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Published: October 6th 2016
Thursday 15th September 2016
Today we revisited Kununurra. We drove to the town centre and then looked through the aboriginal art centre, the outdoor camping shops, the Argyle diamond shops, Coles, and any other that we came across. Not a lot seemed to have changed since we did the same 5 years ago.
There is now a new self-serve diesel pump available for public use just out of town and we took advantage of the 15 cents/litre price difference to the town outlets.
The afternoon was spent in the resort pool, where we were joined by several of the campers adjoining us. The temperature of the pool water was perfect and with the shade-cloth sails above the pool, it made for a pleasant dip in-between reading our books. Friday 16th September 2016
Today we decided to spoil ourselves a little by going out to some of the sights and doing the tourist bit of coffees and lunch. It was not to be; our visit to Zebra Rock Gallery was disappointing, it appeared open but only one other car was there, this of
a tour guide we found. The café was closed, the lights in the art gallery had to be turned on especially for us, the workshop closed. This place is up for sale; it looked as if the owner wanted to retire. We did visit the jetty where in the past we saw the fish being fed. They didn’t disappoint, as soon as they saw us hundreds of silver cobbler and bream swam towards us. In the past they came for the bread that tourists threw to them, now they come whenever they see someone. Understandably there is a no fishing rule there.
We then drove out to Ivanhoe Crossing, about 10kms out of town. This used to be the only way into town for those living to the north. It is still used but the main attraction now is as a fishing spot and for the excitement of driving through the water to the other side and return. A group of indigenous people were fishing with only a few fish being caught. Foreign tourists are obviously brought here as we were asked to take their photos, for a fee. Naturally we declined, taking our photos later on.
He just sat there still as we approached him.
Next was a return visit to the Sandalwood Factory, sandalwood now being the primary crop in much of the Ord irrigation area, where we bought a few products for friends and ourselves. Business here seemed to be booming with tourists, both local and foreign, in and out of the complex.
A right turn instead of a left had us about 25kms up the road in the wrong direction but we were rewarded by the sight of hundreds of hectares of farmland being developed at the foot of the colourful and majestic mesas around them. The scenery was magnificent. Luckily we were in our air-conditioned car, the temperature outside at over 37 degrees.
We skipped dropping in to the Hoochery, the outlet for a rum distillery here, as we visited this place last time and found it very over-priced.
The pool at the resort was our base for the rest of the day, after which we started preparing the van for an early departure tomorrow. Saturday 17th September 2016
We heard from Mark and Helena this morning, they
having just spent 4 days in the Kakadu area and heading for Katherine. Their agenda is quite different from ours now and it is very unlikely that we will get together before reaching home.
We left Kununurra before 0800hrs, the temperature already just under 30 degrees. We intend driving as far west as we can today with the view of restocking our supplies in Broome, the heading south and stopping where the weather is not so warm. 80 Mile Beach or Cape Keraudren are two likely stops.
There were several places along the Great Northern Highway where roadworks were in progress and at one of these we recognised the caravan towed by Chris, who we met in Timber Creek. We lost him after being caught behind a slower vehicle, passing through Warmum and catching up with him at lunchtime at Halls Creek.
We gave our greetings and met his wife, Marleen, and discussed where they may stop for the night, before they went on their way. We spent a little time looking at a few information signs in the local park.
We drove out and headed for Ngumban
Cliffs, a lookout over the highway and surrounding ranges. This would have been a spectacular place to camp but as nobody else was there, the temperature was 35 degrees, and it was only just after 1500hrs, we made the decision to continue on.
We stopped at Fitzroy Crossing where we refuelled at the Shell garage. Here we had a bit of fun, spend $20 in the store and get an extra 14cents/litre discount on top of the normal 4cents. As we took over 120 litres this made it worthwhile.
The next stop-over spot was nearly 100kms further on and the sun was getting lower. By the time we were about 20kms from the turn-off the light was getting lower and there was a danger of kangaroos jumping in front of us. Judy spotted one next to the road, luckily it didn’t move as Rags didn’t see it and we were travelling at over 90kph. He slowed right down and so we continued to the camp.
Several vehicles were already there, including Chris and Marleen. After setting up we prepared our dinner and joined them at the picnic tables. They seemed to
be on a similar agenda to us and tomorrow we will go into Broome to buy some food and essential drinks, before backtracking a short distance to camp at Willie Creek. Sunday 18th September 2016
It was wonderful to be able to sleep again without the sound of the aircon in the background. A gentle breeze blew through the van throughout the night, keeping it at a temperature where one could just curl up and sleep.
We woke up at daybreak to the sounds of birds in the trees around us and before we knew it we had finished breakfast and were on our way again., the time before 0700hrs.
We drove on, stopping at Willare Bridge where we had our morning coffee. Chris and Marleen passed us during this time, not stopping as they probably wanted to have lunch at Matsos as they mentioned last night.
We drove into Broome and found both Woolworths and Coles to replenish our supplies. We bought more than we expected and probably won’t need anything now until we reach Port Hedland.
The Willie Creek
campground is about 30kms out of town and the last section of road was extremely corrugated. We picked our way through this section very slowly. We surprised Chris and Marleen when we found them at their camp, they didn’t think we would drive the van along that road.
The camp was set up, our van right on the edge of the shore overlooking the mangroves. The tide was low so it was just a stretch of sand, rocks and the mangrove for about 50m before the water.
A light breeze made the conditions a little more bearable, the temperature still around the 35 degree mark. We hope it cools a lot more before bedtime. Monday 19th September 2016
We had a good night’s sleep with a good drop in temperature and a light breeze blowing through the van. We were both woken up around midnight by the crashing of the waves onto the shore. This was caused by the 10m tide, at it’s peak the water came to within 3m of our campsite. We were aware of this, just didn’t realise how noisy it would be when
the waves came in. These normally don’t reach in as far as normally due to the sandbars in between the ocean and the shore but the high tide had them running across them.
Morning coffee this morning was had at the Willie Creek Pearling Farm a few hundred metres from where we were camped. This is more a tourist destination with tours and lectures on the pearling process being held there, with displays of jewellery for sale to the public.
The rest of the day was spent fossicking around the reef and nearby beach and generally doing little. Tuesday 20th September 2016
We departed Willie Creek this morning, it taking longer than it usually would because the roads in had become swamped by the high tide and were closed. The detour along a narrow sandtrack made us wonder if we were going in the right direction as we headed north for some time. Luckily for us, Google Earth worked out here and Judy was able to track our way as we went. It may have been a longer trip than the trip in, but the
road was much smother than that on the way in.
More supplies, both vegetable and liquid, were purchased before we went to the Matsos Brewery for morning tea. We only drank a coffee there, it was too early for a drink in our opinion, and Rags does not drink at all if he is driving on a country road.
A few hundred kilometres south of Broome we stopped at a Stanley, 24 hour rest stop. This well set up stop had plenty of room, several shelters, and a “drop” toilet. Being set well off the road meant it was also very quiet, although traffic was relatively sparse
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