The Kimberley - Around the Karunjie Track to El Questro

Friday, Jul 14, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Friday 14th July
El Questro (again!) via the Karunjie Track

Well the day of departure has arrived. The big trip commences. In anticipation we were out of bed a fraction before 6.00 a.m. (there were no complaints at all!), bacon and eggs, the last of the trailer packing and the dismantling of our two week old chalet, a bit of creative packing within the freezer (had to fit in the bacon and last nights rissoles (darl). Then it was time for a chat with Harold until I could take my leave. Then we managed to get the trailer down to the office and lodge it. Said farewell to our little Kona family and wished Bob all the best for his future in the top end. Town – Hans the plumber for a plug for the water cylinder, supermarket for a last few minute things, camping store for a look, post office for some envelopes, tyre place for advice on the Coopers tyre pressures, (40 lb mate, nothin’ less". Hmmm we'll see about that). Autopro for the siphon and then we were off and away. All done by 8 minutes past 9:00 a.m. The adventure begins.

We headed out to the Kununurra dam wall for first photos and were quite taken by a bloke’s large trailer, or mobile kitchen would be more apt, then off to Wyndham (again). Took in the grotto and walked down to its shaded pool. Then it was on to Wyndham where the giant croc was photographed and Johnno got his first taste of the plight of the local indigenous people. Morning tea was taken at the 5 rivers lookout and then we headed back to the King River Road. Moving west, we wound our way around the extremities of the mud flats that surrounded Wyndham, Visited the Dam and the aboriginal art site situated beside the track in. It was very disappointing to say the least. It was only a few kilometres to the Prison Boab which was duly photographed. As it was just 12 noon we decided to push on towards the Pentecost before taking lunch. The Karunjie Track traverses the plains underneath the Cockburn Ranges and their spectacular multi-tiered escarpments. The flats themselves were a sterile, flat expanse that was impressive due simply to its sense of desolation and isolation. In perhaps an omen of things to come, we had to stop and tighten the areal assembly while traversing it.

Just when the mangroves of the lower Pentecost were visible, the road would veer inland over low hills and into the true cattle country. The bull dust was incredible and John’s first introduction to the all-pervading powder was indeed impressive. Bloody hell it was deep! At some stages the track had four or five options, all of them as bad as each other and consisting of bull-dust 50 cm deep.

We had lunch by the Pentecost with the ranges behind us and after a bit more tough stuff and dust, hit the Gibb River Rd right on the Pentacost crossing. I turned right and headed west up the hills on the other side to the viewing area so John could get a good impression of the surrounding country. He was impressed. From there it was back down the road to the east and into El Questro (again!). Fairly full here this time but it is Friday and happy hour was on. Buddy was in his normal seat holding court once again and looking resplendent in a blue cravat and new white hat. We cooked dinner this time (rissoles darl) and are sitting here surrounded by an incredible number of grey nomads enjoying the northern travel season. It’s been a day of first impressions, of cattle, dust, magnificent ranges, deep waters, crocodiles and creeks. Visually and sensor-ally spectacular.

Our first camp set up went reasonably painlessly. Everything seems to come together OK and we’ll only get better….hopefully!
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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