Monday, August 11, 2008

DAY 286: Day 2 off Tom Price

Tues 5th August 2008
Sunny, 25 deg C
Elevation of destination 708m
Distance to date 17395 km (10872 miles)

A cold night and dawn meant I stayed put, warm in sleeping bag, despite the usual early clatter of campers all around me as they prepared to leave. Some time after 8 I finally crawled out into the warming new day and went for my toast, butter (a temporary luxury much enjoyed) and rhubarb jam. Some time later after lengthy conversation with holiday family I realised I needed to speed up to get to the VIC to join the 1000 mine tour.
This is a 2-hour tour of Tom Price mine, owned by Rio Tinto / Pilbara Iron; one of the biggest iron ore mines in Australia, one of the world’s major suppliers of this ore, which is in huge demand at the moment due to buying from China. It was very interesting; facts came at us such as a tripling of save price to $220 (£115) per tonne; production from this mine alone of 28 million tonnes/year; 4 trains a day 2km long hauling $3M-worth of ore to the port of Dampier for shipping to China; massive dumper trucks with 3.5m diameter wheels whose tyres cost $100,000 each and only last 10 months; 220 tonne capacity dumpers which use 20 litres of fuel per km etc. It’s a huge operation making millions for the owners, and good wages for the workers too - a driver (male and female) will get $100,000 pa (£48,000). The town of Tom Price, named after an American who fought long and hard to persuade the company to develop a mine in this area and who died of a heart attack a few hours after learning of the discovery of a rich vein of pure ore here that guaranteed the go-ahead of development, was built by the mining company but was later taken over by the local council. The driver and guide was full of wisecracks as usual - one of his stories was about a tourist who was seen swimming in the towns large sewage pond and refused to get out even when told of his surroundings. The mate of the guy pleading with him to get out shrugged his shoulders, and said with typical Aussie humour “he’ll be OK, he’s not swimming, he’s only going through the motions”. “Yes, the guy said, but he’s the turd one we’ve found!” I think that stories probably a load of crap! You get the gist I think! A pretty good tour for $22, plus the $15 for a pair of trainers I had to buy due to the ‘closed-in shoes rule’ which I subsequently gave to the Op-shop (charity shop).
After a quick lunch and more shopping, back at the CP I got chatting to the family next door, and I was invited to join them in a 4WD drive up Mount Nameless, which lies right behind the CP and dominates the town. They have just returned from 16 years working in Japan and will set up home in Brisbane when they stop touring Oz next January. There’s a a great view of the surrounding land and of the mine from up there.
I had to pop into town again for some stuff I’d forgot to get, and I thought again what a cosy little place this is, and how I’ve enjoyed my few days here.
I bought croissants for dinner for a change, and filled with pastrami and garlic sauce. The best butter was very hard out of the fridge so I spread Greek yoghurt on first, which was very palatable. It got very cold and I was soon sat up in the tent reading and blogging with sleeping bag pulled up as far as possible.

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