Day Three: Silent Grove, Bells Gorge to Mt Barnett Roadhouse

Chilly night again. Chilly not being very accurate – cool enough to warrant a decent sleeping bag.

Our campsite at Silent Grove had a huge Mango tree full of nearly, but not quite, ripe fruit.

   
    
    
    
    
    
   

Headed off the 11km drive to Bells Gorge at 7:30am after rising again with the sun and a leisurely breakfast of porridge and cereals, packing up the tents and loading it all into the specifically allocated places for each item in the trailer. 
Like the road into Silent Grove, the road out to Bells Gorge was rough, really rough. Deep close corrugations that shook the bus components. The passengers are well cushioned but still, it is not pleasant. I was to drive back and I tried to notice the speed Matthew was doing in order to match it. 
Despite the early start, the walk into Bells Gorge was hot along the rocky track, up and down with tall dry grass adding to the sense of it being a hot dry place. Soon though we came across the small creek, which opened into some larger pools, a wonderful multi level waterfall and deep cool ponds below. 
Some great photos that try to do it justice. 
Around 10am I got to drive out to the main road, and felt quite shattered by the time we arrived. I had chosen to drive in 4WD, expecting it to ease the bang bang bang on the suspension and also help keep the bus from skipping sideways on the worst of the corrugations. This was not successful, it was an awful drive and I am so pleased to not have to do in my own Landcruiser. 

I continued to drive along the Gibb River Road, and pushed the truck to it’s limits climbing the 200m over the Phillips Range. Not normally a challenge, but managing the inadequate cooling system is painful to say the least – as well as the limited performance of the vehicle. It feels very heavy and underpowered.  

Lunch in the Galvins Grove carpark, then a hot walk into Galvins Pool, a pretty circular pool that we had to ourselves. Matthews teenagers enjoyed jumping from the rock ledges, and swinging from the rope on the tree. A relief to have no safety signs or fences blocking access to danger – it’s all about accessing your risks yourselves and being sensible. 
   
    
    
 After an hour or so lingering in this cool place, we made our way to the Mt Barnett Roadhouse to refuel at $2.09 a litre for diesel, and then a short rough drive to the Manning Creek campsite which will be our home for two nights. Matthew has special permission to park under the huge 2000 year old Boab tree. Even Kerry and I had a swim in the cool waters of Manning Creek, contemplating whether we want to do the hour or so trek each way tomorrow to Upper Manning Gorge. The heat got to Kerry today, driving the rough roads got to me, we both deserved the nice swim in the creek.