As a prelude to our next Bucket List stop – Karijini National Park – we pulled into the only cavaran park in Tom Price, complete with commensurate pricing. Our plan was to do a mine tour and stock up the larder and fuel tanks before our big gorge adventure. Tom Price, named after the discoverer of the massive (and almost depleted) iron ore deposit here, is a very pretty little town nestled amongst rolling red and green Pilbarra-esque hills, including the highest point you can drive to in WA, Mt Nameless (perhaps the Europeans were unaware that the aboriginal people had named it eons ago).
Betsy and Alice, flanked by Mt Nameless
After an early Sunday night, we were in town for a mine tour by 10 next morning. Our guide, Baz, was a bit of a larrikin who has apparently been rolling out the same jokes for a decade. His opening line was that ‘Tom Price was a drinking town with a mining problem’. The jokes went down hill from there. Still, it was all fresh for us. The boys loved seeing the monster haul trucks, shovels and of course, the main pit. Rio Tinto runs a tight ship here, and ALL vehicles are GPS tracked in real-time, allowing Rio in Perth to administer fines for mine and public road traffic offenses with impunity.
A museum piece Electra-Haul near Tom Price
Sayonara to another chunk of Australia
Sam could use one of these to move his Lego around
After the tour, I took the boys to the public library to let Kris shop unencumbered. With bags full, we headed back to the campsite. Whilst Kris coerced some productive homework out of the boys, I grabbed a water bottle, radio and camera and limbered up for an attempt on the summit of Mt Nameless. Baz told the tour group that the record was 16.5 minutes – I managed 28. Not too bad for a balding out-of-shape middle aged tourist. By the time I’d staggered to the top in light rain, my legs didn’t know whether to melt or shut down completely. I could see the van from the summit and radioed to see if they could see me – even with binoculars, Sam couldn’t spot his breathless, sweaty, shirt waving, lycra panted dad. The descent was worse, my legs complained with each leaden step, and the last two kilometer jog felt like I was towing the caravan. Still, no sprained ankles or snakes, just a long and painful recovery going into Karijini gorge country, helped by a few glasses of red watching Shrek 4 with the kids that night.
Tired but very satisfied – at the summit of Mt Nameless
The view of Rio’s mine from the summit of Mt Nameless
On the way out of town next morning, after driving up the bumpy Mt Nameless summit access road, we pulled into a lookout that turned out to be ‘memorial circle’ – ‘write the name of a loved one here’ sort of thing. It’s a free camp too, which I think would be a combination of creepy and weird.
The odd ‘memorial circle’ lookout on the way out of Tom Price