Travelogue: Port Hedland

First off, let it be known that there is a fine coat of red dust covering the town of Port Hedland. It is everywhere.  If your imagination is as peculiar like mine, the planet Mars is not far from comparison. Especially if we terraformed is just enough to be certified inhabitable.

Joking aside, discovering the red coral-like rocks evokes an other worldly quality that pervades my senses throughout the whole afternoon. It is not easily shaken.


A Beach in Headland, Australia. Photo by Myles Herod

This is Australia’s largest tonnage port. They report exporting roughly 13.6 millions tons of iron ore (the area’s natural resource) last year. The ore accounts for the town’s red residue.

It is one of two ports that remain on our 19 day voyage. 48 hours later, our turnaround in Perth will start us upon another 19 days back to Sydney. And Port Hedland will still stick as a vivid image in my mind.

Yes, every destination on the itinerary up this point has been beautiful beaches and blue skies. Not here. Grey clouds blanket barren cul-de-sacs while fields sit littered with garbage.


A piece of trash found near the beach in Port Hedland. Photo by Myles Herod

Exploring the Town

I decide to explore. A tour bus near the ship provides free shuttle services throughout this mining community. I decline, citing my curiosity to “feel the pulse of Port Hedland” as a more rewarding option. In truth, it is.

My walk takes me on the main back road (crossing such streets as Coolinda and Roderea) eventually leading me into the town’s park – which is arid and weather worn. It is more like a forgotten cemetery if not for the sight of birds. You better believe I chase them away!


Hedland birds in an empty park. Photo by Myles Herod


Aboriginal homestead as seen in Port Hedland. Photo by Myles Herod

With a population of 14,000, Port Hedland remains the second largest town of Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Many bus in from other areas to work two to three weeks at a time. By majority, those who do live in the town are, from what I observe, of aboriginal descent.

A fascinating, if not bleak, visit. Likely never to be seen by my eyes again.