Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lawn Hill

One of our favourite places is Lawn Hill. It is a true oasis in the desert! Three blissful nights in a haven, where you can swim all day a rest under the shade of the trees beside the aqua blue water.

We lazed around most days, but managed to dredge up enough energy early one moring to view the gorge and river fom the cliffs above. Wow!




Mt Isa

The camper was filthy with red dust, Peter needed to see a doctor about some lumps in his leg, so we chose to spend two days in a caravan park with an Ensuite bathroom! This gave us time to clean, refill with provisions and ensure that the lumps in Peter's leg were in superficial veins, and therefore not so serious.

A long term resident of the caravan park suggested that we visit Lake Moondara. Unfortunately Mt Isa has been drought declared for the past to years so the dam was at only twenty five percent capacity!



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Plenty Highway

We took the Plenty Hwy back towards the east coast. Again we decided to stay at Jervois Station. We met a young jillaroo from Kent in aengland, that was working on the station. She had been there for the past two years and had just been sponsored by the owners of the station. The confirmation papers came through on her birthday, so she felt that it was a really exceptional birthday present. This meant that she could stay a further four years. She loved working on the station and truly loved the landscape!

At Tobermoray we decided to take the end section of the Sandover Hwy to Undangie. This was an interesting loop! The road was very sandy with huge bulldust potholes. Along the road we were greated at every cattle grid with a sign advertising the Undangie pub. Before we got close to Undangie, it was advertising itself at the Undangie Resort! We had a drink there and met many of the locals! It boasts a school with brand new $800,000 new teacher's residence for the single nelybappointed school teacher. The locals were charming and all introduced themselves. The next day there was going to be a big Aboriginal funeral, so with more than 500 attendees expected, we dcided to drive to Dajarra.

A clean, Aboriginal community town, that boasts a pub, police station, clinic and roadhouse. We stayed on a cleared block across the road from the locl resodnts in the council-run camping ground. At the roadhouse an express pizza van had set up for the night. Johnno's had just returned from the Birdsville Races and set up his van in the local community so that the residents could have a change if diet!

Well we couldn't resist! After such a long time without a pizza, we bought two and thoroughly enjoyed them!


Saturday, September 13, 2014

East MacDonald Ranges

The East MacDonald Ranges do not have the reputation for magnificent scenery in the same wat that the West MacDonald Ranges do. We loved them - they are quite different! Different eco-systems with more arid desert flora and fauna, fewer, permanent water holes, and beautiful in a different way.

Pictures will show more that I can write!

Emily gorge

Jesse Gorge

Corroboree Hill

Trephina Gorge

John Heyes Rock Hole

N'dhalla Gorge

This gorge contains over 200 Aboriginal rock carvings, most of which depict the local clan's Dreamtime. Here the story of creation revolves around three caterpillers and the life cycly of metamorphasis. In the above carving you will see a caterpillar (the long hairy looking thing), flying butterflies (the star shaped carvings) and eggs (the round shapes).


Arltunga is a old gold mining town on the of the plains east, after the East MacDonald Ranges. Very, very arid! You can see gold everywhere! But it is so fine, like dust, that you can't actually pan for it. No readily available water meant that most miners were unsuccessful! The government of the day put in a mine and used cyanide to access the gold. A very eerie and strange place, very well preserved in the middle of nowhere!

The first owner of Ambalindum Station, where we stayed one night had the right idea. Provide much need food, fruit, vegetables and meat to the local mining community at Arltunga. At 1.5 million acres, an incredibly large station that has just acquired an additional .5 million acres. The original homestead and cottages have been renovated and are now rented out to visitors. The owner lives in another old stone homestead some 7 klms down the road.

We took the Binns Track down to the Plenty Highway.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gravel pit - Tanami/Tilmouth Wells

We love Lake Stretch and thought two nights camping and relaxing by the water would be good. We arrived at Billaluna to buy our permit to enter Aboriginal land, to find not a soul about! We drove to the rangers house, when we found both the community store and CEO office closed, to find this all locked up too. We saw no one! The town was a mess, looked abandoned!

On the door of the CEO's office, we eventually saw a notice to say that "tonight is men's night, meet at Lake Stretch for kangaroo tail stew at 5:00pm." No day or date on the notice, so we had to assume that is was this night and that women were probably not welcome! This posed some dilemma for us, should we risk staying or move on? Fortunately we were not dependent upon purchasing diesel from the store, as we had enough fuel to get us through to Tilmouth Wells. So we decided to push on.

The road had deteriorated somewhat since our drive across it some six and a half weeks earlier, but was still solid underneath. It just meant a slower, more jolting journey.

Nightfall was setting in when we eventually found a suitable turn off from the main road, some short distance from the Granite Mines. This was into a now disused gravel quarry. Clean, with no one about and us hulking behind the deep edge, so that we couldn't be seen from the main road.

This time the desert was in bloom. Wildflowers were everywhere as were very small finches, honey eaters and wrens. It turned out to be a delightful place to stay for the night.

The road after the mine leading to Tilmouth Wells is rutted and sandy and unpleasant. So after being jolted around for the past two days, we decided to stop driving early and spend the rest of the day at Tilmouth Wells. Here we used the swimming pool.



Broom and Fitzroy Crossing

As the day grew later and after we had stocked up with provisions again, we decided that it would be wiser to stay in Broome for the night. We thought a visit to the local micro brewery would be fun and a meal out.

The micro brewery is called Matsos. They make many really good beers there including mango, lychee and ginger beers. We voted their Pale Ale the best!

Dinner was had at the Yu Family Restaurant, recommended to us by the caravan park owners. This family business has been run by the same family for the past five generations! The first Mr Yu came out to Australia to make his fortune in the pearling industry and realised he could do better if he supplied the growing population with fresh fruit, vegetables and groceries, so built firstly a store and then the restaurant. Today's restaurant sits on the same site!

The meal proved as good as the recommendation. We had Blue swimmer Crab in garlic, ginger and chilli sauce - YUM!!

From Broome, we travelled on to Fitzroy Crossing and again stayed in a caravan park. We had intended to stay at the RAAF Boab Quarry, which in the past had been so pleasant. On arrival this time, we found there be almost no water, just a smelly nasty puddle with cow shit and flies everywhere! The cattle have invaded this beautiful place and now it was horrible!

On the road to Tunnel Creek N.P.

When we went to use the camp kitchen of the caravan park we met a family from Healesville. The boys went to Healesville High and Healesville Primary school respectively. Two young girls, Summa (3) and Eva (6 months) completed the family.

The two boys were havng to write a journal every day for school and sounded very bored with this, so I showed them how to create a blog, so that their friends and teachers back at school could read about thier travels and make comments if need be. We wonder if they took up the challenge?

We had read that Fitzroy Crossing had some extraordinary artists and artisans, so waited until mid morning to visit the respective galleries.

First stop was to a hot glass gallery known as Swordfish. Beautiful glass objects are blown here, including his signature boabs pressed into slump bowls, plates and wall plaques.

A new Social Enterprise centre has been set up at the Women's Resource Centre. Here Aboriginal artists, all women, are designing and creating images to be printed onto cloth to create textile products such as cushions, bags and aprons. Each image has a story associated with the design. We got the meet the artists, hear the stories and discuss their future plans.

The last gallery stop was the Community Gallery. Here we met Eva N(?), who was painting in the outdoors studio area. Bright eyed, highly intelligent, slim and fiercely self assured, Eva, told us that she had had solo exhbitions all over the world! Her work is extraordinary! She was painting one of the Local Aboriginal seasons, when the Mulla Mulla are in flower, there's water in the billabongs and lots of wind. The painting was quite abstract, yet you could see the billabong with its milky blue water and the colour of the Mulla Mulla. More extraordinary was the feeling of the wind, which you could actually see! All this done from a bird's eye perspective! As the painting was not yet complete, we asked to be shown some of her other works. Eva thought there were two hanging in the gallery - No - they had been sold the day before! She said there were some etchings in a cabinet, again, Wrong! Also sold! Eva told us she was now working on a solo exhbition to be held in Darwin and yet another one to be held in Stockholm!

As were were looking through the cabinet of etchings, another Aboriginal woman approached us, to thank us for making the time to visit the gallery. It turned out that she is the CEO for Community Health at Fitzroy Crossing. Another highly articulate women determined to do her best for own community. Her solutions are based on a holstic approach to health and well being. Certainly the proof of this good management was evident in the community centres and galleries that we visited, in the cleanliness of the town, the pride people had in themselves and the evidence of children attending school and taking part in sport. We had had a thoroughly delightful time in the town.

Fitzroy Crossing.

We had read that there was a really lovely caravan park in Old Halls Creek at one of the old homesteads and opted to head there for our next night's camp. What a surprise on arrival, to find it abandoned, and after 15klms of pretty ordinary drt road! This meant turning around and heading back to Halls Creek. We had tried to avoid staying in the caravan park there, but knew it was too far to start on the Tanami Road and find a decent camp before dark.

At Halls Creek Caravan Park, we met a German travelling wholesale rep, Peter. This, his own business, he conducts on line and right around Australia. He travels for four months of the year, to little out of the way places to meet his customers and sell his gear; mostly jewelery, clothing and incence. His brand is called Elenora and is mostly cheap imports from India and Bali. It turned out that Hippy Sticks in Bodalla is one of his customers!




As we had not been to the tip of the Dampier Peninsular on our previous trip, we thought we should go. The main Broome Highway leading up the peninsular is very badly formed dirt up until Beagle Bay, the rest is tar! Very strange!

Everyone believes that Cape Leveque is the Dampier Peninsular, but in fact Cape Leveque is just one very small point on the west of the Dampier Peninsular. In order to get there, you need to go to Kuljaman, pay $10 before you can see the sea or the lighthouse at Cape Leveque - it's all on private property and has the reputation for being the best place to visit. From what we could see it is red cliff lelading down to white sand and blue sea, similar to Barn Hill and where you need to walk some distance to be able to swim.

Having found that we had to pay the resort first, we decided to skip this and visit Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm which preports to be the oldest pearl farm in Australia. Again, to be able to view this facility, you had to pay for a tour visit.

Having seen a pearl farm from the sea, we decided, yet again to forgo this and went to One Arm Point (Bardi) to look at the Trocus Hatchery run by the local Aboriginal Community. It cost $10 to enter their land. With this "permit", you could use their beaches, fish, and visit their hatchery. The beaches were immaculate with the clearest water and whitest sand. The fish were biting (we met some very excited fishermen beside the local boatramp). The Trocus Hatchery is very basic with only two tanks of Trocus shells - one with very large and the other with newly developed Trocus. There were many other tanks, however, filled with huge and brilliantly coloured clams, many different soft corals, clown fish as well as other Kimberley saltwater fish as well as a turtle that had been hurt and put there to recouperate.

On the road in to Bardi, we saw another Tailgate camper just like ours. As they are very unusual, we stopped to chat with Marian and Glenn and took a photo of the two campers together at One Arm Point.

Home for the night was Gumbarrun, also owned by a small Aboriginal Community. The view was magnificent with sea views all around. But no swimming because below the rocky cliffs were mangroves and maybe the odd croc or two! The whole place seemed a little uncared for, the sites were not really clean and the satelite phone unused some kilometer from the camping.







The travel to the end of Dampier Peninsular confirmed our suspicion that we had already stayed at the best place, Gnylmarung!



Thursday, September 4, 2014


By the time we had finished in Derby the next day, it was early afternoon. We didn't want to risk going to Gnylmarung in the dark, because the last time we had had to plow through the sand on the last track in, where signage is not so very obvious.

This meant that we took a free camp spot near Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Here we found Neil, someone we had met three years earlier and who has now been on the road for 17 years!

The campsites were filthy and whilst we collected as much rubbish as possible from our own site, still left toilet paper and other unmentionables behind. It still didn't look or smell much better after our cleanup!

This stop enabled us to get to Gnylmarung later that morning.

We needed time to stop for a while, so at Gnylmarung we were directed to the most beautiful campsite overlooking the small bay, right above the beach. We put up the awning and lazed about, enjoying the serenity, sights and sounds withlots of swims in between, for four wonderful nights.


Sunset on Gnylmarung beach at low tide.

Unfortunately Delma and Alfonse (the owners) were not here this time, having gone to Broome to celbrate their 39th Wedding Anniversary. We were looked after very well by Grant, who was pleased to welcome back past visitors.

One of the innovations to Gynlmarung included a Satellite phone station. This phone was for everyone to use and allowed you to make fee phone calls to any landline in Australia. This proved to be a godsend as we could ring Mum and Dad in the hospital, right to the patient's phone in Boxhill Hospital.

From this phone we were able to call all members of the family and to find out the results of CT scans and other tests. Dad has advanced stages of Lymphoma, and was much relieved of nearly three litres of fluid from his lungs. He was very resentful of being in hospital, believing that he had been locked up without consent.

We will now try to phone Mum daily to ensure that we are able to get back in a hurry should we need to.

Nigel and Zalea have been amazing, visiting Dad every day and preparing food for Mum. Nigel took Mum back to Healesville one afternoon so that she could get some extra clothes, pay bills and catch up on much needed phone calls! Pricilla and Laurence, particularly 'Cil have assisted in so many ways and been there for Mum all the time. Mum stayed with Cil and Laurence whilst Dad was in hospital. Cil wrote emails detailing the treatment, which was really kind and made sure Mum got enough sleep etc.

On our last afternoon, Grant offered to take us in his boat to catch some fish. He took out into the very deep channel that runs from Middle Lagoon to Beagle Bay. On the way we watched a mother Humpback Whale with her newborn calf and adolescent calf searching the water for small baitfish. We managed to get very close and waited for her to come over to the boat. Unfortunately the shutter on my camera and the lack of telephoto lens meant the photos are very poor, so they're not worth keeping.

Then off we went the what Grant refers to as the killing fields. This where the Spanish Mackerel live, and also Bull Sharks! When you get a fish caught on your lure, you literally have one minute to reel it in! Otherwise the fish is bitten off by the sharks! This sort of fishing was more like the Quick and the dead! Peter caught a huge mackerel, didn't pull it in fast enough, so the mackerel was torn apart by this massive three metre Bull Shark, who then decided to eat the lure himself. Grant grabbed the rod, only to find that the shark had snapped the line, so losing wire trace and lure.

Grant said he would show us what to do. Well he caught three mackerel, but all escaped or were seized by the sharks before we could get them on board. These mackerel are at least one metre long, can swim at 60 klm per hour and weigh a lot, so to catch them is quite a feat!

We returned back to Ngylmarung empty handed but having had a very exciting afternoon.

Catholic Church in Beagle Bay decorated with pearl shells.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Birdswood Downs Station

After Mt Hart there is not much dirt road left so we soon found ourselves in Derby purchasing much needed supplies (nothing left in the way of food at all!)

We chose to spend the night 16 klms out from Derby, WA, at Birdswood Downs Station.

This was where we had word from Cil, Alex and Nigel that Dad was unwell and had been admitted to Boxhill Hospital. The communication from here was difficult with intermittent reception. My phone is behaving really badly again!

Some very kind Germans lent me their phone so I could make contact with 'Cil, to find out what was going on.

Later the ipad worked so we were able to make other necessary calls.


Mt Hart Wilderness Camp

King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park (Woonamur) is situated on the south western edge of the Kimberley Plateau and you have the opportunity to explore and camp in a wilderness environment with stunning waterholes, dramatic escarpments and spectacular waterfalls incluing Bell and Lennard gorges.

The King Leopold Ranges are 560 million years old. It consists of craggy ridges and escarpments that include sedimentary formations of sandstone and granite rock strata, with unusual black riges of loose boulders.

We took the road into Lennard Gorge, with the view to walkng to it. The walk to Lennard gorge was ardous and very hot, I went by myself. It meant a rough walk along a boulder strew creek bed and then a very long and steep climb over a ridge, along the ridge and down the other side.

The host at Mt Hart were wonderful, Julie and Bob. They made us feel like treasured friends. Such a lovely experience. We were treated to a viewing of the old homestead, which reminded us ver mch of the homes in outback Kenya, where whatever was available loacally, was used to build your home. In this case lcal rock created the sitting area overlooking that the Barker River.

At the campsite we were greated by Graham and Kay and again made to feel very welcome. We had the best campsite in the shade roght beside the river, where we could plunge from time to time.

A highlight was to view a Red Backed Fairy Wren on the track back from Annie Pool.

Barker River Pools

Annie Pool

Giant Boab/Fig





Wednesday, August 27, 2014


We love Mornington and chose to spend four nights here, so that we could take the exclusive canoe trip up the Sir John Gorge. Only one canoe is allowed on the gorge per day, so you have the whole place to yourselves.

The first day we spent at Dimond Gorge and then Cadjeput Waterhole, where we swam. Not a soul about so we took the opportunity to skinny dip, as we have in many places. It is nearly the end of the tourist season, so places are emptying fast! There are very few visitors left.

The next day was very slow, we swapped camp sites, closer to water and bbq facility and did a much needed laundry session - all by hand.

We then ventured out to Bluebush Waterhole, to find that the only place easily accessible to swimming had been taken over by a group of young people. So we went back to Cadjeput Waterhole, where a busload of tourists and a group of seven tag-along drivers were enjoying the water. We found another spot some distance away and again enjoyed our swim (this time with bathers!)

The third day was our adventure into Sir John Gorge. We set off with a hamper, prepared by the wilderness camp's restaurant. This day proved to be exhausting!

We had been assured that the walks between each water hole to retrieve the next canoe were on flat rock ridges. This proved to be far from the truth. The signage was almost non existent and the walks were over boulders often taller than me!

Photos can do more justice than my words........


We felt quite exhilarated with our accomplishment at the end of the day.




Mt Elizabeth Station

From Home Valley Station we travelled to Mt Elizabeth Station, dropping in at most of the gorges on the way.

30klms off the Gibb River Road, Mt Elizabeth is not normally frequented by international tourists, so if you chose to camp away from the ablution block, was very quiet and tranquil. The Pretty Wallabies are unafraid and one came to investigate our camp set up.

Mt Elizabeth is a working cattle station, on which they were completing their annual muster by helicopter. Owned by the pioneering Lacy Family, it is welcoming and an enjoyable place to visit.

We discovered that there were a number of tracks on the property that you can take, right into the wilds of the Kimberley and to the Walcot Inlet, on the north west coast. Included in this was a little known gorge called Wunnumurra Gorge. We drove to the gorge, a mere 9klms, which took 1 1/4 hours. The road in was very challenging over rock ledges, ridges and sand. The effort was well worthwhile as we had the most spectacular gorge to ourselves for the whole day! Deep pool below a cascade of water with white beach at the other end of a very long expanse of water.


It was quite hairy walking to the gorge as we were reluctant to drive the last kilometer or two to the walking path (another kilometer), due to the extremely steep boulder strewn track, where we feared hitting the differential on loose rock. The walk included scrambling over and down rock faces, with two ladder climbs on unsecured ladders. We thoroughly our well earned swims!

Unfortunately my camera ran out of power so no other photos, had to get the station to recharge battery!

When we returned from our drive out to the gorge, we noticed a Double cab Triton with Travelander camper on the tray. The only trouble was that the tray was at a 20degree angle off horizontal to the cab. It transpired that the chassis had buckled on their drive out on one of the station tracks some 42 klms from the homstead. This required, the station to send a rescue party and their friedns returning with their now empty ute teay to collect the abandoned camper. Then a tow truck was ordered from Kununurra and took eight hours to reach the homestead. Who knows what the insurance will make of this??? The owners of this infortunate Triton were Rob and Joyce Stocker from Albury, who knew Don and Janice very well.

We met some interesting people at dinner that night, when we dined at the homestead. Brian and Jane were two medicos who had worked in and established a hospital in Zambia. They had owned a private practice in Humptydoo in Darwin and wereavid bird watchers. Their friends were called Allen and Pam. All had just returned from Mornington after a bird count.



El Questro

On our last trip to the Kimberley, we did not call into El Questro. It was on fire and that was when the cross country marathon runners got very badly burned.

Because of the smoke at that time we were not even aware of the magnificence of the Cockburn Ranges. Having just toured right around this range on the Karanji track, we now knew what an awe inspiring place this is. It meant going back east along the Gibb River Road to be able to visit some of the places of interest.

At El Questro Station, we purchased a Wilderness Park Permit, which all visitors must do, if the want to see any of the gorges or do any of the walks. As Zebedee Thermal Springs closes at noon to allow their "exclusive" guests to lounge in the water, we decided to go there first.

The walk into Zebedee Springs takes you through a Livingstonia Palm forest as well as dry scleraphyl savannah. You wander alongside the creek with its almost blue water, its so pure, until you reach the springs.




To begin with it was very crowded with a Wilderness Tour group ensconsed in the spring. Soon they left and then the springs had very few people. It was heavenly to soak in the 32C water, especially where there was a small waterfall to give you a natural massage.

We had asked at the reception at the station which walks would be the most siitable for Peter, whose knees are really painful and not working properly. She recommended Zebedee Springs and Emma Gorge. So off we headed to the Emma Gorge Resort and nearby gorge.

A couple in a deluxe motorhome asked us if we had done the walk before and warned us of how difficult it was. We headed off, thinking that they had exaggerated somewhat. We had walked about a third of the way, when the track started to become very stony and rocky, with unstable boulders and loose, slippery stones. Peter reluctantly decided to head back.

This proved to be very wise because not much further along, meant scrambling over huge boulders, slippery rock ledges and deep water crossings. The further I progressed, the more difficult became the track. The final leg was very steep up the rocky sides of the ravine. All along the last sections of the track, you got tantilising glimpses of what might be to come. Ferns and mosses grew beside the clear stream.

The last scramble over a massive boulder revealed Emma Gorge in all her glory! A magnificent cathedral like dome with deep clear water pool below, eighty foot waterfall dropping from red cliffs, showers dripping from the carvern roof above, lone cormorant sunning on the rocks and ferns and mosses with small ficus clinging to the walls of the gorge. The water was very cold, but just behind a massive boulder on the eastern edge of the pool and underneath the overhang was a thermal spring. Unfortunately I had left my bathers at the car.


We stayed the night again at Home Valley. There was a group of people on an escorted fishing safari, on the banks of the Pentecost River, when we arrived at the campsite. Whilst we watched, one of the rods bent in half and started to be dragged into the river. The chap, whose rod it was, had gone back to his campsite to get his esky. So the fishing guide grabbed the rod, called for "Bazza to come quick" and manouvered the fish away from any potential snags. We saw this enormous fish jump twice, right out of the water. By the time Bazza arrived it was in the shallows by the shore, so that he could take the credit of catching it, even though a net was held there by the fishing escorts. It turned out to be an 80cm barramundi. It was right on the maximum size that you are allowed to take.



Flight to Kalumburu, Mitchell Falls

Shoal air offered a scenic flight called Wandjina Explorer. It departed from Kununurra and tracked along the Ord River with its irrigation farmlands towards the unigue House Roof Hill, where much of the movie 'Australia' was filmed. We continued along the Ord River wetlands and estuary, passing the historic port of Wyndham and the Cambridge Gulf where the five major rivers of the East Kimberley converge. We then followed the Timor Sea coastline, north-west, flying over the Berkeley River and its new award winning resort. Next we detoured to the magestic King George Falls (not running!), orbiting the twin falls. Faraway Bay, another famous resort was next in sight, followed by the Drysdale River and Broome-Dampier Bay. We landed in Kalumburu, WA's most remote indigenous community for a picnic lunch and a tour of the museum at the Catholic Mission, followed by a tour of the WWII aircraft graveyard near the airfield. The flght then continued to the historic Truscott Airfield, our first line of defence in WWII. We then viewed the pearl farms of Vanssittart Bay, before flying over the famous Mitchell River Falls. En route back to Kununurra, we enjoyed the panoramic splendour of the Cockburn Ranges, Home Valley and El Questro Stations.

The flight to Kalumbaru and Mitchell Falls was a sensational way to see the north east coast of the Kimberley (the section we didn't get to see on our One Tide boat/camp cruise in 2011!)

Needless to say it surpassed all expectation with the magnificence of the scenery. And as we flew for much of the way between 1500 and 2000 feet, we saw the area from a bird's perspective, in all its glory.

The photos will perhaps, show more that I can describe!

New Ord River irrigation area, bought by the Chinese for sugar cane!

Ord River - old crossing.

Mud flats leading to the Cambridge Gulf.

East Kimberley coast

Mitchell River and Plateau

Mitchell Falls

Beach near Paspally pearls

Honeymoon Bay