Sunday 24th June, 2018 Lake Argyle to Kununnura. 70kms Kimberleyland Holiday Park, Kununurra. Top Park Member
After the usual visit to the Info Centre we planned the next couple of days.
Did a quick town tour and saw the Diversion Dam built prior to the Main Dam at Lake Argyle. Called in at a Zebra Rock Shop. Beautiful stones but very expensive even though they were closing down. Went looking for Mirima National Park, but had to pay to get in, and as we didn’t have time to do the walks etc, decided that might have to wait for another day; got lost looking for Kellys Knob Lookout and ended up at the Sandalwood Factory. Sandalwood Oil production is a big industry in K. There were many beauty and scented products to test and buy. Hoochery Distillery was just up the road so we called in and tasted some of their speciality rums. Bought a rum tasting paddle X 3.
Marg and I both didn’t mind the taste considering we don’t drink Rum. On the way back we found Kellys Knob Hill and saw first hand one of the main irrigation channels and all the adjoining farmlands flourishing as a result. Back at camp we sat for a couple of hours listening to country music by the lake, played by award winning Graham Rodgers. In all a pretty packed day.
Monday 25th June. Day trip to Wyndham. About 260 km round trip, including El Questro
Wyndham is the most northerly town in WA. It is also one of the hottest places in Australia. Average maximum daily temp is 36oC. The Five Rivers lookout is the highest point of the Bastion Range and it gives you a birds-eye view over the Cambridge Gulf including the surrounding 5 rivers (Durack, Pentecost,King, Forrest and Ord) as well as give you a view of the Old Wyndham. (Mystery Road was filmed in parts of this Old town) The port is still used and exports include live cattle, minerals, crude oil and agricultural products. Imports include bulk fuel and fertiliser. Apparently cruise ships still dock here.
At the moment Wyndham is a very tired looking town that doesn’t seem to have much going for it despite an effort to attract tourists. The drive from the Main Highway was slow as roadworks a/ming to millions of dollars are very extensive. I wonder why but there must be a grand plan. I just found out from a neighbouring caravanner that the Chinese own? control? Lease? the Wyndham port, like they have a 99 year lease on Darwin port. He thinks they are also developing the mine there so plans are a foot.
We did see;
The oldest Boab tree in “captivity”. Over 3000 years old.
The Big Croc
Massive Dreamtime figures. Very impressive.
The Motel and Hotel in the Old Town used in Mystery Road
On the way home we stopped at Marigu Billabong in the Parry’s Lagoon Nature Reserve. Another 16 KM off road semi 4WD track that had Marg gripping the door on occasions. It was worth every corrugation as we found an amazing number of birds and a beaut boardwalk leading to a bird hide where we sat and ate our lunch.
Next stop was The Grotto. The Grotto is quite spectacular, a large and deep rock pool enclosed by huge, vertical cliffs. There are 140 steps down and then up. I managed a quick swim as Marg felt the steps down were not for her and waited in the car.
We really wanted to see Emma Gorge but the walk in would have taken 2-3 hours and was quite rough. We decided to relax with a cuppa in the grounds of the El Questro WildernessLodge which is at the entrance to the Gorge walk. This Lodge looked amazing and was a very nice surprise in the middle of no where. All the tours use this as their accomodation, which is Glamping tents. Jan and Rae stayed here on their recent Darwin to Broome tour, and loved it so much Jan didn’t want to leave. Sitting in the gardens and listening to the birds, we could understand.
All through this part of Northern Australia you are tempted with lots and lots of opportunities to be parted from your $. There are lots and lots of helicopter or small plane flights to wherever you want to go….at a price. As well, tour companies offer 4WD trips to places the tourist would like to go but can’t coz they haven’t the experience or the vehicle. The problem is….deciding which ones to do if you do any at all. Caravan park talk is infectious as you talk with others who have done this, this, this and then that. Everyone thinks what they do is the best. Some travellers must have $ to burn. You really do need to be mindful of what your priorities are and stick to a plan and try and get value for $, as well as do something you really want to do….as you may not be back this way for a long time. It is surprising how with a little bit of research and planning there are plenty of attractions that don’t cost at all.
Big intentions today to do a 10 km bike ride. Started off well, did about 6 km then Marg had a flat tyre. After walking a km I decided to go ahead and get the car. By the time I got back to the Park I had not 1 but 2 flat tyres. Seems we rode through a Bindi-eye patch somewhere. The local guy didn’t have our size wheels so we will have to wait until we get to Broome. I have a feeling not only the tubes will need replacing but the tyres as well as they are full of Bindi-eye thorns. So much for exercise…it doesn’t pay and can end upcosting you heaps???? Should’ve stayed back in the van and read my book.
Rang ahead to Bungle Bungles Caravan Park to get a site and no powered sites left. So we booked an unpowered site with the option of taking a powered site if one becomes available. Seems like the hoards are on the move. Also booked a 30 minute helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles. Hope it all works out.
Got an UNPOWERED site (strange that there were still unused POWERED site empty that night and still empty the next morning????)But we managed quite well. Except for the Bindi-eye. You couldn’t step outside the van without shoe soles full of them.
We split up for our Helicopter flight. The chopper only takes 3 passengers. If Marg and I went on our own it would cost $379 pax. For a 30 minute flight. A third person reduces it to $295 pax. We had 6 interested so Marg and I split up. It meant we could sit in the front seat with the pilot. In the end we opted for a 45 minute flight that cost just a bit more than the $295 we initially booked. Marg took off 2.00pm the day we arrived at Mabel Downs(Bungle Bungles Caravan Park) and was a bit nervous about the flight but she took to it like a duck to water. Now, she’s done it once there’s no stopping her. She wanted to do it again….and again. My flight was 7.00am the next morning. We decided that after our first ever ride in a helicopter it was awesome. You could see so much compared to looking out the small window of a fixed wing small plane. I was a little disappointed in the first stage of my flight as we were travelling into the sun for about 15 minutes but once we turned the view was magic. The photos don’t do the Bungles justice as it’s very hard to get good shots through the windscreen of the chopper.
The Bungle Bungle Range is renowned for its striking sandstone domes, striped with orange and grey bands
After my 7.00am chopper ride over the Bungle Bungles we headed off as it was going to be a longish day for us as we tend to do around 250-300 km comfortably. We didn’t expect to see much on the way but a stop at Halls Creek was a pleasant surprise. Everyone on the way was telling us….there’s nothing at Halls Creek….just keep going. We would liked to have stayed a bit longer to have a look around. We did detour to have a look at the China Wall. The wall is a natural vein of sub-vertical white quartz rising up to 6 meters above the surrounding country in places It goes for many kilometers, rising high out of the ground and then disappearing back into the earth again.
We managed to pull the van down a narrow dirt track. Marg was convinced we’d get boxed in but there was enough space to turn around at the end. She is slowly getting used to a bit of dirt road now and then.
They had an awesome visitor centre with some very nice indigenous prints amongst other stuff. Unfortunately a lot of it was designed by local indigenous but Made in China. Marg was appalled and wouldn’t buy any. We did get a few things…..Australian Made of course
We arrived about 3.00pm and booked into Fitzroy Crossing Lodge. A welcome change from the Bindi-eye of last night. Geiki Gorge on the Fitzroy River is a favourite attraction. The receptionist said that the 4.00pm cruise was the most popular because of the colours on the rocks. We quickly unhitched and did the 20 kms out of town to the Gorge. Luckily there were plenty of seats left on the boat. The 1 hour cruise was spectacular. The colours were amazing. We were glad we rushed to get there on time. The Gorge has been formed where the Fitzroy River has carved its way through limestone which now forms the walls of Geiki Gorge.
Friday 29th June, 2018. Fitzroy Crossing to Derby. 259kms
The Crossing Inn is the oldest pub in the Kimmerley Region. It opened in 1897. Marg had a great idea to have a drink there after our Geiki Gorge cruise. By the time we found the place (it’s about 3 km out of town along a corrugated dirt track) it was dark and the place looked a bit spooky.So we didn’t go in. In he morning we found a sealed road to the door, a well kept garden and what appeared to be a very friendly place, with some amazing indigenous theme art work on the walls, a great looking restaurant. The place didn’t look spooky at all. You can see we don’t venture out at night much.
On the way to Derby the book mentioned a very old Boab tree. We managed to stop and take photos of this tree that looked very very old to find that the one we were meant to be making a fuss about further down the road. These trees are amazing. The second photo is the Prison Boab tree just outside Derby.This tree is believed to be 1500 years old. It was used as a staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days. The prison tree is a registered aboriginal site.
We happened to arrive in Derby on their Boab Festival Day. The theme was Make Smoking History Mardi Gras. A float parade preceded the amusements, carnival, Live performances on the local oval. The whole town was behind the day and were obviously having a great time….minus smoking and alcohol. The float parade was very colourful and reminded me of the times Bendigo Easter parade included the schools and other groups before we became politically correct and OH&S issues took over.
Sunset at The Wharf. Almost looks like Stairways to the Sun.
Saturday 30th June, 2018. Derby to BROOME. (We made it) 220kms
Cable Beach caravan Park, Site 120. Home for 6 weeks. We leave Broome Aug 11th to begin the long journey home.
After a quick visit to the Old Goal and Pioneer Cemetery in Derby we headed off on the last leg of our journey to Broome. So far all the planning has been to get here. Now that’s done we’re not sure what happens next. The car and van were pretty dirty as the last wash was Darwin. Before we went to the Caravan park we found a car wash and gave van and car a quick going over. I felt better, I’m sure they did as well.Then a quick lunch sitting on the dunes at Cable Beach. The whole beach looked amazing. Can’t wait to have a drive, walk and swim. Yes, there were stacks of people swimming… between the life saving flags.Our site at Cable Beach Caravan Park is just opposite the swimming pool….which has just been revamped.
Today is the end of June and I need to do the monthly stats. We are not confident we have stuck within our budget BUT I’ve decided that special booked tours should be outside the everyday expenses and be in a special category on their own…..ie. Super $ or ski