Sunday, July 30, 2017

Purposeful Meandering across Oz - Week 3

Distance traveled = 939km

Week 3 commenced at a more leisurely pace than previous weeks, we’d setup camp at Cable Beach for a few days mainly to give the kids a bit of rest from the rigorous pace we’d been moving along at... Saturday was a lazy morning in the van park for us before heading downtown to check out the local markets and nearby attractions. Having only been in Broome 3 years earlier not a lot had changed except for the popularity of the place with seemingly lots of people on the go! After buzzing round town grabbing a few items we headed to Cable Beach for our sunset beach camel ride which provided a perfect backdrop to end our first full day in Broome.

Sunday started with no real urgency. The kids were quickly down at the pool enjoying the warm weather which allowed us to tidy up the car and get the washing up to date. By late morning we’d noticed a problem with the car fridge which didn’t bode well as we were about to hit the Gibb River Rd and the fridge was our lifeline to maintaining our food supply. Diagnosing the fault proved a little difficult but after a short period it was determined the issue was with the auxiliary battery. With not much chance of solving the issue on a Sunday we decided to continue our sightseeing of Broome. Willie Creek Pearl farm was an interesting spot with beautiful views across the turquoise water. From there we headed to the Malcom Douglas Crocodile park where once again this place had me in awe of these prehistoric creatures. With the tour of the croc park coming to an end we headed straight back to Cable Beach where we enjoyed ‘happy hour’ watching a spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Monday, we were on the road again but not before getting a few last-minute supplies in town. The battery issues weren’t resolved but the prospect of some highway driving would hopefully charge the battery. The drive to Derby wasn’t all that long but with the temp nudging 35deg and a strong headwind we seemed to be against it all the way. By mid-afternoon we’d checked into our accommodation, spending the rest of our afternoon lazing around camp and a bit of sightseeing which included the wharf and the prison Boab tree.

Tuesday was our long-awaited tour to the Horizontal Falls. An early morning 30min seaplane flight soon had us heading north over the Kimberley wilderness to a very remote location on the northwest tip of Australia. Landing on the water was a new and exciting experience. From there we transferred to high speed boats for a very quick trip around the surrounding waterways. By mid-morning the in-running tide was ideal for our first venture through the narrow opening horizontal falls. The 3-metre water drop and fast flowing whirlpools was an experience that’s hard to put into words other than to say exhilarating! After a few upstream and downstream passes that had the adrenalin pumping we headed back to the luxurious pontoons where we were treated to a Barramundi BBQ with all the trimmings. With our bellies full it was time to head back out on the quad 300 horsepower boats for another play through the falls, unfortunately for us the tide levels were starting to equalise which while being a lot of fun wasn’t as good as our passes before lunch. All too soon our day on the water was coming to an end, once again we were transferred to the seaplanes where taking off from the water had us all glued to the windows…. Back in Derby our day was far from over. We enjoyed a stroll down to the wharf where with dinner in hand we witnessed a spectacular sunset complete with changing cloud patterns.

Wednesday was the start of our big adventure along the Gibb River Rd. The first 70km was an easy drive along the sealed road. We were soon airing down our tyres for the next 700km of dirt road. Our destination of Windjana Gorge didn’t take us long to reach. We quickly established camp before heading further down the road to Tunnel creek. This unique location has been forged over millions of years. A creek has scoured a tunnel right through the middle of a hill allowing visitors to walk along the underground creek while being a hundred of metres below the surface. The creek which varies in depth and only illuminated by our headlamps comes complete with its own freshwater crocodiles which keeps everyone on their toes…. Leaving Tunnel Creek, we made our way back to camp at Windjana Gorge where the setting sun provided a perfect backdrop for our walk into the gorge. The towering cliffs were filled with amazing orange and reds which made for a great backdrop to the crocodiles that dotted the waterway. We finished our day at the gorge campground with a perfect meal and a crazy idea to do some night croc spotting….. Needless to say, we seen more fish than crocs.

Thursday (day 2 on the Gibb) dawned slowly as we didn’t have far to travel to our next location. The ever-changing landscape and a number of creek crossings had us stopping numerous times for a photo. We soon arrived at Silent Grove where another bush camp was established, but our goal for the day was to be Bell Gorge. Once at the Bell Gorge carpark a short walk opened to a spectacular cascade of waterfalls and numerous swimming holes which provided us with hours of fun as we swam and jumped off the varying rock ledges. The day’s swimming and exploring had us all worn out and wanting an early night but the lure of a campfire mellowed us as we enjoyed a relaxing night under the stars.

Friday (day 3 on the Gibb) had us on the move again. With so much to see we didn’t have far to travel so once again there was no urgency to get moving. The good dirt roads continued and we could easily get along at 90km/hr. We detoured off the main road to Adcock Gorge before heading to Galvan Gorge where a spectacular and very picturesque billabong provided us with hours of swimming in the clear waters…. Back on the Gibb we drove in to Mt Barnett Roadhouse where we had to buy diesel for $2.05/ltr (yeeks). With Manning Gorge being only a few kilometres down the road we pushed on and made this our campsite for the night. The campground offered great a swimming hole which the kids enjoyed, while a few of us took the 1hr hike upstream to the base of Manning Falls where we enjoyed a swim. Returning to the campground a few of us did some minor maintenance on our vehicles while others socialised around the table playing various card games….. With all of us having such a big day swimming and playing in the various gorges we were embarrassingly all in bed by 8.30pm.

Our 3rd week finished with us being so remote we haven’t had internet or power for 4 days. What a great lifestyle. 

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