Published: September 5th 2006September 5th 2006
At lunchtime on Thursday, after giving the 4WD a bit of a run to check whether the radiator bog had sealed the hole, we sadly left our friends Bernie and Anne behind in Kununurra. They were heading east and we were heading west, and so we drove 254km to stay at Spring Creek free roadside camp. And what a stinking hot day to choose to travel. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we don’t use the air-conditioning when we are towing the caravan as it consumes diesel at the rate that Wes does his beer, so we had to travel with the windows down, and the thermometer in the front consul measured 40 degrees. But we were in luck. When we finally arrived at the free camp, we found that it was on the edge of a really pretty river that was, so the locals advised, croc free. So it was down with the van stabilisers, unfolding of the chairs, on with the cozzies and into the water. No need to unhook the van in these free camps so we have half a chance of catching the hares the next morning on these stops - now if we could just get
up with the sparrows….
The next morning we passed through Halls Creek on the way to Fitzroy Crossing (398km from Spring Creek). Nothing much to see in Halls Creek except for lots of Blackfellas. Halls Creek is famous for a gold rush back in 1880’s. The statue in the photo is of one ‘Russian Jack’ who was a legend in the area. When heading to the gold rush in Halls Creek on foot (547km!!) after getting off the boat in Derby, he came upon another gold miner who was seriously ill and he loaded him into his barrow along with all their belongings and pushed him the last 50km into Halls Creek to get help.
The next night (Friday 18/8) we stopped in Fitzroy Crossing - another town of mostly Blackfellas. The caravan park was quite good and we went to their bar for happy hour. Not much else to see here apart from the old pub - which we didn’t venture inside due to it being a Friday night and a big night for the Blackfellas.
The next day it was off to Derby. At this point I have to say that if Broome be the
Prison Tree -Derby
This is a boab tree that authorities used to use to hold Aboriginal prisoners in before the lock-up was built in Derby back in late 1880's, early 1900's. Apparently there were no unlawful white men back then!??@##$!
‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Kimberley Region, then both Wyndham (which we did as a day trip from Kununurra) and Derby are its backside!! The highlight of Derby was fish and chips at the wharf. There are no more highlights. So we packed the camping gear ready for a trip up the infamous Gibb River Rd to go to some of the gorges. The Gibb River Rd is just over 664km from end to end and we had previously been a short way in at the other end when we visited El Questro. This road is closed during the wet season. This time we were heading in from the Derby end and would travel a total of 305km before turning around and heading back. Our first night camping was at Windjana Gorge. This gorge was part of a coral ocean reef in the Devonian Period 350million years ago and you can still see the fossils of sea life in the rock formations. Fascinating. There are also lots of freshwater crocodiles along the river that runs through the centre of the gorge.
The next two nights were at Manning Gorge which was 200km from Windjana Gorge but took us
Cattle Trough -Derby
This cattle trough can water 500 bullocks at a time and was built when cattle were drovered up to 600 miles cross country to the port at Derby.
over 3 hours due to the state of the road. We loved Manning Gorge. We camped amongst the cattle on the Mt Barnett station. It was a bit intimidating going for a pee in the bush in the middle of the night! The river here was beautiful. The walk to the falls took 1.5 hours and it was also very beautiful. We swam right under the falls, but as there was nowhere to rest once there, we swam back to the rocks on the other side. Quite a swim, when you’re not at peak fitness - even more so at our level which was much below ‘peak’. The interesting bit was that to get to the path to the falls, you get your cozzies on and load your cameras, drink bottles, walking shoes & clothes into a foam fruit box and swim across to the other side of the river pushing it along. Then get dressed and continue along the walk and do the reverse when you get back. It was a really hot walk - temperature was 36 degrees.
Then it was back along the road to Bell Gorge for our last night. This gorge was 29km off
the road - and it was the worst bit of road we have encountered. The 29km took over an hour. Bell Gorge was another beautiful gorge reached by a short walk of ½ hour. Another long swim and it was back to camp for, you guessed it, cocktail hour.
The next morning we packed up camp and drove the remaining 243 km back to Derby to pick up the caravan. As we had accumulated dust in every orifice, we took the time to have a shower, unpack and clean up before heading off towards Broome. Unfortunately while the caravan was stored, it was invaded by ants and it took quite a while to clean them up too. Although Broome was only a short 200km drive, the caravan park only takes bookings from Friday to Friday so we spent Thursday night 100km out of Derby at a free camp and drove into Broome the next morning.
Next blog is Broome. YiPPEE!
There are more photos below