I had an awesome weekend. I went to the Pilbara. Port Hedland, actually. It was wonderful and thrilling to be back in a place I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed. The official reason was to give a presentation at a Women in Mining Event organized by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.
But as my plane flew in and I looked out the window, my heart just jumped. Man! That landscape! It took me back. The dirt so red, the sky so blue sky, the greenery scattered across the rocks. That wide open space just seems to swallow you up. The tropical air is so thick, it seemed to settle on my shoulders as I stepped onto the tarmac after the plane landed. In that moment, I knew it had been too long. The weather here is gorgeous. Perth is freezing at the moment. Port Hedland was a lovely 26 degrees. Like balm to my city soul.
That evening I spoke to the women of the region at a cocktail function at The Esplanade hotel. It was great to share my experiences and also hear some of theirs. I spoke about working in a male dominated industry, about being a mother and balancing home and work duties. I also talked about my writing of course, and how I came to be published. It was nice to speak to the Fortescue General Manager about the role of women in the industry and how including them more helps clean up the act of the men. They actually start watching more what they say, being more considerate in what they do. He said, “It’s better for everyone to have a more balanced work place.”
Sunday was another eventful day. Fortescue kindly organized a private tour of their Port and Rail facilities. I loved it! Does that seem a bit dorky? Although, I have worked in many places on the Pilbara, I’ve never worked in Port Hedland. So it was my first time glimpsing the inside story. It was just so amazing to see the size and scale of the facilities. To stand next to a reclaimer. To climb to the top of shiploader and watch the ore drop into the giant hatches on the ships. When fully loaded these ships carry 250 000 tonnes. I think I’m going to have to set a book here. It’s just too big an opportunity to pass up.
I also rode on a locomotive. Not very far. Just to the fuelling station. But it was fantastic just to be in the driver’s cabin of a train that is 2.8km long. The driver certainly had some interesting stories to tell.
But the day wasn’t other yet. I had lunch with the Pilbara Princesses Book Club. What a friendly, inviting bunch of women who are passionate about their books and their town. The book club has been going for four years. They mainly read chick lit, which of course, is also one of my favourite genres. We met at the Silver Train Café which is a bit of must see all on it’s own. The café is actually set up inside an old freight train. But there’s also an alfresco area which we chose to sit in out the back. It had a great atmosphere with lots of pot plants providing that secret garden feel. It was wonderful to meet these women, talk about my books with them but also about their lives here in Port Hedland. I’m always interested in the local perspective. I hope to see these ladies again one day!
Unfortunately, after lunch I had a plane to catch. I think the next time I head over to the Pilbara, it’ll definitely be for an extended stay.