Kununurra is a town in far northern Western Australia located at the eastern extremity of the Kimberley region, approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) from the border with the Northern Territory. The town of Kununurra was initiated to service the Ord River Irrigation Scheme.
Lake Argyle was formed by damming the Ord River and other smaller creeks and rivers, and is Australia’s largest artificial lake by volume.
The construction of the Ord River Dam was completed in 1971. The dam was officially opened the following year. The dam is 335 metres long, and 98 metres high. The earth-fill only dam wall at Lake Argyle is the most efficient dam in Australia in terms of the ratio of the size of the dam wall to the amount of water stored. The lake was named after the property it partly submerged, Argyle Downs
Rainbow Bee Eater
Rainbow Bee Eater, on branch at Dead Horse Springs, Lake Kununurra.
Brilliant yellow Kapok flowers. Lake Argyle lookout.
The Ord River as it leaves Lake Argyle. The dam wall can be seen in the top third of the photograph.
The Ord irrigation scheme has allowed crops such as these sunflowers to be grown in the formerly arid area.
Ivanhoe Crossing was once the way to get across the Ord River
But these days, the crossing is closed to traffic due to the constantly flowing water, and has become a popular fishing and picnic spot.
Lake Argyle and Kununurra are like an oasis in this dry and isolated land. Lake Argyle normally has a surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres and there are currently around 150 square kilometres of farmland under irrigation in the East Kimberly region.
Purnululu National Park is the official name, but this area was previously known as The Bungle Bungles. Whatever you would like to call it, this area of the Kimberley is a remarkable place which you should make the effort to visit if you ever have the chance. Following are some photos from our time there…
The Bungle Bungles…the approach to Echidna Chasm
Palm trees, a rocky river bed and really, really tall rock walls
Did I mention the really, really tall rock walls and narrow passage into Echidna Chasm?
Looking up from the depths
Further over in the park, as you approach the Bungle Bungle domes, you start to see the characteristic stripes of the Purnululu ranges.
The sandstone domes are striped grey and orange, and according to Widipedia, the orange bands consist of oxidised iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates.
Whatever the reason, the effect is stunning and it is impossible to describe how it feels to be amongst them.
Walking amongst the domes
Detail of the rock wall within Cathedral Gorge
Rock pool at the Bungle Bungles
Not all the ‘domes’ are dome shaped…
Ancient river bed within Purnululu
View into Picaninny Creek
Evening colours on the range, from the campground lookout.
Night falls at Purnululu National Park. This place is a definite ‘must do’ if you are ever in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
It would be east to drive straight through Halls Creek and keep going. That would be a pity, because there are lots of things to do and see in the area. Plus a couple of delightful free camps tucked away just down the road.
China Wall is only 6km from Halls Creek. It is a naturally formed 6 metre high quartz ‘wall’ that is believed to be part of the longest formation of its type in the world.
Old Halls Creek (yes, the town was moved at some stage) has vestiges of some of the original buildings, and the original cemetery which has some sad stories to tell.
There are a couple of nice free camps down Duncan Road, such as Palm Spring and Sawpit Gorge.
We chose to camp at Palm Springs, which was like a little oasis in the desert and yes, it did have palm trees!
Unfortunately for us, it rained most of the day we were there which meant sitting around the fire under umbrellas. Although it was wet, it wasn’t really cold and luckily we had enough wood to keep the fire going.
This old truck at an abandoned house would have an interesting story to tell.
I think these are Black Kites. There were many of them circling above the street in Halls Creek.
This egret and cormorants were at Sawpit Gorge, which was another popular free camping spot down Duncan Road.
Grass at Sawpit Gorge
Kites over Halls Creek.
There is definitely more to Halls Creek than meets the eye!
Today, another gorgeous gorge. When we arrived in Fitzroy Crossing, we decided that we had to take the little boat cruise that goes up through Geike Gorge. We have done it before, but our friends had not, and we thought it was worth going again as this is another very special place.
The limestone cliffs are white below the flood water line and stained red brown above by oxidation.
There are lots of fresh water crocodiles in the water or sunning themselves on the waters edge.
The cruise only takes an hour and doesn’t cost very much, but it is well worth it. The guides are knowledgeable and friendly and the open boat gives everyone a good view.
What a stunning place! Tunnel Creek is quite famous in the Kimberley, so I wasn’t sure if it would live up to its reputation. I was also not sure how successful I would be taking photos in the very low light, but I was pleasantly surprised when I downloaded my pictures. I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy them.
After traveling more than a thousand kilometres along the dirt road that is the Gibb River Road, today we turned off into Leopold Downs Road and headed towards the famous Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.
We arrived late in the afternoon, just as the light was getting interesting. It was too late in the day to go into the gorge itself, so we walked along the outside which is very interesting as well.
The moon was rising over the gorge, and peeped through the branches of this tree.
Shortly the colours of the rocks changed to a deep rich orange. It is a privilege to be able to visit such a lovely spot.
Early the following morning, we began our walk into the gorge. I quite liked the sun shining through the dust stirred up by the walkers’ shoes.
Once you enter the gorge through a narrow rock opening, it opens up into a wide sandy area with the river running between the rocks walls. There are abundant fresh water crocodiles living in and around the river, and they are quite easy to spot as you walk along the gorge.
This big white rock is a sacred aboriginal place, so visitors are not permitted on it.
I loved the reflection of the gorge walls in the still waters of the river.
This magnificent boab is set against the gorge wall. It is huge and must be very old.
My final photo for the day is another bower bird who was busily building his bower within about six feet of our tent. He didn’t seem at all perturbed that we were so close.
Windjana Gorge is a very special place, and is well deserving of its reputation. Tomorrow we will visit Tunnel Creek and explore that area. It is amazing that all the gorges we have visited are unique and have their own special features.
Lennard River Gorge is yet another nice place to visit from the Gibb River Road.
It was quite warm the day we visited, and unfortunately you can’t swim there as you don’t get right down to the water. It would be spectacular in the wet with water cascading over the rock walls.
This remarkable rock formation is at the Napier Range. I thought it looked like a dragon with folded wings, but found out later it is meant to look like Queen Victoria!
Perhaps I was on the wrong angle, but that doesn’t seem very complimentary to Queen Victoria!
The Napier Range, where the Gibb River Road crosses it, is quite rocky and spectacular with lots of wonderful boab trees.
There is something about boab trees that I really love. They lose their leaves in the dry, and the shape of the trunk with the twisted branches look amazing. Often they will still have their hard brown furry nuts still clinging to the branches.