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Published: August 12th 2015
It's going to be a driving day but first we stop in Katherine at Woolworths to stock up with food and soft drink. The bottle shop for alcohol doesn't open until 2!
We then hit the road and drive through bush for miles. Just flat land with scubby trees for ever. We take a break after an hour and a half and then it's back on the road. Eventually the scenery changes slightly and we see herds of cattle and bushmen riding horses driving them. Christine gets a photo of a mean looking cow. There's even a helicopter keeping an eye on the herd.
After another hour and half we decide to stop for the day at Victoria River Roadhouse. It's on the river but otherwise in the middle of no where. A real truckies roadhouse with a camp ground behind.
We book in and they tell us that the bar closes at 8.
The campsite's very sandy with lots of trees for shade. It's surrounded on two sides with a tall escarpment and has river access but has signs warning on crocs.
It's a really hot day, well into the 30's
and so we spend much of the afternoon sitting in the shade reading.
Very late afternoon we go down to the river bridge and I try fishing again. Christine sees a Wallaby and some cattle drinking on the bank. I snag the bottom again and lose my second Squidgie. The trip's going well but the fishing could be better !
In the evening there's a wonderfully clear sky and we see hundreds of stars.
Another driving day and we set off around 9. After an hour and a half we stop at Timber Creek for diesel. The dearest so far.
The scenery starts to change as we drive through the Gregory NP and we see large escarpments in the near distnce for quite a while.
We have a break after another hour and a lone women cyclist stops off. She's cyling the same route we are driving and looks pretty thin! It must be hard going. We see that someone has dressed up a termite's nest as a person. There's lots more along the roadside.
An hour later we turn off the highway onto the Duncan Road, a dirt road
and follow it for 10K until we reach our stop for the day. The Zebra Rock Mine. It's a basic camp site with only toilet and showers.
It's a working mine and mid afternoon we get a talk from one of the owners. Zebra rock can only be found here in all the world. She shows us many bits of rock and explains all about it. It's incredible stuff and very attractive. It looks like sedimentary rock but isn't. The colour bands are evenly spaced have been formed by pressure and therefore it's a metamorphic rock. It's all very interesting.
The owners supplement their income with the camp site and by producing and selling scones and cream. We sample them in the afternoon!
They also take wetland tours but as we've already had one so we pass it up. After many of the others get back from the tour we sit around the camp fire for a chat.
First thing we take a tour of the Zebra mine. Actually it's a shallow pit in the earth and only 30 x 10m in size. That's all there is in this area and the
owners only have 4 small sites in total.
The owner, Ruth explains how it is mined and the problems they have had with geologists trying to explain how the rock is formed. As part of the tour we can seek out our own Zebra rock souvenier to take away and polish. It's very low key and low tec.
When we return we have another scone and cream before leaving.
Half hour down the road we have to stop at the boarder to Western Australia where our van is searched for illegal substances. Fruit, vegatables, honey and grains. We have thrown away all of them before arriving.
Once over the boarder the clocks are put back an hour and a half meaning that it will now get dark at 5.15! Crazy, we have already spent most evenings in the van from 7.30, now it'll be even earlier.
We drive on and turn off the highway for Lake Argyle and park at the campsite overlooking the lake. Lake Argyle was formed in the 1970's and is the largest man made lake in the southern hemisphere. It's BIG.
We have a short walk over a hill and
look into the Ord River Gorge. It's impressive.
Having gained an hour and a half, the day seems to go on forever. In the afternoon I try fishing yet again to no avail. We then spend the rest of the afternoon talking to a couple we met on the other camp site last night.
Dinner is cooked in the dark at 6 and the evening is a long one.
Sun's up at 5 and so are we soon after at 6. We're all packed up and leave site by 7.45 and drive the short distance to the Dam look out. It's an impressive view of the lake, well a small part of it and the dam.
We drive into Kununura where we stock up with more supplies but the bottle shop doesn't open until 12 so still not possible to buy our wine. Next stop is tourist info where we book a site for the next two nights and buy a parks pass. Then it's a drive down the road to the Parks Office to book two more nights for a few days time and another parks pass.
Finally we hit
the road for the drive to El Questro Wilderness Park. It's about an hour and a half away and we finally turn onto the famous Gibbs River Road. Shortly after we turn off for Emma Gorge.
We park up in the resort and after a picnic lunch we set off for the Gorge. It's 3.2K each way and mostly rock scambling. Still it's a very pretty walk along side a river and into a deep gorge. The rock each side is deep red and very craggy. It's very atractive and impressive, one of the best we've seen so far. After nearly an hour we reach the head of the gorge and a plunge pool and a water fall, although there's not much water coming over it.
After a short rest we make our way back to the van. We then make the journey towards the El Questro Station. However first we reach a shallow river and make the crossing. Then a bit further on we get to a much larger river and have to cross with water up to the sills of the van.
We check in and spend the rest of the afternoon wandering round the
site and sorting out what we will do tomorrow.
At 5.30 we go to the bar for happy hour and celebrate our 38th
wedding anniversary with a glass of wine and listen to the singer entertaining the crowd.
First job this morning is to get the gas bottle refilled after we have been left with an empty one by the rental company.
Then it's back over the two rivers and a drive to Amalia Gorge. It's a walk along a dry river bed for about 40 mins before we reach the head of the gorge and a large plunge pool. It's an attractive area with steep cliffs on two sides and a water fall in front.
Then it's back to the van and off to Zebedee Springs. A series of water holes filling each other with warm water from a deep spring heated from the earth's core. We spend about 45 mins bathing in the water before moving off.
Our next stop is at Jackaroo's Waterhole. It's over a short 4WD track and it's just a small pond. We decide to drive on to Moonshine Gorge along the track but after
a short distance we reach a major water crossing and the depth looks too great for our van so reluctantly we turn around and head back to site for lunch.
Early afternoon we head off for a drive out to the boat jetty. As we near the spot we have to go down a 60 degree slope! The jetty area is really attractive but there are crocodile warning signs up and we keep away from the water's edge.
Going back up the slope I have to use 4WD low ratio and 1st
gear. The van climbs the slope much to our relief.
Late afternoon we go off for a 2K walk to a look out opposite the site. We get a reasonable view of El Questro Gorge and the surrounding Kimberleys. The area is huge.We see kangeroos on the way back.
It's been a busy day and we have a well earned beer as the sun goes down. Later disaster strikes, we run out of wine!
Another long driving day. We set off just after 8.15 and drive back towards the main road and head towards Kununura before turning off onto
the Great Northern Highway.
We drive for two hours and then pull in at Warmum Roadhouse for more diesel. Then it's another hour before we turn into Purnululu NP and call into the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park. We haven't booked but after speaking nicely to the Italian girl on reception we get a powered site for the night.
It's quite a nice site on the edge of the park and will allow us to drive straight in first thing tomorrow.
It's a very hot day so we shelter in the shade all afternoon before around 3.30 going for a short walk to a look out.
It's not a big hill but we do get to see the surrounding countryside. It's a vast wilderness for as far as you can see. It brings home just how BIG the outback is.
Another BBQ under the stars later.
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