Burton's Perth to Cape York - Home Valley to Barnett River Gorge 1 July 2012 Day 93

Friday, Aug 03, 2012 at 20:27

Mike & Amanda


We were not unhappy at leaving Home Valley. The crowding, perpetual banging of toilet and shower doors, the cold water etc etc meant it was time to hit the road. There is that buried kernel of excitement that always burst forth when you head out to a new destination. Half the time you really want to sit in one place for a few days, rest up, relax but there is that devil on the other shoulder, always pushing to move on, visit new places…ying and yang I suppose, always part of the natural balance. As one wise philosopher put it, it is the human condition to never be satisfied. So, for whatever reason, this morning’s pack up was quick and efficient. You know, one of those occasions where everything goes right, the jobs are done in the right sequence, no issues arise and nothing seems too hard – one of those rare one’s where suddenly everything is packed, trailer lights are checked, everything works and we are ready to roll, everyone is happy….We often leave the wash bags and a towel out, so the very last job is a quick shower. This is essential if you’ve been on the road a while and have visited the real outback on proper dirt tracks. Everything is coated in dust or mud, so the new clothes put on this morning are always stained red after pack up, the sweat always seems to soak through. That final quick shower always solve3s this, leaving you ready and clean to tackle the next bit of dirt. I often wonder how some of the grey nomads keep their gear so clean? I’ve watched them first thing in the morning either wiping the dew off their Junko or worse, gasp…washing van and car! Don’t they know that there are water restrictions! It took us ages to get the car this dirty….come on….we want bragging rights! Although, there are times, when a clean rig would make life so easy. It is a pain when everytime we lift the lid on the IP44 electrical socket half of the Simpson Desert drops out….The rear door of the Cruiser in front of the seals lives kilograms of the Gunbarrel Highway dust!

The Gibb River Road at this point was surprisingly smooth – much better than the El Questro end anyway! We were lucky (driving to conditions of course!) to average 70-80kph, heading to our next destination, the Barnett River Gorge. This is one of the few real free bush camps on the Gibb with our last stay being very enjoyable away from the madding crowds. We did encounter a few oxygen thieves with camper trailers travelling at breakneck speed, throwing enormous amounts of dust and rocks and quite often they wouldn’t allow any time or distance before pulling directly in front. This would effectively blind us immediately causing us to slam on the brakes! One colossal bang and we thought “Oh no! There goes the windscreen!”, only to find it in still there in one piece. Later investigation found a gouge in our stupid moon roof (we never wanted one!) where a large rock had collided. Conversely we did encounter a vast migration of caravans – plenty of Trakmasters (respectfully off-road), an unknown, Crusader X-Country and tonnes of the mass marketed Junkos (oops, I mean respectfully Jaycos…LOL). All of these were inevitably travelling at a frustrating 30kph, meaning for a short time we became the oxygen thieves previously mentioned….tut tut. Caravans on the Gibb! What is the world coming too? With the increasing black top, the days of 4WD and camper trailer domination are over, indeed the days of remote adventure are disappearing….the Canning Stock Route here we come (boo hoo).

It was about 250km to the Barnett River Gorge turn off. We passed a number of jump ups, most now bitumised. Rollies Jump-up was a steep climb with twisting bends and was by far the most spectacular. A jump-up is a bush term for a sudden rise or drop, a steep climb or descent, like a range of hills or a creek. The Durack River crossing was quite steep and wet but very enjoyable! The turn off to Drysdale, Mitchell Falls and Kulumburu brought with it a few pangs as we fondly recollected our last trip up that way. We weren’t heading up there this trip, thinking that one visit up that Mitchell Falls track would be enough in this lifetime LOL. The T junction was extremely busy though with four wheel drives everywhere! It was a reminder that we had been on the road for just over three months and peak tourist season was upon us! And….the real red dirt was back!

We hit the entry sign to Barnett Gorge just after noon, encountering a couple of large vans that looked like they were exiting with their tails between their legs. This certainly is not a track for caravans! The tracks split and entwine back and forth and at time the correct direction is very confusing. The Priceless Bible suggested we always take the right fork. Memories came back but obviously flawed as we couldn’t find our camp from the last visit. I think last time we got lost anyway and just by chance ended up at the river. This time we carefully followed Jan’s instructions and arrived at the creek crossing car park, unfortunately full of 4WD and one very large four wheel drive tour bus! Amusingly (?) we passed some sort of semi permanent donger structure with a very prominent sign – “Private Property – Trespassers Will Be Shot!” – Needless to say we didn’t go that way! Soon the tour bus took off leaving a fantastic private turning circle that would make an ideal camp site. We all moved in en masse and soon had our comfortable site set up. This was beside the Barnett River which at this point wasn’t much more than a small stream. The bush was quite lush, tall eucalypts and boabs, plenty of birds and all-round very nice. We explored some of the human made tracks around disappointed at the amount of toilet paper just left lying around. Jeff the wood-whisperer did his magic and returned with some huge old deadfalls that would keep us going most of the night.

Most of the tourists had disappeared, leaving just us and some noisy backpackers who obviously would be staying the night. The track crossed the stream over quite a rough rocky bed and veered left, again over large rocks towards the main river. We followed this on foot noticing scrape marks from vehicles that didn’t quite have the clearance. About 20 minutes later over open ground, mostly sandy and previously burned out we reached the first accessible part of the river. There were lovely small rapids and pools surrounded by panadanus and other plants. Colourful blue and bottle green dragonflies skitted over the pools, the whole area looking very inviting in the afternoon warmth. We continued further up the gorge looking for the main river, wandering through the sand with tall red cliffs to our right. We could soon go no further and had obviously missed the right access and would have to climb over the cliffs. We decided to return to the first pools and enjoyed and hour or so playing in the water – boy was it cold!

A fantastic wine o’clock was spent around the fire, us gasbagging and enjoying the solitude of this lovely bush camp.

The 3km track in is quite rough with the gorges themselves not that spectacular as far as Kimberley gorges go, however it’s a wonderful spot for an isolated bush camp and a quiet swim.
Mike & Amanda
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