Wittenoom was named for one of the locals—Frank Wittenoom. It was given this name by Frank’s partner at a nearby station, Lang Hancock, for whom Hancock Gorge is named. Today, only a handful of people remain in Wittenoom, though it was close to being a ghost town even when we visited it. The nearby asbestos mine has been closed, but the abundance of asbestos nearby is thought to make the whole place a health hazard. But the setting is beautiful, and not everyone has been able to tear themselves away.
As I noted in the book, the wilderness pretty much starts across the street from the little town. The leading edge of the Hamersley Range rises in the very near distance. The area is known for the abundance of minerals, including many gem stones, and we had walked to the edge of town to visit a local rock shop. The mineral samples were spectacular, but far too large to be lugging around in one’s suitcase for several months, so I escaped without succumbing to that temptation.
When we left the shop, the changing light playing across the land caught my attention. I stood on the curb and watched twilight begin to creep across the desert. Soon, it was too dark to take pictures, but the light continued to paint sky and earth in changing pastel hues. I was delighted. The photo below is of the view from that curb in Wittenoom, at the beginning of the twilight light show.