If you could imagine a quaint little European village settled against snow capped mountains,
people meandering and pausing to chat along it’s little cobble stone roads that are lined with vibrant little shops. Strange it may seem, but that’s what this small outback town reminded me of. It wasn’t because of the rugged red mountains instead of snow backed mountains. Or snow flakes replaced with red dust that infiltrates everywhere. No quaint cobblestone roads but roads lined with grunty four-wheel drive machines, high vis cloaked workers and dozens of mums or off roster dad’s and their young kids that clearly outnumber the grey haired members of a normal community.
It’s probably one of Australia’s best kept secrets. Tom Price. The heart of one of the world’s biggest iron ore mining projects. To the city suburbanite, Tom Price, home to about 3,000 people, may seem like a last chance prize in a poor man’s destination raffle. But ask the local cop who could feel for his child who cried because he had been reluctantly posted elsewhere, or the mining electrician and his family who came here over ten years and has no desire to move on. Or observe all the energetic kids as they freely race around the parks and paths on their bikes, quickly pausing to greet each friend they encounter. The weekly bmx track competition that fills with kids of all ages, whom some seem barely old enough to ride a bike let alone race.
Then there’s Karajini National Park. Right on the town’s doorstep with its spectacular gorges, waterfalls, swimming holes and camp grounds. Its that ruggedness that makes Tom Price unique. Where its so hot in summer you could fry an egg on the road. And that touch of being unique. Where else would you have a road and a festival, named after the towns iconic Mountain that doesn’t have a name. Mount Nameless. Seriously? Did they just forget to name that mountain? You’d think at least the local radio station would’ve run a competition by now to name the thing? But no, it’s definitely no quaint little European village, but it certainly has that same community vibe, that friendly soul we all fantasize belongs in some cute little alpine village.
Images: Mainly Karijini National Park