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The Kimberley

Posted on 3 Jul 2009 | 0 comments

The basic plan for this trip: Marcus and Jude drive Lara and Paddy (Marcus’ car) up through the Pilbara to Broome via Mt Augustus (the biggest monolith in WA) and Karijini. Jon, Mel and Karlie fly into Broome about 10 days later and then we’ll start our round trip through the Kimberley. Rough plan for the Kimberley is to drive via the Gibb River Road to Kununurra with a big side trip to the Mitchell Plateau. After Kununurra we want to head down to Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) and hopefully Wolfe Creek (nope – we haven’t watched the movie yet, we will watch it when we get there…). Jon has to leave us after the Bungle Bungles as he is going back to work and we’ll continue with places like Tunnel Creek and Geiki Gorge before dropping off Mel and Karlie at the airport in Broome. Marcus and Jude will drive the cars back down to Perth again…

July 2009: We’re back – the trip has ended… 44 days of holidays…time flies! This is the story of the Kimberley section of the trip, check out the rest of the trip in the Pilbara post.


Jude picked up Jon from the airport in Broome and we all went for a nice breakfast and some shopping in Chinatown. Scooby and Jude had to buy new thongs and Jon bought another pair of shorts.

Later that day we drove up to Cape Leveque to spend the weekend there, waiting for Mel and Karlie to arrive in Broome. We tested the new kayak (terrified of the possibility of salties around), went exploring the mud flats at night (was that a safe idea?), walked around Cape Leveque, Marcus got close to a few snakes, helped out an aboriginal family to rearrange some studs on their car (the wheel only had 3 left!) and went mud crab hunting with spears (is that smart with salties roaming the same areas?!) before eating them straight from the bbq. We also said good-bye to John and Scooby who were continuing their holiday in the opposite direction from here (and also a bit faster than us).

amazing colours!

amazing colours!

Jude and Marcus on the beach at Cape Leveque

Jude and Marcus on the beach at Cape Leveque

swimming off Cape Leveque

swimming off Cape Leveque

red, white and blue of Cape Leveque

red, white and blue of Cape Leveque

beautiful colours on the beach at sunset

beautiful colours on the beach at sunset

Jude having a beer at sunset

Jude having a beer at sunset

Marcus, Jon and Jude enjoying a beer at sunset

Marcus, Jon and Jude enjoying a beer at sunset

Jon and Jude at sunset

Jon and Jude at sunset

Jon at the start of the holiday

Jon at the start of the holiday

the moon above the red rocks at Cape Leveque

the moon above the red rocks at Cape Leveque

Back in Broome we picked up Mel and Karlie and some more supplies before finally heading off to the Gibb River Road – first stop: Windjana Gorge where we went for a walk to the end of the gorge and then decided to go for a paddle. We discovered just how many crocs live in the river when we returned in the dark with our head torches on… there is literally at least one croc every 10m or so!

Jon and Marcus making damper for the camp oven

Jon and Marcus making damper for the camp oven

camping next to a croc-infested river safely above our cars, yes there are salties in this river so no swimming unfortunataly

camping next to a croc-infested river safely above our cars, yes there are salties in this river so no swimming unfortunataly

going for a walk into Windjana Gorge

going for a walk into Windjana Gorge

freshies in Windjana Gorge

freshies in Windjana Gorge

looking back over Windjana Gorge

looking back over Windjana Gorge

kayaking in Windjana Gorge

kayaking in Windjana Gorge

During a run Marcus discovered some caves with rock art in them and we all went to have a look too before heading out to the Horizontal Waterfalls. The gap between the rocks is so small and the difference in height of the sea between high and low tide causes the horizontal falls. They are incredibly powerful. We flew there on a bi-plane and immediately jumped into the speed boat to zoom through the falls a few times. Great fun.

areal view of the Horizontal Falls

areal view of the Horizontal Falls

the pontoon near the Horizontal Falls, the boats anchored here would be our home for the night

the pontoon near the Horizontal Falls, the boats anchored here would be our home for the night

Fishing time up the creek after that with the girls catching all the fish with the hand reels. We used up quite a bit of bait fish so after a delicious fishy dinner we helped the crew catch some more bait fish from the jetty before petting the tawny sharks that always hang around. We also caught a small hamerhead that we were going to release. But he nearly died on the line before we could bring him in as a bigger shark decided to take a bite (he did survive and was released a little later, must have been quite traumatising for the little fellow).

the girls catching fish in the creek

the girls catching fish in the creek

catching bait fish at night off the jetty

catching bait fish at night off the jetty

Jude petting the tawny nurse sharks

Jude petting the tawny nurse sharks

Jon petting the sharks with beer in hand

Jon petting the sharks with beer in hand

Marcus. Mel, Karlie, Jon and Jude

Marcus. Mel, Karlie, Jon and Jude

Too soon it was time to head back and continue our drive on the Gibb River Road. We stopped in at Bell Gorge for a lovely swim and explored the gorge before heading over to Lennard Gorge. Unfortunately the road to get there was closed, but we found out we could still get there on foot. We packed our tents, left our cars with the road working crew and hiked in. Having the place to ourselves was amazing. It is a very beautiful gorge and we explored in every direction. It is very similar to some of the gorges in Karijini. Some of us got a ride back to the cars, others decided to go for a run…

beautiful waterfall in Bell Gorge

beautiful waterfall in Bell Gorge

Jude and Jon going for a swim

Jude and Jon going for a swim

Jon in Lennard Gorge

Jon in Lennard Gorge

a beautiful Golden Orb spider

a beautiful Golden Orb spider

Jon in Lennard Gorge

Jon in Lennard Gorge

camping next to Lennard Gorge

camping next to Lennard Gorge

Our next stop was the Mornington Station. It is a working station bought by the AWC and they are doing a lot of practical research here with the help of volunteers. They restarted the early season deliberate fires to prevent the really hot fires later in the (dryer) season and also fenced off a whole area to let nature recover. They realised billabongs recover in a year if they are not trampled by the many cow hooves… Another thing they are researching is the number of dingos and its relation with other predators and local wildlife. It seems if you reintroduce dingos they stabilise it all, bringing down the number of foxes and cats and actually helping local wildlife survive.

We had to take the boats out for a paddle on the beautiful river of course, climbing up to one of the local caves for an amazing view. The next day Marcus, Jon & Jude went for a hike up to the top of Fitzroy Bluff before cooling off at Cajeput Pool (still a bit nervous about the crocs) with the bouncy ball.

call before driving down to Mornington Station as it is a long drive from the main Gibb River Road (89km)

call before driving down to Mornington Station as it is a long drive from the main Gibb River Road (89km)

paddling in Dimond Gorge

paddling in Dimond Gorge

wildlife enjoying a swim

wildlife enjoying a swim

a lizard also off for a swim

a lizard also off for a swim

view over Dimond Gorge on Mornington Station

view over Dimond Gorge on Mornington Station

Jude and Marcus on top of Fitzroy Bluff

Jude and Marcus on top of Fitzroy Bluff

sun setting on Fitzroy Bluff

sun setting on Fitzroy Bluff

We then fill up (ouch, nearly $2 a litre!) just before the turn-off to Mitchell Plateau and bump into Scooby. After lunch at a lovely creek crossing we continue our way north towards the Mitchell Falls when disaster strikes. Jude doesn’t see a whole line of boulders in the line of driving due to the bull dust hanging around with the sun shining and flies up and over them, causing Lara to crash and land on her side. Game over for Lara and, we think, it is game over for our trip. We call Marcus on the radio and he returns to find Jon and Jude save but shaken next to Lara. Marcus and Jude drive back a few hours to the nearest station to ask for help, or better the use of the telephone. The lady is very helpful and after a few phonecalls to Kununurra and the insurance company we return to the crash side and wait.

the end of the road for Lara :-(

the end of the road for Lara 🙁

waiting for the tow truck by the side of the road for 36hrs

waiting for the tow truck by the side of the road for 36hrs

Lara on top of the truck

Lara on top of the truck

We wait for 36 hours before the tow truck arrives and we say our goodbyes to Marcus, Mel and Karlie. They continue their way to the Mitchell Falls and we head to Kununurra in the tow truck. After a long drive we arrive in Kununurra in the dark and, having called Kellie, we are picked up by a friendly face where we can spend the night. The next morning we arrange a rental vehicle through the insurance company, load everything over from Lara into the new car and head out to El Questro, our rendezvous point with Marcus, Mel and Karlie. We arrive pretty much at the same time and head out to our campsite along the river. We have a great dinner at the restaurant for a change and the next days we explore Zebedee hot springs, Emma Gorge and Amelia Falls.

our new car for the rest of the trip

our new car for the rest of the trip

measuring baobabs

measuring baobabs

Jon hiking in El Questro

Jon hiking in El Questro, on the way to Amalia Gorge

Jon and Jude at Amalia Falls on El Questro

Jon and Jude at Amalia Falls on El Questro

Jon admiring aboriginal art on El Questro

Jon admiring aboriginal art on El Questro

relaxing in the Zebedee Springs on El Questro

relaxing in the Zebedee Springs on El Questro

Jon and Jude in Emma Gorge

Jon and Jude in Emma Gorge

having a swim in Emma Gorge

having a swim in Emma Gorge

Jon, Jude, Marcus, Karlie and Mel at Emma Gorge

Jon, Jude, Marcus, Karlie and Mel at Emma Gorge

Back in Kununurra to sort out some things for Lara we head out for a day of fishing on the Ord River with our tow truck driver. We only catch a small shark but see plenty of massive salties floating around…

Jon fishing in the Ord River - yes massive salties roam these waters so no swimming or getting close to the waterline!

Jon fishing in the Ord River – yes massive salties roam these waters so no swimming or getting close to the waterline!

Next stop is the Bungle Bungles or Purnululu where we spend a few days exploring the amazing looking beehives and gorges. Jon and Jude go for a very hot overnight hike into Piccaninnie Gorge whilst the others explore the area on day hikes before going up into the skies with a helicopter to see the Bungle Bungles from above.

Jude in Purnululu NP

Jude in Purnululu NP

narrow gaps in Purnululu NP

narrow gaps in Purnululu NP

Jon in between the impressive beehives of Purnululu NP

Jon in between the impressive beehives of Purnululu NP

Jon hiking in the Purnululu NP

Jon hiking in the Purnululu NP

Jon hiking in Purnululu NP

Jon hiking in Purnululu NP

our camp site in Piccaninnie Gorge in Purnululu NP

our camp site in Piccaninnie Gorge in Purnululu NP

Jude hiking in Purnululu NP

Jude hiking in Purnululu NP

Jude hiking in Purnululu NP

Jude hiking in Purnululu NP

the beehives

the beehives

Piccaninnie Gorge in Purnululu NP

Piccaninnie Gorge in Purnululu NP

Jon hiking in Purnululu NP

Jon hiking in Purnululu NP

helicopter ride over the Bungle Bungles

helicopter ride over the Bungle Bungles

areal view of the beehives in Purnululu NP

areal view of the beehives in Purnululu NP

areal view of the beehives in Purnululu NP

areal view of the beehives in Purnululu NP

Then, when we are on our way out already, disaster strikes again and this time it is Paddy who dies. We drive out for help and the tow truck comes out again and brings us back to Kununurra where Paddy is delivered to the same spot as Lara.

camping by the side of the road as this time Paddy has died

camping by the side of the road as this time Paddy has died

Whilst we need to wait for Paddy to be fixed Marcus, Jon and Jude take one of the boats and go for an overnight paddle on the Ord River. There are freshies there, but no salties, or so they say. We head out quite late in the afternoon and with a lot of luck find a really great camp site where we enjoy a camp fire. The next morning we paddle further upstream as we try to get as close as we can to the dam. We don’t make it all the way, but get very close. The water flows a lot faster this far up the gorge.

starting our overnight paddle on the Ord River - perfectly safe here for paddling...

starting our overnight paddle on the Ord River – perfectly safe here for paddling…

very cute tree frog

very cute tree frog

our camp fire on the overnight paddle

our camp fire on the overnight paddle

3 in a boat this time, Marcus and Jude paddling, Jon taking photos

3 in a boat this time, Marcus and Jude paddling, Jon taking photos

When we get back it is time for Jon to fly back home and all the gear off Lara to be shipped back on a pallet. Before leaving Kununurra   Jude goes for a run in Mirima and then we all drive to Wolfe Creek. Of course we have to watch the movie at night, after visiting the crater during the day and at sunset.

shipping our stuff back after the holiday as we can't leave it in Lara in the yard

shipping our stuff back after the holiday as we can’t leave it in Lara in the yard

Jude on a run

Jude on a run

view of Wolfe Creek, a massive meteor crater

view of Wolfe Creek, a massive meteor crater

Wolfe Creek

Wolfe Creek

Jude, Karlie and Marcus on the rim of the Wolfe Creek meteor crater

Jude, Karlie and Marcus on the rim of the Wolfe Creek meteor crater

Wolfe Creek sunset

Wolfe Creek sunset

Wolfe Creek sunset

Wolfe Creek sunset

Our last stop is in Tunnel Creek where we take a boat with all the oldies and cruise up and down the river seeing the sights and listening to the stories.

Tunnel Creek from the boat

Tunnel Creek from the boat

Karlie and Jude on the boat in Tunnel Creek

Karlie and Jude on the boat in Tunnel Creek

Back in Broome we visit the real (!) dinosaur prints at low tide, seriously impressive, before dropping off Mel and Karlie at the airport. Marcus and Jude continue the trip back to Perth in Paddy and of course stop again in Karijini where we explore some more gorges. This time we want to explore the Red Gorge as well and nearly get hypothermia trying.

dinosaur prints at Gantheaume Point - yes, real ones!

dinosaur prints at Gantheaume Point – yes, real ones!

mud flats

mud flats

love these clouds above Red Gorge in Karijini

love these clouds above Red Gorge in Karijini

beautiful Karijini

beautiful Karijini

Marcus in Karijini

Marcus in Karijini

camping in Wittenoom Gorge

camping in Wittenoom Gorge

sunset in the Kimberley

sunset in the Kimberley

last camp site on our way back to Perth

last camp site on our way back to Perth

A few days later we are back in Perth, the end of an amazing trip and the end of the road for Lara. She never recovered from the crash and was declared a total loss by the insurance company. We bought her so we could salvage all the pieces of her we wanted to keep, bought another basic Land Rover Defender (a white one this time) and spent a lot of time having everything moved across from one car to our new car. Another Lara was born…


Very basic map of the Kimberley. The Gibb River Rd is the road between Derby and Kununurra via Windjana Gorge (just off the Gibb River Rd) and El Questro. Bungle Bungle NP is the same as Purnululu NP

basic map of the Kimberley region in Western Australia

basic map of the Kimberley region in Western Australia

 

 

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