BIG FLAT AND RED

GREAT NORTHERN HIGHWAY – Landscape

www.johnlovett.com – opens in a new window

nmansthmap

Once the Hamersley Ranges are left behind, the landscape flattens into arid, semi desert. Red sand ridges and low saltbush take over, broken by the odd small jump up or dry salt flat. After a couple of months of stinking hot weather it was a welcome relief to encounter cloud and a few heavy downpours of rain. The skys were spectacular, the colours were  intensified by the wet and the smell of rain was fantastic. Ideal conditions for racing around taking photos.

IMGP0648x

.

IMGP0649x

.

IMGP0634

.

IMGP0650

.

IMGP0660

.

IMGP0685

Further south, wildflowers began to appear

MOUNTAINS OF IRON

KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK

www.johnlovett.com (opens in a new window)

karijinimap

The Karijini landscape is dominated by the Hamersley Ranges. These are probably the oldest mountains on earth, the rocks dating back 2,500 million years. Driving through the Hamersleys is unique and beautiful. The undulating hills are covered with spinifex and broken by exposed weathered faces of deep red rock.

IMGP9952

IMGP0014

IMGP0200

.

Cutting through the landscape are numerous gorges. Some are accessed by a short walk, others require climbing and scrambling over rocks and ledges, and some can only be reached with ropes and climbing equipment.

IMGP0062

IMGP0046

Some of the gorges narrow down to passages just wide enough for a person to squeeze through

IMGP0144

Others are broad and open with clear pools at the bottom

IMGP0154

IMGP0182

Looking down into the deeper gorges is an awesome sight. The surrounding country is undulating and fairly unspectacular, but the gorges seem to drop way below the surrounding landscape.

IMGP0224

Passing sculptors have installed some impressive structures using just rocks and gravity.

IMGP0258

IMGP0342

IMGP0397

Waterfalls and waterholes are found throughout the gorges

IMGP0405

The water is usually freezing cold but, somehow, backpackers seem to be tolerant to near freezing water

IMGP0422

IMGP0435

Whistling Kite – Pentax K20D 18 -250mm lens

IMGP0324

Scattered through the gorges are veins of blue asbestos. The Wittenoom and Yampire gorges have been closed because of the high concentration of asbestos

IMGP0318

IMGP0570

.

KARIJINI VISITORS CENTRE

IMGP0083

Architect John Nicholes designed the Karijini Visitors Centre to weather into the landscape. Most of the exterior of the structure is built from heavy welded steel panels. These are acid washed to rust, echoing the iron ore outcrops of the landscape.

IMGP0084

IMGP0089

It is an impressive building that also hints at the rusted remnants of the areas pastoral history.

IMGP9997

Old rusted Pilbra sheepyards, built from flattened oil drums

IMGP0091

Power is provided by a large solar array with a thumping big diesel generator, waiting for a rainy day.

THE PILBARA

www.johnlovett.com

pilmap

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.

IMGP9974

Huge trains, over 2 kilometers long , run constantly back and forth between the coast and the mines.

IMGP9983

Catching one of these trains at a crossing sure gives you plenty of time to stop and take a photograph.

IMGP9901

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.

IMGP9906

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.

IMGP9896

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.

IMGP9912

A fine piece of installation art on the salt flats outside Dampier.

IMGP9995

Remains of old sheep station out camp near Wittenoom – corrugated iron at its best

WHITE RAINBOW

We camped a night on a wind swept headland on the southern end of 80 mile beach, below Broome. In the morning the wind had stopped and as the sun came up, a heavy fog rolled in. When you faced directly away from the sun you could see a pure white rainbow in the fog. Really weird but a lot of fun to photograph.

IMGP9882

IMGP9879

IMGP9884

BEAGLE BAY / CAPE LEVEQUE

The Coast north of Broome looks amazing with turquoise water and red desert sand punctuated by mangroves. We decided to drive up to Beagle Bay, Cape Leveque and One Arm Point to have a look at the settlements and landscape.
The red desert sand is great to look at, but makes a really lousey road. From Broome to Beagle bay is non stop corrugations covered by a central ridge of sand and high sloping sand sholders, so keeping in a straight line was a bit of a challenge at times.
Beagle Bay is a sleepy little Aboriginal Community with an amazing church built by German Missionaries in 1917 The alter and much of the decoration inside is made from thousands of mother of pearl shells.
One Arm Point is another small Aboriginal Community with fishing shelters built along the waterfront
They are watched over by a pair of extremely laid back guard dogs. The one on the left could wag his tail slowly – that was about as active as they became.
Dog on holidays
Pentax K20D 500mm mirror lens
It was a lot of fun photographing this Osprey feeding its young chick not far from our camp at Gambanan, near Cape Leveque. The mother fed  the chick for almost half an hour, just as the sun was going down. The light was perfect and the bird wasn’t disturbed by me, perched among the rocks with a tripod and camera. After she had fed the fish to the chick, tiny piece by tiny piece, she carefully picked up all the scraps that had fallen beside the nest and gave them to the baby. Once the feeding had finished she mad a sharp squeek, the baby sat down in the nest and she took off.
Fifteen minutes later I was back at our camp. I heard another loud squeek and there was the mother Osprey in the tree beside us. (Dead tree on left)
Pentax K20D 500mm mirror lens
She had another large chunk of fish she spent the next 20 minutes eating. Just as it got dark her mate joined her.
When I woke at 5:00 next morning they were still there in the tree.

www.johnlovett.com

broomemap

IMGP9630

The Coast north of Broome looks amazing with turquoise water and red desert sand punctuated by mangroves. We decided to drive up to Beagle Bay, Cape Leveque and One Arm Point to have a look at the settlements and landscape.

.

IMGP9634

The red desert sand is great to look at, but makes a really lousy road. From Broome to Beagle bay is non stop corrugations covered by a central ridge of sand and high sloping sand shoulders, so keeping in a straight line was a bit of a challenge at times.

.

IMGP9641

Beagle Bay is a sleepy little Aboriginal Community with an amazing church built by German Missionaries in 1917.  The alter and much of the decoration inside is made from thousands of mother of pearl shells.

.

IMGP9668

One Arm Point is another small Aboriginal Community with fishing shelters built along the waterfront

IMGP9676

They are watched over by a pair of extremely laid back guard dogs. The one on the left could wag his tail slowly – that was about as active as they became.

IMGP9677

Dog on holidays

.

IMGP9708

Pentax K20D 500mm mirror lens

It was a lot of fun photographing this Osprey feeding its chick at Gambanan, near Cape Leveque. The mother fed  the baby for almost half an hour, just as the sun was going down. The light was perfect and the bird wasn’t disturbed by me, perched among the rocks with a tripod and camera.

After she had fed the fish to the chick, she carefully picked up all the scraps that had fallen beside the nest and gave them to the baby. Once the feeding had finished she made a sharp squeak, the baby sat down in the nest and she took off.

IMGP9834

Fifteen minutes later I was back at our camp. I heard another loud squeak and there was the mother Osprey in the tree beside us. (Dead tree on left)

IMGP9788x

Pentax K20D 500mm mirror lens

She had another large chunk of fish and spent the next 20 minutes eating. Just as it got dark her mate flew in and joined her.

IMGP9827

When I woke at 5:00 next morning they were still there in the tree.

BOABS

CANE TOADS OF THE PLANT WORLD

Boabs are unique to North Western Australia. Starting as a slender stick, boabs grow into the most incredible, distorted shapes. They don’t develop growth rings like a normal tree, but scientists have dated some at over 1500 years old. Every time I come across a big one, I cant help taking a photograph. Just when you think you have the ultimate Boab photo, another more distorted example will appear.

Here are a few of my favourites.

IMGP9604

IMGP7931

IMGP8507

IMGP9603

IMGP8212

IMGP8503

IMGP8231

IMGP9605

IMGP9622