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July 26th 2016
Published: June 13th 2017
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Geo: -27.6568, 114.395

Shell & I were up early as she'd got a horse riding session which I pre booked last year, I did email them before we left Hong Kong to confirm the start time as dependent on the weather it would be 08:00 if it was fine or 09:00 if there was a problem and they promised to email me in advance to confirm the start time. Unfortunately despite another email from me nothing further was heard, not looking good we thought, anyway off we went arriving at the ranch at 07:30 to allow for briefing etc. As we pulled in the place was deserted, there were plenty of horses around but no cars or people; we wander around the stables and accommodation bloc, nothing so back to the car we went with heavy hearts, then we saw someone walking around but by the time we got there they'd disappeared, bugger! by now it was 08:20 so we decided to wait until 09:00 to see what if anything would materialise.

Around 08:30 we spotted movement near the office and finally met the owner who confirmed our booking but there were no early starts just the 09:00 they supposedly never received my email asking for confirmation

Big River Ranch Horse riding

Anyway, relieved Shell finally got saddled up with the rest of the group who by now had turned up, as she rode off into the bush I returned hoping to catch Linda and the kids at the morning Pelican feed, but was too late as when I arrived they'd been fed and the kids were playing in the park. As I approached I could see something was wrong and Linda was upset, apparently she managed to lock the door to the villa with the keys inside; one quick phone call to Jason (there was a notice in reception window saying the owner was out flying again) and problem resolved. I later discovered that both Jake & Sophie were chosen to feed the pelicans so that made their day plus it was another thing on the kids wish list so far things are looking good.

After some playtime with the kids I returned to pick Shell up and then we all drove up to the Loop lookout and Natures Window this is a natural stone arch which perfectly frames the meandering Murchison River below. I knew the road to the
viewing point was an unmade gravel road which after 5-6 Km splits off to Natures Window and the Loop in one direction and the Z Bend in the other. The road was certainly one of the worst roads Shell had ever driven on (notice I wasn't driving ha ha) it was cratered which I had expected but it was the corrugations that I wasn't prepared for to say it was like driving over a ploughed field that had then hardened in the sun was an understatement, it was horrendous. After the first 7-8 Km the corrugations slowly gave way to just craters, and all the time there's massive 4x4s with seriously raised suspension and tyres that'd do a tractor proud either overtaking us or flying towards us with stones and whatever going all over the place, it's no wonder you see so many of these vehicles plastered in thick red dust. We finally arrived battered and with numb bums.

The lookout over the Loop was worth the trip (I wasn't thinking about the return trip via the Z Bend at this point) and so we made our way around to the real reason for our visit Natures Window. We walked around a bit before I took the kids down the rocks and then we carefully negotiated our way around a narrow ledge before climbing back up to see the window they waited there while I collected Linda, but Shell wouldn't come as she has a fear of heights.

After the obligatory photos etc. I walked everyone back up to Shell, and after a lot of persuasion using tactics like "you needn't think we've come all this way for you to miss out, trust me I'm your dad I'll look after you" and so ever so gingerly we made our way down, around the lip and back up to the window all to shouts of encouragement from the kids. Having seen the views Shell was so pleased she made the effort even if she had her eyes closed most of the way, as we made our way back and climbed up the rocks Linda and the kids all stood there clapping their hands and shouting to her, what a great place so glad we all managed to see it and with beautiful weather as well!

We had a slow ride for some 5 Km back to the junction where the road splits off we proceeded to the Z Bend lookout after all it's only another 5km of cratered roads!

After spending some time at the lookout we made the 13km journey back along the corrugated section of road before reaching sealed roads again.

We arrived back just in time to make the local butchers day with our order; and then spent an hour with the kids on the playground beside the sea, after which I took a leisurely stroll along the beach and watched the sun set, just a magic and memorable day.

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