Old Karunjie Road or King River road, Kimberley.

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 14:31
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I think I have something incorrect. What is the road between Wyndham and Pentecost river via The diggers rest station called?

In the road condition report here on Exploroz the King River road is classed as open and the map shows it is the road between Wyndham and Pentecost river via The diggers rest station.

I thought that Old Karunjie road was the same road (but the part between Pentecost river and The diggers rest station). The thing is that the road condition report says that the Old Karunjie Road is closed.

Is the Old Karunjie Road the same road as King River road?

At work without access to maps!

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Reply By: Muntoo - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 16:31

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 16:31
Yes. The track between the King river crossing, (prison tree) and the Pentecost crossing is the Old Karunjie road. The road from the GT Northern Highway to the King river crossing is known as the King River road. Its all the same road. It would be open by now, just have to take the high road along the marsh. You dont actually go into Diggers Rest station, but you pass along the boundaries. But if i was you i would pull in and spend a day or two there. Great barra fishing there, and good horse riding and sunsets. Spent alot of time there and all around that country. Thats my home.
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Follow Up By: Member - sdr00y (Beecroft,NSW) - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 16:54

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 16:54
Muntoo, Thanks for fixing the confusion. I was asking because we are travelling along that road. We will be staying at The Diggers Rest and I was hoping to catch a fish or two!

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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 19:17

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 19:17
When we were there in 2008, i wanted to take the King River Road, but information at both El Questro and Wyndham was that it had been closed by the person running the station and gates had been locked. We were told at Wyndham that it was a private station road put through by the station and not a public road so they could close it. There were several station gates in the vicinity of the King River on the Gibb River Road but i had no idea which one lead to the King River Road. The leaflet on the loop drive around the Cockburn Range via Old Karunjie and King River Road was no longer available at El Questro because of this closure. The Old Karunjie Road was open, but not suitable for our rig when towing, so we went to Wyndham via the main road and found it to be a lovely drive. The status of the King River Road section may have changed again since then.

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Follow Up By: Muntoo - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 23:49

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 23:49
The land from the gate near Diggers rest turn off is the boundary for the private pastoral lease. It extends to the Pentecost crossing. BUT, its a public gazzetted road and cannot be closed by the pastoral manager. You cant deviate from the track however. The King river road is a public gazetted road also, and also passes through aboriginal land, but is only ever closed in the wet when its under water.

The manager of the pastoral lease is a total bleep , and psycho. He thinks its HIS land and thinks he is some bloody wild west character. He has recently been charged with chasing a group and aboriginal men in his car and then setting light to there vehicle, because they had camped along the road and lit a fire. Dead set bleep he is.

Im not sure about you guys but what sort of person would want to run cattle along the Karunjie road. Fair dinkum, i couldnt think of a worse place to run cattle. Salt flats dont exactly hold alot of feed, and neither does the foothills of the Cockburn ranges. Big dams had to be dug for fresh water, and the feed is only there in the wet, but the cattle cant get to it cause its to boggy. Bit of a wannabe cowboy i think. He should be shut down for animal cruelty.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 00:00

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 00:00
Thanks for the clarification Muntoo. People have since our experience said they have travelled on it. However under circumstances like that, we would not want to push it anyway. It would have been a nice drive right around the Cockburn though.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 00:33

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 00:33
We took the Karunjie road in Aug 2009 when it was easy dry enough to cross the salt flats - almost surrealistic. Which is where, I think, part of 'Australia' was filmed - the 'desert' crossing scenes? The rougher bits are down nearer the Pentecost but nothing to worry about for a high clearance vehicle with a well matched trailer.

The track (incl across the flats) is well signposted with stern warnings etc as per Muntoo's info. Not too be missed for the scenics, altho as MH says the main Wyndham road south is also very scenic.

Good thing the lessee wasn't around as I cast for barra on the tidal Pentecost 100m from the road! Might not now be corresponding with you???

Diggers rest is certainly worth a stop - very idiosyncratic.

There are some great camping spots along a short stretch of the King, not too far from the road; betw. the Dam and the Prison Tree - watch for the tracks. Also watch for the incoming tide for a fishing opp. - I hadn't prepared, had two reds too many, and missed a 10 minute session of frantic splashing and chopping - mm me for a wpt.


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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 21:46

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 21:46
Hi from Kununurra where the info sheet in the van park office says it's closed between the GRR north up to Diggers Rest and is waiting to be graded. OK to go from the Wynham end down to Diggers. Get up here soon before all the water drains away. The country is as green as due to the May rains...W
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Follow Up By: Muntoo - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 23:41

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 23:41
I wouldnt take notice of that. The Karunjie road barely ever gets a blade over it.
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:12

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:12
Went on that track back in 07 I think - great fun - had to negotiate some really deep fine white bulldust in one spot.
The range view below is getting around toward the Pentecost crossing end.
The other is a vast pan nearer the Wyndham end.
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Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:47

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:47
We were at the Boab tree in July last year and met some people who had come up the "road" to Diggers Rest.

I asked was it possible to get to the GRR from here He said yes the way we came is the long way but there is a track called the Karjinii track which is the short way.

The north end was a gate by where the Diggers rest sign was.
Wasnt locked.

We went down for about an hour and didnt seem to be making much progress and it wasnt exactly smooth especially the creeks.

Dont think it would know what a grader felt like

By this time it was 4pm so we retreated back to Wyndham.

Very glad we did as about 3 weeks later there was a post on here that said it was 130km which would have had us on it stranded in the dark.

Apparently the salt flats at that time were wet and drive off the track and goodbye nurse.


Oh for some maps and preplanning. We made sure we did after that.




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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:50

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:50
Sorry mis spelled the track name.
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Reply By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:35

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:35
Here is a document I put together for our club on the Karunji/Cockburn/King River track:

Cockburn Range Circuit - The Karunjie Track
The Cockburn Range is one of the northernmost localities in Western Australia. Just West of Wyndham. It is an extensive sandstone escarpment, shaped like a vast round fortress of high orange cliffs, it rises to over 600 metres above the surrounding plains. The formation is cut by rivers that form steep sided gorges. The Cockburn Range was named by Philip Parker King after Vice Admiral Sir George Cockburn.

There is a lookout on the Gibb River Road a few Kms west of Home valley that gives magnificent views of the range and immediate flats with the Pentecost River running through it. It has been said that Baz Luhrmman got the inspiration for the movie Australia from that lookout and the Cockburn Range. As you drive around the range it is so easy to imagine “King Billy” up on the tip of the escarpment with his fire and spear. So real!. And as you drive across the dry marsh flats its easy to imagine the old truck driving up to the homestead. Then you have to get out and open the gate and the image disappears!!!

The Karunjie Track in early years was the original route from Derby to Wyndham and on to the Northern Territory. Landholders and drovers brought thousands of cattle along this route to the meat works in Wyndham. Breed included Brahman and Shorthorn. You should see plenty on the drive.

One of the northernmost localities in Western Australia, the Cockburn Range is an extensive sandstone escarpment. Shaped like a vast round fortress of high orange cliffs, it rises to over 600 metres above the surrounding plains. The formation is cut by rivers that form steep sided gorges.

This drive is a 133km 4WD circumnavigation of the spectacular Cockburn Range. This slow but easy route combines the Gibb River Road, the Old Karunjie track and King River track. The latter tracks being managed by the El Questro Wilderness Park, which has an information sheet on the drive. You will need a “Wilderness Park Permit” to access the track from El Questro to do the drive. You may also be able to get the pass from Emma Gorge resort. Most of the track is on private property.

The track is just like a typical run across one of the big stations. Mainly two wheel marks in the rocks, sand, bull dust or dried mud. There are sections that are quite rocky and sandy and there are some parts with a bull dust holes. The main worries are the deep bull dust holes. One option is across a dried up marsh. They call it the Marsh Road Shortcut and it is recommended for dry weather only. The track across the marsh looks as if it disappears during each wet so it can be hard to follow at the start of the dry until more traffic (preferably local) has been across it. It’s not a graded road just some wheel tracks across the dry mud. Leave your trailer/van back at El Questro or Emma Gorge.

There are three access points; two ways in from the Gibb River Road and one road from the Great Northern Highway near Wyndham.

For the whole circumnavigation of the Cockburn Range you start and end on the Gibb River Road.Gibb River Road entries are from either right next to the eastern bank of the Pentecost River at the crossing on the Gibb River Road, or alternately, at a gate on the northern side of the Gibb River Road at a point 12.3Km from the Great Northern Hwy and 11.8Km from the Emma Gorge turnoff.

For a shorter version; From Wyndham you head south on the Great Northern Hwy then west to Diggers Rest Station. This half-hour drive from Wyndham features shimmering tidal flats, views of the Cockburn Range and an ancient boab once used as a police lockup. You can camp at the homestead, which offers horse treks and great saltwater fishing. At 30km from the Wyndham a gate on the left marks the entry to the King River Track, which is a 31.5 Km drive south to the Gibb River Road. The road “straight” ahead is the Karunjie Track, around the northern parts of the range

There is an option to take a “shortcut” around the northern of the range. The shortcut is recommended as it takes you across the flats where, I have been told, the “homestead” parts of the movie “Australia” were made. A unique run with magnificent unimpeded views of the range and a difficult to follow track as it is a series of wheel marks on the dried out mud.

The track gives you superb views of the Cockburn Range the whole way. Stones and washouts mean slow going at first, but then - provided conditions are dry - comes a lovely smooth 17km detour across a salt marsh. Bull dust holes are common past the marsh. So too are large boab trees, including one called 'The Killing Tree'. It was here in 1987 that a crazed gunman murdered three local people who were on a weekend fishing trip. It's a sobering note on which to end this leg of the circuit.

May I suggest that if you do plan to do the whole circuit, start at the eastern gate in the morning and go around it in a clockwise direction putting the sun at your “back” for the whole trip. Exiting next to the Pentecost River crossing on the Gibb River Road. It’s not a long track but its worth stopping along the way for a cuppa (no fires or camping though) and a nibble allowing the sun to follow you and present the range in a better light. Of course you won’t beat the sunrise and sunset options. We did the whole circle starting at the gate at 12:24 and finishing at 4:26. A bit later than expected but we stopped too much on the way from Home Valley Station before we started the track. We took about four hours and found that it was a nice leisurely drive. My arms were a bit tired as the track is very windy off the marsh part.

To us this was one of the highlights of our Kimberley trip. We saw the movie and got inspired to see this place. And we were not disappointed.

What a country!!!

Phil

Here are links to a map and some pics:
Karunji track map
A lot of the track north from the GRR is like thisGate sign - Please respect their requestExact same view as in "Australia"King Billy had his fire up on that one in "Australia"
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Follow Up By: Member - sdr00y (Beecroft,NSW) - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 17:45

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 17:45
Phil, Have not seen the movie yet!

Thanks heaps for your pics and info. I am glad I posted the question now.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 18:43

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 18:43
Three photos showing the link to the movie "Australia".

The old truck from "Australia" crosses the Pentecost River

Just before we crossed

Making "Australia" on the Swamp Shortcut.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rob Mac (QLD) - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 21:43

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 21:43
Hi Phil, Used too look south from my front yard to the Cockburn Ranges. I grew up in the house on the corner of the Highway and Baker Street (caravan park road) and never got to go around the old Karunjie Road even though I have been out to the King River plenty of times in the 60's and 70's before many people had 4WD's. Used Holden/ Falcon/ Valiants (probably not too many people around would know what a Valiant was), Dad even when courting Mum took her out to the Prison Tree on his 500cc Matchless Twin. Image Could Not Be Found
Cheers
Rob Mac
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 23:16

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 23:16
Well at least I know what a Valiant is. Or should that be "was". But there will still be some around so I gather "is" will be fine.

Lovely neck of the woods up there. And a bit warmer than here in Canberra.

Next is Cape York in about 5 weeks. You little ripper.

May get up your way again another year.

Cheers and thanks for the Photo. We also dropped in to Wyndham.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Muntoo - Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 00:18

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 00:18
Excellent write up there Phil.

The hill that features in the background at the homestead in Australia is actually on Carlton Hill station. Its known as house roof hill, thats where the actual homestead was built for the movie. The Cockburns do feature in the movie though. But King Billy is actually on this hill if i remember correctly. That hill possibly saved my and a few others lives once when we were disorientated and lost a track in the middle of the night while searching for a mate who was stuck. Long story but yeah, that hill was our saviour as i knew that if we headed for it we would find the Ord river and then i could get us back on track. Just as we we found the river, a search plane flew over head.

And also the Killing tree is now long gone. Floods washed it away about 6 years ago, what was once a very popular camping spot is now totally transformed.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 08:04

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 08:04
Oh well Thats stuffed it all for us then. We were happy to know that we had been "there"

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Follow Up By: Member - Rob Mac (QLD) - Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 22:27

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 22:27
Hi Muntoo, I think it is called House Roof Hill and this is how it looked around 1963 from Harts Crossing
Cheers
Rob Mac
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Follow Up By: Muntoo - Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 23:12

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 at 23:12
Awesome Rob, thats House Roof hill alright.

I have never heard of Harts crossing before, only Carlton crossing. Anyways you have got some great photos of the country up that way i have noticed. Do you have a gallery online to view?
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 07:22

Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 07:22
Is this Harts Crossing? Just west of Kununurra and south of House Roof Hill.

Don't know about swimming there though! A bit of local "familiarity leads to contempt" for the bities. We saw heaps of crocs in the Ord on a trip down from the dam. Makes me shudder.

Phil

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Follow Up By: Muntoo - Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 13:47

Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 13:47
Thats Carlton crossing. But it could of been known as Harts crossing also. That is the exact position of the photo, right on the bend of the Ord, at the turn off to Dustys yards and the bend of the ord bore. This is where ''Hairys Dogs'' Ultimate adventures fishing camp is located also. Have seen quite a few outboard skegs and props that have met Carlton crossing whilst at speed.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rob Mac (QLD) - Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 19:15

Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 19:15
Hi Muntoo, I dont have an online presence I just have Dad's slides from when he went to Wyn in 49. I have this recollection that Harts Crossing was different to Carlton Crossing but cannot remember exactly. The last time I went across Carlton Crossing was about August 1973 with Dad taking some stores out to Carlton Stn then into Kununurra to load up some fuel for Legune. We were in his KGL Bedford that was on its first run with the Hendrickson lazy axle replaced with a bogy drive.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Rob Mac (QLD) - Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 22:57

Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 at 22:57
Hi Phil, I couldnt reply to you earlier when replying to Muntoo as I was on my Netbook downstairs ready to watch Origin and the photo I wanted was not on it. The swimming there was not too much of a problem those days (60's) as the croc's were pretty much shot out and the crossings were shingle banks and not too deep, not like in 51 at the tennis club picnics when they had a look out with a 303.
Dad was telling me that Tex would brace the pool with a full magazine and then stand watch with a full mag and one up the spout apparently the concussion in the water would scare the croc's off and every now and then the swimmers would hear a boom overhead as he shot at an approaching croc to scare it off.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 07:44

Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 07:44
I can believe that. I wonder which was better. It was a different way of life hey!!!

Just imagine trying that now. You would be inundated with greenies and OH&S people. Not to mention workplace (or whatever) and the lawyers chasing the ambulances.

(Note that my wife works in a legal firm and this is a tongue in cheek comment. Most lawyers are fine as in any other line of work).

I think I will give the swimming a miss. Okay.

Cheers

Phil
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