Coolant kookaburra and the champagne Swiss

KMs travelled: I’m too scared to turn on the car to find out. 


  • Dome in Port Hedland is HUGE and was happy to allow Zeus to wander all over the place this morning while I contemplated the series of life decisions that lead me to be stranded in Port Hedland
  • The Swiss couple, Steve and Bea, camped next to me got caught up in the drama, fed me champagne at 10am and were greatly entertained by the saga of the Coffin Cheaters 
  • Today I’ve had coffee, wine, two walks on the beach  and generally a whole lotta help from a whole lotta people. It’s 31C, the sunset was epic and we met a Great Dane Mastiff cross called Jack.


  • Well, obviously the inoperable nature of the Red Chariot is the headline act… Everything else seems pretty good.

If you’ve been playing along at home, you will already know things are a little grim this evening.

My (un)trusty steed Buzti Laroo wasn’t just having just a hissy fit when she bled a puddle of coolant all over the car park this morning and despite my best artistic attempts to make light of the situation, tonight I have had to taxi it to the nearest restaurant because Zeus and I are out of two minute noodles, oranges and muesli bars and I was getting hungry.

Turns out nearest restaurant is the Port Hedland yacht club which a sea of plastic chairs, chicken parmas bigger than my head and a wine list that I could run the car off. Well, theoretically. A little problematic as an analogy just at present.

But I digress. Buzti is, I was informed by the caravan park handyman, in no fit state to go anywhere, and is quite likely suffering from a broken temperature gauge which could have serious consequences. Like something about the gasket going through the something else and killing the entire engine.


And tomorrow is a public holiday so I have no idea for how long I might be in Port Hedland. Which wouldn’t be too terrible except I’m running out of food and the supermarket is a really long way away.

Someone send supplies.

In good news, it’s not all morose vehicular difficulties. 

I left Pardoo on the first evening of school holidays. It turned out to be a good idea as a passive aggressive Cold War between the school-escaping families and Grey Nomads was shaping up to be a three round clanger, centering around the location of a rubbish bin. I’m a bit vague on the details, but from what I can gather:

  • Child moved the rubbish bin closer to the family tent.
  • Grey Nomad A noticed the bin had moved to somewhere it wasn’t usually located.
  • Grey Nomad A told Grey Nomad B the place was going to the dogs and no one had any respect any more…
  • …at which point Grey Nomad B strode off, intending to berate parent of the Child, but got the wrong person. Instead he confronted Random Bystander with the question “is there a reason this rubbish bin is located here.” 
  • Of course, Random Bystander had no idea what was happening and was more concerned that Grey Nomad was accusing him of excessive consumption of Emu Export so he held his palms up in the traditional ‘bouncer deflection’ pose and said ‘I dunno mate I was just walking past.” 
  • Grey Nomad B then announced to the gathered fire pit crew (all those sitting around the fire telling stories, of which I was one) that Random Bystander was a gutless wonder and should return the bin.

I did think, at this point, that perhaps the Nomads were overreacting, but as a serial overreacter myself, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing the point.

This was somewhat more pedestrian than the previous evening’s conversation, when it turns out two staffers from the station – let’s call them Joel and Tom because that’s their names – took off in a small boat and got stranded on the mud flats, unable to return from their supposed half-day fishing trip until well into the afternoon and well after they were expected at work. Thanks to huge tides and Joel’s inability to located the mouth of Pardoo Creek (I should point out at this point that Joel’s job is actually to be the pool boy of Pardoo and I’m hoping he’ll start an Instagram under that moniker) they now face a two-week fishing ban.

You may note the tide in the background, which they were waiting for so they could continue back to the homestead…. Joel kindly let me have this picture, presumably not realising I was intending to take the mickey. 

Joel liked the picture. Tom was a little less impressed and seemed upset about the ban: “Joel ruined it.”

Although I was tempted to stay another night as a bus load of backpackers was due to arrive which would no doubt be fun to terrorise, I did think it might be time to move on as Pardoo is the kind of place one might accidentally stay for a few weeks. Oh yeah, saw Brolgas. For the ornithological nerd in me, that was cool.

So, we hit Pardoo Roadhouse for another coffee review and were rewarded with freshly ground coffee and Zeus got the best part of the patty in my burger. It was really good. We spun around and headed back towards Port Hedland after scouring caravan park reviews hoping something would look better than the dodgy park camped between South and Port where we had fuelled up earlier and seemed to have no redeeming features.

Now camped at Big4 (am sure travel geeks will understand this) we quickly set up and went to check out the port. Turns out, Port is in the wrong direction for evening photos so we instead headed to the salt flats which separate Port and South Hedlands and Wikipedia suggests are becoming a tourist attraction in their own right.

An early start the following day – so early Zeus was not keen on getting out of bed – and we watched the ships roll in with the sun in a better viewing position.

And I think that brings us up to date, as this was the point I realised Buzti was bleeding prolifically and things were not good.

A note on Steve and Bea, the Swiss couple camped next to me. After realising my dilemma, they fed me champagne then demanded to know if there was another definition for the word “doggies”.

And thus, fuelled on stress coffee and champagne, I attempted to explain the nuances of Australian Rules. (So wait, you get a point for trying to get a goal? And Footscray is a team named after a suburb but is also called the Bulldogs nicknamed the doggies but has nothing to do with the wor ‘foot’?)

I do not think they have any more comprehension now than they did at the start of the conversation.


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