



Here are some photos of the Gorges in the Park.

DSC03407 DSC03404 DSC03403

DSC03434I was told each rock “layer” took some 10,000 years to form. Given that the gorges are up to 100 metres deep it means they are billions of years old


DSC03424 DSC03428

As you see from the above photo the infrastructure in the park is good. However, most younger people prefer to clamber down the rock paths to the pools at the bottom. The trouble is the rocks are not stable and as a result there are frequesnt accidents and fatalities.

I took the steps to the pool below and had a swim.

There are little black fish that nibble at your feet and knees.. I was told they were called Frotescue Grubbas…rather a big name for little fish. They are nothing like their South American cousins, Piranhas!



he road to Port Hedland

It’s only 400K but a fairly difficult ride. This is a main road for the Road trains from Newman to Port Hedland. Some I saw are some 80 metres long.

They are huge…four large trailers speeding along at 110 k per hour. They take no prisoners and they nearly blow you off the road coming the other way.

They also chew up the road which doesn’t make for a fun ride either.

A small Road Train...only 3 wagons. Mostly 4 wagons on this road

A small Road Train…only 3 wagons. Mostly 4 wagons on this road

I was pleased to reach Port Hedland and book into a very nice cabin (not a donga) at the caravan park.

The motels are very expensive,,,typically $180-$300  per night. Everything seems expensive here!

Frankly there is not a lot to see at Port Hedland. There are big ships and big trains. The train in the photo had 280 big wagons pulled by four deisal engines.

Long train. 280 wagons, 4 engines

Long train. 280 wagons, 4 engines


A happy fisherman

A happy fisherman

This is a photo of the salt pens


They have cyclones here…none at the moment!


 Now…My latest little drama…

It could have been so much worse. Sometimes one has to believe things happen for a reason,

I noticed Azulo was spluttering and jerking as I entered Port Hedland…. as if there was an electrical of fuel issue.

When I set out the next morning on my leg to Broome Azulo just refused to start. I did everything i could think of with my limited mechanical skills and all the experts in the Caravan Park helped me but Azulo wasn’t having any of it. He just wouldn’t start.

There are very few motorbike places in Port Hedland….Actually NONE…I found a boat place and the name of a mechanic and phoned up.No answer from either.

Eventually one of them rang back…Mal is his name. He dropped everything and came over to the camp site and bundled Azulo in his Ute….He took me to a shopping centre and told me to relax.

I walked arouind the shoppong centre and couldn’t help noticing there were FOUR dedicated “smoking shops” (tobacconists) The Aboriginals in particular seem to smoke a lot.

Mal loading Azulo on his UTE

Mal loading Azulo on his UTE

Azulo peeping over Mals UTE

Azulo peeping over Mals UTE

After about three hours Mal came back. Azulo was fixed. He had changed the spark plug and cleared a blockage in the fuel system. All was good now.

To change the spark plug he had to remove the fuel tank. When he did this he found that one of the fuel lines was seriously damaged and would have burst any time and fuel would have poured out over the exhaust pipe. The consequences might have been very bad indeed!

Azulo's fuel line. About to burst...had moved too close to exhaust pipe

Azulo’s fuel line. About to burst…had moved too close to exhaust pipe

Quite relieved Azulo and I headed for Broome. It’s about 600k so i stopped at another Roadhouse and another Donga…This one had windows and only cost $80.00.

Take a look at the Roadhouse. It’s very remote and red!


I arrived in Broome where I stayed with John and Rachel Beadle. John is the son of my friend Ken Beadle, and Rachel is the daughter of my friend David Seedsman. Both Ken and David belong to my Probus Club.

Ken kindly dobbed John and Rachel into having me stay for the night.

It’s lovely being in a family home again after my donga experience.

This selfie makes John look huge...He is tall but Rachel and I are not THAT much smaller!

This selfie makes John look huge…He is tall but Rachel and I are not THAT much smaller!

The next day I did the sights of Broome.

DSC03469DSC03470Later I met Rachel at the Sunset Bar on Cable Beach. Johnwanted to watch his team lose to my team Richmond!

The Sunset Bar is at a sensational spot. You can enjoy a drink and food whist watching the incredible sunset over Cable Beach



Rachel works, looksafter a family with 4 kids and operates a stall at the market.

Rachel with helper Laylor

Rachel with helper Laylor

My last day in Broome I did a 4 wheel tour to Cape Leveque some 200 k away…I flew back. Ill add those pictures next post

I now head for Darwin to meet Merry on 15th June. Before that I am looking forward to seeing the Kimberleys for the first timde.






23 thoughts on “Coral Bay to Port Hedland via Karijini National Park

  1. Great pics and commentary Geoff. Keep them coming.
    You sure dodged a bullet with that fuel line issue.

    Ride safe,
    Peter Hickey

  2. Ohhhh! What a lucky escape with the fuel line! Just love the landscape shots…….no wonder
    Albert Namatjira painted so many.
    This is all going on my ‘bucket list’! Thanks and safe travelling.

  3. Phew! Lucky escape for you with Azulo there! Very relieved you’re okay. Alex loved seeing the photos of Kariji and I think is planning our holiday next year around rocks, road trains and trains with 280 wagons…….. Not sure he’ll want to stay in a donga though!
    Did you see any pebble mounds in kariji national park? There’s a pebble mound mouse there that builds them – sounds a perfect character for a kids cartoon to me!
    We’re still enjoying riding pillion round Australia with you! X

  4. Beautiful blue skies Geoff. We could do with some of them down here. Safe riding, love Jenny and Bruce.

  5. Once again your notes and pictures have given us a fascinating and colourful picture of Australia. The gorge at Karijini is breath-taking and the intense colour of the earth against the sky is stunning. Thank goodness we don’t have road trains here as they would block the M25 (its always blocked anyway) Glad to read that Azulo is back to full health, that bike is a treasure. Not sure about the Dongas but the rest of your blog beats any travel guide ever written. The shots of the whale sharks were stunning, what a fantastic experience. David Attenborough better watch out he has a rival. Good luck and thank you for giving us a great ride on your pillion!Wendy and Alan

  6. Glad you caught up with the Broome Beadles! Hope you tried Rachel’s lemonade. Did you buy a pearl for Merry?

  7. Those Dongas are more expensive than a hotel room in London!. Did you ever find out the derivation of the word Donga?
    I’ve heard about the road trains; they look pretty evil. Wonder what they’re like to drive?
    The luck of the Bransburys is still there! You were so fortunate about that damaged fuel line.
    Love that photo of the sunset – Sunset Bar, Cable Beach. You should sell it to the tourism board!
    Keep the blog going – look forward to them all.


  8. Glad to see you are enjoying my favourite part of Australia – BUT the best is yet to come – the Kimberleys.
    Soak up the scenery and atmosphere of some of the remotest part of Australia.
    Good luck with Azulo

  9. What a lucky escape for you , Geoff, your guardian angel is doing a great job looking after you!!
    Stunning photos of our unique Australian landscape.
    Safe travels for the next part of your trip.
    Wendy and Rod.

  10. The dongas used to be just fabricated huts before sea containers. A bloke I worked with had one blown to bits around him during a cyclone and had to run for another.
    I see the prices are still the same. I had 23 years in the Pilbara and nothing was cheap.
    Good going with the fuel line. We know who had the tank off last.

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