year's expedition was a trip to the Pilbara. The final destinations
were Corunna Downs and Wittenoom. This would see us travel over 4000km.
During June the temperatures drop to around zero south of
Meekatharra and rise to just on 30 during the day near Marble Bar. A
perfect time to travel.
The purpose of the trip was to visit
Wittenoom and locate an old cemetery at the airfield and place some time
capsules at Corunna Downs. On the way we would locate cemeteries at
Peak Hill and Tuckanarra.
Location The Pilbara Region of WA
hill was a town built in support of gold mining. Indeed modern mining
has returned, and again left, as is the cycle of the goldfields. A few
crumbling stone ruins remain and we were able to take photographs from
places where someone once stood while they used an old black and white camera. The
little cemetery at Peak Hill is not so small, and there are more graves outlined
there than records suggest should be there. As the years go by, the
mounds of unmarked graves become less obvious and more difficult to
find. One day they will be all washed away and the headstones will be
the only reminders of those who remained long after the town died.
also has an old cemetery. This one is now behind the overburden of
another recent but now abandoned gold mine. A couple of modern survey markers
have been installed at the boundaries of the reserve area, though the
cemetery fences are much closer in. There is little evidence to suggest
a cemetery other than a rotten fence and the small shards of glass and
pieces of porcelain flowers from a smashed domed wreath, and a couple
of stone outlines. So terribly sad when you consider that most of the
residents of this graveyard are small babies.
Wittenoom has the
unique claim to be the worst work related disaster in history. The
terrible loss of life from asbestos related diseases can never be
understood, nor the complacency of business or government, both of whom
would have or should have know the risks, because this was something
that was knowledge at least 50 years earlier. My own personal work
history touches Wittenoom as I worked at the airport and travelled
through the mine, up the CatWalk to DME Hill. DME hill is only a burnt
out ruin now, and other than a couple of concrete blocks and other
small rubble and of course the runways, little remains of the
Many of the old houses and businesses have been
bulldozed and buried. The last surviving business was the gem shop and
this too is now done for, as a fire has destroyed it all. There are new
headstones at the cemetery, and the epitaphs bear a sad testament to
the love the residents once had for the town, that was built
amongst the fibres that would kill them.
There is an older
cemetery in the middle of the airfield and we were able to locate that
and place a small plaque with the known names of those interred there.
It won't be too much longer before even the two headstones there have
fallen down and crumbled. This place is the final resting place for 9
Yampire Gorge was a beautiful camping site but is now
closed with a massive warning sign. Very hard to believe that this gorge
was once the road that led into Hamersley Range National Park and could
be driven with a two wheel drive vehicle.
Corunna Downs was part
of the great war effort to repel the Japanese during World War 2. We
wanted to place two memorials at locations for SGT EN Cook, the cinema
operator, who was killed when returning from Marble Bar with a load of
fuel, and Gnr P Parker, who was a gunner with the 102 AA Regiment, whose
ID tags we found there some years ago.
We also wanted to GPS
located some of the WWII sites and try to relate these with more
accuracy to original drawings of the site. We also used old photos to
find locations and take modern images from the same spots.
trip was another of our yearly expeditions and done in June 2015. The
area south of Peak Hill was thick with flies during the day. Some of
our videos captured them and they look like birds flitting in front of the
lens. The nights were very cold, and a fire was very welcome. The days
were fine. Further north the day time temperatures rose and I was able
to wear shorts. The nights were not bitterly cold but still very cool.
There are still a lot of very wide loads traveling to the north on the roads.
is the case in good weather a lot of the nicer spots are occupied by
people, so we always chose less pretty spots, but had them to
ourselves, and I always say that any place is a good campsite at night.
camped in Yampire Gorge next to some running water, which was great. It
allowed us to be more free with washing. The sound at night was also
enticing. The track in was signposted with warning notices, but clearly
these are being ignored. We went in about 10km to find our spot and
set up for a few days.
From Yampire we explored the old airport
and town. We found the old airfield cemetery after a bit of searching.
We drove into Wittenoom Gorge (windows up, air on recirculate). Had a
bit of a wander around, but didn't spend much time in there. Asbestos
is everywhere. Sadly some idiots thinks it is ok to to do burnouts in
the asbestos tailings. Maybe this is nature culling the dumb ones?
also went into the National Park and visited Fortescue Falls and Fern
Pool. I have seen the gorges many times, so for me there is no need to
climb down again (probably an excuse as I slowly but surely get older!!). We left the park and camped at the base of DME Hill.
The drive in required some care, but was very exciting.
We left a time capsule at DME
Hill. We then went to the top end of the old CatWalk and took some photos of
where the mill used to be. The view is spectacular from these high
Our camp site was accessed by a steep track and
one of our vehicles had to be winched up due to loss of traction and
forward motion. Luckily God had planted a tree for us in just the right
We decided to head towards Corunna, but our slow driving
saw us get only to Bee Gorge. The next morning we attempted to follow
an abandonned track into Wittenoom Gorge, but is was too rough, so we
gave up. We did a bit of damage to tyres in here, and ripped a side
step off one vehicle on the rocks.
We spent a few days exploring Corunna Downs. I got GPS co-ords for some of the sites.
rode through the bush to the old radar site. It was so rough that we
rode back via the road and though it was twice the distance, it took
half the time.
Now as the trip was nearing an end, we were left with a long run home. We stopped one
night at Kalgan Creek. We tried to reach the pool, but BHPB are
dewatering into the creek and we stopped about 4km from the pool.
It was too late in the afternoon, and at that point the track was under
water. The campsite was pretty excellent anyway, with running water
Then back home with a last night camped near the old railway station at Daydawn.
Places to See
Nannine town site and cemetery (see if you can locate the cricket pitch and racecourse)
Peak Hill (have a look for the old cemetery here too)
Wittenoom town, airfield, gorge and cemeteries
Karijini National Park
Degree of Difficulty
would class this trip as generally easy. We did take some
detours, such as a possible track from Bee Gorge to Wittenoom Gorge. We
had to give up on this and I would classify this section as
track to DME is not too difficult but there are some sections that will
require a fair bit of care, and I would class this one as perhaps
here to send us e-mail