A Travellerspoint blog

Back to Kununurra and on to Wyndham

The big croc (no, not a real one!), the meeting of the 5 rivers, Prison boab.

sunny 40 °C
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Back in to Kununurra before heading for Wyndham. Megan and I snuck in a visit to one of the diamond shops with Argyle Diamond mine not too far away. The pink diamonds are the attention seeking gem stones, but to be honest, I was drawn to look at the silver boab pendants - those magical trees again. The Argyle diamond mine was only open for visits by flying in, so we left that off our list for this trip.
Steve and I left the kids at the caravan park in Kununurra and day tripped to Keep River NP in the Northern Territory. Another place recommended by fellow travellers - first a stop at a shrinking lagoon to see magpie geese and a pair of Jabiru. Hadnt seen many Jabiru this trip - one briefly on Lake Kununurra but no others. We drove our way through the NP, to the end camp before meandering back on the way out. A 2.5km loop walk amongst the sandstone had trails of sweat running from our brows and down our backs. Worth the effort though. More corrugations, and can you believe it, our new UHF antenna bounced off again! Luckily we detected it, back tracked and retrieved. Decided to thread had likely worn and a new solution was needed.
Whilst in Kununurra, we topped up with a few supplies, including a canvas water bag to help carry cool water, a new water Jerry can to replace a cracked one and then embarked on our drive to Wyndham. Decided on the alternate route along the dirt leading through to Parry Creek farm and then back on to the Northern Highway into town. Wyndham had a wonderful and welcoming small caravan park ( another fab pool that was good for a quiet midnight dip to beat the heat), the massive croc statue in town, the fishing jetties and the amazing sunset look out over the meeting of the 5 rivers - the Ord, the King, the Durack, the Pentecost and the Forrest. On the 2nd arvo, we drove to the Prison boab tree and used up the last rays of sunshine to drop a line or two into the King River - one last attempt for Barra. :-(. A sunset snag of a favourite lure in riverside reeds/grasses ended well with recovery, no Barra and an unwelcome mozzie attack. We left Wyndham early the next morning, dropped in to Kununurra to get two car belts changed over before heading to a free camp outside the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu NP). One of the rare set ups that we've done in the dark -but we opted to travel late in the day instead of checking back into Kununurra for another night. Tomorrow was going to be an early start. Steve would stay at camp with Buddy whilst S M & R would drive the 50k's into the Bungles. Estimated 2 hour travel time with rough roads meant I wanted to be leaving camp at 5:30am - so that we'd be walking before the day warmed up too much.

Posted by slamrs 22:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Purnululu National Park

A visit to the Bungle Bungles - wow yes the 50 k's of corrugations are worth it....

sunny 41 °C
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Well they weren't kidding about the road into the Bungles. Undulating, some pretty fair dinkum corrugations in places. To be honest, driving this 4 WD track without Steve was fine.....but I didn't want to face a flat tyre without his back up. Sad....I know. The how to do it was fine......the not having done it solo was my internal challenge. Anyway, no flat tyre to be had.....so that was good. The drive in took almost 2 hours for the 50k's. I was happy when we arrived at 7:45 am thinking we'd be walking in 34 degrees, but hadn't realised there was another 24k's to do to arrive at the start of the Cathedral Gorge walk. Oh well, back in the car after stopping at the visitor's centre and back on the track. These tracks were much smoother and so we arrived soon after. We drove past elephant rock - easy to see why it's named so. The sight of the beehive domes came into view. Tall and imposing. Magnificent orange and charcoal horizontal stripes. A vision. A quick loo stop, filling of water bottles, packing a snack and grabbing the camera. Didn't check the temperature on the car gauge....a bit hotter and the radiant heat from the domes and the ground was growing. Nonetheless, we've certainly acclimatised - off we went on the 2 km walk - into Cathedral gorge via some of the beehive domes. Much of the walk is along the smooth rocks of an empty creek bed, sandy underfoot in places. Not much shade until we got closer to the gorge. A few fellow walkers also trying to beat the anticipated heat of the day. We had encountered some German tourists along the Gibb who had completed this walk and been pleasantly surprised to find an orchestra playing in the gorge. Not today.....but a peaceful amphitheatre, a small amount of residual water - murky, not fit to swim in. The acoustics were fabulous. Rory's whistling travelled the walls and returned to us. Embarrassing Mum launched loudly, "Sing......sing a song.....sing out loud....." but that didn't last! Unimpressed teenage son. Notably quiet teenage daughter. Oh well, my solo will have to wait for another opportunity. We spent half an hour or so, soaking up the cool atmosphere, chilling before others arrived. Our walk out of the gorge had us focussed on a cold bottle of soft drink that was waiting in the Waeco - it was calling our name. Surprisingly 2k's in this heat is really quite achievable, without too much discomfort. My head just starts to throb a bit towards the end, but nothing a cold drink and the air con in the car doesn't remedy. Lots more available at Purnululu, but mindful Steve was at camp in heat with little source of cooling off. A short drive to a lookout that revealed panorama views of the north and south aspects of the park and then we did the 2 hour drive back towards camp. We dropped into the Bungles Caravan Park to ask about a helicopter flight for Steve and noticed that it was quite deserted. Yes, definitely approaching the end of the season.....although we're still running in to travellers who are heading for the Gibb River road.

Posted by slamrs 21:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Lake Argyle and the Ord River

A mighty river system - wow, we had no idea.......

sunny 39 °C
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A short drive from Kununurra, we packed up and moved south to Lake Argyle. Sooo many travellers had recommended it, and all insisted that we needed to do the orange boat sunset cruise. Many spoke of leaping off the boat into the lake for a swim, catching a beer as you landed. Hmmmm that could be worth a go! We checked into the caravan park and booked the last two seats on the sunset cruise for the day. Steve and I would indulge and leave M & R to dogsit. The cruise was fabulous. Lake Argyle is an incomprehensibly humungous man-made lake, holding 19 times the water held in Sydney harbour, with the capacity to hold around 70 times Sydney Harbour. Can you picture it? No, you've really gotta be there. The dam wall responsible is a mere 300 metres + long. Building works over three seasons from 1969 - 71 - a massive undertaking with widespread effects for the region. The Ord river is such a mighty river system- the views of it as you drive into Kununurra are breathtaking - vast, vast flowing waters. Apparently it boasts the second highest flow rates of any river system in the world - 2nd only to the Amazon. The waters of the Lake Argyle (fed by the Ord) can also boast waves that run metres high but not at this time of year. Very relaxing, floating around on a noodle reaching into the floating bar for another drink and some nibbles. Calm vast waters - that we were sharing with 20-30 000 resident fresh water crocodiles. Lots of Pelicans, egrets, magpie geese and spitting 7 spotted archer fish amongst our companions. Megan and Rory enjoyed their own cruise two nights later without Mum and Dad to cramp their style. Back at camp, we also enjoyed the 'infinity pool' that overlooks the lake. The Today Show were visiting next Monday to film this special place - a little tempting to hang around but Wyndham and the Bungles were beckoning us. We said goodbye to Lake Argyle and April and Keifer ( mother and 4 yo son) who we had kept crossing paths with since Ellenbrae Station on the Gibb.

Posted by slamrs 20:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


Chasing the Barra.....

sunny 40 °C
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Off the Gibb River Road, we travelled into Kununurra, spent 3 nights at Hidden Valley caravan park next to the Mirima National Park. A great swimming pool (by now, you have the idea that it was pretty hot!!), shady camp site and a new township to explore. On the way home to camp on our first evening, a bird flew down on to the front of our car, got caught between the bull bar and headlight before falling to ground. Steve slowed quickly and we pulled over to find the tawny frogmouth lying still in the gutter - alive but stunned. Well anyone who knows Megan would imagine how quickly she moved! We wrapped the bird in a towel and sought the after hours vet service to make a delivery. Megan looked like a kid gripping a prized Christmas present, sitting in the back seat nursing the towel:-). What a great moment - unwrapping this beautiful creature to hand him over to the vet. By now he was alert, looking a bit pensive and trying to spread his wings. The vet said she'd check him out - focusing on wings and talons - to ensure he was OK. Then he'd spend a night in a quiet captivity before being released. A drop in to the Vet Centre a couple of days later confirmed that all was good and he was back where he belonged.
Kununurra gave Steve and Rory the chance to attempt to lure the mighty barra! A few trips out to Ivanhoe crossing to join the locals in casting a line. Caught a few snags - but alas no Barra. Sooty grunters were a consolation though - cooked over the BBQ in foil by a Hollowood team who have little idea about cooking fish. Rory took charge of the whole affair and dinner was served. Fishing at the crossing was an experience for all - scanning waters for salties - no sightings but the knowledge that this is croc country had us a little on alert. Looking around, you see local indigenous families cooling off in the waterways - still quietly suspicious of the surrounding waters though. Kununurra also offered the 'best mango smoothies in Australia' so how could we resist a visit to Ivanhoe cafe. Mind you, the mango icecream was also rather special. We had two more areas we wanted to visit before heading south to the Bungle Bungles - Lake Argyle and Wyndham. Wyndham would be our last chance to chase the Barra.......so on we went, with a new UHF antenna in place, looking forward to our next adventure at Lake Argyle.

Posted by slamrs 20:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Ellenbrae Station to El Questro

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Now to travel what was reported as the roughest section of the Gibb - we left Ellenbrae resisting the 8am batch of scones that were due out of the oven - much to Rory's dismay. Today we were going to cross the Pentecost - something we'd really been looking forward to. Not much more than a hundred k's to our destination. Keeping an eye on our tyres in the side mirrors, we travelled without further punctures. The Cockburn ranges were absolutely amazing, grand elevated red rocky ridges revealed in the mountainsides. Photos can't do it justice - it continued alongside us as we travelled. Finally an opening onto a wide plain with panoramic views over the Pentecost and Chamberlain rivers. Water! A nice surprise. Really looking forward to the Pentecost crossing - unfortunately this late in the season, there was no water to drive through, but the scenery still amazing. We drove on to El Questro station - an absolute highlight for our trip. And a water crossing to get into it...at last! Fabulous gorge walks, great camp facilities. After finding a campsite with plenty of shade, we did a quick set up and planned for a gorge walk in the afternoon. Megan stayed at camp with Buddy whilst Stve, Rory and I decided to walk into El Questro gorge to the half way pool. A 2 hour round trip, so the full gorge walk of 6 k's would have to wait for another day. A beautiful walk in, mostly in shade due to the narrow gorge walls. Undulating rocky underfoot, orange gorge walls, cool pristine water - the purest we've seen. Finally we arrived at the half way pool. Wow. This was gonna be hard to leave.... a cool dip in a peaceful tranquil touch of paradise. Two huge boulders marking the spot, a refreshing waterfall to tackle as you climb up to view the next part of the walk. Time was getting late, so we had to retreat back to camp and Happy hour:-). Bonus find by Rory on the way out - a big beautiful olive Python that posed for a photo or two. This was a walk that I would happily repeat. The following day, I played dog sitter whilst Steve, Megan and Rory did the full gorge walk - and they absolutely loved it. A morning visit to Zebedee Springs - a series of flowing pools to have a refreshing dip in the shade of palms. Beautiful. And yet another snake - perhaps another olive Python? Steve and Rory came back from their trip to the springs with a full length snake skin - a great find. Happy hours took a pounding and we managed to watch the doggies beat Hawthorn ( sorry to mention that Bernie) on a big screen TV at the outdoor bar. This place was going to be hard to leave. We had one more walk we wanted to do - Emma gorge which is part of El Questro but 11 k's further along the GRR. Fellow travellers offered to dogsit, so we tackled Emma gorge with all four of us - Another pristine pool to swim in, with showers trickling off the plants that were growing on the gorge wall. Array of rocks along the track - 'ripple rocks', purplish rocks to go along with the usual reds and oranges. We returned to the Emma gorge resort for a drink and scone, reunite with Buddy who was happy to see us, and then travel back to camp. I could holiday here for a fortnight easily. Finally we were back on bitumen and a short trip ahead to reach Kununurra. The Gibb road was over for us, but more adventures to come back to.

Posted by slamrs 17:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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