home  nature photography  living on the road  electronics
        graynomad chronicles  map of our travels  wothahellizat  the GRAYnomad OV  other WORTS  links  about  in the press  faq
                  previous issue (#042)  chronicle #043  next issue (#044)
 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #043

Editorial

For years I've wanted to get into the real Kimberley and now here I are, right up on the Kimberley coast, and very nice it is to.

Technically we have been in the Kimberley before, but it's the Gibb River road and Mitchell Plateau that are the quintessential Kimberley, and we haven't been to these areas until now.

Bradley finally gets to wet a line and drop some crab pots, mostly to no avail, as he follows in the footsteps of every other person I've watched trying to get a feed from the ocean.

Frankly I don't know why people bother, I guess some anglers do actually catch something, but everyone I've seen has just wasted a whole day and a bucket of bait.

Yes I know he caught a fish on the Ord River recently, but he towed that boat, outboard motor, and related paraphernalia all around Australia, got the thing wet twice, and caught one fish.

Still, if that's what presses your buttons then go for it. I don't suppose crawling through the mud trying to get a photo of a mollusc would be considered fun by many people, but I get a big kick out of it.

 

Sat 3 Jun 2006

After some procrastination we finally strike camp and move off, destination the Mitchell Falls campground. It's only about 70k but still a two-hour drive.

As with many national parks you are not allowed to collect firewood within the park. Often this is not made obvious, but in the case of Mitchell Falls there is a "Start of authorised firewood collection zone" sign and an "End of..." sign.

Even though it's still some way to the campground we stop off to pick up some wood. One of the great things about the old-style bull bars is the fact that they stick out a long way from the vehicle. This makes them look pretty damn ugly, but also makes a good spot to carry assorted junk, like firewood.


A few days supply of firewood roped onto the bull bar.

When we get to the campground we are a bit disappointed, it's OK, but not fantastic. And the constant sound of helicopters doesn't help.

You can go for scenic flights here, or just catch a chopper into the falls to save walking.

I'm feeling lazy and not that inclined to walk into the falls, so I get a Slingair Helicopter flight brochure.

When I read that it's a really difficult Class 6 walk, suitable for experienced bushwalkers with navigation and remote first aid skills, I think "Bugger it, I'll go in next time".

I'm no stranger to hard bushwalks, but I just couldn't be bothered.

Sun 4 Jun

After an early morning sortie to the Little Mertens falls we have a lazy day.

These falls are very pleasant and only about 800m from the campground. You can walk behind the cascade, or if it's hot enough, through it. You can safely swim here as well, and many people do. It's not warm enough for me though, I don't get wet until it's well over 30 degrees.


The stream at the top of Little Mertens falls.


Some scenes at the bottom of the falls.


29291


A tick, jumping spider, and green tree ants dismembering a spider.


Frogs on screw palm leaves.

Kevin is not as lazy as me though, and he heads off along the main walk to the Mitchell Falls. He returns and informs us that it's only an hour's walk, and an easy hour at that.

On top of that it's apparently not common for the falls to be flowing, and at present they are running well.

We decide to stay another day and walk in.

Mon 5 Jun

We walk into the falls, leaving at 8AM, and arriving before 9, without raising a sweat. Class 6 walk my arse, still Slingair have to make a living I guess.


Kevin at the top of the Big Mertens Falls.

You have to cross the top of Big Mertens Falls and then wade through some fairly deep water just before Mitchell Falls. At this time of year the water is at crotch height, so be prepared to get a little bit wet. Later in the season I assume it would be much lower, but then the falls would not be flowing very well.

I spend several hours sitting on a ledge overlooking the falls, it's a fantastic spot and I see little reason to go anywhere else.


Mitchell Falls.


Looking behind me into a cave I notice these dragonflies sheltering from the heat.


When I crawl into the cave to retrieve my flash I notice a wasp nest on the roof.

On several occasions the helicopter arrives to pick up and drop off passengers.


You can catch a helicopter into the falls for $75 one way.

Shortly after we return from the falls I'm sorting out my camera gear when I hear WHOOSH, closely followed by "ROB!".

I run around to the other side of the Cruiser to find Chris trying to put out a fire. There's a leak in one of the gas fittings, and it exploded when she lit the stove.

Of course we have a fire extinguisher, everyone has one, but you'll never need it right? It will never happen to you. That's what I used to think as well.

A quick squirt and the fire is out. The extinguisher is also nearly out, they don't last long.

No harm done, we just have to spend half an hour cleaning the powder out of the vehicle. The offending fitting just needs tightening, but the hose is burnt, it still works but I will have to set it in place and test for leaks every time we set up camp as the slightest bend in the hose causes it to spew gas.

Note to self, always carry a spare gas hose for the cooker.

Tue 6 Jun

Today we plan to drive to Port Warrender, it's only about 50k, but reportedly a very rough track.

We leave the Mitchell Falls camp at 8:30, reach the intersection half an hour later, then turn left onto what the sign says is a "Rough and un maintained FWD track".

From here it's only 38k to the campground, and the sign is correct about being rough, it takes us four hours to negotiate the washouts and steep shaley climbs.

Still it is worth it, what a fantastic place. There's only room for a few groups to camp, with two main areas. One is near the toilet and surrounded by tall spear grass. It's airless with no views.

The other is on a huge rocky outcrop, with breezes and fantastic views of the bay.

Guess which one we choose.


Our campsite on the top of a rock outcrop.


The view from our campsite.


Other campers return from fishing.

Wed 7 Jun

Bradley is going to drop the boat into the water today, but first we must repair the trailer hitch he uses to tow it with the quad bike.

He finds some old steel tube, we cut it, then weld a piece to the boat hitch using my battery-powered MIG welder.


We fix Bradley's tow hitch with my 24v MIG welder.

Then he heads off to the end of the track, about a kilometre further on from our camp, where you can access the water. Kevin and I give him a hand to get the boat into the water, then I drive the bike back.


Bradley heads off through the spear grass to launch the boat.


Then I take the quad bike back to camp.


Bradley returns from placing his crab pots.


Chris on dolphin watch.

Thu 8 Jun

We've been noticing a bower bird flying into the nearby bushes. On most trips he's carrying a twig or a shell, so I decide to investigate.

I soon find his bower, but the bird remains elusive. I make it my goal to get some good photos of this bird before we leave.


While in the bushes I notice these green tree ants.


And some skinks in the undergrowth.

After relaxing for the afternoon I head down to the mangroves.




Late afternoon light down in the mangroves.

Fri 9 Jun

I get a few photos of the bower bird.


I finally get a handle on the bower bird's movements.

Then spend some more time prowling along the mud flats. There's an amazing amount of life here and I'm fascinated by the crabs.


Life on the mud flats.

There's been a sea eagle cruising the shore looking for a feed, so I grab a fish frame and throw it out onto the mud flats. The eagle passes several times checking out the remains, then has a go at picking it up.


The eagle makes several flights past then tries to pick up the dead fish.

Unfortunately it's too heavy for it. When the eagle eventually gives up I move back into the mangroves.



A tangled world of mangrove roots.

I wouldn't fancy being shipwrecked on a coast like this and having to fight my way through this tangle.

Sat 10 Jun

Finally I get some good shots of the bower bird, by lying near the bower, dead still, the bird accepts me as part of the scenery, and carries on as per normal.


The birds rearranges its bower.

After some time lying on the sharp shells in the hot sun I'm getting pretty uncomfortable, so decide to go back onto the mud flats.


A baby mud crab and sea snails.


Mudskippers are very cute, but also very wary and difficult to photograph.


A fiddler crab expels a ball of mud from its hole, then sits in the entrance.

Sun 11 Jun

The bower birds is back so I rush down to the bower and get another few good photos of him titivating the nest.


The bower bird working on his house.

Kevin and Bradley try some fishing and check the crab pots. No luck on all fronts I'm afraid. A croc chewed up one of the crab pot buoys, and the tides have been all wrong for fishing.


The lads return from collecting the pots, then Bradley hitches up the boat and brings it back to camp.

And speaking of tides, check out these two shots, both of the same scene at high and low tide.


The bay at high and low tides.

This makes it difficult to tie up a boat because it's mooring point can vary from 200m off shore to 200m on shore. Bradley is constantly re-mooring the boat to keep it with dragging distance of the water.

Naturally, if it gets too far from shore one is not very inclined to wade out into the water and retrieve it, there's to many snappers (crocks) around.

Mon 12 Jun

We leave Port Warrender and drive back towards King Edward River. The first eight kilometres of track is really bad, the next four pretty bad, and from there on it's just plain bad.

At about the 12k mark we reach the top of a hill and can look back at Walsh Point, our home for the past few days.


Views over Port Warrender and Walsh Point.

We did see this view on the way in of course, but didn't know what we were looking at then.

Four and a half hours later we drive into the King Edward river campground, and select a nice spot next to the river.

A neighbour has the bonnet of his car up, and is working under it. His name is John, or at least that's what's embroidered on his shirt, and he has a radiator problem. It seems that he got water up into the engine bay when crossing the King Edward river, and this caused the fan to pull forward and chew out the radiator core (maybe I was right to use my tarp when we crossed).

With no spare radiator to hand he must fix the damaged core, but not now. "I'm in no hurry" he says, "I'll fix it tomorrow".

Previous Issue :: Next Issue

Top of Page

 

  home  nature photography  living on the road  electronics
        graynomad chronicles  map of our travels  wothahellizat  the GRAYnomad OV  other WORTS  links  about  in the press  faq
                  previous issue (#042)  chronicle #043  next issue (#044)
 
 





Copyright © 1973-2017 Rob Gray, All rights reserved.
PO Box 450, Gin Gin, QLD, Australia.
www.robgray.com