Monthly Archives: May 2018

Bell Gorge to Mornington WIldlife Conservancy, Gibb River Rd, Kimberley WA

Thursday 31st May 2018
Can you believe we have been on the road for 55 days now. Wow, how time flies, we have travelled over 12,000km since we left home, spent $1,943 on accommodation and $2,496 on fuel. We are still having a great time although the Gibb River Road is not as big an adventure as we first thought. We expected a lot more remote wilderness but there are so many people here, travelling on the dirt highway. The road is better in some parts than others.

We left Silent Grove campground at Bell Gorge early this morning with an unknown destination for tonight as we had been told our preferred place may be booked out. DB had read on WIkiCamps that someone had wanted to go there on the 20th and had to wait to 24th as they were booked until then. We had no phone service and hadn’t pre-booked as we never know how long it will take to get where we are going and we don’t really like to plan anything too far ahead. So we decided to risk it and try when we got to Imintji Roadhouse which was 33km from Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary and they had Optus phone service. Can you believe it! Optus again. We stopped and I ducked in to the shop and managed to buy some broccoli, zucchini and capsicum. I did a little dance as I wasn’t looking forward  to the latter part of our trip on the Gibb River Rd without fresh vegetables. We should be ok now. Yay! Then we called Mornington and we were in luck. They had availability for the 3 nights we were hoping to stay. Yippee!! So after communicating with everyone we could contact we headed on our way. We will be without phone service for the next few days again.

The drive to Mornington was on their private road and was 82km from the Gibb River Road. DB decided it was my turn to have another practise on the dirt road but was quite disappointed as the first 60km was really quite a pleasant and reasonably smooth trip. The last section got a bit windy, rough and there were a few creek crossings with water of varying depths. A good experience for me in case it is needed. DB is always preparing me just in case. The drive was very scenic and pleasant.

On arrival at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary which is an Australian Wildlife Conservancy property we checked in and found a nice little spot to camp for the next 3 nights. We set up the gazebo for the 3rd time this entire holiday as it really has only been necessary for the bugs as we really haven’t had any rain. Oh, I think we used it for the wind one night. We have really only set it up here to mind our campsite during the day when we take the car out to explore. This place has restricted entry, only 25 campsites with a maximum of 50 campers which is why we were a little concerned about getting a spot on the day. It is nice to have only a few people about but I would think it is the 25 they allow.

Well we will enjoy the quieter and less crowded time over the next couple of days.

Windjana Gorge to Bell Gorge, Gibb River Rd, Kimberley, WA

Wednesday 30th May 2018
Today we started out early to do what was on yesterday’s itinerary. A walk through Windjana Gorge and hopefully see our first crocodile. So off we go at an amazing 7.30am. Woohoo us!!

It was very still and the gorge was very peaceful, big and the water was smooth as glass. Will we or won’t we see a croc today. There are supposed to be lots of freshwater crocodiles in this gorge. David was very excited to see a croc so he headed straight to the water whilst I investigated a fossil cave. It didn’t take long for him to see his first croc but it was way over the other side of the river. Oh well, with the first sighting we could only improve, which we did. The gorge was amazing and the lighting was great at this time of the morning. we continued to walk through the gorge and we saw lots more crocs. They were of varied sizes and they were very much not interested in us. Except when you get a little closer where they follow you with their eyes. They don’t move just their eyes do. We then continued walking through the gorge which was over 3km in length. It was a pleasant walk but really after the initial cavern was just an enjoyable walk. Usually the end of a gorge walk ends in a spectacular pool or cavern but this one just had a sign which read “End of walking trail”. So we turned around and walked back. We went down close to the water again to see if the crocs were more active as it was a couple of hours later. And yes they were and there was a few more of them. It was a very beautiful gorge.

Ok well its 10am and we headed back to camp to pack up. We had a decision to make as well, whether to go to Mt Hart or not today. Petrol is an issue for us as we can only fill up at Barnett Roadhouse which is at 305km across the Gibb River Road which if we were just going straight across from Derby to Kununurra without any diversions we would make it without refuelling but each sidetrack adds 50 to 200km in distance to our km tally and we only have 900km to our fuel tanks. With this in mind we decided to give Mt Hart a miss this time. Mt Hart was apparently a very nice drive through the King Leopold Ranges but not sure if there was much to do there.

We had lunch at a lookout over the King Leopold Range and then made our way to our next stop Bell Gorge. This will also be our home for the night. On our drive in to the gorge we had our first creek crossing, very little water but at least there was some over the road. It is amazing how quickly the water disappears after the wet season. The road has only been open for a few weeks and it is already very dry here. After that we crossed another 6 creeks crossings with varying levels of water.The walk down to the gorge was very pretty with lots of water and greenery. We had a couple of water crossings where painfully we had to take off our shoes. We finally made it down to the gorge to join the many people swimming there. David finally had his first swim in a gorge, the other closest at Python Pool (where he almost made it in the water but a fish bit him on the leg just as he was working up to getting in which made him stop. It really was too cold for him there anyway). The water temperature here was beautiful and we swam for about 30mins. We then headed back to camp at about 4.30pm. Yay us, in and set up by 4.35pm. We even had dinner by 5.30pm which id very unusual as we are usually racing the sunset to find our camp site. It is so much easier when we get there in the light..

Another fun filled day of adventure. Where to next? Only time will tell.

Birdwood Downs Station to Windjana Gorge, Gibb River Rd, Kimberley WA

Tuesday 29th May 2018
After a really bad night with the mozzies inside our new tent, DB and I are not impressed. As we think it may be mozzie country along the Gibb River Rd, we have decided to go back to Derby to get some repellent to futon the window screen or some flatscreen to double screen the windows. This will put us behind schedule for today but better than getting Ross River virus which is mosquito born in this area. As usual 30 minutes turns into 1 hour but that’s the way it goes.

Finally on our way by 11am we head back onto the Gibb River Road. Our first stop is for lunch along a river, no crocs to be seen but it won’t be long. Then on to Tunnel Creek. This is a cave that goes about 750m. When we arrived there was about 8 cars in the carpark and a bus, this was quite surprising as we hadn’t seen that many cars around today. We walked through the cave, through water in some parts with the possibility of seeing freshwater crocs, bats, eels and fish. We only saw a couple of yabbies and some fish. DB was really disappointed, he flashed his light everywhere hoping to see something a little more exciting.  We even walked for a little while outside the cave along the river in hope of seeing a crocodile. Not to be today.

We then walked back through the cave, once your feet are wet it doesn’t matter much on the way back if you get wet feet again.

From here we headed to Windjana Gorge campground for the night. When we arrived at the National Park campground it had 2 sections. Generators or Quiet Area, we had been told that sometimes it is better to go to the generator area as the grey nomads at least go to sleep by 9pm and generators get turned off between 8pm and 7am, and the Quiet Area is sometimes very noisy with party people. We couldn’t believe how many setups there were in the quiet area, maybe about 40-50, so we headed to the generator area where there was only about 25-30.

It was a good decision as it is very peaceful here and it is only 9.30pm. The facilities here are pretty good and I even managed a hot shower which was great.

Time to work out some things for the next few days. Where we can go as petrol suppliers is limited and distances are great. We only have a 900km distance with our petrol tanks and the first petrol is at the 334km mark but every place we go to before there is between 60 and 100km added to the distance. We are already on 265km, so there is a bit of calculating to decided where we can go and what we need to give a miss. Oh well, we will see how we go.

Broome to Derby, WA

Monday 28th May 2018
Well we have finally left Broome area, it feels like we have been hanging around here for a little while. Although we have been away in the Dampier Peninsula for 4 or 5 days. We are now set to move on to the next part of our adventure.

“The Gibb River Road”.

This road is from Derby to Kununurra and is a dirt road all the way. We haven’t quite decided what we will see along the way but anticipate we will be at least 10 days. We are hoping it is going to be a great adventure.

Anyway, after picking up a couple of things at the camping store, we were on our way. First stop Derby. I did some driving today before we get to the dirt track as I don’t like driving on the dirt roads too much. The road to Derby was pretty ordinary as far as highway standard goes. The scenery changed a little with the termite mounds changing colour from red to brown, some water along the roadside and a change in trees. At Derby we went to a couple of tourist things – the Prison Boat Tree, 120m cattle trough, we also had a look at the huge tides at the wharf, it was also mangroves to the shore and brown murky water. We are finally in croc country. Then a trip to the Norval Art Gallery, Indigenous art from throughout the Kimberley as well as works by other prominent artists run by Mark and Mary Norval. Whilst talking to Mark we found he was a friend of one of our friends for the surf club. It is such a small world. The artwork was really interesting and we spent longer than anticipated here, meaning yet again we didn’t make tonights intended destination.

We are at a lovely homestead “Birdwood Downs” only 16km on to the Gibb River Road. We are the only campers here and apart from the mozzies it is fantastic.

Can’t wait for this adventure to unfold. Tomorrow we are off to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. Yay!!!

Kooljamon to Broome, WA

Sunday 27th May 21018
Not much to report today.

We drove back to Broome (100km straight road of bitumen, 107km corrugated red dirt). We had intended doing a camel ride on Cable Beach and then watching the sunset and take a photo of the camel ride at sunset but unfortunately the tours don’t run today and tomorrow morning they also aren’t running as the tide is too high. So I will have to leave that one for another time as we are leaving Broome in the morning.

After a quick lunch at Cable Beach and a little watch of a polo game on the sand, we then did a bit of shopping, housekeeping, maintenance and are having an early night. We are staying at Cable Beach Caravan Park, our biggest park yet, over 500 sites. Apparently by next month they will be full and it is madness. Glad we will be gone.

Kooljamon, Cape Leveque, Dampier Peninsula, WA

Saturday 26th May 2018
Well today we are going on Brian’s Tagalong Tour at Kooljamon. We met at the office at 8.30am for a 8.30am-9ish start. Brian works of Broadbent time. Believe it or not but when we have to be somewhere on time we can do it. After sharing our tools around for deflating tyres we set off on our way. There were 7 vehicles in the tagalong tour and 21 people including 5 children plus Brian and 3 of his kids from his community. The kids made it extra good value as they just say what they think and don’t worry about political correctness.

So of we go, without even a word about who has driven on sand etc, but considering the roads we have driven on to get there, I suppose that conversation was unnecessary. Or was it? We only drove a very little distance before we stopped for our first educational chat. What tracks could we find and what were they. There were ant lines, bird tracks, a marsupial, a cat (every cat kills about 60,000 native animals in its lifetime, so if there are a hundred cats in the area, that is 600,000 native animals dead. Not very good statistics). We also heard a lot about his family history. We then drove a little further and stopped at a midden where Brian explained about these. (Shell middens are places where the debris from eating shellfish and other food has accumulated over time. They can contain: shellfish remains. bones of fish, birds, and land and sea mammals used for food. charcoal from campfires). Often Aborigines leave signs at the midden to inform further visitors to the area things like – the water here is good, or it is not – just by the way they leave or place a shell. We then went to a swimming spot. We haven’t been in the water sine Exmouth with the Irukandji and now crocodile risk so it was lovely to have a swim. The water was crystal clear and a pleasant temperature.On the way to the swimming hole our first car fell victim to the sand. Brian also taught us how to blow in a shell to make a whistle sound. Some of us were better than others. As we left the swimming spot our second victim in a hire car got bogged. The rest of the group were gone so David and I stayed to help, he let his tyres down a bit more but without success. He was stuck and overheated the transmission so we left him with our tyre deflator for when the transmission cooled down and went on to the group. On the way Brian came back to rescue them. He just let their tyres down to 10 PSI and drove them out. The group then did some spear fishing in Hunter creek. We just watched as we had missed the initial instruction as Brian hadn’t even realised 2 cars were missing until someone told him. They caught 3 Mangrove Jack fish. We then had a break for lunch and then went o a mud crabbing expedition. This went for ages as we waled around the creek in search of mud crab holes. We asked the aboriginal girls if there were crocs in the creek. One answered YES, the other No, so take your pick. The young Aboriginal boy was straight into the snorkelling, fishing and crabbing. He was having a great day. We managed to get 4 large mud crabs which Brian cooked on an open fire and we shared. The meat was very tasty and so fresh. He shard some more stories. We then headed back to camp at about 4pm, so it was a long day. We sat and watched the sunset near the restaurant and then headed back for dinner.

It was a great day. Brian was a real personality.

Pender Bay Escape to Kooljamon, Dampier Peninsula, WA

Friday 25th May 2018
Well we have had a fantastic day today.

We started the day with a beautiful sunrise. Sorry no photos as we just lay in bed and watched the sunrise over the ocean from our rooftop tent. The colours were magical, bright orange and reds. Then as it came up slowly changed to pinks and mauves. It was truly beautiful.

Then we had a lovely breakfast on our clifftop campsite and watched the dolphins and we thought maybe a whale calf swim in the bay. Truly magnificent.

Then we packed up from our little hideaway and headed to tourist city, so we thought. First stop Lombadina Aboriginal Community. This was a small town with only 50 residents as they had split with Djarindjin Community in the 1980s due to political intervention and differences. The Djarindjin community have about 250 residents. We went on a tour which we thought would be more detailed but as it turned out we think they were only in their infancy as far as tour operations goes. Anyway it was quite informative but very minimal.

We then headed to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm where we did the Pearl Farm operation tour. This was fantastic. Terry our guide grew up on the farm with the 3rd generation “Browns” – sons of the original Pearling founder. His story of the start of the Pearling industry in Broome was very interesting. It started with the Japanese who were the first to cultivate pearls. Then Dean Brown experimented and furthered the cultured pearling industry in Australia. The farm is now run by 3rd generation ‘Brown’s” and it is a huge operation. They currently are cultivating 90,000 live pearls in different stages of farming. They have a quota they are allowed to collect from the ocean at 80 Mile Beach which has an over abundance of the Pinctada Maxima shells (they can grow to the size of dinner plate). They then bring them to Cygnet Bay where they start the culturing process by inserting a small spherical piece of ground mother of pearl shell into the collected shell and then put it back in the ocean for 2 years. This is how long it takes for the pearl to culture. In this time the shells must be cleaned every month, a very laborious task. Then after 2 years they bring the oyster shells back in and open them, if a good pearl has grown they can re-do this in the same shell another 2 times. If it is not a good quality pearl they will discard this oyster shell. There was lots more detail but if you are interested their website can explain the whole industry. It is very interesting. They also have a hatchery where they grow the shells from the beginning. This is a different process and takes five years for the first pearl harvest. This year they are harvesting their first pearls from the hatchery. It is a very exciting time for them. They currently have the biggest ever cultured  A” grade round white pearl” measuring 22mm.

Originally the Aborigines collected the Pinctada Maxima for its meat and the mother of pearl shell which was worn by the men once initiated into manhood.

After the tour we headed to Kooljamon at Cape Leveque – our home for tonight. This is a bigger tourist concern and we will be doing a tour from here tomorrow. We went for a sunset beach walk again. A popular thing to do in the west. It was spectacular once again. Following this we had pizza for dinner at the outdoor restaurant. A welcome rest from cooking for me.

Pender Bay Escape, Dampier Peninsula, WA

Thursday 24th May 2018
Well this will blow you all away.

Today we had a big REST day!. I am sure you will be wondering if we are a little sick, but no. We just decided to take a day off. So a little rest, a little reading, a little drawing, oh and a little washing was the extent of my activities in the morning. DB did bit more, he did some bike maintenance, some car maintenance and some tidying up.

Then after lunch, and really just because we can’t sit still for a whole day we went on an exploration, rock scramble to find cave around the corner. Andrew said we couldn’t miss it, but obviously his definition of a cave and ours is quite different as we couldn’t find it. We had a great afternoon, a little challenging at times, a little wet at others, and a bit of adrenalin as the tide came in.

Then a quick drive up to the lookout for the sunset, but not really that good up there, so we decided to come back to camp for an early shower and dinner. Wonders will never cease. We are slowly getting to understand the grey nomad drill, even though we are only Junior Grey Nomads.

We have had a lovely day and we even sat and just looked at the stars tonight. A very nice and welcome change.

Anyway. Nighty night. xxx


Broome to Pender Bay, Dampier Peninsula. WA

Wednesday 23rd May 2018
Today we woke to the calls of many different birds at Broome Bird Observatory campsite. They were sooo noisy. After breakfast we went for a walk around the park to try to see some of the birdlife but we probably should have got up when they woke us up as there weren’t too many about.

We then headed on our way, unfortunately when we stopped to pump up the tyres we had another glitch. The air compressor stopped working. Oh oh! Once we sorted this mishap out we started on our way again to the Dampier Peninsula-Cape Leveque. This was a 200km corrugated dirt road. Fun Fun Fun!! Not!! But it wasn’t too bad. The entire peninsula is run by Aborigines in Aboriginal Communities.

Our first stop was at Beagle Bay to have a look at the Sacred Heart Church then on to Pender Bay Escape, a small campground where we will base ourselves for the next couple of days. It is picturesque on the cliff of Pender Bay. Absolute waterfront living and dining. It is very beautiful.

Broome WA

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Today was a bit of a lay day whilst we decided what we would do. We had a broken fridge door which DB spent all morning trying to source the part, find a way to get it to Broome, without success. 8-10 days, too long as we won’t be here by then. Then we went to Cable Beach, Town Beach and cemetery, did some shopping, then headed for tonight’s home – Broome Bird Observatory. It was just like a National Park so we were in our element. We went to a bird count meeting and were amazed that between the rangers and the Birdies staying here they had seen over 70 different species today. Quite impressive.

Tomorrow we head to Cape Leveque for a couple of days.