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Newman, down to Meekatharra and Cue

Hitting the dirt again, and after driving south through nearly two hundred kilometres of scenic Pilbara countryside...it just isn't the same travelling on the blacktop...we arrived at Newman.

Newman

Named after Mount Newman, the nearby peak that stands 1053m above sea level, the town is the administrative centre of the East Pilbara Shire and home to the workforce of BHP Billiton's nearby Mt Whaleback iron ore mine, which is the largest open cut pit of its type in the world.

After replenishing our supplies at the local supermarket...and averting the stares of the natives...well perhaps we did look a bit feral after a week in the bush...we did a quick sightseeing lap of the town.

A giant Wabco dump truck, retired from use at the Mt Whaleback mine, caught our eye at the local visitor centre and we sidled along next to it to get a picture.

Then, consulting the map, we decided to hit the road again...in our sights...Meekatharra...424km south.

Newman

 

Wow...a giant Tonka truck...if only I had one like this when I lived in Canberra...I would have 'persuaded' the drivers to give way to merging traffic!!

 

Meekatharra

Upon arriving at Meekatharra, we visited the State Government Mining Registrar's office to obtain maps outlining areas where we could prospect (legitimately) with our metal detectors.

In Western Australia you can prospect on pending, but not approved mining leases, crown land and pastoral leases, after first notifying the lessee...who can't unreasonably withhold access.

A lad led us to a computer screen and asked where WE proposed to fossick.

"Can you print out a map that covers, say (pausing, I plucked a figure out of my head)...about 20kms each side of Meekatharra".

Hot off the printer,he handed it to us.

Bewildered, I studied it...

...it had more lines and coordinates than the complete battle plans for Dunkirk.

Fortunately, however, our navigational skills were becoming more advanced...hmmm....how do you put it....they had certainly progressed past the point of using words and phrases like "over there", "near that hill", "past that tree", "a bit further" and "a couple of minutes away"...to actually referring to positions of the compass and rationally interpreting basic information provided by our GPS unit.

We studied the map, settling on an area about 40km south of Meekatharra...philosophically reasoning that one grid on the map is probably as good as another...and headed off in search of the allusive yellow metal.

All along the highway, large open cut gold mines were in evidence...some barely separated by the road, which became a sort of earthen bridge between them.

Curious and wanting to get a photograph, I had just enough room to pull off the bitumen, before clambering over a small embankment to be immediately confronted by one of the massive pits.

Using our GPS, correctly for the first time, we arrived in the area we had identified on the map and found a track leading off from the highway.

A couple of kilometres into the scrub we found ourselves in the midst of an old alluvial goldfield; small mounds of quartz and ironstone telltale signs of the dry blowing activities of pioneer prospectors.

The old buggers were certainly resourceful...there was evidence of them wherever you trudged.

A number of reasonably fresh vehicle tracks also suggested that the country had been given the once over by other hopefuls with metal detectors.

Undeterred, we discreetly maneuvered the caravan beside a grove of trees and set about detecting.

meekatharra


Typical of the gold bearing country near Meekatharra; thick with ironstone and quartz.

Unfortunately the pioneer miners were grubs and littered such goldfields with an assortment of tin cans, nails and discarded utensils.

 

The country was relatively flat and devoid of trees of any stature, making it very easy to become disorientated and possibly lost.

As insurance I had become conversant with the way point fixing and track plotting functions of the Garmin GPS...which had only taken me two months to learn...and had decided to carry it when detecting... and more to the point...to use it to navigate back to the caravan if necessary.

Needless to say, 'necessary' became the order of the day...and, alas, poor Precious is still blessed with my company.

Despite walking nearly 30km over two days (distance recorded by GPS), and burning heaps of boot rubber, all I had to show for my efforts were numerous nails, bullet leads and rifle cartridges...but no #@*! gold.

It was time to head south again...Leonora...yep Leonora was going to make us our fortune!

 

Cue

Heading south to Leonora,we passed through Cue, an old mining town, and stopped briefly to pork out on some takeaway...hot chips...which we had been craving all day.

Before charting a course for Leonora...via Sandstone...on the dirt again...Anita snapped the following photos.

Miners cottages Cue

Quaint old miners cottages side by side along Cue's main street.

...mind you, there ain't too many other streets!

 

Cue post office

 

Cue Post Office...housed in a lovely old building that was constructed in the late 1800's using locally quarried sandstone.

 

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