Photographs and Adventures

Posts tagged “Western Australia

Kununurra and Lake Argyle

 

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.

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Lake Argyle was formed by damming the Ord River and other smaller creeks and rivers, and is Australia’s largest artificial lake by volume.

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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

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Rainbow Bee Eater

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Rainbow Bee Eater, on branch at Dead Horse Springs, Lake Kununurra.

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Brilliant yellow Kapok flowers. Lake Argyle lookout.

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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.

The Ord irrigation scheme has allowed crops such as these sunflowers to be grown in the formerly arid area. 

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Ivanhoe Crossing was once the way to get across the Ord River

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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.


The Bungle Bungles – Purnululu National Park, W.A.

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 Bungle Bungles…the approach to Echidna Chasm

Palm trees and really really tall rock walls

Palm trees, a rocky river bed and really, really tall rock walls

 

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Did I mention the really, really tall rock walls and narrow passage into Echidna Chasm?

 

 

13.Purnululu-4Looking up from the depths

 

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Further over in the park, as you approach the Bungle Bungle domes, you start to see the characteristic stripes of the Purnululu ranges.

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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.

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Whatever the reason, the effect is stunning and it is impossible to describe how it feels to be amongst them.

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Walking amongst the domes

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Detail of the rock wall within Cathedral Gorge

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Rock pool at the Bungle Bungles

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Not all the ‘domes’ are dome shaped…

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Ancient river bed within Purnululu

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View into Picaninny Creek

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Evening colours on the range, from the campground lookout.

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Night falls at Purnululu National Park. This place is a definite ‘must do’ if you are ever in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.


Halls Creek and surrounding area…some surprises

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 quartz 'wall' that is believed to be the longest formation of its type in the world.

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.

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.

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!

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 while 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.

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 abandoned old truck would have an interesting story to tell.

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.

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.

This egret and cormorants were at Sawpit Gorge, which was another popular free camping spot down Duncan Road.

Grasses at Sawpit Gorge

Grass at Sawpit Gorge

Kites over Halls Creek

Kites over Halls Creek.

There is definitely more to Halls Creek than meets the eye!


Gieke Gorge

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.

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The limestone cliffs are white below the flood water line and stained red brown above by oxidation.
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There are lots of fresh water crocodiles in the water or sunning themselves on the waters edge.

11.Gieke gorge-3 11.Gieke gorge-4 11.Gieke gorge-5 11.Gieke gorge-6The 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.


Tunnel Creek National Park

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.

Green water greets you when you enter the tunnel.

Interesting colours reflect from the rocks.

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9.Tunnel creek-4

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9.Tunnel creek-9

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Windjana Gorge

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 a river running between the rocks walls.

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 people are not permitted on it.

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.

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.

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.

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 & Napier Range

Lennard River Gorge is yet another nice place to visit from the Gibb River Road.

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.

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!

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.

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.


Bells Gorge and another free camp…

Bells Gorge is another gorgeous gorge.

Bells Gorge is another gorgeous gorge.

You need to cross the water if you want to climb down to swim below the falls.

You need to cross the water if you want to climb down to swim below the falls.

The people sitting along the rocks at the top of the waterfall show the scale of this gorge.

The people sitting along the rocks at the top of the waterfall show the scale of this gorge.

It is a steep and rocky climb down, but the pool is great for a swim.

It is a steep and rocky climb down, but the bottom pool is great for a swim.

Unfortunately by the time you climb back up the cliff and trek back to the car, you are hot again.

Unfortunately by the time you climb back up the cliff and trek back to the car, you are hot again!

From Bells Gorge we moved on to yet another free camp, March Fly Glen. Happily there were no march flies, and it was quite a lovely spot with pandanus and crystal clear creek.

From Bells Gorge we moved on to yet another free camp, March Fly Glen. Happily there were no march flies, and it was quite a lovely spot with water lilies, pandanus and a crystal clear creek.

Cooking toast on the morning camp fire.

Nev cooking his toast on the morning camp fire, waiting for the billy to boil.

Kay is a very interesting person we met on the road.

Kay departing March Fly Glen free camp. Kay is a very interesting person we met several times at various places along the Gibb River road.

As a very special birthday present to herself, for a very special birthday, she is undertaking a solo bicycle trip from Katherine, to Kununurra, then right along almost the entire Gibb River Road, then down Leopold Downs Road to the Great Northern Highway. From there she will ride to Halls Creek, and turn into Duncan Road (also a dirt road) for its full length, and from there return to Katherine. What a marathon effort. She carries everything she needs on her bike or single-wheeled trailer.

 


Galvans Gorge & Adcock Gorge

We have been to some very remote places on this trip, and often the GPS doesn’t even know where we are.

This is what the middle of nowhere looks like on the GPS.

This is what the middle of nowhere looks like on the GPS.

And this is what it looks like through the windscreen.

And this is what it looks like through the windscreen.

One particularly beautiful place we visited was Galvans Gorge which is not far from the Mt. Barnett Roadhouse.

One particularly beautiful place we visited was Galvans Gorge, which is not far from the Mt. Barnett Roadhouse.

It is lovely to swim in, and quite easy to climb up and sit below the waterfall.

It is lovely to swim in, and quite easy to climb up and sit below the waterfall.

We all enjoyed a cooling swim in the clean waters.

We all enjoyed a cooling swim in the clean waters.

The walk in to Galvans Gorge runs alongside this water lily filled creek.

The walk in to Galvans Gorge runs alongside this water lily filled creek.

This water monitor was unperturbed by people passing his rock perch.

This water monitor was unperturbed by people passing his rock perch.

Later in the afternoon, we also visited Adcock gorge, but didn't swim there as the water was in shadow and quite cold.

Later in the afternoon, we also visited Adcock gorge, but didn’t swim there as the water was in shadow and quite cold.

There are so many gorgeous gorges on the Gibb River Road, and we are doing our best to visit most of them.


Barnett River Gorge

Still loving the Free camps. We stayed another night on the banks of the Gibb River when we reached the end of the Kalumbaru Road. The boys decided to check out a problem with the rear wheel on the car, and learned the hard way why you don’t jack up a car on the sand…This was not as bad as it looks!

This was not as bad as it looks! With a bit of help, all was soon back together.

While all that was going on, I was waiting for this Bower bird to come back to his bower. He has been very busy making it all pretty for the girls.

While all that was going on, I was waiting for this Bower bird to come back to his bower. He has been very busy making it all pretty for the girls.

The next morning saw us back on the road, and our next stop was Mt. Barnett Station to stock up on food and fuel. We decided on the free camp option yet again, and travelled on to Barnett River Gorge where we found a lovely shady spot next to the creek.

Barnett River camp.

Barnett River camp. Not much water in the creek here, but it was still very clean and clear.

There is a rocky walk in to view the gorge. You need to follow the stone cairns to find your way.

There is a rocky walk in to view the gorge. You need to follow the stone cairns to find your way.

Once we climbed down the steep rocks to the river, there were lots of places to cool off in the clear water.

Once we climbed down the steep rocks to the river, there were lots of shallow places to cool off in the clear water.

We spied this euro kangaroo on our way back to camp.

We spied this euro kangaroo on our way back to camp.

Later in the afternoon we discovered this lovely pool quite close to where we were camping. Not as spectacular as the gorge, but much easier to get to!

Later in the afternoon we discovered this lovely pool quite close to where we were camping. Not as spectacular as the gorge, but much easier to get to!


Brolga Free Camp

Well, that isn’t really the name of this free camp, but when we first discovered it there were brolgas around the creek. It is near the King Edward River crossing on the Kalumbaru Road, and we set up camp there on our way back down from Mitchell Falls to re-join the Gibb River Road. We found that on the rougher dirt roads we averaged around 100km per day, which meant we could pitch our tents and relax under a tree or go for a walk  in the afternoon.

It is relatively east to find really pretty spots to camp when you are up in the Kimberley.

It is quite easy to find really pretty spots to camp when you are up in the Kimberley.

As long as you are relatively self sufficient (i.e. you need to take everything you need with you) there are lots of great places to stay. The water in the creeks and rivers is clean and clear. We didn’t generally use it for drinking, unless we boiled it first, but it was great for everything else.

Creek water was great for washing dishes, and people!

Creek water was great for washing dishes, and people!

You may notice Helva is wearing a down jacket in this photo. That is because it can get very cold overnight and in the early morning in the Kimberley. We weren’t aware of this, and found ourselves a little on the cool side in the nights, so we ended up using the picnic rugs to cosy up our bed.

In the early morning, the creek water was steaming and felt quite warm compared to the air temperature.

In the early morning, the creek water was steaming and felt quite warm compared to the air temperature.

Grasses swaying in the creek currents.

Grasses swaying in the creek currents.

Another lovely aquatic plant.

Another lovely aquatic plant.

More nice little plants from the creek bank.

More nice little plants from the creek bank.

I am now even more of a fan of free camping when travelling in remote areas. You get to stay in some amazingly lovely places, you can have a camp fire if the weather is suitable, you can choose who you camp with, and it costs nothing at all. What is not to like about that!

 


Surveyors Pool

Surveyors Pool is in a remote area of the Kimberley, W.A. From Mitchell Falls, you continue on Port Warrender Road, which is really more of a track than a road, until you come to Surveyors Pool.

The track to Surveyors Pool is pretty rough and rocky in some places, but also beautiful in others.

The track to Surveyors Pool is pretty rough and rocky in some places, but also beautiful in others.

There is a bit of a walk to get to the main pool below the waterfall.

There is a bit of a walk to get to the main pool below the waterfall.

The main pool is a sacred place for the Aboriginals, so swimming is not permitted here.

The main pool is lovely, with another waterfall entering from the far side, but as it is a sacred place for the Aboriginals, swimming is not permitted in the main pool.

However there are several pools and cascades above the falls.

However there are several pools and cascades above the falls.

And these make a very nice place to cool off after your walk.

And these make a very nice place to cool off after your walk.

Further along Port Warrender Road, there is a look out which has a view right out over Admiralty Gulf in the Indian Ocean.

Lookout on Port Warrender Road.

Lookout on Port Warrender Road with promontories and islands stretching into the distance.

It is a little out of the way to visit Surveyors Pool, but well worth the effort. From this lookout, we turned back and retraced our steps to Mitchell Falls to prepare for our return journey down Kalumbaru Road to the Gibb River Road.


Mitchell Falls

In my last post, I talked about Little Mertens Falls, which is a short walk from the Mitchell Falls camping area. This is a great place for a cooling swim, but the main walk from the camp ground is the track to Mitchell Falls and it takes about an hour and a half each way. It is quite a long way, and also involves some steep rocky climbs, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Mertens Creek

Mertens Creek

Waterlilies along the way.

Waterlilies along the way.

Once you have passed Little Mertens Falls, you trek alongside Mertens Creek, which is lined with pandanus and a haven for waterlilies. You next  come to Big Mertens Falls which is much higher and more spectacular than Little Mertens, however you cannot swim here, so it is best to take your photos and move on.

Big Mertens Falls

Big Mertens Falls

Big Mertens is a very deep gorge, and quite spectacular in it’s own right.

Big Mertens gorge

Big Mertens gorge

To take good photos, you need to be a bit of a mountain goat and get right out on the rocks lining the gorge.

Holly framing the perfect waterfall shot.

Holly framing the perfect waterfall shot. You can’t actually tell from this how high she is standing on the rock wall.

 

A bit more hiking and exertion brings you to your first glimpse of Mitchell Falls itself and you don’t at first realise that there are four layers of waterfall.

Mitchell falls from the top

Mitchell falls

As you climb down and around, more is revealed. You need to take off your shoes and socks and cross to the other side of the water to get the best views.

Mitchell Falls-7

We ended up spending several hours at the falls, exploring and swimming.

We ended up spending several hours at the falls, exploring and swimming.

From the top of the falls you can see right down the river below the falls.

From the top of the falls you can see right down the river below the falls.

Mitchell Falls is definitely worth the effort to visit. It is a truly beautiful part of Australia.

Mitchell Falls is definitely worth the effort to visit. It is a truly beautiful part of Australia.


Mitchell Plateau – Little Mertens Falls

We arrived at Mitchell Falls camping area about lunchtime, so in the afternoon went for a short walk to Mertens Falls where we planned to have a swim.

Little Mertens Falls is the closest falls and pool to the Mitchell Falls camp ground.

Little Mertens Falls is the closest falls and pool to the Mitchell Falls camp ground.

Little Mertens falls look very nice as you approach the top pool.

The falls look very inviting as you approach the top pool.

When you climb down the steep rocky slope, you come across a lovely still pool, which is absolutely freezing to swim in.

When you climb down the steep rocky slope, you come across a lovely still pool, which was absolutely freezing to swim in. Nobody stayed in for too long.

Especially when Peter spied a fresh water crocodile sunning himself near these rocks.

Especially when Peter spied a fresh water crocodile sunning himself near these rocks. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture him in the photo because he was behind the rocks on the far side of the pool.

After our swim we climbed in behind the waterfall.

After our swim we climbed in behind the waterfall.

It was magical being behind the curtain of water.

It was magical being behind the curtain of water.

I liked the spotty bark on this tree, and almost missed the spider hiding in full view.

I liked the spotty bark on this tree next to our tent, and almost missed the spider hiding in full view.

Holly inspired us with another fantastic camp oven meal of savoury scrolls, cooked in the coals of the camp fire.

In the evening, Holly inspired us with another fantastic camp oven meal of savoury scrolls, cooked in the coals of the camp fire.

Life is good! A beautiful swim and a good meal. It doesn’t get much better than this.


Drysdale River Station & King Edward River

The morning saw us packing up the tents and heading off once again, towards the Mitchell Plateau. We had a couple more nights camping along the way before we got to Mitchell Falls, and it was time for a shower so we stopped for the night at Drysdale River Station.

Drysdale River Station is huge, over 1 million acres in size.

Drysdale River Station is huge, about a million acres in size.

Close by is Miner's Pool, which is a great place for a swim.

Close by is Miner’s Pool, which is a great place for a swim.

There is a lovely walk along the rocks beside the river.

In the morning we set off again, and found a great camping spot at King Edward River.  After setting up our tents, we went exploring. There is a lovely walk along the rocks beside the river.

A small waterfall is a nice surprise a little way down the river.

A small waterfall is a nice surprise a little way further along.

Close to the waterfall were deep holes where round stones had gradually worn away the rock over the years.

Close to the waterfall were deep holes where round stones had gradually worn away the rock over the years.

This was a serene and beautiful place to stay.

This was a serene and beautiful place to stay. It would be difficult to say which is the nicest camping spot we have found so far.


Camping on the banks of the Gibb River

Our third day saw us back on the track. Our first stop for the day was Ellenbrae Station, where we obviously had to try their famous scones with jam and cream.

Ellenbrae Station entrance

Ellenbrae Station entrance.

Everyone tucking into delicious scones.

Everyone tucking into delicious scones.

The bathroom at Ellenbrae has a lovely outlook...

The bathroom at Ellenbrae has a lovely outlook…

But it is not very private!

But it is not very private!

Just past the turnoff to head up to the Mitchell Plateau, you come across the Gibb River crossing.

Just past the turnoff to head up to the Mitchell Plateau, you come across the Gibb River crossing.

Which seemed to be a perfect place to camp for the night, right on the banks of the river.

Which seemed to be a perfect place to camp for the night, right on the banks of the river. We lit the campfire and headed off on a walk.

This bull was also out for an evening stroll. He was bellowing and crashing through the trees.

This bull was also out for an evening stroll. He was bellowing and crashing through the trees.

But it turned out all he wanted was a drink from the river.

But it turned out all he wanted was a drink from the river.

The river was also a popular place to cool off and clean up after another warm day.

The river was also a popular place to cool off and clean up after another warm day.

The banks of the Gibb River was a beautiful and peaceful place to camp for the night.

The banks of the Gibb River was a beautiful and peaceful place to camp for the night. It doesn’t get much better than this. Every night after a beautiful sunset, the sky is clear, with millions of stars glowing in the darkness.


Durak River crossing – our next camp on the Gibb River Road

One of the most delightful things about travelling along the Gibb River Road is the opportunity to set up camp on the banks of a river, or in one of the many free camping areas. Wiki Camps on the computer is a great tool for finding somewhere to camp when you are not familiar with the area. (Thanks Holly!)

Our second day on the Gibb River Road we visited Home Valley station, where many people choose to stay in the campground.

Home Valley

Home Valley

Horse carriage at Home Valley

Horse carriage at Home Valley

Frangipani at Home Valley

Frangipani at Home Valley

It was fun to visit and look around, but it was too early in the day for us to stop, so we travelled further on.

overlooking the Cockburn Range

Overlooking the Cockburn Range from a roadside stop. The yellow flowers are on a kapok tree, which lose their leaves in the dry season. They are common in the Kimberley region.

Durak River-5Bindoola Falls trail

A little further along, we took a side track that you would miss if you blinked at the wrong time, and found ourselves at Bindoola Falls. There wasn’t much waterfall happening, but we did find an amazing gorge with clear, cool water.

Trumpet serenade at Bindoola Falls

Trumpet serenade at Bindoola Falls

Peter perched himself near the top of the gorge. The trumpet sounded incredible echoing around the rocks.

If you look carefully you can see Peter on the rocks near the top of the gorge.

If you look carefully you can see Peter playing his trumpet on the rocks near the top of the gorge. It must be an amazing sight to see this in the wet, with water cascading over the rocks and falling to the pool below.

This tree was growing directly out of the rocks.

This ‘tree’ was growing directly out of the rocks.

We spotted this lizard while we were waiting for the billy to boil.

We spotted this lizard while we were waiting for the billy to boil.

I'm not sure what this tree is, but it provided lovely shade while we had our lunch down a side track.

I’m not sure what this tree is, but it provided lovely shade while we had our lunch down a side track.

Our second night we camped on the banks of the Durak River. Holly & Adam tried fishing, but with no luck.

Our second night we camped on the banks of the Durak River. Holly & Adam tried fishing, but with no luck.

Another creek crossing, this one shallow and muddy.

Another creek crossing, this one shallow and muddy.

Not everyone makes the trip without problems.

Obviously not everyone makes the trip without problems.

The water in the creeks and rivers up here is crystal clear.

The water in the creeks and rivers up here is crystal clear.

Even though we are well into the ‘dry’ season, many of the waterways still have plenty of water and it is easy to collect water to supplement your supplies. Our camp on the second night was on the banks of the Durak River. We are yet to see a crocodile, although we are aware that they may be around.

 


Travelling The Gibb River Road – The Kimberley, W.A.

The Gibb River Road existed initally as a cattle route and even today is a 4-wheel-drive-only unmade road, stretching from near Wyndham in the east to Derby in the West Kimberley. The condition of the road varies greatly, depending mainly on when the grader last went through to smooth out some of the corrugations. The full length of the Gibb River Road is around 660 km, plus any side trips you might choose to take.

We began our journey from Kununurra, taking only tents and camping equipment with us, as we planned to travel even further off the track and visit the Mitchell Plateau on our trip.

Pentecost River crossing

Pentecost River crossing

The first river crossing, which is also probably the widest, is Pentecost River. The crossing was not too deep or daunting, but I am sure it would be a different story in the wet season.

crossing the Pentecost

Crossing the Pentecost

One by one, the cars make the crossing. It is pretty straightforward at this time of the year.

watching and waiting

Watching and waiting

Although some people need to check it out and consider their options before making the crossing.

Pentecost River camp

Pentecost River camp

We pitched our tent in a small clearing above the river bank.

Sunset across the Pentecost River

Sunset across the Pentecost River

The Cockburn Range looks amazing in the evening light across the Pentecost River.

Sunset colours on the Cockburn Range

Sunset colours on the Cockburn Range.

This was a great first day to our Gibb River Road adventure.

 


Mirima National Park, Kununurra

This morning we walked through Mirima National Park (Hidden Valley) in Kununurra.

This morning we walked through Mirima National Park (Hidden Valley) in Kununurra.

Peter took along his trumpet and we enjoyed the sound of his horn echoing through and around the natural amphitheatres we discovered during our hike.

The rocks were coloured a rich deep red, and the spinifex that looks so soft and fluffy is actually sharp and spiky on bare legs.

The rocks were coloured a rich deep red, and the rocky path led enticingly up through the gorge.

Some of the grasses that appear to grow directly from the rocks are very delicate.

Some of the grasses that appear to grow directly from the rocks are very delicate.

The vertical rock walls look as though they are constructed of man made blocks.

The vertical rock walls look almost as though they are constructed from hand hewn blocks.

The spinifex that looks so soft and fluffy is actually sharp and spiky on bare legs.

The spinifex that looks so soft and fluffy is actually sharp and spiky on bare legs.

The sound of the trumpet echoing through the rocks was enjoyed by many other visitors to the park.

The sound of the trumpet echoing through the rocks was enjoyed by many other visitors to the park.

 

 


The Pinnacles

As we drove south from Kalbarri on our way to Cervantes, we were amazed to see this Pink Lake at Port Gregory. It was quite an amazing bright pink colour, and the lagoon went on for kilometres. The Hutt Lagoon is a superb example of a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs when algae ‘blooms’ and produces beta carotene – a pigment that has become a lucrative aquaculture crop.

Pink Lake at Port Gregory

We stayed in Cervantes which is a small cray-fishing village on the Western Australian coast. Nambung National Park is around 20 km from Cervantes. The hundreds of limestone formations that make up The Pinnacles in the National Park are quite amazing to see. Each separate pinnacle can be up to five metres high, although most are smaller than that.

Even though the local beaches have white sand, the sand in The Pinnacles is a deep yellow colour

Some of the pinnacles are quite sculptural in appearance, and look wonderful set amongst the rippling yellow sands of the park.

Pinnacles in Nambung National Park

We spotted these galahs perched on top of a pinnacle. There are meant to be lots of animals that live in the park, but most are nocturnal except for kangaroos and emus. However these galahs were the only living things we saw.

Galahs at the Pinnacles

As the evening came upon us, an approaching storm made an interesting backdrop to the spectacle of the pinnacles spread across the horizon.

Approaching storm at the Pinnacles

On leaving the park, this white expanse in the distance caught our eye. The sands are so white it doesn’t take much imagination to see it as a snow covered hill.

Sand…or snow?

Returning to Cervantes, where we were staying, we called into Lake Thetis which is world renowned for the stromatolites that grow there. Lake Thetis is a shallow lake formed between sand dunes, about one-and-a-half kilometres inland, dating back around three or four thousand years. It is very salty, and is fed by rainfall and groundwater, so its water level rises and falls with the seasons. Although salty, it is full of life, the most obvious being the cyanobacteria which have produced the stromatolites along the south and western sides, and the microbial mats which line the lake all round. Until the 20th century, the only evidence of stromatolites was in fossil form and scientists presumed that these unique biofilms were extinct.

Stramatolites at Lake Thetis, near Cervantes


Rainbow Jungle, Kalbarri

Pool at Rainbow Jungle, Kalbarri

Australian King Parrot

Two cheeky Purple Crowned Lorikeets sharing a slice of pear.

I would definitely recommend a visit to the Rainbow Jungle if you are in Kalbarri.


Kalbarri – You’ll love it!

‘Kalbarri, you’ll love it!’ the sign promised as we approached town. And yes, that was pretty accurate, we did love it. We also loved the wild flowers that line both sides of the road for miles and miles in this part of Western Australia. This photo was taken from a moving vehicle so it’s a bit blurry.

Western Australian wildflowers - taken from a moving vehicle.

The National Park is split between coastal sites and gorges within the park. The first day we visited the coastal areas, marvelling at the view from several lookouts and climbed down into Pot Alley, a place we had been to several years ago.

Pot Alley, Kalbarri. The water appears to be higher than the beach.

The surf is huge here, with great waves swamping the narrow gap between the rock walls.

Pot Alley rollers.

A little further along the coastline, there is a natural rock arch as well as a rock known as castle rock that was formed from a natural arch when the top collapsed from the wave action, leaving the rocky island separate from the cliffs.

Castle Rock

In this picture, Peter is at the lookout, which has a marvellous view over the ocean and back to the town of Kalbarri.

Peter at Kalbarri lookout.

The following day we ventured into the National Park to visit the gorges. Z Bend is named for the shape of the gorge gouged out of the rock by the Murchison River. It was quite a challenging climb to get down to the river, but worth the effort.

Z Bend gorge at Kalbarri National Park

Nature’s Window is probably the most recognisable landmark of Kalbarri National Park.

Rhonda sitting in Nature's Window at Kalbarri National Park


Shark Bay and Dolphins at Monkey Mia

Shark Bay is a place we hadn’t visited before, so we were curious to see if we could find the boat pictured on the painting that hangs in our entry at home. (We did.) Peter also came across this old boat that needs a bit (!!!!) of TLC. He has been talking about getting a bigger boat…this would make an interesting project!

Peter’s new project?

 

In the morning we made our way to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins. We weren’t sure what we would find because we had been told it is very commercialised, but we found it was interesting and fairly informal. Everyone lines up along the water’s edge and the rangers give an informative chat about the dolphins, their family trees, and how they can tell the individuals apart.

Cheeky dolphins are not at all afraid of people.

The dolphins are wild, and free to come or not come as they please. At feeding time, buckets of fish are brought down and people are randomly chosen to feed a fish to one of the dolphins. Each adult dolphin gets 500g of fish, the juveniles get 300g, and they are only fed in the mornings, so they must forage for the rest of their food and don’t become totally reliant on the handouts. Peter was one of the lucky ones chosen for feeding.

Peter feeding the dolphin

The beach at Monkey Mia is a tranquil and unspoilt marine sanctuary. There is an informative display in the main centre, as well as a variety of free wildlife films shown throughout the day, and we enjoyed our visit very much.

The beach at Monkey Mia

Shell Beach is on the way out of the Shark Bay area, and instead of sand, is composed completely of millions of tiny snowy white cockle shells.

This is a magnified view of the tiny cockle shells. They are no more than 1cm across.

The shells are used locally for paths and driveways, and sold elsewhere for various uses including shell grit for poultry and birds. A couple of the local old buildings are built from blocks of conglomerate shells, when you look closely you can see all the individual tiny shells that make up the building blocks. The loose shells are considered a renewable resource since new shells are deposited all the time. We have never seen anything like it.

The tiny shells cover an immense area.

 


Coral Bay – A Little Piece of Paradise

Coral Bay is as picturesque as ever. There is quite a bit more development here than last time we visited eight years ago, including some houses and a fancy boat ramp and big car park at the southern end of the beach, but the beach is just as lovely and inviting.

Boat ramp at Coral Bay

The coral has apparently been damaged by the last cyclone, there is not as much colour and variety in the corals you see when snorkelling off the beach. Nevertheless, the sea life is prolific and schools of fish surround you as you swim just out from the beach.

Coral Bay fish

At three-thirty every afternoon, there is a fish feeding session on the beach where you can stand in the water and hand feed the hundreds of huge fish which swarm around your legs. The kids love it! It is an amazing feeling when they glide past your legs. They have no fear of humans at all, which is not that surprising considering this is a sanctuary area, as long as the fish stay away from the fishing beach a few hundred metres to the south.

Fish feeding is lots of fun for the kids.

The water in the showers comes from an artesian bore and comes out of the tap hot and salty. You wouldn’t want to make a cup of coffee with it, that’s for sure. Even brushing your teeth, you need to make sure you don’t forget and rinse your mouth with tap water…it’s not very nice! And it’s not great for washing your hair either. However there are several fresh drinking water taps around the park, so once you get organised, it’s not a problem. The lawns here are salt resistant couch, and the sprinklers need to have a very fine spray so the water cools before it hits the ground. You can see dead lines in the grass where the hoses have lain on the lawn for too long and the heat has killed the grass.

The weather is so warm and sunny that we spend lots of time on the beach. Very relaxing!

Clear waters of Coral Bay

We saw this ta-ta lizard on the beach. They are called ta-ta because they run a little way, then wave with their front leg, like they are saying goodbye. Very cute…

Ta-ta lizard. Must have spent too long in the sun, his skin is peeling!

Just to make you jealous, here is another view of the beach.

Peter at Coral Bay beach

And to make Peter jealous, here is another picture of the fish he can’t catch…

Lots of big fish at Coral Bay