Canoe and the Gibb River Road Gorges

Submitted: Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 19:54
ThreadID: 68484 Views:3927 Replies:6 FollowUps:10
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I am after some basic information please. We (Self, partner and 7yo son) will be travelling the Gibb River Road during the period mid June to mid July 2009. We are driving a 4WD towing an off road Cavalier Camper trailer. We normally carry our canoe on the camper when travelling and would like to know from anyone who can assist if it is worth taking it on this trip. Particularly, can we use or own canoe and is it easy to access the water at places like ElQuestro, Home Valley, Mornington, Bell Gorge etc. Alternatively is it better to leave the canoe at home and just hire those available when available. Main concern obviously is that we do not want to cart it if it cannot be put in the water easily, particularly when looking at road conditions, including trip into Purnululu and coming up the Tanami Track from home in the NT.
Many thanks in advance.
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Reply By: Mandrake - Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 20:06

Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 20:06
Can you paddle really fast ---

"The first thing we saw after stepping out of the Toyota Landcruiser at El Questro was a crocodile…" - quote from someones blog

Mandrake
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 20:23

Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 20:23
Mark,
PLEASE consider CROCS!. Not a good idea to canoe in crock country, IMHO.
El Questro used to object to any boats except those hired from them in Chamberland Gorge. That was a while back and it has changd hands since then, AND it is crock territory from memory.

Home Valley (the Penticost) is SERIOUS croc country and not that pretty there (tidal).

Mornington is safer, but they hire canoes in Dimond Gorge. Not sure what their policy is now. Dimond is reat spot to canoe for the day.
Not sure about Bell, don't think the distance would warrant it.

The big opportunity is between the Diversion Dam at Kununurra and the Ord dam in the upper Ord. It is a 65km trip through the gorges and is stunning. Worth taking it just for that. The downstream only (due to the current) trip is a comfortable 3 days. Drive to the waters edge at each end, but you will need a relay vehicle, (or maybe a tourist bus) to get back to the start.
There are hire places in Kununurra that offer all the services that you would need and plastic canadians, but they charge.

There have been a few serious adventurers canoe the Drysdale River from the Kulumburu Road to the ocean, but this is a SERIOUS expedition that would take a year or more to plan, and there are crocs again in the lower reaches, below the falls.

Cheers,
PeterOKA196 Motorhome
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Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 23:59

Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 23:59
Old Mornington (Dimond Gorge) cost us $60 per canoe last year. The canoe holds 2 only, so if you have a kid, then you'll need another canoe. Have previously paddled this one in my 3.7m inflatable, no probs, no crocs. This is the only way to really see this impressive gorge.
Recommend Mole Gorge, SE of Mt House station, but you have to book and pay Mt House to camp at the gorge. But we managed to paddle about 5km upstream, portaging in a few places. Only saw freshies on that jaunt.
Gerry
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Reply By: get outmore - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 00:21

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 00:21
bah crocs - first thing everyone says

most of the waterways off of GRR are considered croc free such as Winjana gorge (maybe not quite on the gib) i used mine there and at manning gorge - didnt go to EQ and bell gorge was still closed. I used it more in the territory but definitly take it - you will use it.

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 00:24

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 00:24
sorry should say I didnt canoe in known croc territoy (often) but theres no shortage of sighns so you dont have to guess.

i dont think anyone ever has been taen from a canoe and people do canoe croc territory ---- although apart from the Flora river i didnt and i think that is semi croc free
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Follow Up By: The Top End Explorer - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 00:31

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 00:31
Val plumwood

Cheers Steve.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 07:12

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 07:12
G'day Davoe

Agree that most Kimberley Gorges away from the sea are Saltwater Croc free. Back in 1980 when we camped at Windjana Gorge I recall counting 70 or more Freshwater Crocs in the pools :-)

Steve

The story relates to Big Fella Croc country and not the gorges of the Kimberley. But your point is valid.



Anyone entering the waters of Tropical Australia shouild be Crocodile Wise. If you are not, then you may be putting yourself in harm's way!!!


Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 08:50

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 08:50
........Err...

"most of the waterways off of GRR are considered croc free such as Winjana gorge"

Have to disagree with you get outmore.
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And yes, they are freshies!

Cheers

John
J and V
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 09:48

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 09:48
Get outmore said " theres no shortage of sighns so you dont have to guess."
That is ONLY true in the high volume tourist areas.
There are no signs anywhere at Kalumburu.
There are no signs at Cutting Bore on the Fitzroy or most other places.
Both are BIG salty areas.

Salties currently penetrate 200k upstream in the Fitzroy. With the increasing pressure of population growth, they are likely to go further. I have never heard of salties at Dimond, but there are Barra there (they usually go together) and there are no waterfalls of significance downstream.

I understand that there are 4 salties in the Upper Ord above the Diversion Dam, but they are probably well fed.

A 7 year old would be very tempting. Just take care.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 12:27

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 12:27
yes I know Winjana has a health freshy population but the worst thing i had from a freshie was getting hissed at from one on the bank I got close to when I didnt see it.

and yes as for sighns the will be mostly in the most visited spots

anyway I used my Kyak at Wijana gorge, manning gorge, flora river, the upper ord, katherine gorge, Elsey NP

all up north and all considered safe to kyak -yes there not garanteed 100% croc free certainly theres a few in the Katherine

and the Florariver is trappe and not ideal habitat with the water being too clear for crocs
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Reply By: Axel [ the real one ] - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 10:02

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 10:02
By all means take the canoe and you will save some $ instead of hireing [ Mornington widerness camp canoe hire was $90 for the 3 of us in 1 canoe last July ] but would not take it if you need to unload from c/trailer at every set up , is better to have on vehicle roof , Mornington campsites are still a 20/30min drive away from the Gorges .
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Follow Up By: Axel [ the real one ] - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 10:39

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 10:39
P.S , a tip for Mornington is to either book in advance OR arrive at the turnoff before 10am and radio through [ radio in hut ] to check ifcamp-site is available , its a loooong drive in and camp numbers are limited and regulated , no fires , no gen sets ,no shop , has bar and restaurant with set menu each night that must be booked early on the day ,,,,
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Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 10:10

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 10:10
Hi Mark,

We used our inflatable tandem sit-on-top on several occasions in the Gibb region including Diamond Gorge and Cadjeput, both near Mornington camp. It was very beautiful there. At Bell Gorge we also paddled from our creekside camp but it's only a short stretch of water. Kununurra was also a great place for paddling as was King Edward River but only about 1km.

We were requested by the ranger at Windjana Gorge not to put the inflatable in there as it scares the crocs (freshwater - we do not worry about them but respect them and keep our distance) and they disappeared for many days after someone had paddled there. That was in 2003 so I don't know if things have changed. I must say that the freshies there are BIG.

Check for croc safety with knowledgeable people at every place. Some folk are very gung ho.

John 'n' Min

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 12:50

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 12:50
souns like they change the story to suit themselves. In 03 I was asked to be out off the river at a certain time because seeing a paddler would ruin the ambiance of their cultural boat tour - no mention of scaring crocs and quite frankly it sounds like a croc

trying to say a paddler scares crocs for weeks on end but there big tour boat doesnt
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Follow Up By: Member - Min (NSW) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 18:39

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 18:39
I was not aware of any boat tour in Windjana Gorge when we were there for 2 or 3 days. However, I take your point that paddlers would scare crocs for several days (I'm sure he said for three weeks!) seems a bit sus. But if a ranger requests something it seems reasonable to comply.
John 'n' Min

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Reply By: Member - Mark T (NT) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 20:07

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 20:07
Thanks to everyone for their comments and advice. Yes we are croc aware in a big way, having lived in NQ.
Will now weigh up pros and cons and decide if it is worth the canoe this trip, particularly as we are not spending much time at Kununurra this trip.
Thanks again
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