President's Report - June 2007

Greetings All,

I write this column in Karratha, northwestern WA, where Sue and I are happily staying for a few days as part of a month-long trip designed to avoid some of the Canberra winter. Over the past few weeks we have lived with maximum daily temperatures in the range 27 to 31 degrees and cloudless skies. Overnight minima have been comparable to Canberra maxima.On May 23rd we flew to Perth, and picked up a fully equipped Toyota Landcruiser which has been our mobile home (and honorary Peugeot) for the trip. Before leaving Perth, Sue and I undertook a full-day vehicle safety and familiarisation course, which included winching techniques, use of HF radio, split-rim tyre changing, jacking procedures etc. With daily mandatory radio reporting back to Perth and our training course behind us we were well prepared for any likely emergency.

In fact, apart from a cracked windscreen, the Landcruiser hasn't missed a beat (not even a flat tyre), and our trip has been incident free. The route north from Perth was inland, via Dalwallinu, Meekatharra, Newman and Port Hedland, on the the Great Northern Highway, with a side visit to Paraburdoo and Karajini National Park in the Hamersley. Then it was Broome - Fitzroy Crossing - Halls Creek - Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) - Kunnanurra on Highway 1, then west to Derby on the Gibb River Road, and south via Broome and Port Hedland to Karratha. From here we will follow the coast road to Carnarvon, Geraldton and then south to Perth. We fly home on June 23rd. Apart from the Gibb River Road, and the track into the Bungle Bungles (which are both only suitable for 4WD vehicles), all roads were bitumen.

Accomodation has been a mixture of camping, motels and cabins although here in Karratha we have been staying in a near-new house courtesy of Woodside Energy Ltd (it is a work trip for me, after all, and I have collected rock samples for my research from many localities). Until today (13th June), it had been a Pugless trip since leaving Perth almost 3 weeks ago, however, the drought was broken today when I spied a 306 sedan here in Karratha. WA is a big state, and with only one Pug dealer that I know of (in Perth), it means that our favourite car is rarely encountered away from the city. Indeed, the far north is dominated by 4WD vehicles (particularly Toyotas).

Highlights of the trip (apart from the weather) have included sunset walks on Cable Beach in Broome, camping in the Bungle Bungles, seeing the Aboriginal rock engravings on Burrup Peninsula near Dampier, and (hopefully, next week) a visit to Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay. I will give a photographic presentation on the trip at the next club meeting (Tuesday 26th June at the Canberra Services Club at 8 pm). The next month or so sees some significant club activities, including the Battle of Waterloo event (Sunday 24th June), the Mogo Zoo weekend (30th June/1st July) and our annual Bastille Day club dinner (Saturday 14th July). As usual, I encourage all club members to participate in any or all of these events.

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

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