AUSTRALIA
2000


"The Pilbara Cobra"

Port Hedland to Marble Bar, Pilbara,
Western Australia

 

Port Hedland to Marble Bar is a 152 km drive. We hired three white rental cars from Avis and were since we were filming there was concern about the advertising logos on the doors . We need not have bothered about it, within a short distance, driving throut the red landscape of the Pilbara during an excessively wet 'dry season' the cars had changed colour and the logos were obscured.

 

How our hire cars started out and how they wound up!
The in-between bit - filming an 'up and past' in a shallow creek crossing.
Film crew (l-r) Terry Meadowcroft (sound), Matt Seal (camera assistant),
Des Seal (camera), David Wright (director).
All photos: Robert Pendlebury

The terrain in the Pilbara is fairly varied, large areas of sand and spinifex grassland, rounded red sandstone hills, rocky slopes, isolated outcrops of harder rock standing out from the surrounding desert like broken teeth, abandoned mine-workings and even the odd billabong surrounded by eucalypts, if it has rained (which it had when we were in the area).

Dry river valleys Sandstone hills
Rocky slopes Boulder clusters
Mine workings Billabongs

Driving to Marble Bar should take 2 hours but it takes a lot longer if you have an herpetologist onboard and he wants to search the roadside habitat for interesting reptiles. Mysearches were really rather productive. We found Byrnoe's gecko (Heteronotia binoei), Pilbara dtella (Gehyra pilbara) and Buront's snake-lizard (Lialis burtonis) from the Gekkota, Eyed leopard ctenotus (Ctenotus pantherinus ocellifer), Stoney-soil ctenotus (Ctenotus saxatilis) and Western spinifex slender blue-tongued skink (Cyclodomorphus megalops megalops) from the Scincidae, the Pilbara ring-tailed dragon (Ctenophorus caudicinctus caudicinctus) from the Agamidae, and an Inland ridge-tailed monitor lizard (Varanus acanthurus brachyurus) from the Varanidae, quite an assortment of lizards. The only snake encountered was a Spotted snake (Suta punctata).

Bynoe's gecko
Heteronotia binoei
Pilbara dtella
Gehyra pilbara
Burton's snake-lizard
Lialis burtonus
Eyed leopard ctenotus
Ctenotus partherinus ocellifera
Stoney-soil ctenotus
Ctenotus saxatilis
Stoney-soil ctenotus
Ctenotus saxatilis
juvenile
Western spinifex slender blue-tongued skink
Cyclodomorphus melanops melanops
Pilbara ring-tailed dragon
Ctenophorus caudicinctus caudicinctus
Pilbara ring-tailed dragon
Ctenophorus caudicinctus caudicinctus
juvenile
Inland ridge-tailed monitor lizard
Varanus acanthurus brachyurus
Spotted snake
Sutua punctata

 

Close to Marble Bar I saw a large snake, clearly a python, crawling slowly across the road, and in the distance I could see a huge road-train, a huge juggernaut with several separate wagons designed for Australia's straight roads, which cannot and therefore does not stop for wildlife. I sprinted down the highway, followed by my film crew, and snatched the Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus) to safety. We would release it later safely away from the dangerous road.

Out of breath, but it was worth it,
Terry records my breathless 'piece to camera' after the road-train has passed.
Mark with the
Black-headed python
Aspidites melanocephalus

Photo: David Wright

 

Black-headed python
Aspidites melanocephalus

We also saw a lot of kangaroos enroute.