The Pilbara region in the northern half of WA not only contains some of the countrys most beautiful scenery, but also generates the bulk of Australias foreign income. Tens of millions of dollars worth of iron ore, oil, gas and salt are shipped out of this area every day. The major towns of Port Hedland, Dampier, Karratha, and the mining towns of Tom Price and Newman are prosperous and incredibly busy.
Newman mines run 24 hours a day, the average wage of a mine worker is around $150,000/ year. They work a 12 hour shift, night shift one week, day shift the next week then the third week off. Food, accommodation, work clothes and equipment is all provided by the company.
Huge trains, over 2 kilometers long , run constantly back and forth between the coast and the mines.
Catching one of these trains at a crossing sure gives you plenty of time to stop and take a photograph.
The little town of Port Hedland has an incredibly busy port, with a constant string of ships waiting at sea to come in and load.
The whole town is coated in a fine red dust from the iron ore loading. Even the concrete shipping tower, high above the town, is stained iron ore red.
It was disappointing to learn that the mountains of salt shipped out of Dampier and Port Hedland don’t find their way into little paper sachets to sprinkle on fish and chips.
Dampier Salt (owned by Rio Tinto) is the largest salt exporter in the world, selling mainly to the industrial chemical markets in Asia. It’s hard to imagine 5 million tons of salt being shipped across to Asia each year. It’s even harder to believe it has nothing to do with the salty taste of Asian food.
A fine piece of installation art on the salt flats outside Dampier.
Remains of old sheep station out camp near Wittenoom – corrugated iron at its best