Project for the Mount Newman Railway

The Mount Newman Railway, a private railway owned by BHP Billiton that transports iron ore from Mount Whaleback to Port Hedland, Western Australia, needed some seismic work done as part of a grade realignment.   We stayed at a field camp about midway between Newman and Port Hedland: At the time it housed about twenty men, had a good kitchen with full-time cook, air conditioned, comfortable sleeping accommodations, and a swimming pool.

It was a desert climate.  Daily temperatures climbed to about 110 deg F (43 deg C).  It didn’t cool off much at night.  Meals were good.  Using the swimming pool was an experience: the low humidity kept the pool water chilly.  When you first dipped in, it was a shock, but you soon got used to it.  When you climbed out, the hot, dry wind, which was always blowing, chilled you to the bone.  You were tempted to return to the pool, which, comparatively, felt warm.  When you finally left the pool, chilly, but your wet skin quickly dried and then you felt the heat of the dry wind.

On completion of the project I drove to Newman, the town servicing Mount Whaleback.  Wanting to make the trip during the cool of the morning, I left before first light.  As the dawn was about to break, I passed a high cliff that had a trail to the top.  Driving up the road I viewed one of the most magnificent sunrises I had ever seen, in the cool, cloudless sky of the Western Australian Pilbara district.

Continuing on to Newman, I arrived about mid morning.  Maybe I could find a church somewhere, to attend morning services.  A car passed me, so I followed it, thinking that anyone out this early of a Sunday morning must be going to church.  Sure enough, I followed them into the parking lot of an Anglican church, so I was able to attend church that morning.  After church, a really nice young couple invited me to have dinner with them.

Later that day I caught a plane to Perth, and made connections back home to Sydney.

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