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the town that disappeared


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many years ago, I was touring Australia with my future wife, and we spent some nights in the town of Wittenoom, in the northwest of the country, in a region called the Pilbara. It was a very small mining town, with the classic hotel/bar/restaurant, a gas station, a small shop, a camp site and some houses. In the morning on the camp site, we had kangaroos sharing our breakfast, and in the evening we looked in awe at the ridiculous quantities of beer the locals, and some of the tourists, could stow away. From there, we took a scenic flight ove rthe Hamerley Ranges, and went on a day trip to the spectacular gorges that are present in the hills just south of the town.

In all, I have good memories of the place. I didn't know it then, but we would be coming back to the Pilbara for the next few years, and we did visit two more times.

Here, you can just make out the town at the foot of the hills of the Hamersley Ranges:

52441517498_23de2174ae_o.jpgA79-321-08 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr


Notice the river coming out of the hills, which made a nice valley in these hills? That river was the reason the town existed in the first place. In that valley, Wittenoom Gorge, there was the largest asbestos mine of Australia. Asbestos had been discovered in 1937, and the town was built to accommodate the miners.


You can still see some of the tailings of the mine in Wittenoom Gorge, like here, just behind the Vampire:

52441517628_b5ae8a6e67_o.jpgA79-321-03 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr


The mine, owned by the Colonial Sugar Company, closed in 1966, due to a lack of profitablity. However, at the same time, there were worries about health risks associated with asbestos, and shortly after the closure of the mine, a report was published that asbestos was causing cancer in people that were exposed to it. Unfortunately for the miners, they were fired before the report was published, so the mining company denied any responsability. Midnght Oil wrote the song 'Blue Sky Mining' about this.

Since then, the Australian government has been trying to close the town, because of the health risks associated with the tailings and dust present in Wittenoom Gorge and around town. When I was there first, in 1990 I think, there was still a bar, and a shop and other amenities, but once the government took the license away from the Fortescue Hotel, the population started diminishing fast. During my last visit, it was clearly becoming a ghost town.


In the sim, you can still see streets and houses:

52441268484_6c9e5d56ca_o.jpgA79-321-05 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr


but as of September 2022, there are no permanent residents anymore. The town disappeared of maps and roadsigns already a few years ago, and it will soon be completely removed from the landscape as well. There is a landing strip in the sim, but all the X's make you feel a bit unwelcome.


52441447265_797079cbc0_o.jpgA79-321-07 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr


Funnily enough, although Wittenoom is now in the process of disappearing completely, just to the south of this lies Karijini National Park, where several rivers have carved spectacular deep and narrow canyons in the plateau of the Hamersley Ranges


52441517448_247f8b7793_o.jpgA79-321-10 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr


with a campsite for the tourists


52441268539_84ed90b87e_o.jpgA79-321-02 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr


just a few kilometers away from these asbestos tailings. I'm not sure why Wittenoom should go, and yet here you can camp without problems, but hey, what do I know. So if you're ever in the area, Wittenoom will no longer be there, but do visit Karijini, the gorges are spectacular!


52440489557_3e4c5147d6_o.jpgA79-321-01 by JanKees Blom, on Flickr

Slapping paint on flightsim models

you'll find all my FSX/P3D repaints here and all my MSFS repaints here.

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Jan - thanks for the great story and outstanding photos. :cool::cool::cool: Your shots demo one of the great features of MSFS - the ability to travel anywhere in the world to places you wouldn't otherwise be able to visit - for example I'll never get to Australia - and see a pretty darn good representation of their RW appearance.
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