Port Hedland, Pilbara, Western Australia

On the weekend I returned to Perth exhausted after 12 days of intense work costing a road construction project in Port Hedland. This was my first visit to Port Hedland, the main town in Western Australia’s Pilbara and Australia’s highest tonnage port.


BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company and newcomer Fortescue Metals Group transport iron ore on massive 2 km+ long trains to Port Hedland to be shipped to Asia and the world.


I was originally going to stay for 3 days but the trip duration was extended twice.


I stayed in a donga (transportable building) in Camp Kooyong close to the airport, waking up at at 5:15 am in order to start work at 6:30. Camp Kooyong was full of FIFO contractors, working long hours away from home.


It was easy to see why so many contractors had beer bellies. Good food is served up buffet-style every day and there is no limit to how much can be eaten.




An iron ore train travelling under the full moon at dawn




I worked in Wedgefield, close to South Hedland, a satellite suburb of Port Hedland. They use big wheelbarrows here…




My office was the “crib room” (lunch room), another donga, and I shared my table with a microwave – visible at the far end 




BHP Billiton’s iron ore train engines dwarfs a car




A massive iron ore ship in Port Hedland Harbour getting loaded for export




Everything in Port Hedland is big – many road trains have 4 trailers




Port Hedland Airport


Port Hedland “International” Airport, has 1 flight per week to and from Bali, Indonesia but multiple flights daily to Perth.  One can tell it is a contracting town as the airport security scanning area has seats reserved for taking off steel-cap boots!