Our next few days after Millstream were pretty average, not for any bad event or anything specifically going wrong but we just had a downer week. It started with an ugly overnight stop on the outskirts of Karratha. We hadn’t booked a caravan park and the free rest stop at the back of the Shell Roadhouse looked alright on paper. We arrived after dark and before dinner, thinking we’d get chips at the roadhouse. While Matthias pitched up on what I would describe as a dirt wasteland out the back of the servo, I took the kids in to get hot chips only to discover there was no hot food! In despiration I bought the kids an ice-cream each which we sat on the kerb by the bins to eat. The public toilets looked like a crack den which I was too afraid to enter so we went back to our dirt patch for a bush wee. On our way back a dingo trotted out of the shadows and across our path. Needless to say, my mood was pretty dark at this point.

Hugh's mood too must have been pretty bad because he let rip with a cracking tantrum when it came to getting into bed. We'd had a few rippers in the days prior and they continued as a daily, sometimes multiple a day, occurrence.

We wasted no time packing up and shipping out the next morning and with everyone feeling fractious we ate breakfast on the transmission tower hill overlooking Karratha then headed into town to vote in the federal election.

We moved on to Dampier where we hoped for a spot at the small seaside Dampier Caravan Park but we weren’t to be lucky. But the day did start to brighten. I booked on a rock art and bush tucker tour for the afternoon. I was one of only two guests and Clinton, owner-operator of Ngurrangga Tours, was a fabulous guide, sharing so much knowledge of his people’s culture and the landscape. Clinton’s stories from this small but historically significant section of Australia were illuminating, truly bringing the place to life for me. The setting itself was incredibly impressive. The largely treeless Burrup Peninsula is dominated by the North West Shelf gas works which heaves and hisses around the clock. And tucked over to the side, like an after thought, is Ngajarli (Deep Gorge) in the Murujaga National Park, home to the most concentrated collection of petroglyphs in the world. The rocks are piled up like massive mullock heaps and all over them are etchings of animals, birds, spirits and people. The juxtaposed setting of mining colossus alongside anicent relic was to me a strong visual representation of how Aboriginal culture and history sit (marginalised and undervalued) within modern day Australia and our capitalist values. I left feeling inspired to learn more and disappointed that at almost 40 years old, this was the first time that I was beginning to properly grasp and engage with Australia’s Aboriginal culture.

I rejoined my family in the evening glow over the rocks and we made our way back into Dampier for a great dinner at the Soak. We then returned for a second night at the Shell Roadhouse wasteland and another tantrum from Hugh.

Visually, Karratha didn’t have a lot going for it but from our experience at the playgrounds, the supermarket and at the polling station, the town had a positive family friendly feel about it and there are some nice spots to explore in the vicinity. We stopped briefly in Roebourne to walk the bush tucker trail (no longer in its prime) and then on to Point Sampson for lunch, a swim and a shower at Honeymoon Cove. The Reader Head lookout served as a scenic location for another one of Hugh’s rotten tantrums which left us exhausted and ready to say goodbye to the region. We spent the night in a much nicer free camp, Kialrah Pool (Jones River), a short drive off the freeway on a cattle station.



A family of four, touring Australia in a camper trailer.

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