Wednesday 30/9/09 & Thursday 1/10/09 – Old Onslow (2 nights)
CAW W498 – Free camp
The drive from 40 mile camp to Onslow took us through an area where a lot of mining work was starting. The drive took us through Fortescue River, Robe River and Cane River and onto Onslow. The trip seemed much longer than 180kms as there were a lot of straight sections and not much in between. A strong head wind also saw the fuel consumption rise.
Approaching Onslow, there were many salt pans on each side of the road – the tell tale sign to the salt mining that occurs there. The salt is really bright with the sun reflecting off the pure white. There is also a sign posted area just outside of town that is the home of the Spinifex termite with hundreds of mounds dotting the area. Interpretative signs provide some interesting insight into the termites – also claiming they are good guys..
Onslow is a small town with only a small IGA for a supermarket and two fuel outlets, one closes for lunch for a couple of hours. The caravan park is at the end of the main street on the point adjacent to the remembrance park. Onslow has a shipping jetty with its produce being salt.
The Visitor Information Centre doubles as a museum and also provides water for travellers via a tap out the front.
Onslow is not the original town built for the area – the area now called Old Onslow was the original town. Free Camping is allowed along the banks of the Ashburton River at Old Onslow. There are no facilities, so fill up at Onslow before heading out. There is about 20kms of dirt to contend with. There a number of camping areas stretched along the river and we found an area on the freshwater side of the weir where there were a number of swans.
Old Onslow is scattered with the ruins of its past and it is an interesting area to look around. The police/goal complex is the most intact being a large stone building that stands out on the flat landscape. Broken bottles were cemented into the top of the gaol walls to deter prisoners from escaping – no razor wire back then! There are a number of interpretative signs in the area but most have faded due to no maintenance and are difficult to read. There is a map that shows the original town and it was quite extensive and it was hard to pick from what was left. We originally presumed that Old Onslow was moved due to cyclone damage, however, this was proved wrong – it was moved due to a shortage of freshwater and silting of the Ashburton River eventually making it impossible for ships to enter port. Looking around the ruins it was easy to imagine how hard it must have been on the original settlers.
The old cemetery was restored some time back but has been neglected in more recent years but it is an interesting stroll visiting the headstones of the original settlers.
There is some mining investigative work occurring in the area and a few mining cars travelled the road in the mornings and afternoon but mostly the road was quiet.
Thursday we decided to do a spot of fishing and since the wind was still blowing and we were heading off tomorrow, we decided not to bother with the boat and have a fish along the river bank. We found a nice spot which turned out to be the original port area which was in the salt area and managed a few bream and even some crabs of the bank in a few hours.
Thursday, we decided to move onto Exmouth to hopefully get out of the wind, while Brian & Denise stayed another day putting the boat in and catching a number of crabs, bream and mangrove jack.