In the Super Pit !
This morning, we wake up at 5:00 to avoid a possible cranky ranger who could annoys us or even gives us a fine. We set up the tent in a public camp ground reserved to self contained vehicles only. Hooo that’s bad ! We fold the tent quickly, eat 2 cereals bars full of vitamins and start heading to Boulder’s market. Yesterday we’ve met a charming retired couple on Mt Charlotte lookout, who told us about a free bus tour in the super pit. What a luck ! There is no way we miss that ! So we start walking with Martin over the 5km from the camp site to the market, throught some parks and deserted streets. A wonderfull sunrise, with colors that only outback have the secret of, offers us its morning light and wake up the nature around. The birds start to get out of their comfortable nests, the flowers start blooming and spread their sweet perfume around, soon covered by the strong eucalyptus’s odor.
When we arrive at the market, we find the bus stop, and register ourselves for the first morning trip. We are welcomed by a lot of charming retired women armed with their best smile and a lot of kindness. They offer us to take care of our backpacks during the visit, give us some coffee with biscuits, and listen about our travels and stories. While we are waiting for the bus’s departure, they tell us about the city’s history and show us a lot of old pictures from their several thousand shots collection !
Just before the departure, a guide shows us how to use a strange machine to separate dirt and rocks to find some gold nuggets. Then we jump in the bus, and start to move to the famous super pit. At the mine’s entrance, is a 4WD Land Cruiser, as flat as a pancake. It have been rolled over by one of the enormous mine trucks which felt nothing. We understand how it’s possible when the bus drive around the mine trucks garage.
Huge metal monsters, they are about 8m high (from eye sight). A tall man’s head comes to the middle of a wheel. A tyre cost AU$40 000, the truck have 6 of them which must be changed every 6 months. A full truck cost AU$4 000 000, have a 2300hp engine and can drive at 55km/h and wheight 225t when fully loaded. The mine works H24, 7/7 and extract 230 000t of rocks every day. Its around 2km wide, 4km long and 600m deep. Every day 230 000t of rocks are taken out. Which is 15 million tons every year to extract 28t of gold. It’s the biggest open sky gold mine in Australia. And it’s a real swiss cheese : there is enough tunnels underground to reach Sydney from Kalgoorlie !
The bus stop on top of a platform in the center of the super pit then we can take a few pictures. The wind is very strong and comes inside the depths of the mine, coming out in a huge and powerful spiral like a hurricane. The dust is everywhere, whip our faces, and we can’t see the bottom ! On the short time of taking just a few pictures, our cameras are full of dirt and dust. Quentin’s one have some dust inside the visor… Unfortunately that can’t be fixed. He’s a bit worried about it, but it’s only the visor, and doesn’t appear on the pictures. The wind finally calm down, so we’re able to have a nice view over this huge hole in the ground.
Heading towards the desert
When we’re back in town, one of the women who took care of us this morning, proposes to drive us on the public lookout to have a different view on the mine. We jump in her 4WD, and take a few more pictures from the top. Then she drops us at the service station on the road to Norseman then we’ll be able to catch a lift. We say our farewell to Martin and put our thumbs up again. The fisrt car stop ! A young mine engineer picks us up. He doesn’t drive to Norseman, but can drop us half way in a village where we’ll have more chance to get a lift. Unfortunately when we arrive we discover that the « village » is only a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere ! The sun is very hot, and there is nearly no cars passing throught. Only road trains, and retired couples who are afraid of backpackers.
Our chances of having a lift are very low… Are we gonna get stuck here ? It’s so stupid, we did well until now. We promised ourselves to not being trick by getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. We should have refused this lift. We are waiting thumbs up. We start doubting. We must not doubt ! Do not think. Shade start to be rare, and the sun start to burn our skin.
It’s been 1:30 that we’re waiting. It’s not very long, but in the desert whitout traffic, it is. Then comes a very tiny pink car, that stop at the station. A young lady comes out and start talking with us. Jess is around 30 years old, comes from Perth, and accepted a teacher job in Norseman to try something different and pay her debts. The salary is much better in the bush, and anyway there is no way to spend money. She proposes us to come to visit her school, and drops us at the service station where begins our next challenge : the Nullarbor. She proposes us to stay overnight in her house in case of we’re still here tonight. We thank her a lot, and full of trust we lift up our sign. 20mn later a blue and old van shows up at the crossroad and stops a our level. We don’t believe it ! We were ready to sleep in Jess’s house tonight. Andrea and Stefania are brother and sister, from Italy. They speak French, English, and of course Italian. Andrea is embarassed because he doesn’t want to let us here, but has only 1 seat available in his van. Finally he accepts to give us a lift, Quentin jumps at the back of the van, and let’s go for 3 days of straight road in a desert plain at 80km/h !
Tintin & Riette