Aussie Adventures 2018 Pt 4

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 12:14

Member - Muncey 72

After getting all the repairs done we spent the last night in Broome at the speedway which was a really good night. Half price entry if staying at the caravan park, food was cheap and the drinks. There were approx. 4 different types of categories racing and they were all very fast and loud, the boys loved it. Met a lovely family whilst staying Broome from Gippsland traveling with their 2 young daughters hopefully we catch them again when doing the Gibb River Road. Glad to finally leave Broome and hopefully the bad fortune behind us, we are packed, stocked up and on the road by 8am and heading to Birdwood downs station. We stop in Derby for fuel as a thunderstorm passes over and we bump into the aboriginal lady and her partner that we met at Gnylmurrung retreat. After a chat and an ice cream we head to the start of the Gibb River Road, quick photo at the sign and check that all roads are open and we get to Birdwood Downs in time for nibbles and beer. Birdwood Downs is a lovely quiet spot with an abundance of bird life, we get talking to a girl working there who actually comes from in the same town as us and her Mum taught our kids at Primary School….Big country small world.
We are on the road again by 8am and before we hit the gravel we let all the tires down to 30psi. Up ahead we notice two vehicles pulled over so we stop to see if everything is ok. An aboriginal family in a Falcon Sedan with flat tyre and a land cruiser are milling around and ask if we have a compressor when I say yes its actions stations. Whilst I am pumping up there trye they are loading all there gear back into the Falcon. Its windscreen is smashed and the fan/radiator is outside the vehicle? Once we get them on there way, Maz tells me the elder was telling her they got a flat last night and walked back to town and when they came out this morning in the Landcruiser to fix the flat the windscreen was smashed and the fan/radiator removed! Windjana Gorge National Park is our stop today and we arrive before lunch so we set up and have some wraps for lunch before walking into the gorge. There is a fair amount of water in the gorge so did not seem as many crocs about. The area is so old, 360 Million years ago the experts believe this was part of the Devonian Reef and was 2 kms below sea level. When we get back to camp there are only a handful of people set up and finally the Mozzies have not followed us. Made a change sitting out tonight playing Uno and looking at the stars above, this is what it’s about.
After leaving Windjana we see quite a few large Bungarras and Bustards on the road not to mention all the cattle. The road is very smooth at the moment we are averaging about 75 to 80 kms an hour and not to much traffic but heaps of dust. Even though they have had a fair amount of rain this wet season it still looks very dry. We stop for a few photos on the way to silent Grove camp ground and get our first taste of the river crossings, the biggest and deepest on the way into the camp ground. We set up and get organized for the trek into Bells Gorge, it’s a 10km drive from the camp ground to the gorge car park and then a 25 min walk to the top of the falls. It looks awesome as has plenty of water flowing, we climb down to the main pool and share the whole area with one other family. The water is cool but not cold its perfect. The boys spend the next hour jumping from different ledges into the water, while the rest of us lay on the rocks soaking up the last of the sun rays. The camp ground has had a bit of a revamp with new toilets put in and the showers have also be upgraded. Caretaker Greg is more than happy to help and is on to it.
Today we made the choice to go up to Charnley River Station even though on the gate on a tiny sign it said “Closed for wet season”. Now technically its not the wet season so we drive the 42kms to the homestead which is very slow going 90 mins to be precise only to be told they are in fact still closed. The shire has not passed the road fit for use yet! Oh well we have a cuppa at the large machinery shed and whilst enjoying the timtams a small chopper lands 30 meters from us. A guy hops out and heads for us, waiting for a spray I am pleasantly surprised when Chris(we later find out)greets us and proceeds to tells us all about the area and how he is getting it ready for Sir David Attenbrough and his team to visit. On our way back down the track we meet a Swiss Guy(Laurent) who also miss read the sign, we turn him around and we follow each other back out onto the Gibb. We get fuel at Mt Barnett road house and leave a kidney as payment….$2:05 for diesel. We book into the camp ground for 2 nights, set up and have a swim at the water hole at the base of the camp ground. It’s a great spot here, beautiful clear running water surrounded by lush bush. Laurent turns up and camps beside us and joins us for tea and stories around the camp fire (Russell Coight Style). We are up and taking the small boat across the lower swimming hole at 8am, its approx. 1hr to the main water fall and its definitely worth the walk. Your first view of the falls as you climb down into the gorge is a moment you will not forget, as you descend there is some Rock Art on your left. We get down to the falls, dump the back packs and launch into the water. Amazing, again we are only sharing this place with a few others. We spend 3 hrs here, swimming, jumping, bombing (5meters high) and lounging on the rocks. I love this place. Even though a fire has recently gone through here its still a lovely walk in and out of the Gorge. We get back to camp get the camp fire going and Maz cook’s scones for afternoon tea with jam and cream…pure indulgence. I cook up a beef stew with jacket potatoes over the fire for tea which goes down a treat, we sit around talking with Laurent about Switzerland and traveling. The kids tell Laurent to goggle Russell Coight and Ceasero (Swiss Wrestler) when able to get service.
We said our goodbyes to Laurent as he was heading up to Mitchell Falls and us to Ellenbrae Station. He presented us with a Knife which was made in Switzerland, very thoughtful. We’re off again and still the road is in pretty good condition there are some corrugations but only short stretches of them. We stop at the road side stop turn off to Drysdale and all drop off the stew we had last night. Lucky or unluckily the Parks/wildlife vehicle turns up to service and clean the abultions, great timing for us maybe not for him. Got to Ellenbrae and set up and went for a swim at the two watering holes nice to cool off after the 180km dusty drive. Ellenbrae is only 5kms off the main road and is well known for its fresh homemade scones. Its nice and green here and has only been open since the 26th April, lots of old photos and lovely people running the place. Only $25 to stay tonight as they are doing up the campground. We have our fill of scones, jam and cream and kids playing with the resident puppy Evie. We get a good fire going and enjoy the brand-new donkey showers and flushing toilets. We spend the night telling stories about our childhoods to the kids. The stars are so bright out here. We go to bed listening to a group of German backpackers watching Crocodile Dundee, must get that movie and watch it with the kids whilst on the road. Its good Ya!
We leave Ellenbrae after greasing up the tow hitch and getting another round of scones for the trip we only get 25mins up the road to the Durack river crossing before the scones are eaten for morning tea. The kids scramble across rocks to the other side of the river crossing and film us driving across, probably only ½ metre deep but 50 metres wide. Any crossing is fun and it gets the heart pumping. Spoke to a couple heading in the opposite direction who said a river crossing in Elquestro was up to the door handles, looking forward to that one. We arrive at Home valley Station and are greeted by lush green camping areas and beautiful Boab trees. We book for 2 nights unpowered at a cost of $102. Home Valley has only been open a week so not many tours are up and running yet. After setting up and doing the daily car/camper checks I notice the treg hitch poly block on the camper is cracked and not in good shape, oh dear another casualty of the trip. We decide to go to Kununarra from here and get it fixed and then come back to Elquestro. There’s only about 105kms to Kununarra 60kms of it dirt. We have a swim in the lovely swimming pool and catch up on the dairies and washing. We watch the Dockers beat St Kilda at the bar in the evening after watching the sunset at the lookout.
We do the 90-minute return walk up to the Mt Baldy lookout first thing the next day and catch up on some texts as you can get some phone coverage. The views of the ranges and the Pentecost river are pretty cool. We spend the rest of the day spoiling Maz as its mother’s day and lounging around the pool. We have dinner at Dustys Bar and it is very nice indeed.
We get all packed up after breakfast and head off for Kununurra, on the way we cross the mighty Pentecost river. It’s a long crossing but not to deep, we take a German lady across and Alex goes in her car with her husband so we can both get photos of the crossing. After doing the last of the dirt we are back on the bitumen right outside the entrance to El Questro. The views along the road are amazing and we stop for a few photos before getting into Kununurra and booking into the Kimberleyland Waterfront Park. Before setting up we take the Camper to Metaland and get a new hitch organized. It works out quicker to buy a whole new set up rather than wait potentially 5 days for just a new block to be sent up from Perth, as the Ord River Muster is on all freight is being bumped in favour of gear for the muster. We head back to the Caravan park set up and the kids hit the pool while I remove the old hitch and bolt up the new one. We do a food shop in town and the kids get a couple of new dvd’s for viewing later. We spend the next day having a look around town, driving across the Ivanhoe crossing and going up to Kellys Knob lookout. Whilst driving around some of the massive farms within the Ord irrigation area we stop and have a chat to a couple who are picking what turns out to be Paw paw. Lovely people who proceed to tell us all about the Paw Paw and what life is like living up here. We have a look around at the park outside the caravan park which is called celebrity park, many of the trees plated here were planted by famous people and dignitaries. The caravan park is very nice and clean, lovely people and heaps of gardeners cleaning, weeding and getting ready for the season ahead, would definitely stay her again.
After giving the car a clean inside and out we fill up with fuel at the bargain price of $1:39 and head back out to El Questro again the drive out is awesome and after the bitumen we turn off on to the dirt for the 16kms drive in. We arrive after a couple of water crossing and set up for 3 nights in a powered site for $360:00, this includes our permit which is per person and not per vehicle. In the arvo we go on the Chamberlain River Cruise which was really good. We see these Archer who spit water at you and they are a very good shot, many people getting hit in the eye and face. The guide also feeds this huge Barra not before getting stung by the spines of a Catfish though. Great cruise and very informative. After the cruise we head up to the Pigeon Hole lookout for sunset, very steep track but worth it, the views were amazing. Up early and we are at Zebedee springs by 8am. The springs are a constant 32-34 degrees and in totally natural surroundings basically as it was when it was first discovered. We then drive further down the track and head off on the hike into Amalia Gorge. It’s a grade 4 hike and 3.4kms return, the terrain is rocky and the plants lush. At the end we are rewarded by a beautiful waterfall approx. 20 meters high but decide not to go for a swim due to Crocs being seen at the waterhole (freshies but a croc is a croc). The rest of the afternoon we spend watching all of the bike riders arrive as they complete the Gibb River Cycle Challenge an amazing effort in the dusty conditions. After tea we follow the noise to the bar as all the riders are grooving away to a local band “Road Worx” a very entertaining end to the day.
We head off this morning and drive to El Questro Gorge, on the way is the deep 1/2metre deep by 50 metres wide crossing which we do without any problems or screams from the car. The walk into the gorge is in 2 parts with the first 1km a grade 4 walk until the “half way pool’ from then its grade 5 rock/boulder hopping up to the waterfall at the end. The walk is quite technical in places where you have to help each other over huge rocks and up rock ledges. Awesome scenery all the way up until the end and its mostly in shade which was a bonus. After having a swim in the waterfall pool at the end, we set off on the return journey passing many people on there way up some only wearing hiking bikinis and some with no shoes! All up the 3.4km return trek takes us 4hrs and it was definitely worth it. After crossing the river again we notice two large Brolga birds as we exit the water, have never seen this type before and they were not in the least concerned by our presence. Back at camp we relax for the arvo catching up on some washing and getting things packed away ready for our departure tomorrow. We also leave all the doors open on the car as some water has leak in at the bottom of each door. El Questro has again lived up to expectations, yes it’s a bit commercialized but it is also still very natural and rugged. The gorges are amazing, the lookouts surreal and the whole experience here is one you will never forget. We have loved doing the Gibb River and could probably turn around and do it again.
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