I think I last left you in Broome, but I’m too hot to be bothered looking it up. We’re in the East Kimberely now and I’m always surprised how much hotter it is here than the western end. Damned hot.
Thank the Lord for water holes and swimming pools. Cold beer also helps. It wasn’t until Lawrence experienced the north of Australia that he began to understand an Australian’s obsession with ice-cold beer.
Our first stop was Tunnel Creek with Sandie, Sharon and Jeff followed by camping at Windjana Gorge. Both are spectacular in their own way and the experience is not dulled by a second or third visit. Both are part of the Devonian Reef system of approximately 350 million years ago – give or take 50 million. Bloody old.
It was Sharon and Jeff’s first camping experience. I never realised camping was a good spectator spot.
We parted company with our chums and headed to Bell Gorge which was just a slight disappointment as the campsite is a 10km drive from the river and was really crowded. Nothing like the experience of 20 years ago, when we camped by the river. This is no longer an option, but the gorge and waterfall are beautiful nonetheless and worth the rock scrambling.
We planned to stop for a few days at Mornington as it came highly recommended but the place was booked out, so we thought we’d try Charnley River instead. Both are good birdy places run by the wildlife Conservancy, and Lawrence being a geek with big binoculars was keen. However, Charnley was closed because the road was still washed out. Oh well, best laid plans and all that…
Heading east towards Manning Gorge we stopped at Galvins and Adcock gorges for short pretty walks and then fell gratefully into the waterhole at Manning. This swimming spot is right next to the campsite and a perfect temperature for cooling overheated bodies. Next morning we did the hike to the stunning gorge and waterfall, finishing with another divine swim.
When I did this trip 20 odd years ago, car breakdowns prevented us from getting to the Mitchell falls, even though we were tantalisingly close. I wasn’t about to miss it this time. We did an overnighter at Drysdale Station and got there by lunch time. The road is not as bad as you’d expect and certainly a hell of a lot better than in 1997. But it’s pretty shit in places. Kalumburu Road is just fine – better than the Gibb.
We set off fairly early next morning for the hike up to the falls, arriving by 10am. It was a piece of cake really – easier than expected and left us 2 hours to mosey about, swim, take photos and gush a lot – A LOT. This place doesn’t disappoint and doesn’t suffer from too high an expectation – it is simply spectacular. A helicopter saw us back to camp in 6 mins – and I didn’t cry this time. I hate that sensation of height you get in a helicopter – seems unnatural.
We’d planned for 2 or 3 nights, but a bushfire closed the area and we left before things got out of control – as bushfires are unpredictable and we didn’t want to get into an evacuation scenario. Plus, if you can’t do any walks, there’s nothing to stay for.
Next stop Ellenbrae Station and then onto Home Valley Station. (For overseas readers a Station is a large cattle farm – usually in excess of 500,000 acres).
Inevitably on these trips you keep bumping into the same folks at the different stopping spots. We’ve become quite chummy with Anette and Ian, simply because we keep running into them and like a cold beer.
Then onto El Questro and a walk through the El Q gorge. This is so pretty with its rainforest vegetation and running creek. The swimming hole is one of the prettiest so far and worth the rather difficult walk. One can go on further but it means hauling your arse up out of the swimming hole and somehow managing the climb straight up a metre high smooth rock. Needless to say, we declined.
Our next stop was all about the Gouldian Finch. It was on Lawrence’s birdy bucket list and since we didn’t get to Mornington or Charnley River, the campsite at Wyndham was our last hope. You’ll all sleep better tonight knowing that he now seen the colourful little critter.
This leads us to Kununurra and domestic chores – washing, shopping, cooking etc. Fortunately, we met some like-minded people who wanted to pick our brains over quite a few bottles of wine. It was a great night but not sure how information sharing went on.
We’ll leave here tomorrow and head along the Duncan Highway (look it up). It head east and the south of Purnululu and finds its way (hopefully) to Halls Creek. We’ll save the Bungle Bungle for another time.