A Travellerspoint blog

New Territory

Our last big WA adventure was a trip to the Bungle Bungles, thankfully it also marked the last of the corrugated roads. The ranges were mind blowing and worth the trek - With the range itself covering 45,000 hectares and some reaching 570m in height we decided to take in a birdseye view, maverick style! 
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Back safely on terra firma we ventured into Cathedral and Echidna Gorges, both breathtaking and unique. We could see why many refer to this area as the highlight of their travels.
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Returning to Kununurra, our traveling friends the Schwartzbord's invited us to stay a few nights with them; after the GRR and Bungles, we gladly accepted and enjoyed hanging out... 
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...even the rig got a little TLC. The boys were a great help. 
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WA has been such an amazing part of our coasting around and having spent three months here we cross into NT with mixed feelings... Still, the thought of catching up with old friends Gerry and Claire across the border kept our heads high. On the way to Humpty Doo we refueled in Victoria River - the petrol was expensive, the humor was on the house! Check out their sign. 
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As coach of the local Rugby Union team, the Humpty Doo Swamp Dogs, Gerry was in game mode as we arrived just in time for kick-off. 
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Great to see rugby still pumps through your veins Gez. We stole a cuddle from their new little daughter Bridgette, the team mascot who wears the team colours with pride. 
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Our week in Darwin kicked off in style with the Beer Can Regatta, along side the famous Mindil markets. 
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Our local tour guides took us to Litchfield NP to see Wangi falls...
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... Such a great day. Gorgeous little Matilda, their eldest daughter, wasn't the only one exhausted.
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Not sure who talked who into playing rugby the following week but both Gerry and Brad hit the paddock for the Swamp Dogs... Wish we could report no injuries - perhaps getting too old for this??? 
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Thanks for a wonderful week Gez and Claire, you made us feel so welcome. Amongst our fondest memories were the many chats we shared. Miss you guys already... 
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Time to hit the road towards Katherine and Mataranka.

Posted by Jenandbrad 04:31 Archived in Australia Tagged wa nt Comments (3)

The Kimberley

Gibb River Road

By now it was too late to question our decision to take on the GRR, it was time to farewell the comfort of bitumen road and begin the 1,500kms of dirt corrugated track - 8 gorges, 42 river crossings, 5 pools & springs and countless Boab trees over two incredible weeks. We'll share our favourite stories.
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The guy who took this photo offered his knowledge on tyre pressures - then shared his experience of three punctures on his latest trip... We saw him 70kms in with his first puncture; We felt destined to suffer the same fate.

Four river crossings within an hour and we were still a fair way off our first stop, Tunnel Creek. With so many crossings you soon become blazay; the naming of creeks made sense to us... 
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Windjana Gorge NP campsite was literally on the gorge. This is the only one the Bush Tucker Man (for those that can remember him) suggests no swimming due to the number of freshwater crocs. We heeded his advice and took the morning to walk the beautiful trail seeing plenty of crocs on the way. 
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Bell Gorge was another magic site. We began the 30min walk late in the afternoon and by sunset, had the place to ourselves. Both of us took a dip, colder than expected but a nice way to end the day after a long drive
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There was plenty to see around Charnley River, our top pick was Lilly pools. Being the only ones there, we made the most of the morning swimming, reading and relaxing. 
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Our biggest surprise packet was Galvins Gorge, only a kilometre walk off the Gibb. We weren't expecting much but the cascading waterfall, surrounded by aboriginal art reminded us just how amazing this area really is. 
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There was not a great deal of free camping along the GRR. We did find Hann Creek late one evening and awoke to this picturesque spot.
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Onto the magnificent Mitchell Falls, about 170km north up Kalumbaru Road from Drysdale Station where we unhitched the van. Rivaling the Gibb for difficulty, we reached Mitchell River NP a powerful place holding strong cultural and spiritual significance for the Wunambal people. We took our time on the 9km return hike to the falls, taking a dip and carefully crossing rushing water, our anticipation growing with every step...
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... Definitely well worth the trek and detour up Kalumbaru Road.
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Back onto the GRR it was a quick stop at Ellenbrae to sample their famous scones...
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... before settling in at Home Valley for a few days. It was the perfect place to watch the full moon rise over the Pentecost ranges. 
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El Questro station was our last stay on the GRR and other than red dust everywhere we felt happy to have survived it...
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... Or so we thought! Backing the van into a camp site a tree jumped out of nowhere and took out the bike rack and part of the roof panel. 

To help us cool off and lighten up we took a dip at the Zibidee springs.
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Along the walk to Champagne springs we came across this 1,000 year old Boab worth hugging.
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On the home stretch we visited Emma Gorge, a two hour (return) bush walk to a stunning waterfall deep within the gorge.  
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With the help of the graders, the condition of the roads was better than expected; still the GRR was tough. Like sea sickness the waves of corrugation stay with you. A mixture of good fortune and taking our time seemed to save our tyres and suspension. It's not for the leisurely traveler but the GRR is the best way to experience the true Kimberley, it has become such a highlight of our travels so far... Still, we'll be happy to stay off dirt roads for some time to come :) 
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Posted by Jenandbrad 00:27 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (8)

West Kimberly

Having received mixed reviews, Broome was a pleasant surprise - not bad for a major town of the Kimberleys. We were made to feel welcome by the locals, the vast majority spend their summer months further south or come over from the east coast. We were only surprised by the number of well manicured resorts around Cable Beach; Other than this fella holding onto his patch... 
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... We can see why Cable Beach is often voted as one of Australia's best. 
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Towards Cape Leveque we stayed at Quondong Point, a free camp as raw as it comes - Rocky beach, red earth tracks and well spread out sites, it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
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Bob Marley is perfect for corrugated dirt tracks. It was definitely needed for our 110km day trip to Middle Lagoon via Beagle Bay.  
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The Beagle Bay town dog could only be one breed and was... mmn, well loved.
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The Church was in service so unable to go inside but interesting to drive through a remote community.
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Middle Lagoon was still worth the drive (we told our weary selves as we arrived back at base camp).
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Lure fishing back at Quondong was incredible but there were a few casualties. The trusty telescopic rod, on loan from the Bourke clan, caught this GT beauty before meeting its match. The second fish must have been huge, it snapped the rod and took the new lure! RIP T-rod, you lived a very full life, you will be missed.
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Returning to bitumen has never felt so good! The overnight roadside stop before Fitzroy Crossing was named the Boab Tree rest area, understated we thought!
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The height of the Fitzroy Crossing gives you an idea about how much water flows through the wet season. 
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Brad took the chance to kayak up Geikie Gorge one afternoon and spend the night camping along the river...
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... The rangers recommendation was to head to Crocodile Creek (only freshwater crocs here!) about 6 kms further north...
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... As soon as the trees began crowding over, it felt like a comfortable place to set up camp for the evening.  
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... The feeling of isolation was sometimes unnerving with plenty of unfamiliar and abrupt sounds. Still, there was a sense of calmness about this place.
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Fitzroy Crossing was a chance to stock up and recharge...  
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... before heading towards the infamous Gibb River Road, 660kms of corrugated red dirt track... I can hear "Buffalo Soldier" already :)

Posted by Jenandbrad 04:32 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Karijini

Leaving Exmouth we stopped in at Tom Price, the gateway to Karijini National Park. This was our first experience of a mine town, covered in dust and overrun by Toyota utes and 4WDs, still lovely warm people... I'd hate to be the guy doing an inspection on this wheely big truck!.. 
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The park covers over 600,000 hectares, its draw-cards, the spectacular gorges, waterfalls and rock pools, so we setup camp right in the thick of all the action at Dales Gorge. Waisting no time we headed to Fortescue Falls. 
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After negotiating the rocky steps and narrow trail we arrived at the waterfall in awe. We continued to ramble along the gorge floor to Fern Pool, the first beautiful swimming hole. 
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Following the stream to the picturesque Circular Pool we were guttered that we forgot our towels... Until we saw the swimmers shock reactions to the "refreshing" (bloody cold) water.
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The return trip offered a short cut via the cliff top above Circular Pool. We gladly took this option...
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The next day we decided to hike through Weano Gorge, promising to be bigger and increasingly difficult. 
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Yesterdays Class 4, "often rough and needing a moderate to high level of fitness" trails were quickly upgraded to Class 5, "extremely rough terrain, high level fitness required as well as a nationally recognised accreditation to abseil"...Are you serious?!... Ok you are serious. Spider Walk aptly named.
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Grey Nomads thinned out here...
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Minus the abseiling equipment we came prepared with our towels this time to take a dip in Kermit Pool, at least one of us braving the cold.
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Our day was capped off at Oxers lookout. Extraordinary views of four gorges converging 100 metres below.
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Posted by Jenandbrad 06:28 Archived in Australia Comments (6)

Ningaloo

The road to Ningaloo Station was a hard corrugated drive 50km off the highway; the greatest test for the van to date. Other than a 'D' shackle that had rattled off, the rig made it in one piece. Very slow going but well worth it once we arrived... Driving through the station we noticed that wild goats outnumbered the sheep!
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More spearfishing here along with more reef sharks! This time we teamed up - Jen in her kayak above me, ready to take the fish as soon as they were speared giving the sharks no chance. 
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The remoteness, warm weather and less restricted fishing attracts people to stay for long periods. Ken and Carol, our friendly neighbours were staying 4 months through winter (some couples stay up to 8 months a year!) They treated us like family. We were spoilt with fresh fish from the days catch, master chef quality dinners and one too many whiskeys. 
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Onto Cape Range National Park, our first booking and home for the week, a beautiful campsite in Osprey.
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We crossed paths as planned with Miki and Hadas. Great memories walking the Mundu Mundu Gorge together...
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... eating together...
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... fishing together... 
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...jamming together... 
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... and checking out more locals...
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So we know that roos come out at dusk but this place is ridiculous! Check out this video to see what we mean.

The black footed rock wallaby can only be found at Yardie Creek, Mundu Mundu Gorge and Esperence. Normally seen early mornings or late afternoons we were surprised to see them out in force around midday. Well camouflaged and smaller than expected.
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We saved the $100 p/p price tag for the Yardie Creek boat tour and headed on our kayaks first thing in the morning. Traveling through the gorge was a different experience to walking alongside it. So much more activity..

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At the top end of the range we were amazed to be sharing lunch with a Dugong,  slowly making its away along the sea grass bed.

We have been blown away by this place and leave with fond memories; soon it will be time to head out via Exmouth to Karijini NP. 

Posted by Jenandbrad 21:24 Archived in Australia Tagged wa Comments (2)

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