Kalumburu - use of boats

Submitted: Friday, Feb 20, 2004 at 23:10
ThreadID: 10677 Views:2276 Replies:3 FollowUps:7
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Hi All,
Jan & I are planning our 3 months in the Kimberly, leaving Perth
12/4/04. Part of our itinerary is to go to Kalumburu. Trouble is we
keep hearing conflicting stories as to whether or not it is really
worth the extra corrugations. We will have a roof top tinny and I
was hopping to use it extensively while at Kalumburu for some
fishing and exploring. Seems like a good way to get about. The
latest we have heard is that the community up there will not allow
people to use their own boat. Can anyone shed any light on this. We
have arranged a permit but it doesn't say anything about this. We
would like to hear of people's experiences before we follow it up
further with authorities etc.

(hope to be) Happy camping
Jan & Mike.
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Reply By: Will - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 00:16

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 00:16
I think thats BS but will check it out for you, definately worth taking a tinny up that way thats for sure. Been up last year without boat.

AnswerID: 47488

Follow Up By: Anne from Drysdale River Station - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 01:18

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 01:18
Total BS to be exact. There is no reason at all why you can't take and use your boat at Kalumburu. There are certain areas like past Pago that people are not supposed to go, but that leaves masses of places both in the King Edward River mouth area and along the ocean front.
You have your permit to enter but on arrival you will have to pay another permit to be there (was $30 a vehicle in 03) plus any camp fees depending where you camp.
Can you bear with me while I tell a long story and explain the way the roads work up here.
It's a gravel road. The wet happens, road closes for up to 5 months and it can wash out big time depending on the size of the wet AND the way it fell : ie we could get quite a large total but it fell well spread in small storms OR we could get a small or normal wet but the skies opened and it dropped 200 / 300 mm in one day, this then does serious road damage.
So we get to April / May and depending again on the wet the road opens but only after they have inspected it and the rivers are low enough to cross without being washed off a crossing. If the damage is bad they won't open until they do ' an opening grade' this means the grader rushes through fixing only the wash outs. At that point there are no corrugations because the wet has flattened them all but the rivers may be 600/900 mm deep.
OK then they open it and the grader starts and does a ' full grade ' At that point probably in May ( some years April) the road is fully graded and the rivers are only about 300/ 500 mm deep. The road is then great, one year my eldest son had no problem bringing his falcon with trailer 3 kids and dog.
Then the traffic starts getting busier, the rivers drop and the corrugations build up. Can disintegrate a caravan and some trailers.
The road get rougher and rougher until depending on, money available, number of complaints received and availability of grader. They grade it again.
BUT the the road repair is in fact two separate bodies. Main Roads for the Gibb River Road and Shire Wyndham East Kimberley for the Kalumburu Road so the grades are not tied to happening at the same time.
The second grade timing depends totally on above plus if the road opened first time on 1 st April or 24 th May, this first open use time then flows on to all other timings. They do the second grade and the road is perfect( for a gravel road) by then we are in busy season June / July and the traffic pours in.
People fly along it and the corrugations fly right in after them.
Next depending on same things again plus me and other locals phoning and winging about the amount of complaints we are hearing and the amount of damage we are seeing and fixing, they finally grade it again.
OK so now we get a dirt highway again. People fly along and back come the corrugations and it doesn't take long either.
If they do a third full grade depends mainly on money, they may just do the real bad patches because of course on top of all else the road isn't the same all along the over 1000 km we are discussing. Some patches are hilly and rocky, some patches are soft and bull dust and some patches they have fully re-built in the last couple of years and they remain great throughout.
There is no way anyone can tell you the timing of these grades in much advance, so you may have a perfect trip all the way to Kalumburu but a month later ( or earlier) and it can be pretty rough.
Hope you found it worth reading,cheers AnneDrysdale River Station
FollowupID: 309496

Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 08:29

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 08:29

That is a wonderful decription of outback road maintenance. I think you should print it and frame it and hang it on the wall of the bar for all of those who want to have a whinge about roads to read.

We did our Kimberley adventure in 1986 travelling to most extremities of the area including access to Mitchell Falls, Theda and Carson River Stations, King George River Falls and Napier Broome Bay.

Had an interesting refuelling experience at your station with a station employee and a wind-up pump from a drum of petrol.

We visited the Kimberley in July and due to an unseasonal rain band had all the creeks and waterfalls running. We saw four vehicles on the way to Mitchell Falls including two 2wd cars(which were pretty buggered). Did not see any other visitor vehicles at Kalumburu or out past Pago Pago or Carson River. What stuck in my mind was the limestone ridges on the road up to Kalumburu which were about 150meters apart and one could not get up to any speed before having to slow down again. Anyway, we weren't in a hurry.

The Kimberley region is a magic place but I think that high visititation numbers might spoil it and the time may not be far away when restrictions(similar to those on Gurig NP on Cobourg Peninsula NT) may be placed on access to certain places. What are your thoughts on this?

Little Dip Cons Park S.A.
FollowupID: 309501

Follow Up By: Member - Bob - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 09:58

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 09:58
Great post Anne. Thank youBob
FollowupID: 309507

Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 12:36

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 12:36
Thanks Anne for posting that info, it explains a lot to we in the outside world getting this sort of info first hand. I guess at this time of the year you have a little time on your hands and are able to spend a little extra time on the www, but all that will change in 2-3 months when the travellers move in.
We stayed on your place last year for a few days & enjoyed the faciliities, particularly going down for a cooling swim.
Our timing was not good for the roads & we had missed the gradings so we only did the Mitchell Plat, it wasn't just the vehicle that I was concerned for but my nerves took a battering also from those corregations, at times I came to a complete stop. I then decided to can the Kalumburu trip & use the extra time that we were going to fish up there & add it to the Cape Lavique leg.
We were at Drysdale towards the end of the dry and have vowed to go back next time early in the season so we can to see a whole new perspective of the area. Just loved it. Your road grading comments are noted & I will email you ahead of time about our next visit.
Thanks again. Carpe Diem
FollowupID: 309523

Follow Up By: Midge - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 13:27

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 13:27
We were up at Kalumburu last August we camped at Honeymoon Bay for about 10 days, we had a tinnie and used it everyday, caught heaps of fish and had a ball, the owners do have a daily guided fishing tour which is rather cheap, take your boat plus do there fishing trip you want be disappointed.
FollowupID: 309530

Follow Up By: Member - Alex B - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 17:01

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 17:01
Hi Anne, thanks for your great post.
Alex B
FollowupID: 309544

Reply By: Mike - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 02:39

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 02:39
Thanks Wil, thanks Anne. It all seemed a bit incredible to me so hence the post. Thanks also Anne for the road story. We do expect to come across the unexpected and hopefully we are allowing sufficient flexability in our planning to cope with the sort of changes you speak of. The best we can do from down here is consult informative sites such as this one to see/hear what is happening up your way. We did say in our original post on this that we will be leaving Perth on April 12, but we don't enviseage getting to your neck of the woods until about 23rd May. We'll have to make a point of trying to catch up with you when we come through. Have a red GU Patrol, camping trailer, tinnie and canoe, all in one piece when we get to you we hope. It is our intention to do things at a bit of a snail's pace. Thanks once again.
Happy camping,
Jan & Mike.
AnswerID: 47493

Reply By: Coops (Pilbara) - Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 19:06

Saturday, Feb 21, 2004 at 19:06
I wouldn't hesitate - especially with a roof top tinnie as any damage done through corrugations is likely to be on the top side of your tinnie. I would however hesitate to tow a trailer & tinnie to avoid trailer dmaage and would pay for local "charter" instead.
Cost us $70 for a half day and the missus was stoked and still talks about it. Not sure if you can take too much fish away with you but if you're spending a bit of money with the owners they don't seem to mind too much at all.
When you get there (with your tinnie) it would be worth doing one of their 1/2 day excursions just to get a feel for the area but there's no need to go to far at all to catch fish.Live the life you love -
Love the life you live !!!
AnswerID: 47531

Follow Up By: Mike - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 02:19

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 02:19
Thanks Coops. We hope to enjoy some good fishing. Not likely to take much away as fridge space will be at a premium, and there is only the two of us. I take your point on the half day boat trip. Sounds like a good idea.
Happy camping
Jan & Mike
FollowupID: 309568

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