we have finally made it to Broome and are settling in for about three weeks.
Let me update you on our exploits since last I wrote.
Around mid August Jo and I headed off to Timber Creek while Carol & Bill stayed in Katherine for a couple of extra days to catch up with Dave & Rose who are back on the road for a while but where heading for Darwin.
A visit to the Police Museum, Big Horse Creek camping area and a drive up onto the Escarpment to take in the view filled in a leisurely day.
Then on to Lake Argyle where Carol & Bill rejoined us a day later. A spot of fishing in the lake and the Ord River just below the dam was unsuccessful, but we enjoyed our time there with a 4WD to a sunset lookout, a visit to the relocated Durack family homestead and a sunset cruise on the lake being the highlights of our time there.
Next stop Kimberleyland CP on Lake Kununurra for a week.Lots to see and do here and we were kept busy. Visits to the Hoochery, (rum distillery), Hidden Valley, (Mirima National Park), and the Zebra Rock gallery were the main attractions around town and we just missed by 5 minutes having coffee and cake with Nicole & Keith at the Ivanhoe Road cafe and fresh fruit barn.
We hired a dinghy for half a day and ventured up Lake Kununurra for a spot of fishing but only managed to pick up about a dozen small catfish.
Evenings were spent watching the sunset from the shores of Lily Creek Lagoon including a spectacular moonrise on the evening of the recent total eclipse.
We took a seaplane ride with Alligator airways from Lake Kununurra out over Lake Argyle, (two touch and goes), on to the Bungle Bungles and returning over the Argyle Diamond mine.
The first time for all of us in a seaplane and it was a thrilling way to see some of the most spectacular scenery this country has to offer.
A day trip out to Wyndham to the five rivers lookout and a return trip via Parry Creek Road with a stop at Marglu Billabong to view the birdlife and spotted in the distance a very large salty, around six metres. The road comes back via Ivanhoe crossing with is a causeway over the lower Ord River and although it is only around 300mm deep there is quite a large flow and it was Bill's first water crossing, but we made it successfully.
We then locked up our vans and left them at the park and set off to El Questro for three nights camping. The access is via the eastern end of the Gibb River Rd which is heavily corrugated and not much fun to drive on. The El Questro road itself had been recently grade and was in better condition than the Gibb River Rd.
After checking out a "private" campsite we opted for a couple of grassy spots in the main camp ground. The private sites have only a few toilets and the ground was just soft red dust and thick sand.
The gorges and waterholes of El Questro are in the main truly spectacular and with the Prados in 4WD mode we explored a couple of them. Zebedee Springs is only a short 15 minute walk from the carpark and is one of the most beautiful hot springs we have encountered so far. Set in a valley and surrounded by Livingstonia Palms it is just magnificent and is hard to leave.
Next stop was El Questro gorge, a more challenging 1hour walk but rewarded with a cool water hole to swim in at the halfway mark, which was far enough for us. Back to the campground via a drive to Chamberlain Gorge and another cooling swim in the Pentecost River at the campground.
The weather is starting to warm up in these last few weeks with temperatures in the mid to high thirties so a cooling swim is always welcome. The second day we took off to Emma Gorge where we enjoyed a delicious light lunch before tackling the trek.
The sun was hot at the start, but soon we were in welcome shadow for the second half of the scramble over rocks and boulders to the awe inspiring head of the gorge with it's 300 metre cliffs and water fall and the icy cold pool, although we discovered a hot spring feeding the pool at one side.
We cooked our evening meals over the campfire which was enjoyable but made the mistake of trying baked beans, tomato, bacon and eggs on toast one morning.
The meal was delicious and the three million flies that descended on us all agreed! Back to Kununurra to repack the vans do some laundry and have another cooling swim before hitting the road around 4pm. We were heading for Turkey Creek, but stopped at a rest area at Dunham River for a free night before getting onto Turkey Creek, (Warmun), early the next day.
A quiet afternoon before an early rise the next day. We were up at 4:30am before being picked up for a day trip into the Bungle Bungles. After seeing it from the air we decided to have another look from ground level and opted for a tour rather than drive in on what was described as a horrible road.
We had our share of corrugated roads and camping for a while and it was good to let someone else do the driving. we were a little surprised to see that the East Kimberley tour vehicle was a Toyota Coaster, taking us in on a "4WD only" road. Anyway we had an excellent day and our driver/guide, Lisa, was very informative and we enjoyed morning tea, lunch at their campsite and afternoon refreshments on the way out.
Note that the starting time was 5:30 am and I commented to Bill that this was probably the first sunrise he had seen in the 6 months we had been on the road. His reply was that it was probably the first sunrise he had seen in six years!
We explored Echidna Chasm, the Beehive Domes and Cathedral Gorge, all just awe inspiring but it was very hot doing the gorge in the afternoon. We departed around three o'clock for the three hour return drive to Turkey Creek and all was going smoothly until the last creek crossing.
There was not a lot of water in it but it was a mixture of rock platforms, water, loose rocks and very soft edges. We got bogged just as we were coming out, stuck between a couple of large loose rocks and the soft mud.
After several attempts at toing and froing and some pushing by all the guys we could see that we were going nowhere.
As I mentioned earlier the bus was a Coaster, only two weeks old and was not intended for this run with no radio to call for assistance. Our driver Lisa had not experienced this before, but fortunately there was a winch on the front and she managed to find the remote control. It was dark by this time but with the aid if a couple of torches we finally found where to plug it in and how to release the cable. I recall thinking as I trudged up the bank with the cable that it may not be long enough to reach the nearest large tree, but luckily it reached and we were in business, the winch worked a treat and things went even better when I reminded Lisa that she should drive out as well!
Unluckily for the tree we didn't have anything to protect it and it received a bit of a ringbarking so I hope it survives to help any other travellers out of a sticky situation.
As it was now dark we took it slowly when back on the highway and we saw more 'roos/wallabies than we have seen in six months on the road. The Brahman cattle too make for an interesting slalom course.
From Turkey Creek to Fitzroy Crossing and the Fitzroy River Lodge is a welcome oasis in a barren land. The park is excellent and $2 Swan middies a popular choice at happy hour at the bar.
A boat cruise on the Geikie Gorge was very interesting and entertaining and the only sight we saw here. We chose not to visit Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek as it is just too hot now for walking tours.
We decided to bypass Derby and the Horizontal Falls trip and headed straight for Broome and Cable Beach Caravan Park with the best pool we struck so far.
We have met some great people on our travels in recent weeks and some of them are here with us to share tales over a drink or two. Hi to Steve and Shandy from the Sunshine Coast, and John and Rhonda from Port Macquarie.
Tonight is the closing ceremony of the Shinju Matsuri, "Festival of the Pearl", with entertainment and fireworks over Cable Beach.
I just hope the fireworks are not as crazy as they were in Darwin and that they go out to sea, as there are a lot of bushfires in the area and we actually drove through a couple on the highway from Fitzroy Crossing. That was probably one of the longest drives we have done with only two road houses and no towns.
It is only a coincidence but we are here for a while and there is great TV reception and the Rugby World Cup has just started. Some late bleary eyed nights ahead!
Well Garth time for another swim I hope you are not too cold down there in Melbourne.
Ross, Jo, Bill and Carol
Editor's Note: Also See -
Moonrise and eclipse over Lily Creek lagoon
Seaplane over Bungle Bungles
Water crossing El Questro Gorge
With Darryl our pilot for the flight over the Bungle Bungles
Cruising Lake Argyle