Australia · 40 Days · 59 Moments · June 2016

Harris Family Kimberly Adventure

20 July 2016

Second last night of camping for the trip, in a caravan park in Coober Pedy. Sticky lamb ribs for dinner!

19 July 2016

Our 3rd last night of camping for the trip, and this time we found a bush camping site directly opposite the official rest stop on the Stuart hwy at the NT/SA border. Really nice little spot which you reach via an unmarked track between the tea trees. We would never have seen it if it were not for another car that ducked in ahead of us.
After spending the night in Alice, we headed out to Rainbow Valley, which my brother Ben had highly recommended. It was indeed very spectacular, would be even more so in the evening I suspect. Flies were awful though!

18 July 2016

Made it to the end of the Tanami!

17 July 2016

Our second night on the Tanami and we are bush camping again. This time we are camped up next to a dry creek bed and overlooking some mountains in the distance. Amazing bird life. This area is not so desert-like and in fact I think it may be a cattle station (loss of cows around anyway). Bush camping in these remote areas is really special.
Made it to the border!

16 July 2016

We camped up for the night just short of the WA/NT border. We choose a flat piece of desert that we could drive up onto by the side of the road. We were just enjoying the idea of being hundreds of kms from civilization when night fell and we noticed that we could see lights in the distance. That's when we realized we were camped only a few kms from a massive gold mine! Regardless, it was am amazing experience to be bush camping in the desert.
100km or so from the WA end of the Tanami Rd there is a side track you can take to visit the Wolfe Crater, the second largest meteor crater in the world. Also the setting for the Wolf Creek movies! After taking a gander at the crater we pushed on and stopped for lunch by the side of the road an hour or so later. Rest stops are few and far between so we just pulled the car over into an abandoned road quarry.
Now we're about top table the Tanami road - a ~1000km mostly dirt road from Hall's Creek to Alice Springs. It passes through the Tanami desert, and there are practically no services along most of it. Wish us luck!

15 July 2016

PS sorry about the incorrectly oriented photos. This journi app is driving me up the gorge.
Next day we packed up camp and stashed the trailer near the information center so we could drive up to the northern end for a look at the Echidna gorge. Definitely a highlight because if you get there around 11 in the morning and shaft of sunlight reaches down into the narrow gorge giving the effect that the whole thing is on fire as guy walk into it. The colours are amazing.

14 July 2016

A couple of shots of our campsite at Purnululu in the Walardi campground. They do not allow campfires which was unfortunate because it was very cold!
Now we are camped at Purnululu NP. We are staying here 2 nights. The first full day here we visited the Piccaninny Creek walks, and in particular Cathedral Gorge. This gorge culminates in a massive domed amphitheater after which it is named. The nearby lookout has spectacular views of the famous Bungle Bungle domed rock structures. Helicopters and small planes buzz constantly overhead, adding to the ambience.

13 July 2016

Next we decamped to Hall's Creek. It rained the whole day. We weakened and stayed in a motel ($340/night gasp!). The Tanami Rd was closed due to the rain which is worrying since we plan to return to Alice Springs on it in a few days time. Next day we looked at the the only local attraction which we could reach (others unreachable due to road closures) - the "China Wall", a quartz formation that looks kinda like the Great Wall of China.

12 July 2016

After leaving Broome, we spent the night at Fitzroy Crossing. For the first time on our trip it rained overnight! The next morning we visited Gieke Gorge NP. It was still raining which limited what we could do a little bit we took one of the shorter walks up the banks of the mighty Fitzroy river to see where the Margaret River flows into it.

10 July 2016

In the evening we followed the line of other 4wds down onto the beach, found an unoccupied spot, and pulled up for some drinks and nibbles. Some of the photos I took seriously look like they were lifted from a Toyota brochure. Meanwhile the camels continued to weave their way between the throngs.
Spent the afternoon checking out some of the tourist traps. Broome made its name from the pearling industry. The boats are pearling boats that used to take divers out to collect pearls in old school diving suits. One of the photos shows Emily trying the helmets for size. Another shows the boots they had to wear.
Bit of a rude shock going from the best site on our trip at Goombaragin to the worst at Broome. We have been allocated a tiny scrap of land. On one side is a bank of garbage bins. On another is a main road running behind the park. On a third is the laneway leading out of the park, complete with an automatic gate that slides into our site when it ooens! Not even enough room to set the trailer up properly. Lucky it is only for 2 nights.

9 July 2016

Today we arrived in Broome. After booking into a really crowded caravan park, we headed down to the beach. You can take camel rides on Cable Beach, which the girls were very keen to do, so we saddled up for the sunset tour.

8 July 2016

Our last night here at Goombaragin and I could not resist taking a few more photos, although they don't do it justice.
Today we visited One Arm Point, where the main attraction is the fish hatchery. We also had lunch at Kooljamin, the best known of the resorts here. I had initially tried to book here but could not get in, so we ended up at Goombaragin. So glad! Kooljamin is nice enough but their camp ground is nothing special.

7 July 2016

Had lunch at the Whalesong Cafe, just around Pender Bay a little. Mangoe Crushes were just the ticket! Also visited Middle Lagoon for a swim. Our hosts at Goombaragin very kindly gave us fresh fish that they had caught in the bay for our dinner. I really cannot recommend this place highly enough.

6 July 2016

Today spent the day on the beach just below the campsite, swimming and exploring the rock pools. The girls had a ball. The red cliffs are amazing, especially at sunset.

5 July 2016

For the next 4 nights we are staying at the Goombaragin Eco Retreat. What a special place! We have a tent site right on the edge of a cliff looking down over the ocean. There are only half a dozen glamping tents and unpowered sites here so it is really quiet. Huge contrast to Derby where we were paled in cheek by jowel. The owners Kathleen and John are really nice as well.
Driving on the Broome - Cape Leveque Rd. Parts of it are graded into a V shape so that you are driving at an angle that feels like about 20 degrees. We saw one camper van coming the other way that looked like it was about to topple over! Badly corrugated as well of course, as well as very sandy.

4 July 2016

Camp cooking ... Paella with prawns and chicken
We're staying in Derby a couple of nights. First contact with the Internet since Kununurra! Which explains why the blog entries all came at once. Also first decent washing machines, shops and hot showers. The photos are of the sunset at the pier and at the "Dinner Tree", a huge old boab once used as a staging post by the drovers while they waited for the tide to go out so they could drive their stock out across the mud flats.

3 July 2016

Finally we reached the end of the Gibb!

2 July 2016

They bought a Jeep ...
Next we visited Tunnel Creek, which is part of the same mountain range as Windjana. It runs through a cave which you can go along - quite spacious, complete with stalactites etc. You have to wade through the creek in sections. It is supposed to be inhabited by freshies although I didn't see any. When you get to the other end it opens out onto a beautiful little valley.
Windjana Gorge. Amazing limestone cliffs which were actually formed as a barrier reef millions of years ago when this area was under the sea. Amazing to think that it could have been formed from the secretions of millions of tiny creatures. It was crawling with Freshwater crocs which luckily are not too dangerous. The campsite is as dusty and crowded as they get but the fantastic views make up for it.

1 July 2016

After leaving Mornington we travelled to Imnitji. We had planned to spend the night at Silent Grove adjacent to Bell gorge, but the guy in the shop convinced us to try their spanking brands new campsite. There were only two other groups camped there so we had the brand new partially completed facilities almost to ourselves! Pretty dusty site but then so is Silent Grove. Next day we visited Bell Gorge. The flower is the rare Kimberly Rose which Nikki had been on the lookout for.

29 June 2016

In the afternoon we went to Sir John gorge. This one was great for swimming in. Very slippery rocks though! The other pic is of our campsite at Mornington. They have removed all stock from the property so it had become quite lush compared to the neighboring stations. We had a horribly expensive but very nice dinner at Mornington. The girls said they would think of it when they were eating baked beans on toast next time we get bogged somewhere!
In the morning we took a drive down to Dimond gorge. Unfortunately we had not reserved canoes which was a shame as that would have been the best way to explore the gorge. You can also see Nikki staving next to a massive termite mound. They are all over the place, every few metres!

28 June 2016

Here we are on the way to the Mornington Wilderness Camp. It is 80km or so off the Gibb River Rd. The access road has some amazing scenery.
We spent the night at the Manning Gorge campsite on Mt Barnett Station. We didn't actually walk right up to the gorge as we were all pretty nackered. Instead we had a swim in the swimming hole on the way up to the gorge. It has a cute pulley boat you can use to get across to the other side if you are going to do the gorge walk. The girls had great fun with it! Mt Barnett station has a reasonable shop so we stocked up on supplies and diesel.

27 June 2016

On the way back down the Kalumbaru Rd we had lunch at Drysdale River station. Check out their phone booth! The fridge had an actual pay phone in it!

26 June 2016

After driving several hours over a goat track we arrived at the Mitchell Plateau NP. We decoded to take a chopper rode up to the falls then walk back down as it would be too far for Amy to walk both ways. Expensive but a great experience as we got fantastic views on the way up. We had a swim in the pool at the top of the falls (apparently the crocs stay in the pools at the bottom). On the way back, Merton Falls were spectacular.

25 June 2016

Now we have reached the King Edward river campsite. It has a lovely croc free swimming hole! Also a very nice campsite. Nearby there are a couple of Aboriginal rock art sites. They were a little scary, totally quiet when we visited, reminded me of The Picnic at Hanging Rock movie.
We spent the night at Drysdale River station, on the Kalumbaru Rd, a side road off the Gibb that takes you to the Mitchell Plateau. It is a terrible road, seems to go on forever, with massive corrugations and copious quantities of dust. The dust does have the side effect of producing beautiful sunsets.

24 June 2016

At last we reached the famous Pentecost crossing. Bit of an anti climax as their was barely over the bottom of the tyres. No need to test out the snorkel on that one! The 290km distance marker is for Mt Barnett station, about half way along the Gibb. Also a couple of shots from a lookout a bit farther along.

23 June 2016

For our last activity at El Questro we visited El Questro gorge. That was a really challenging walk, in fact Amy and Nikki only made it half way up the gorge (to the half way swimming hole) because the next stage involved swimming across the hole and clambering up a massive boulder. Emily,  Chloe and Mike made it past that state bit still did not make it right to the top. Anyway it was beautiful!
Emily and Chloe taking a horse riding lesson.  Also a shot of our campsite at El Questro.

22 June 2016

 We visited Emma Gorge. It is still part of El Questro although you have to drive back to the Gibb river Rd,  up another 10km or so and across to the other side.  It is a massive property! The walk in / out is a bit of a challenge, you walk up the gorge as it narrows, scrambling over rocks and other obstacles. The gorge is fantastic. The water is really cold,  except for one small area which is fed from a spring of warm ground water. It's also very deep.
Chief cook and bottle washer

21 June 2016

This afternoon week took some 4wd tracks up to a couple of stunning lookouts - Pigeon lookout and Brancos lookout. Both of them had steep skinny tracks leading up to then,  and the latter had to be reached by crossing the Chamberlain river on a rocky crossing several hundred metres long. The views were worth it though - hard to describe. Pristine wilderness as far as the eye can see. We also saw the Durak boab tree, named after the original settlers and a fine specimen.
We're staying at El QUESTRO.  It used to be a castle station bit is now a tourist/eco resort. Slightly rough road in with a few water crossings.  The campsites are nice,  we snared a great one fat from most of the crowds. This morning we went for a swim in the Zebedee Springs,  another hot spring. Very pleasant if a little crowded (baby boomers seem to be everywhere and more of a hazard than cane toads!)

20 June 2016

Today we got the Gibb river road. This sign tickled me. How is one supposed to remember for the next 645km that there might be animals on the road?

19 June 2016

Now we are staying at the "Kimberlyland" caravan park in Kununurra. Fantastic spot despite the somewhat tacky name. It is right one the lake and the site we were allocated is looking directly onto it! These photos show the view. Every night an old toothless freshwater crocodile comes up to the little spit of land about 20m from our tent and hangs out with the campers! The pool however is safe to swim in so the girls spent half the day in it.
We went for a walk in the Hidden Valley NP, just on the edge of Kununurra. Quite spectacular, the photos don't really do it justice. You walk though this valley worth massive rock cliffs either side. We didn't go right to the top lookout, worried about pushing Amy too far, but she dodd really well walking 3km or so workout the slightest fuss.
We visited the Zebra rock gallery, so called because they make things out of this stripey rock. But for the kids the best bit was feeding the catfish at the end of their jetty. There were a couple of turtles also. From that spot you can also get a great view of the Sleeping Buddha aka elephant rock. We bought a bag of unfinished Zebra rock to take home and Polish at our leisure.

18 June 2016

Another really long day driving today, leaving Mataranka at around 830am and arriving Kununurra around 430pm. We drove through some spectacular country through the Judburra / Gregory NP. The most shrinking features are the huge red cliffs to the south of the highway particularly at the Victoria river crossing. Highway was pretty quiet and very bumpy! Finally hit WA only to have the quarantine guy turf out half our remaining food!

17 June 2016

We've spent the last 2 nights at Mataranka, about 100km south of Katherine. Mataranka's main claim to fame is the hot springs (although they are not actually volcanic, just ground water temp which is a balmy 32C. Anyway it makes a fantastic spot to stop a day after a few days solid driving through the desert (thanks to Nat & Luke for putting us onto them!). You can jump in at one point and float down on a swimming noodle (which you can hire from the camping ground). We must have gone down 20 times! Very relaxing. The campground is very nice, esp the unpowered sites down by the river.

15 June 2016

Tonight we're camped at the Devil's Marbles, about 450km north of Alice Springs. Our first real camp out of the trip! An amazing spot, and we have perfect weather for it. Apparently the Marbles were formed by the action of water seeping into a massive granite slab. The girls made clay Marbles out of modelling clay! Except for Amy who made an H (for Honor). PS apologies for the rotated pics. Just cannot seem to get this journi thing to recognise rotated images.

14 June 2016

Near disaster #2 averted. We stopped for lunch at a rest area about 350km from Coober Pedy. When I was packing up the trailer after lunch, the sliding drawer got stuck partly out. It had come partially off it's rail probably because someone applied too much force (oops). 20 minds of sweating later I was able to get it back on its track. Lucky I brought so many tools.

13 June 2016

It's a really long way from Adelaide to Coober Pedy! We didn't arrive till 9pm. We stayed at "the underground motel" (everything there seems to be underground) Some really nice scenery on the way up.

12 June 2016

Thanks very much to Lois and Royse who put us up in Adelaide! It was so nice to see them, to say nothing of the bliss of a warm bed after the ordeal of the Wail forest
First day and already bogged up to the axles .... Last night we had planned to stay the night in the Wail state forest near Dimboola. However I didn't realize how boggy the tracks were. Half way down the track towards one of the camping sites we got totally bogged. Out came the maxtrax and the shovel but it was no good, the cars belly was right on the sand. By then it was getting dark, so we made a campfire and got stuck into the marshmallows. It wasn't feasible to set the tent up there so we ended up sleeping in the car. OK for the girls and Nikki as we could lay all the seats in the back down, but not enough room for me so I had to sleep in the passenger seat. At first light I resumed digging but just could not clear all the sand from underneath. Eventually we had call for help, and after phone calls to the RACV (who couldn't help) and the police (who also couldn't but would make some calls) we finally saw the welcome sight of two SES volunteers who snatched us out. PHEW!!!

11 June 2016

Me trying to shovel us out ....