Kimberley Day 90 - Gibb River Road

Tuesday, Oct 20, 1998 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Today was exciting.

Around 8am we left our trailer at the Silent Grove camp and drove the 10km into Bell Gorge. Here, we walked for one km down a steep, loose and rocky hill before following a small creek on our right.

Finally, the gorge opened up before us - we were at rockpools above a large, running waterfall. This was definitely the best of the gorges we had seen so far on the Gibb River Road trip. The track continued over the rocksteps and up and over the steep rocky mountain and dropped down into the pool below the waterfall.

David went ahead while Mark, Sharon and I cooled off in the rockpools. After a while David called out for us to come down - it was an "easy track". Mark went first and then I went alone 15 minutes later. Sharon stayed at the top. I followed the cairns the whole way but as I neared the bottom of the trail I feared I would never get back up. I also realised I had come too far down the gorge. In desperation, I called out but David could not hear me over the sound of the waterfall. I attempted to climb and swim back up the gorge but it was beyond my ability. Finally, I realised I'd have to climb back up the loose rubble and try to pick my way through to the upper gorge. I was crying when 1/2 hour later I found my way to where David and Mark were swimming. They were just about to leave, no idea I'd come down, so I got myself wet, and then we started the trek back up. Of course, there was a much simpler route and within minutes, we were back at the top.

After our morning exercise, we had showers back at camp and then drove to our next destination - Windjana Gorge.

Windjana Gorge
The drive through the King Leopold Range was spectacular and we stopped many times to take photos. It was still the heat of the day when we arrived at Windjana so we stopped just to have lunch and then continued to Tunnel Creek. This was the most popular attraction we'd seen along the entire Gibb River Road drawing 20 odd cars into the carpark. Wearing only cossies, and armed with our torches, we entered a huge cavern which meandered for 750m - in places sand, in places waist deep water which we waded through to get to the other opening in the tunnel.

When we left Tunnel Creek to make our camp back at Windjana, a series of fires on both sides of the road were increasing in intensity but appeared to be purpose lit and caused us no concern.




However, just before we ate our evening meals (seafood & pasta in a creamy pesto sauce), around 7pm, we saw a front of flames about 1km long and only 1km away. The wind kept changing directions and the whole camp ground began to feel a little nervous. A few cars drove out to the main road to investigate until the fire cut off the road. The ranger evacuated his home and began single handedly fighting the fire between ducking back to the camp ground to advise the campers of our options. We watched the front for hours as it steadily approached to within 300m of us until a storm came and put it out.

David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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