Trip Leader: Ivan
When: Saturday 23rd April 2rd – 20th May 2005
Location: Kimberleys WA
Left our overnight camp at 6.50 after a hot night and just as the flies were becoming interested in us. We were en route to Derby and a stay in Ivan’s friend’s block. We arrived at midday after a non eventful drive except for seeing our first boab tree’s in leaf and in some cases, in flower. The block was shaded by mango tree’s and blissfully we were able to do our washing in his machine, plug in our fridge’s, fill up with water and enjoy his shower and bathroom. Next it was off to the supermarket and bottle shop to get the necessities for the next day’s take off up the Gibb River Road.
Left 8 am – destination Myroondah Station (500,000 acres) on the Fitzroy River. This was only a couple of hours drive and instructions were given to us by the Managers, again friends of Ivan’s, on how to reach a good barramundi fishing and camping spot. This was somewhat trickier than we had anticipated and we had to resort to the satellite phone to ring in again for instructions. Approx 4 hours later, having negotiated some rather challenging gullies and tracks, we set up camp by the side of the river. Dinghies were launched and barramundi greatly enjoyed around the campfire that night.
Next morning early fishermen landed 4 barramudi, but only kept 3. Two of the remaining were 70 cm in length – some very happy fishermen indeed! Boats were then taken to a nearby sandbar for a picnic lunch, and afternoon wallowing in the river.
We’re spending another day camped by the Fitzroy River. Ivan and Chris returned mid-morning with a Barramundi each. Karen tried out the camp oven and treated everyone to scones for morning tea. After packing a picnic lunch we all headed up the river in our dinghies to a safer area from the crocs for a swim to cool off. We estimated the temperature to be around the high 30’s each day so far.
Everyone was up early and ready to leave this beautiful spot by 7.15. We headed back to Derby to stock up on supplies (including Barra lures) as it would be some time before we would see another supermarket. By 12.30 we were on our way and heading along the Gibb River Road. Our destination was Adcock Gorge. The scenery through the King Leopold Ranges was spectacular. Some of us enjoyed listening to the Dockers beating Melbourne. Roger & Jan blew a tyre, which was quickly repaired, and we arrived at our camp site near Adcock Gorge about 5pm, set up camp along side the river, then enjoyed a happy hour.
Our departure time was 8am today and everyone was ready on time. A short drive down a track we arrived at Adcock Gorge for a swim. Soon we were back on the Gibb River Road with our destination 300 kilometers to King Edward River. The road conditions are very good. We stopped for morning tea at Mt Barnett roadhouse and chatted with the local kids. Although the road conditions deteriorated as we drove further north along the Kalumbaroo road, the forests of Livingstonia Palms were very impressive. We arrived at King Edward River around 4, set up camp and then went swimming. The night time temperature was a little cooler, but still too warm to sit around the camp fire.
Day 10 Monday 2/5/05
We were up and packed early so some travellers could have a swim before we started on what turned out to be a slow rough trip into Mitchell Falls. We set up camp and at 11.30 the men started the strenuous walk to the falls while the ladies went by helicopter. (And they say it is a man’s world) A swim at the falls, lunch, a bit of sight seeing and another swim had us on the hot trek to camp.
Happy Hour started early with marinated spare ribs and the odd drink before an early dinner.
Day 11 Tuesday 3/5/05
All up bright eyed and bushy trailed ready for a new adventure. This morning we headed for Port Warrender on a track they say is not the best which turned out to be a complete under statement. The last part of this track was the roughest I have ever driven on however, when we arrived at Point Walsh which was to be our camp site, the road was only a memory. It was a beautiful isolated spot and you could see the fish jumping in the water.We set up camp and by mid afternoon we had our boats in the water but only caught one fish today.
Day 12 Wednesday 4/5/05
This was a good day for fishing, tides were right, time was correct, enthusiasm was spot on but the fish didn’t know all this!!! however we did catch one which tasted divine. We set six crab pots in a mangrove creek using plastic milk bottles for floats and when we came to check them the first time a large crocodile had one of the floats in his mouth so we decided to let him play and we would come back later.
Day 13 Thursday 5/5/05 (Martin and Karen)
Mothers Day started with a gift for the ladies from Ivan. Left camp at 7 am. At 8 am the satellite phone rang – it was the first of 2 mothers day calls for our leaders wife who leapt from her still moving vehicle and charged through shoulder high grass like a young gazelle to take the calls from tail end Charlie. Next we investigated some Aboriginal art found on a rock not far from our track. Its authenticity was queried by one or two of our party who felt that they had possibly been touched up recently. We lunched, paddled and swam by the Drysdale River and arrived at Mt. Elizabeth Station around 2.30 for a 2 night stay. We all helped to provide a communal mothers day roast that evening which we ate on a long table under the stars. This was followed by a splendid date and walnut cake also cooked in the camp oven, and washed down with Baileys and Port. A great end to our special day.
The next morning the ladies did laundry and cleaning, and the men did repairs to trailers, cleaned air filters and removed grass from under the vehicles. Some very interesting tyre fitting techniques were applied which will no doubt be the subject of some discussion at a later date. After lunch the ladies settled down to a crossword under the tree’s, and the men had a hard contested game of golf over and under wire fencing and entry gates. An evening shower sent everybody to their trailers for an early night.
We left Mt. Elizabeth Station at 7 am and arrived at Mt. Barnett Roadhouse for fuel, etc at 8.30. It was then off down the Gibb River Rd. until we turned off left and headed towards the Mornington Wilderness Camp (1 puncture at this stage). It was then left again onto Tablelands Road en route to the Bungle Bungles. After half an hour one vehicle sustained simultaneous back wheel punctures, and while stopped another tyre on another vehicle deflated. It was decided that discretion is the greater point of valour and although the road looked very good the small flints were more than our All Terrain tyres could cope with so we turned around back onto the Gibb River Road and lunched at Mt. Barnett Roadhouse while various casings were put onto hubs and punctures repaired. The combination of all these things put us back nearly a day, but with punctures repaired we set off mid afternoon to camp just off the Gibb River Rd. in a disused quarry.
Everyone rose early and we were packed up before the heat and on the Gibb River Road heading towards Kununurra by 7am. Casualty 17 struck at 9am. Another puncture. The guys are getting very proficient at changing tyres and it wasn’t long before we were on our way again. Graders were working on the next stretch of the Gibb River Road so it was pretty good. As we approached the end of the Gibb, the view from the Pentecost Range was quite spectacular. The Tippings and the Smiths decided to do a detour to Wyndham for a bit of sightseeing and fishing. The Archers and Freeguards headed for Tyre Power in Kununurra. After visiting the tourist spots of Wyndham the two couples found a lovely camp spot about 30 kilometers south of Wyndham along the King River. The other party booked into a caravan park, set up and then visited some of the sights around Kununurra. Although the sunset was missed at 5pm, the view from Kelly’s Knob was quite spectacular with bush fires burning on the mountain ranges. They then treated themselves to a Chinese meal for dinner.
The fishing party waited for the 7.5 metre tide to arrive about 11am, then began fishing. Quite an interesting site to see a river empty of water and then all of a sudden it comes pouring in. The boys earlier used their cast nets to get some mullet for bait, but didn’t have any luck converting them into Barramundi. A slow pack up took place in the 37˚c heat and it was then off to Kununurra. Jan, Roger & Karen went on a boat cruise up the Ord River which they found very interesting and informative. No camp fire tonight because we’re in the Kimberleyland Caravan Park, but we still congregated for a happy hour and chat about everyone’s adventures.
It’s 8am on Friday the 13th (Black Friday) as we head out of Kununurra towards Purnululu (Bungle Bungles). The drive down the Great Northern Highway was very scenic through the Saw, Carr and Durack Ranges. The 53 kilometer drive through Mabel Downs Station to the Bungle Bungles National Park was very windy and picturesque as we traveled up hill and down dale. After setting up camp, we went for a drive to Walanginjdji lookout and watched the shadow of the sun setting on the rocks. The evening meal was a buffet with Satay Pork, Chicken Chasseur, Japanese Curry and Tuna Pasta Bake, complimented with red and white wine and topped off with a port. Very enjoyable and in no way was today a black Friday.
Day 22 Saturday 14/5/05
Today was our day to see the Bungle Bungles and as it was going to be a hot day we left camp at 5.30am and drove to Picaninny Creek car park. We spent two hours walking to Cathedral Gorge which was worth the walk. On the way back we followed the domes trail which took us amongst a section that is called the Bee Hives; this was also worth the walk. 10.00 am saw us back at camp for a cuppa and pancakes. After lunch we went to Echidna Gorge which was a two hour walk along a canyon that became narrower and more difficult as you walked, until we could touch the sides without extending our arms. I must congratulate our four ladies for completing this very difficult walk. We returned to camp around for a happy hour plus a quiz on the trip so far which was won by Chris Smith.
Day 23 Sunday 15/5/05
This was a day of travel. We left camp at 7.00 am and headed for somewhere near Willare . First major stop was lunch and fuel at Halls Creek and as it was Sunday morning not much was open so we were soon on our way to Fitzroy Crossing. Fuel again for some then half hour checking nothing and we were once again on our way. We arrived at a campsite south of Willare about 5.00 pm and soon had dinner on and happy hour on the way.
Day 24 Monday 16/5/05
This day started with a flat battery in one of the vehicles but jumper leads soon fixed this little problem and our first stop was Roebuck Roadhouse for fuel and phone calls. We decided to stay at Barnhill for a couple of days R & R before heading home. Arriving at 11.00am we had plenty of time to set up camp prior to lunch. After lunch we all hit the beach to get some of the Kimberley dust out of our system and it was most welcome. Fishing for bait was next on the agenda as tomorrow was to be our last chance to nail that big one.
Day 25 Tuesday 17/5/05 (Martin and Karen)
Success was had by Roger and Chris.
A planned 8:00 o’clock launch of the boats was organised so that we could accompany some of the regular fishermen of the area in a convoy of dinghies (safety in numbers and to learn from their knowledge of the area). However the surf proved a problem for one boat owner who gave up after his boat was swamped by a wave. Ivan and Chris decided to brave the waves and loaded their boat into the water. An attempt to out pace an in-coming wave saw Ivan launch his boat over the crest of the breaking wave with Chris hanging on with white knuckles. It was a spectacle that could only be appreciated by being there. Martin and Roger decided not to launch their boat until about an hour later when the surf subsided a little. Once again, it was Roger and Chris having the success at fishing. Chris catching 2 spotted cod and Roger a pair of buggered-if-I-know fish.