North Kimberley Day 31 - Gibb River to Manning Gorge

Sunday, Jul 22, 2001 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Day 31 - Sunday 22/7/01
Start - Gibb River
Stop - Manning Gorge
Trip Odometer - 127.8km
Stopped time - 1.35hrs
Moving average - 54.8km/hr
Moving time - 32.5km/hr
Max speed - 3.56hrs

It was hard to tear ourselves away from such a beautiful river camp but the Jacka’s are already way behind schedule and unlike us, everyday of travel in the Kimberly is another day further from home. As Colin had hoped, the graded had indeed been ahead of us so the 82.2km to the turnoff to Barnett River Gorge wasn’t too hard (although he did remain under 70km/hr and we made it to the Gorge about ½ hour before him). It has been fascinating to see this part of the Kimberley in another season – this time with much more water around. The turnoff to Barnett River Gorge is marked 3km, however there are quite a few tracks, mostly winding, and no more signs to indicate which to take. If you are using digital mapping software, you will see the Barnett River runs pretty much parallel to the GRR. The gorge itself is to the right. You pass a number of bays where either lunch stops or overnight camps are possible but you can’t miss the gorge itself if you continue sticking to the right. The track continues through a short, sharp and rocky dip (no water) and then solid rock plateau where you can choose to either drive the final 200m over the rocks (turn hard left after the dip) to a big boab and the start of the gorge walk or stop at the start of the rocks and walk from there.

We drove and parked in the shade of the boab, but the Jacka’s had to park their “bucking bronco” on the rocks as it was too rough for a car with no front shocks.

The walk from the boab is marked with stone cairns but there are a couple of options for heading down the cliff to the water below. Keep an eye out on the left for the first set of markers as this will bring you to the better swimming section of the gorge with sandy beaches and clear deep pools. I continued following the cairns further up the gorge and once down the cliff I was able to walk along the sandy shore back to where the rest of our party were already swimming (no - I wasn’t lost… just exploring!).

The walk and swim took some time so we skipped lunch and headed straight to Manning Gorge – terrified that there might still be hundreds of people there! Rumour has it that 2 weeks ago there were 350 people camped here!

It was a late arrival and there certainly were a lot of campers but not quite as bad as we had feared – just 78 campers! Again, how different we found it travelling earlier in the dry. We were last here in the month of October and been the only campers which meant we could take poll position under the 2 enormous boab trees nearest to the swimming hole. We think next time we will try coming as early in the dry as possible and just contend (enjoy?) the wet conditions as the trade off for a bit of solitude.

Watching the tour groups here we have commented to one another that it must be very disappointing to be an international tourist coming to the “remote Kimberly” and paying thousands of dollars for the experience of a lifetime to be shared with hundreds of other tourists. Sounding cynical? Yes and I’m probably to blame with 20,000 people reading our website each month. I think from now on we may need to keep a few places “secret”.

Camping permits here are $5.50 per person/per night. We would love to stay a few days – and there’d be plenty to do but it’s not the same with so many other people around. Other than a sunset swim in the main pool we didn’t do any other exploring, keeping the main walk for tomorrow.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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