Port Hedland is another massive port on the Western Australiancoast exporting the Pilbara's extensive iron ore deposits. So huge isthe operation that 2.6 kilometre long trains haul their loads into shipping yards nine times a day! The town itself has long been relied upon,providing services for cattle grazers in the 1860's, a pearl lugging fleet in the 1870's, and the influx of fortune seekers in the gold rush of the 1880's.
Apart from tours of the overwhelming industries and the dusty pink pigeons in the area, Port Hedland's main attraction is Pretty Pool, a popular picnicking, swimming and shell fossicking spot. Just north of the tidal pool, Cooke Point presents the best place to view Port Hedland's version of Stairway to the Moon (see Broome in the Kimberley). Cookes Point is also one of several beaches on the surrounding coast where flatback turtles return to nest between Octoberand March.
Fifteen kilometres south of Port Hedland, South Hedland is themodern residential centre.
Travelling along the Great Northern Highway towards Broome, a secondary road (two thirds paved one third gravel) branches inland, and heads towards the friendly outback town of Marble Bar. One of the hottest places in Australia, Marble Bar has recorded periods of up to 160 days, where the temperature has consistently reached over forty degrees! This town takes it's name from an large bar of striking red jasper which traverses the nearby Coongan River. The landscape in the surrounding countryside is also impressive, especially after the late winter rains, when the bland spinifex covered ranges and hills are transformed into colourful collage of blooming wildflowers. In town, all well trodden paths lead to the legendary Ironclad Hotel, the local anddistricts convergence point. Just down the road, the still working Comet Gold Mine is also well worth a look.