Kimberley Explorer

Trip Leader: Guy & Wendy Lehmann

When:   1st – 30th June 2012

Location: Kimberleys

Participants:  Guy & Wendy Lehmann, Bruce & Judith Brinkley,  David & Tracy Jones, Michael Gilbert, Malcolm & Trish Harrison,  Richard & Helen Kingston, David Igglesdon & Chris Gostelow, George & Linda Bickendike, Ian & Robyn Tooke & Emma, Glenn Bignell.

Guy and I would like to thank everyone for their great company and lots of laughs during our month away.

Perth to Middle Lagoon
The day had finally arrived for us to head off on this trip which had been in the planning for twelve months.  We started from Gingers Roadhouse at 8.00am with five vehicles. (David & Tracey, David & Chris, Glen, Bruce & Judy and Guy & Wendy).

It didn’t take us long to discover that having two David’s on the trip was just not going to do, so after many suggestions, D1 & D2, one being Dave was not even to be considered, it didn’t take long to realise that David Igglesdon was having some radio problems so he became Scratchy, Chris in his car with him Itchy and David Jones, DJ!

The first four days were pretty full on driving days and no sightseeing.  The first night we camped at Blue Bird Camp just outside Meekatharra.  The first day unpacking problems soon started when Bruce realised that his flash new  box he had made to neatly store his miscellaneous bits and pieces on the top of his camper was too heavy when it was loaded.  When he tried to lift the rack to open his camper,  he couldn’t lift it and the struts broke with bits falling in all directions narrowly missing Judy’s head as she was trying to unpack around that side.  In the morning the campers were a bit harder to pack under their little covers when the canvas was cold, so some rearranging of the pack up process had to take place.

7.00am was the starting time for most days when we were to be moving on.  A little hard the first morning, but everyone soon got into the routine of being ready on time.

We had roadside camps each night in on our way to Broome at Bea Bea Creek just north of Auski Roadhouse and Goldmire Rest Area north of Sandfire Roadhouse.
We met up with George and Linda in Broome after doing a little shopping and having a little time to look around and then headed to Middle Lagoon on Cape Leveque to meet up with the rest of the crew. (Ian, Robyn and Emma, Malcolm & Trish and Michael).

Middle Lagoon was absolutely magnificent.  The lagoon was just like something you would see in the movies, grass huts and beautiful blue water.  While we were there is was a full moon and coincided with the stairway to the moon in Broome.  We couldn’t see it from where we were to we had our out stairway to the sun and wanted the sunset over the ocean during happy.

Days 5 & 6
We had a day of rest a Middle Lagoon after the long driving days.  Just down the road there was a fantastic cafe in the middle of nowhere called Whale Song Cafe, so naturally we had to go out for afternoon tea.  It had fantastic ocean views and great drinks (Guy who has never liked mango, is now hooked on mango crush).

Thursday was spent exploring the local area, Lombadina, Cape Leveque (which was really disappointing, because if you don’t actually stay there, you have to pay $10 each to walk around there and go to the beach).  We were looking for somewhere to park up and have lunch so we went on to One Arm Point, had lunch on the beach and visited the fish hatchery.  That was very interesting and fun when asked to feed to barramundi. Trish had to check she still had all of her fingers.  On the way back to Middle Lagoon we detoured off to visit the Beagle Bay settlement.  Richard and Helen and Roger and Jan joined us on our last day at the lagoon.

Day 7 & 8 – The start of the Gibb River Road
We travelled to Windjana Gorge via Derby for another little bit of shopping.  Some went to Broome, so we arranged to meet everyone at Windjana Gorge later in the day.  The campground was fantastic and had great showers.  The following day we visited Tunnel Creek which was a sight to behold.

Day 9 & 10 – Travel to Mornington Sanctuary
Our journey to Mornington Sanctuary took us via Lennard River Gorge and Bell Gorge.  We had the only tyre casualty for the trip going into Bell Gorge.  Glenn arrived there with is tyre deflated, so after changing it headed with Richard and Helen to Imintji Store to have it repaired, which was amazing that is such an isolated place, it could be done.

The Mornington Wilderness Camp was about 90km off the Gibb River Road.  The first 70km was pretty good road surface, and after that it was quite rough at times.  We arrived about 5.00pm to set up camp.  There was a restaurant there and bar if anyone wished to spoil themselves.  In the evening a presentation was given about the work the Wilderness Society does and showed us how many properties they now own.

Monday was spent exploring the gorges.  Some of us just went to Diamond Gorge, where we hired canoes for the day.  The canoes are kept out of sight over a rocky ridge at the edge of the gorge.  Fortunately we had a fit Ian with us who clambered over the rocks and dragged the canoe up to the flat area where we were settled for the day.

The energetic ones visited Sir John Gorge and Cadjaput Hole as well. 

Day 11
On the road again to Manning Gorge via Galvins Gorge.  On the path into Galvins Gorge we encountered a big fat angry looking King Brown snake in the rushes on the side of the path we were walking on.  We are able to take a wide berth around it to get in to see the waterfall of the gorge.  Richard tried to scare it off but it wasn’t going to play the game.  On the way back Richard walked passed the area it had been in and then it popped out of the rushes and started coming up the path towards Helen and myself.  I don’t think my feet hit the ground jumping back up the rocks I had just navigated my way down.  It disappeared into a rock pile on the opposite side of the path, so we gingerly made our way through the area without incident.

We arrive at Manning Gorge about lunch time, had lunch and unpacked and then some of us hiked our way into the Gorge.  At the campsite the edge of the river had white sand along the edge, just like beach sand.  It was just beautiful.  To get across to the other side and take your belongings there were foam eskys provided, so you had to swim and guide the box across with your shoes, food etc in it.

Day 12, 13, 14
We camped at King Edward River out from Mitchell Falls.  The Kalumbaru Road was quite rough and George had the clutch on his car seize up about 5km from the King Edward River turnoff.  Michael was not towing anything, so he was able to tow George’s car in.  After being inspected by the always helpful crew, they decided that they were unable to repair the clutch and George would have to be rescued by the RACWA.  Glenn had his second fuel tank try to drop out, so the bush mechanics were at it on our day of rest to get it secured back in for Glenn to continue on the trip.  Malcolm and Trish, David and Chris and Michael camped in at Mitchell Falls so they could get an early start to hike into the falls the next morning.

Most of the rest of us left around 6.00am the next morning.  It took about two hours to drive into the falls campground.  This was the roughest section of road of the whole trip.  Some hiked in and out of the falls, some helicoptered in and out, while others helicoptered in and hiked out.
We found the signs at the top of the falls to be badly lacking.  We helicoptered in and hiked out.  We got off the helicopter and followed the white poles across some water and then followed the signs indicating where to walk.  We came across Linda and George who had hiked in and they asked how it was?  We said the helicopter ride was really good, they said no, the falls.  We had walked straight passed it and not seen it.  Oh well, its a good excuse to go back again some time, when we have recovered from this trip into there!!

King Edward River was a great swimming spot, so between a day of relaxing, catching up on washing & a few vehicles repairs we were ready for the next section of the journey.

Day 15 – 18 
George and Linda’s car was picked up by the tow truck and taken to Kununurra.  George travelled with the truck and was dropped off at Home Valley Station and Linda went with Bruce and Judy.  There tent, luggage and food was divided between all of us and they were then able to continue on the trip until we got to Kununurra.  Travelled to Home Valley Station and camped near the resort.  We were originally going to camp on the Pentacost River, but had been told that it got quite dusty down there, so opted for green lawn, hot showers, washing machines, and a restaurant for a few days.

We celebrated Helen and Michael’s birthdays at the restaurant one night with a fantastic meal.  We had several meals out.  After lunch we went for a short drive to Bindoola Falls.  It was quite a climb down to the water, but we couldn’t decide whether there were crocodiles there or not.  There were marks on the rocks at the end of the water that looked like crocodile foot marks so only David and I were adventurous enough to get into the water.

A day at El Questro was spent first of all in the Zebedee Hot Springs, followed by a hike into El Questro Gorge, lunch and a swim at Moonshine Gorge.  After that ice cream sounded good, so we made our way to the El Questro shop area and then on to Chamberlain Gorge late afternoon.
The day all the men had been waiting for had finally arrived, a chance to go Barramundi fishing.  All the different lures and lines came out and off we went to the Pentecost River near the river camp.  The tide information had been provided and when the best time to fish was.  After hours of trying and nobody getting anything, along came a couple of locals, they pulled up, through out a hand line, caught a barramundi and left in about five minutes!!

On the way back David (Scratchy) found an open area that he thought would be good to fly his model plane he had been carting around with him.  Chris was sitting in the car when all of a sudden, David was given a nudge, it was a big bull from the station pushing him around, then next thing Chris new, the bull put his head inside the car and stole his last banana that he had been saving and was about to enjoy, out of his hand and ate it.  That night in the restaurant we were telling the staff about it and apparently it is a hand reared friendly bull call Moo.  I thing that was the funniest tale of the trip.

Day 19 & 20
 Malcolm, Trish, Ian, Robyn, Emma and Michael left the trip at this point and stayed on at Home Valley Station for another day or so and then went their own way to carry on with their own agendas.  Ian was hooked on the Barramundi Fishing and booked a fishing trip with the locals, but the fish still evaded him.
We travelled to Kununurra via Emma Gorge.  The resort there had great coffee and cake.  Well deserved we thought after hiking into the Gorge.  Some of us made it all the way in.
We had some time to shop in Kununurra.  George and Linda’s car still hadn’t been repaired by the time we got there, so we had to leave them at that point to head for the Bungles.

Day 21, 22 & 23 
It was a pleasant drive on the bitumen to the Bungles turnoff.  The road in was a pleasant surprise, it was nowhere near as bad as we anticipated.

We visited Picaninny Gorge and Cathedral Gorge one day and Mini Palms Gorge and Echidna Gorge the following day.

We were going to do a helicopter flight over the Bungles, but found that we were able to see enough from our drive around that we didn’t feel we needed to do that any more.

Day 24
On the road to Fitzroy Crossing.  We arrived a bit late in the day but managed a quick visit to Geiki Gorge.  We stayed at Fitzroy River Lodge.  It was going to be a very cold night, so we opted to have the buffet roast dinner at the Lodge.  It was a fantastic meal.  Three courses for $29 and you could go back for seconds.

Day 25
We were on the road all day and camped at the De Grey River Camp.  David and Chris departed from the convoy at this stage to head to Marble Bar and Carawine Gorge.

Day 26, 27 & 28
Arrived at Karijini about 2.00pm.  We camped at the Eco camp which was nice and had solar heated showers.  We went to the Visitor Centre first and then along the internal road to the Eco Camp.  This road was very rough which was very disappointing for such a popular place.

Richard and Helen went to Tom Price and Paraburdoo for the day and those of us remaining at this stage (David and Tracey, Bruce and Judy, Glen and Guy and Wendy) went to Weano Gorge in the morning and Joffre Gorge which was near the camp in the afternoon.

The following day we went to the other end of the park to Dales Gorge, Kalamina Gorge and Knox Gorge.

The trip was really starting to feel like coming to an end now with the homeward journey starting.  We made it to Cue and stayed at the Caravan Park there.  They had just built fantastic new ablution block and camp kitchen, which made the stay very comfortable.  A final dinner out was had at the Cue Hotel.

We had a small diversion as we left town and Glen took us to the ruins of the Fingall Mine.  Then back on track and back to Perth.

Wendy Lehmann.

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