Day Ten – Kununurra

nice view just outside our tent this morning.

   
               
       
Matthew went hunting and brought back eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages and a multitude of other foods. Phil the surgeon from Melbourne and I cooked it all up and a big feed was finished by mid morning. Kerry and I met one of her workmates in town for a coffee and chat until we met back at the bottle shop for the midday opening. 

After a latish lunch we visited the Sandelwood farm and stocked up on nice smelly stuff, plus the Rum Hoochery and stocked up on nice tasty stuff. Tonight it will be sunset at Kellie’s Know, THE place to do sunset in Kununurra – unless you’re by the lake outside the tent where im blogging from.

  

Day Nine – El Questro to Kununurra

Lovely early swim in the Zebedee Hot Springs – warm springs is a better name but at 28 – 32°C they are pleasant no matter the description.
An easy drive along the bitumen through spectacular scenery eventually got us to our caravan park in kununurra overlooking Lake Kununurra – well…. right beside it really. 
A quick tent set up then back onto the bus to arrive at the Lake Argyle for the sunset cruise. Run by Lake Argyle Tours, this was a nice sized boat with great commentary team. First swim was encouraged, just jump straight in off the back of the boat. The fearless Bambach family climbed to the very top of the accessible section of the cliff and jumped, one at a time. I made sure I had the spare keys to the bus and was quickly going over the itinerary for the rest of the trip when leader Matthew took the 20 metre jump, followed by Elise and Tom. Several others, including kids around 10 took high, but not quite the top, jumps. 

The size of the lake is impressive and the view from the dam wall area is deceptive. It is only 362m long and the lake looks big. But all you see is a small portion of the lake from here.  A narrow valley opens up to a vast expanse of water, with it being possible to travel 50km without turning the direction of the boat. 
   
    
    
    
    
    
 Fish were fed, facts were spread, small freshwater crocs were seen, wallabies were fed and then the boat tied up again in the middle of a large body of water, about 30m deep. Floaties were thrown into the water, passengers all jumped out and were passed wine, or thrown cans of beer for passengers to sip whilst watching the sun go down.
Great fun had by all. kerry won an extra beer for a sports quiz question. I’ll enjoy that later Thanks!!

After a long fast ride back – there is so much water here that if the dam wall was completely breached, the dam would take four years to drain – we enjoyed a meal in the gardens with the AFL playing on several large screen TVs around the yard. Very pleasant afternoon. 

Day Eight – El Questro

nice early start to get to Emma Gorge about 20 km down the road, still operated by the same company that runs el Questro. There is a nice resort there with safari tents setup, pool and open air dining.
The walk up to Emma Gorge took about thirty minutes and got warmer as we went with the valley closing in and the heat radiating out from the walls of the gorge. We were soon enough into tree cover, curly palms, and then some delightful rainforest with ferns and oh so clear water.

Clambering over the last rocks and a magnificent, the best I’ve seen, high circular gorge opened before us. A trickle of water was still running down the waterfall, and the rocks themselves were seeping many drips of water, dripping over ferns on the high walls, perhaps 60m high. One fig tree was right up the top hanging onto the rock wall and its roots creeping down the the water complete with a constant stream of water flowing along this tentacle of enthusiastic root growing. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

Like these other gorge pools, the water was refreshingly cold and the deed of entering the water had to be done whilst you still felt hot from the walk. With the gorge in shade, it was easy to cool down and not feel like a swim after all. Some found a warm stream which was nice to warm up in. Once submersed, I was able to last for about twenty minutes floating around.
A hot walk back, then a boat cruise along the Chamberlain river gorge. The highlight of which was fish feeding when a fish though my camera was a bug to be spat at and fall into the water to be eaten. It’s not Mr Fish!

A night in dry rice seems to have drawn the copious dollop of water, it was a great shot by said fish.
   
    
    
 

Day Seven – Drysdale River Station to El Questro

Everyone was on the bush ready to roll at 7:10am this morning, tents all packed up, showers, breakfast, camp packed up – well done us. 

Matthew drove back down the Kalumbaru Road to the junction with the Gibb River Road, turned left and headed towards Wydham for our last day on the rough road. 

First stop this morning was the Ellenbrae station. An oasis in the dry arid surroundings. Grass lawn, cool old buildings built with breeze ways, garden arounds, all aid to the cooling effect. Finches flocking to seed feeders, an unsighted tree snake to keep them focused, a boad tree with a tap coming out the middle. No the water is not boab water, but a spear going right through the tree to their tank on the other side. 
Fresh cooked scones and jam and cream. The pastoralists don’t make any money from the stock, they rely on tourism to given them and income. Paying $9 for a scone with cream and jam, plus self serve instant coffee is way too much, but we’re helping them make ends meet in these remote and isolated locations. 
   
    
    
    
    
 We meandered about 500m down an unmarked little track into Bindoola Falls. No flowing water at this time of year, really hot rocks that absorb the suns energy during the day, and very very high cliffs with deep pools. Spectacular.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

Road deteriorated. Corrogations got heavier, the truck stuggled up the hills and ranges, outside termperature over 40°C which we experienced during stops for the evenings firewood. The view of the Cockburn Ranges coming int Home Vally Station was spectacular. unfortunately dust spoiled the vista, but it is indeed a vast ancient range. 

The main interest however was the abiltiy to get Telstra phone and data connection. All the devices sprung to life with excited operators checking messages, emails and briefly, Facebook. I had one proper message out of 212 others.
Into Home Valley for lunch. Heavily commercialised, this was not family business making scones to make ends meet. However, the development is pleasant and attempts to be authentic and in keeping with the surrounds and the regions pastoral history.
Road was terrible from Home Valley. Springs are saggings, shock absorbers are overheating, springs on the trailer too hot to touch. Fortunately we made it through to the bitumen at the entrance to El Questro Station. The much looked forward to long water crossing of the Ivanhoe River was nothing, hardly got the tyres wet. 

Yay, we have completed the ardious section of the Gibb River Road

The dirt road into El Questro is clearly well maintained, smooth and a pleasant change.  We are in El Questro riverside campground with lawn under the tent, soft ground to bang tent pegs into at last. Nice showers, washing machines, should be a nice place for a couple of nights.

Day Six – Drysdale Station to Munura (King Edward River)

Nice early start to get on the road and head further north towards the turn off to the renowned Mitchell Falls. Renowned because it is 76km each way of rough corrugated and rocky unmaintained track that routinely breaks vehicles.  Today we drove about 7km along this road, far enough to say that I’ve been on the track to Mitchell Falls, short enough to come away unscathed.  The Falls themselves have dried up, so really not a lot of point to travel all that way without seeing water cascading over.

I got to drive the truck all day today, giving Matthew a rest. We left the trailer at Drysdale station down the road and yes there was a difference to the performance of the vehicle. The trailer really holds things back and makes the corrugations feel worse with a third axle banging over them. 

Today we travelled to the most northern point I have been in WA. Our latitude is well above Wyndham and Kununnurra.

We had morning tea at Munura on the King Edward River and found the first lot of very old rock art. What’s amazing, apart from the rock art and it’s age is that it is all easily accessible with few fences and signs. We stood in the same spot the artists have done some thousand years ago.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

After a 400m circuit walk we returned to the day use area to have lunch, assisted by a friendly Butcher Bird. Of course he was friendly, we fed him all sorts of birdie treats!  We’re all getting used to swimming in the rivers, slippery sides, a bit of slime, ants, loose sticks and all. But once in the nice cool water, it is really pleasant and an important way to cool down. The bus AC runs at about 27°C but once outside the bus it is certainly around 38°C, if not more, so keeping cool on walking tours is really important.

   
 
After lunch we drove to another rock art site and I heard a new rattle. A quick check revealed a nylon bush on the shock absorber had somehow worked it’s way over the nut that should have a large washer to keep in place. There was no washer…  Some suitable replacements were found in Matthews tool kit and I did the rapair whilst the group was away checking the other rock art. Fortunately I had a nice shady tree and was still coolish from the swim in the King Edward River.  Fixing a small thing like this is easy, and what I enjoy. 

Drive back was difficult with many shadows across the road. Passengers complained that I went over one bump, which I did, and Matthew may have been launched from the back seat seat. It’s a bit embarrassing the launch the tour leader out of his seat, but  I didn’t see the rocks in the shadows.

On return to Drysdale Stattion we went to the station bar and ordered a Drysdale burger at $25. Pretty pricey, but it was a good feed. Especially when followed with home made sticky date pudding and ice cream!  Ymm.