In this issue we travel along the western
half of the Gibb River Road, arguably the best part, as this
is where most of the gorges are located.
Sadly we loose Kevin, our Canadian
friend, due to differences of opinion between him and Bradley.
The lads have known each other for years and traveled together
before, but not for as long, and not sharing the same vehicle
It just goes to show how travelling
can test a friendship.
So if you're thinking of hitting the
road with your better half maybe a few test runs would be
in order, because the old joke about retirement (half as much
money and twice as much husband) applies tenfold when travelling
in a van.
Considering Chris and I worked very
long hours and hardly saw each other during our working life,
we've done quite well to still be together after five years
on the road.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it,
Tue 13 Jun 2006
John cuts the damaged radiator core tubes
and solders them closed. Now he just needs to reinstall the radiator
and test it. "Tomorrow" he says.
A wasp cleaning its antennae.
These corellas live in the area and had decided to spend the
night opposite our camp. They are very noisy, however my flash
frightened them and they all flew down river to annoy some
Wed 14 Jun
I get up before sunrise to photograph the nearby waterfall and
surrounding rock formations.
John finally returns the radiator to its position
in the engine bay and goes for a test drive. He doesn't return for
a few hours and we start thinking the worst. Then we see him coming
down the road. All is well.
Meanwhile we have a visit from two goannas. They
swagger around our campsite as if they own the place, which they
more or less do I suppose.
We have some visiting goannas in the campground.
Thu 15 Jun
Back on the road. We fuel up at Drysdale station,
then head south, cross the Gibb River and a few kilometres later,
rejoin the GRR and head west.
Our destination today is the Barnett River gorge.
When we get there we ignore the usual campsites, and following some
information gleaned from a tour guide the other day, cross a creek
and drive along a track.
After some roughish rock-hopping we arrive at
the end of the trail, just a few metres from the gorge.
This is obviously the place used by those in the
know, as a tour group of cyclists are already in residence. We manage
to drive a little further than them though, to a relatively private
The cyclists are with a tour operator called ROC
(Remote Outback Cycle Tours), we met them four years ago at the
Bungles and in fact the driver remembers us, or at least he remembers
Wothahellizat. In fact he says that just today he was telling the
group about the truck.
Fri 16 Jun
Looking into the gorge from the rim.
Rock cairns of various shapes and sizes mark the trail along
From the Barnett River gorge it's a quick trip
to Adcock gorge. Adcock is more a swimming hole at the bottom of
a waterfall than a gorge, it's tiny, but more than makes up for
that by being a beautiful quiet spot.
Trees and rocks at the edge of the pool.
I rescue this mantis form the water and am rewarded with some
good photos as it dries itself.
I wanted a photo of this goanna in amongst the water lilies,
but he climbs onto the bank and hides in the grass.
These planthoppers line up on the palm leaf as though queuing
for take off
We spend several hours at the gorge, then drive
down a nearby creek to another great campsite on the side of a billabong.
We found out about this place from another tour guide.
Two different views of a boab tree next to our camp.
Across the billabong this ghost gum catches the last light.
Sat 17 Jun
Shortly after starting for the day we drop
into the Imintji store to fuel up and get an ice cream.
On leaving the store I notice an old Cruiser like
mine, and the owner appears to be working on something under the
bonnet. Maybe I can help, or at least compare engines.
I walk over to find him trying to wrap some fencing
wire around a silver object on top of the manifold. He looks up
and says "Do you reckon that'll hold it?"
I comment that it looks reasonably secure, but
I don't recognise the device, maybe it's a new type of gas injection
system. "What the hell is it?" I ask. "Oh, it's a
meat pie" he answers as though it was obvious, "thought
I'd be able to keep it warm while I'm driving".
Having established his credentials as a fencing
wire bender and installer of meat pies he offers to look at my gas
problem. To no avail though, he can't figure it out either.
Next it's Bell Gorge, one of the Kimberley's better-known
attractions. They have a peculiar system for allocating campsites
here. As you enter the main campground there's a board with up to
ten tags hanging from nails, each tag represents a site at the second
campground, about ten kilometres away and closer to the gorge.
If you want to stay in a site you grab one of
the tags, thereby reserving it. Of course if you haven't been there
before you don't know which are the best sites, but the biggest
problem I see with this system is this.
Lets say you, like us, intend to spend the night,
there's four people in two groups, so you grab the last two tags.
You spend the day in the gorge, but it's still
early and you change your mind about staying, so drive the ten kilometres
back to the main campground, replace the tags, and leave.
Meanwhile another group has arrived, seen that
there were no free spots, and either left, or set up camp in the
not-so-nice main campground. They miss out on the secluded bush
sites because of the system.
Anyway, Bell gorge is a very pleasant spot, just
a short walk from the car park. As I near the gorge I see a goanna
hunting in amongst the rocks that border the stream.
This goanna is hunting around the top of the waterfall. Note
the ant on its face in the first photo
Then I move on to the scenery.
Bells Gorge, a pretty nice spot with safe swimming.
I am normally interested in different things to
the average person and this proves it. People drive thousands of
kilometres to see this gorge, as did I, and when I get here I take
two quick shots of the waterfall, and 81 of a goanna.
We leave the gorge and drive along the GRR looking
for somewhere to camp. After just a few kilometres we find a pleasant
Sun 18 Jun
Our guide book states that it's a seven-kilometre
drive from the GRR to the Lennard River gorge car park, followed by
a "short walk" to the gorge itself.
However, when we reach the car park after only
a 2-3k drive, and see an new-looking "No cars past this point"
sign, we realise that the walk may not be as short as expected.
Sure enough the walk turns out to be a couple
of kilometres in length, it's still worth it though.
Two shots of Lennard Gorge, the first is at the top of the
waterfall, and the second below.
In the lower part of the gorge can be found hundreds of frogs.
And some nice wildflowers complete with an unusual bug.
The other day John, the broken radiator man, told
us of a fantastic spot to camp, "About 30k down the road to
Millie Windy station" he said.
As we're interested in exploring some of the country
south of the GRR we decide to drive down toward the station.
At about the 5k mark we cross a river and find
a nice spot, but we've got our sights set on a supposedly fantastic
place at the 30k mark.
At 35k we still haven't found a good camp site,
there's been two really nice billabongs, but neither of them had
an appropriate flat spot anywhere near.
It's getting late, so we choose the best place
we can, then I return to one of the billabongs to photograph some
flying foxes in a tree on the bank.
As I approach they make a hell of a racket and
become quite agitated. Eventually they settle down though and I
manage to get very close. However just as I get in the right position
the batteries in my flash die and I have to retreat to get some
fresh ones. When I return they accept me straight away.
Flying foxes (or fruit bats) hanging in the trees on the banks
of the billabong
Mon 19 Jun
Today it's off to one of the Kimberley's most
famous gorges, Windjana. At the turnoff there's a semi-permanent eatery
on the banks of the river.
Apparently the fellow that owns it sets things
up at the start of the season each year, lives there for six months
selling food, then pulls it all down.
We also encounter another traveler with a new
Nissan FWD. His engine's computer has decided it knows best and
has shut down the turbo. It's not serious, but enough for him to
cut short his trip and limp into Broome to have it fixed.
NOTE: I've heard of, and encountered, hundreds
of horror stories about high-tech vehicles in the bush. To be
fair they are very reliable, but if they do break nobody
can fix them until you get to a major town, sometimes even a capital
city. I will NEVER have computers controlling a critical function
of a vehicle.
We get there late morning and settle in. Some
time later Chris decides it's time to explore the gorge, Bradley
and I join her. It's 3.5k to the end, but after about 2k us blokes
have lost interest. Bradley turns back, I continue but at a reduced
rate, while Chris powers ahead, she's determined to see what's at
the end of the trail.
After some time she returns, was it worth walking
3.5k?. No, all there is at the end of the trail is a sign saying
"End of Trail".
Now we can walk 3.5k back to camp.
We do see a lot of freshwater crocs along the
way though, and they are very approachable. I'll have a go at photographing
The outer wall of the gorge, as seen from the campground
Tue 20 Jun
Today we stay at Windjana. Chris and I pile
into Bradley's car and we drive down to Tunnel Creek.
As the name suggests Tunnel Creek is a creek that
flows through a tunnel, right underneath the hills of the Napier
It's pitch black for the most part, but if you
have a torch you can wade through the 700-metre tunnel. It's well
Interesting rock formations inside the tunnel.
A collapsed section at the half-way point.
Various views of people in the tunnel
After returning I spend the rest of the afternoon
photographing the crocs. They are very placid and I manage to sit
within 2-3 metres of them, they are freshies, so there's no real
danger, just don't take too many liberties.
It's not often you get to sit this close to crocodiles, so
I make the most of the opportunity.
I also take some photos of the gorge, it's a great
spot but not hugely photogenic in my view.
The gorge wall and the "spirit rock".
Wed 21 Jun
We leave Windjana and drive into Derby, here
ends our Kimberley caper.
We also loose Kevin, our Canadian friend, today.
He's been travelling and sharing camping gear with Bradley, and it
seems they haven't been getting along that well.
It's been a bit tense around the campfire of late
and something had to give. As the vehicle and all the camping equipment
belongs to Bradley, I guess the something had to be Kevin.
We organize to meet him at the information centre
in Derby, which we do about half an hour after Bradley drops him
He's already organized to share a Darwin-bound
vehicle with a good-looking woman who has just split with her travelling
Talk about falling in crap and coming up smelling
We say our goodbyes, then hit the shops, looking
to restock our food and buy a new gas hose for the cooker.
And speaking of gas, the Cruiser is duel fuel,
petrol and gas, however the gas has been on the fritz for a couple
of weeks. In some ways this doesn't matter out here, because you
can't buy gas anyway. However a full gas tank extends our range
by about 300k, and that will be important when we cross the desert
in a few weeks time.
So we go hunting for someone to look at the problem.
No luck, most people who know about duel fuel
systems no longer maintain their gas ticket because it's too expensive
to do so. And the one person who does have a ticket is booked up
until next week.
There is a ray of hope though. In talking to these
people I pick up a lot about how the system functions, I think I
can hot wire it to get it working.
We plan to camp at Willare bridge as we have done
in the past, but it's been fenced off, so we carry on down the highway.
For several kilometres the road is elevated above
the flood plains and there's nowhere to pull off. Nowhere that is
except these strange elevated tracks that spur off the road at right
angles. Most are too short, and won't allow us to get far enough
from the road, but when we find one that's about 100m long we pull
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