Our Kimberley trip

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 at 16:36

Member - Lance S (VIC)

Kimberley ’09



Our trip started with excitement as we left home at 3.30am Friday morning for our 8 week trip up to the Kimberley. After 3 nights we were at Alice Springs ready to tackle the Tanami Track. After getting mixed reports about the Tanami it was surprisingly good. Our first night camp was at Ranahan Bore, a quiet little spot behind a rest area. We then headed off to Wolfe Creek Crater. After taking 50 minutes to do 20kms, the road was terrible, we eventually arrived at the crater and decided to pick a site which wasn’t hard as there was only one other camper, a 21ft on-road caravan. It must of took him 2 hours to nurse that baby in. After setting up the couple from the caravan came over and were relieved that we were staying the night as his wife was petrified about camping alone. Hence we hadn’t seen the movie for that reason. Most people did a day trip to see the crater. We spent about an hour or so looking and walking around the crater and also caught up with a fellow EO member.
Next morning we headed off to Halls Creek for a couple of nights to catch up on some washing and so the kids could have a swim. Next day we went out to Palm Springs, a beautiful warm water hole that we all enjoyed.




We then headed for Purnululu National Park. The 50km road into the park took us about 2 hours. We stayed at Kurrujong campsite which has drop toilets. The following day, we got up early and walked into Cathedral Gorge which was absolutely magnificent and then walked into Echidna Chasm. We arrived about 20 past 12 and just missed the sun beaming between the middle of the chasm. We took a million photos of the beehive domes as you walk in and out of the gorges. It is just something you must see in person to get the real effect of how big and beautiful they are. That night we went up the track to Kungakalahsiyi lookout for the sunset. We grabbed some drinks and nibbles and plonked ourselves up on the hill for a fantastic sunset and thinking this is only the start of our sunsets.
Next morning we drove to Fitzroy Crossing, staying at the river lodge, and then doing the Geikie Gorge boat tour the next day. This was our first look at the freshies and this magnificent gorge and how much water comes into the gorge during the wet season. My god there is a lot of water when you look the different colors of the cliff.




Broome was next on our list. This was our longest stay so far - 4 nights. We stayed at Broome CP where the sites were the biggest I had seen in a park for a long time and it also had an enormous pool for the kids. While in Broome we went to Malcolm Douglas Wilderness Park which was very interesting, walked the main street, bought souvenirs for the kids and did the sunset on Cable Beach while watching the camel rides. Up to this stage this was the best sunset I had ever seen, we don’t get sunsets like that in Melbourne. Lucky enough we were also there for the staircase to the moon. This was packed but as my camera wasn’t top of the range camera, I had trouble getting that perfect shot, but my wife got it all on video. Watching the moon come up like the sun was just freakish and brilliant.
After 4 nights in Broome we were on our way to Middle Lagoon where my young bloke was keen to do some fishing. 3 nights at M/L were nice and relaxing, swimming in a beautiful lagoon and fishing. We caught a number of Mangrove Jacks and other fish and my daughters did some shell collecting and again there were magnificent sunsets. Next day we went off to the Whale Song Café, which we expecting a little run down place but to our surprise it was a great little café with the best smoothies ever.
After 3 nights of relaxing we headed up to Cape Leveque for another 3 nights of relaxing. C/L has a beautiful coastline of sand and rock for great photos at sunset and when you walk to the other side, there are great photos of the sunrise. While there we drove back to Lombadina for our freshly cooked bread, as all bread in the area is frozen. The lady running the general store is from Fitzroy in Melbourne so we had a good catch about all things about Melbourne. We then drove up to One Arm Point which has a very large IGA store for shopping and went to the fish/shell hatchery where the girls had a trochus shell buffed up.
On our way back to camp we stopped off at a boat launch and had a great feed of fresh oysters off the rocks.
Time to move on again, heading for Derby for restocking of the fridge etc. for our trip up the Gibb River Road.

The start of GRR, this is what it is all about, can’t wait………………





First stop is Windjana Gorge for 2 nights. We arrived about 11.00am, set up camp and drove 30 odd kms to Tunnel Creek. The kids loved it as in some areas it was pitch black when we turned the torches off. Water was only about a little higher than ankle deep, but if you wanted deeper water there was heaps. My young bloke wanted to walk through deeper water. Next day was the walk into Windjana where in the first 30 minutes is where you see all the freshies and great scenery. We walked about 90 minutes and turned back as the path/vegetation was getting harder to walk through. While at Windjana we heard that Mt. Hart was now open for camping and we decided to go there. It is a 50km drive from the gibb and the road was in excellent condition. We went for a swim to Barber pool which was a great spot to have lunch and freshen up with a swim. That night we went to the restaurant for dinner, and what a feed. It was a banquet with entrée, main and desert for $50 each adult and half price for the kids. Next day was some 4wdriving to yellowman gorge, Matthew gorge, Annies gorge and a very big boab tree. Got the camp oven out, had dinner and kids made some apricot damper which was very nice.
Left Mt. Hart next morning and stopped at Leonard gorge for morning smoko on our way to Silent Grove campground or should I say NOT so silent grove. We arrived about 1pm. There were heaps of spots. We went and spent the afternoon at Bell Gorge for a swim ( one of the best gorges in the Kimberley) and when we arrived back at camp there were people everywhere. I have never had people so close to me in my entire life, they were virtually on top of you. It’s amazing the night before we were told that it was practically empty, oh well it happens.

Left S/G early and stopped in at the Imintji store for a cuppa and kangaroo pies - very nice. We were then on our way to Charnley River Homestead. This was one of my favourite, if not favourite place to camp and rest. We arrived, set up and drove about 20 minutes to a place called Donkey Pool which was about the size of an Olympic pool. We spent the afternoon there which was great as we had it to ourselves. Next day we drove to Dillie gorge which is about an hours drive from camp. Again we had it to ourselves. There were 2 canoes and you had to hire the oars from the homestead. They said that the water goes for a good 2 kms. We spent most the day there, drove back for a nice hot shower. There was also beautiful wildlife around Charnley.



Leaving CRH next morning, we stopped in at Adcock and Galvan gorges for a swim. Then onto Mt Barnett Road House and Manning Gorge for 2 more nights. We were looking forward to Manning because of putting our valuables in a polystyrene box to get from one side of the river to the other side. It is a good hour or so walk to the gorge including some mountain goat stuff, but hey the walk was well worth it.
Next morning we were off to Drysdale Station. We got there about 11am and had lunch. The young bloke and I order the monster Kimberley Burger and the girls go for the smaller version. Man did that fill a hole. Road into Drysdale from the gibb was pretty ordinary, good in spots but overall very rough corrugations. We head off to King Edward campground, most crossings were all filled with pebbles, especially KE river crossing, it was only about ankle deep. When we arrived the 110lt Waeco wasn’t working as we had gone over some of worst corrugations so far. After 2 and half hours of trying to find out what the cause was and where, I eventually got it going with replacing some wiring and fuse holder. Next day we had a relaxing day swimming in the river, great camp fires and damper. The following day we headed to Mitchell Falls, leaving at 6am in the morning. The road had just been graded. We got so much feed back before we headed to Drysdale and everyone was saying the same….. too rough, damage to springs, shocks, things falling apart etc etc. Sure the road was rough, but if you want to drive it in an hour or so, what would you expect. People passed us all the time, but hey I wasn’t in a hurry. Anyway, it took us just over 2 hours from KE. Did the walk that took us about 2 hours, spent a good 3 hours up there


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swimming and taking some fantastic photos of this magnificent area. We shouted ourselves a helicopter flight back from the top back to car park. It was worth every cent. Fortunately I had to sit in the from to balance up the weight as the kids and my wife sat in the back with no doors. Did the girls scream when he did his first figure 8.

Leaving KE, we headed for Home Valley, stopping in at Ellenbrae Station for there famous scones, jam and cream and yep they were yummy. We stayed at HV for 2 nights and to see green grass was great. They have an enormous bar/restaurant and there is free entertainment every night with didgeridoo and guitar playing. Very relaxing.
Next stop is El Questro. We camped at the main campground, but definitely we will camp at one of the private campgrounds beside the Penticost river next time. Saturday night was a blast with whip cracking and another guitarist. Next day was spent at Zebedee Springs and walking to Emma Gorge. A nice walk and a beautiful gorge that was freezing cold, but I went in anyway. There was only 3 of us who swam out of about 20 that were there.

After EQ we drove to Kununurra. While there we saw Lake Argyle, the Ord river dam and the museum. The lady at the information centre told us a lookout that is definitely 4wd only, and it was quite steep but the drive was worth it. It was the best lookout around Lake Argyle.
Now we are on our way to Darwin, spending at night in Katherine then the following morning we went to Edith Falls which is just outside Katherine. We had a swim and saw another beautiful water fall. I never got sick of the gorges as they were all different.
We hit Darwin early afternoon, set up and relaxed. While there we looked at buying some property in Cullen Bay LOL, I couldn’t afford the jetty let alone the houses and the runabouts they had parked out the front. But still it is a very nice place, visited the wharf and had lunch, and walked around Darwin city. The following 3 days went like this…….




Did the jumping crocs on the Adelaide River in the big tinnie. Geez some of those crocs were 5 – 5.5m long, they were big boys, kids loved it.
We did a day trip to Litchfield National Park leaving at 6am, going to Florence Falls, Buley rockhole and Wangi Falls to name a few. All were excellent to swim and relax. Wangi was packed with buses everywhere. Lucky enough we got out just before all the buses turned up at lunch so we headed for Walker Creek for lunch.
Taking the dirt back road to Darwin we headed for Berry Springs, drove into the carpark and a sign reading “ if you can’t get a car spot, we are full so come back another time”. It was Sunday and the carpark was full of NT number plates, obviously a popular spot for locals.
We went to the Mindil market on Sunday for a feed and to buy some goodies. It was another great sunset which was also packed.
We did the museum/art gallery thing and the last night we splurged out and went on the sunset dinner cruise sailing Darwin harbour. Another beautiful night with calm seas and great food including oysters, prawns, barramundi, steak and different kinds of salads.



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Now our 8 week trip was over, just the quick drive home down the middle but this was a trip of a lifetime for my wife, I and our 3 kids.
Everything we saw and did lived up to our expectations and more. This was our first trip up there and I can say it is definitely not our last.

Cheers,

Lance



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