February, 10 2010
Marble Bar Rd, before Marble Bar
Peter Eastway

It was pretty hot today. On the road it was definitely 50˚C due to the heat radiated by the back bitumen, but possibly the official temperature was closer to 43˚C or 44˚C. Either way it was hot and in the mid afternoon, I was quite comfortable, cocooned in our 4WD with the air conditioning on full blast.

As we drove towards the Marble Bar turnoff from Pardoo Station, we watched a wet season thunderstorm grow and develop. The road seemed to be skirting around the edge of the weather cell and in the distance we could see some willy-willies forming – small tornados of red dust climbing into the dark sky above. As photographers, it was more than we could resist.

We found a side road that lead to a slightly raised vantage point above the Pilbara plain. Thunder rolled ominously as we walked around the flanks of a small hill in the stifling heat, but heat was the furthest thing from our mind as we watched Nature unfurl the most remarkable display I can remember. Lightning ripped through the cloud mass, starting spot fires on the grassy plain, and the willy-willies merged into a minor dust storm, picking up red earth in its path. It felt like we were on the edge of a huge amphitheatre.

They say that travelling in the North West during the wet season isn’t necessarily a good idea because of the heat and the wet, but after our experience today, that little gem of advice has been relegated to the dust bin. Simply amazing!

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