I flew into Karratha on a Boeing 737. I was surprised as I thought that it was a fairly large plane to be flying to a community of only 10-12,000 people. The plane was rather empty; Heidi’s brother-in-law suggested that it would have been jam-packed going back to Perth (with mining workers returning for the weekend).
As I neared Karratha, the clouds looked amazing:
Read more about my trip (with photos!) after the jump.
MuruJuga (the Burrup Peninsula) is around 30 kms north of Karratha and houses the world’s largest concentration of ancient petroglyphs (rock art). Somewhere between 5-25% of the rock art has been destroyed as a result of industrialisation of the area, and the state government has approved for around 40% of the remaining area to be redeveloped.
Heidi’s nephew leads the way to the rock art:
The natural rock formations are very impressive; red and with a very raw broken appearance:
Petrolgyphs are everywhere and communicate aspects of aboriginal life prior to British invasian/colonisation:
After looking at the rock art we went to a nearby fishing/crabbing area. The mangroves have these “snorkel” roots that collect oxygen when the tide is in:
Roebourne is largely aboriginal community just outside of Karratha. The place looks fairly rundown and housing prices are significantly cheaper than in Karratha. It’s odd that Karratha looks very much like a prosperous suburb of Perth, but Roebourne looks like an isolated country town.
Founded in 1866 as a gold rush town, Roebourne is much older than Karratha (which was founded in the 1960s):
Grafitti is fairly common and communicates aspects of community life in the current day:
Point Samson and Honeymoon Cove
Point Samson is a nearby fishing town that houses a number of popular resorts and Honeymoon Cove is a small enclosed beach near Point Samson.
Point Samson is picturesque and a lot cooler (due to the sea breeze) than Karratha:
Heidi stood on a rock at Honeymoon Cove and proclaimed “we are not coming here on a honeymoon” (Note: For a start, we’d have to get married first):
The rock formations at Honeymoon were rather striking:
Going to Karratha was an eye-opener. It’s affluent and the mining industry clearly plays a large role in this regard. Rent is insane (apparantly $1000/week for an old 3-bedroom house), but rates of pay are high. Non-mining businesses (like retailers) are always looking for workers. It seems like a good place to setup shop if you don’t mind living in the country.
I couldn’t help but get the feeling that everything takes a back-seat to industry. The local aboriginal communities seem to get a bum rap. Since British invasion/colonisation, the waterways and land have been overtaken. You can’t swim in many places. Poison baits are scattered through areas of the bush (to kill introduced pests like feral cats and dogs). Anti-industrialisation graffiti adorns the outside of water pipes and various industrial buildings.
In regards to MuruJuga, I’m amazed that any of the petroglyphs can be approved for destruction. I don’t see it as an aboriginal or cultural issue; I see it as an historical and preservation issue. I don’t understand why it is up to industry, local aboriginal groups, and the state government to come to an agreement. Preservation of historically significant sites is the responsibilty of humankind. It should be out of their hands.