Week 10 3/10/06 through 9/10/06
Last night! Kununurra Caravan Park! Hot! Humid! Paralysed by tiredness! No energy to roll over! No Breeze! And we are sleeping with a frog! Alison refused to try and metamorph the frog to a prince and she maintained she already had a prince, thank you! Although the frog didn't snore she says!
Now the first order of the day was to fix our tyre situation. Kununurra has 3 tyre centres and we did some checking on the internet and found that one of them is the local BF Goodrich stockist. We have also seen a lot of Coopers on 4WDs across the top end and were in 2 minds as to whether we put on a couple of Coopers on the rear of the vehicle. Lucky for us the BF Goodrich stockist is also the Coopers stockist so we felt we would get an unbiased opinion on which way to go. To our surprise we were told that that the Coopers had problems handling the local roads up here and in particular were susceptible to the high heat conditions. Now please don't flame us, this was not our opinion and we are sure there are people happy with their Coopers! With the new BFG fitted we decided to visit the guys at Kununurra Panel Beating Works, who looked after us so well with the cracked guard, and have an another noise taken care of. With the repair of the guard it became obvious that we had snapped another exhaust pipe bracket (not the same one as in Darwin). The guys welcomed us back again and got us back out on the road again, no charge! We insisted that take some beer and drink to our trip at knock off time, which they agreed to! Country hospitality is a wonderful thing, but it is also something we like not to abuse.
Today was a long, slow, hot drive with us reaching a roadside camp 100kms from Fitzroy Crossing on the Great Northern Road just after sunset. Just before the campsite we stopped to photograph the plains. The sunset certainly made the plains a picture, with the gold evanescence which made the Spinifex glow, bathed in its colour and the sandy soil shine a copper colour.
Today was one of those days when luck was on our side; our long drive yesterday and our early start this morning meant that we arrived at Geikie Gorge (about 20km from Fitzroy Crossing) at 8am giving us 30 minutes to have breakfast and board a tour boat. The next cruise was not until 3pm. The cruise goes for an hour and it takes you up the gorge close to the limestone cliffs. The boats offered no shade so as not to interfere with the tall views of the cliff faces. This meant we were very close to our subject and that photographing it would be a challenge. Alison was also not able to use her tripod for the panoramas, and managed to snap only a couple. We had a very enjoyable time and the pictures certainly show some incredible weathering and erosion pattens. Oh did we mention the Gorge is filled with fresh water crocs which could be seen on the banks and swimming close to the boat.
After the cruise we headed back to Fitzroy Crossing to have a good look in the visitors centre. The photos on their walls promised great aboriginal art sites ahead. In hindsight we wished we had asked where they were, as they were not at Windjana or Tunnel Creek Gorges. (or if they were, they were not openly advertised as being there)
Tunnel Creek Gorge had plenty to live up to after we had seen various pictures of it. These pictures are usually colour enhanced etc and we really thought we would be better buying the postcards! With time and care, not to mention the use of a tripod, we managed to snag these pictures.
When you first enter the creek you proceed about 300m through darkness until you reach the part of the cave where the roof has collapsed. If you are quiet and look closely around you, you will discover you are sharing the darkness with small bats which cling to the ceiling. When you enter the second section of tunnel, the flying foxes have claimed this section and squawk loudly. You can just make them out in the below right picture on the roof above the cave formations. Throughout the cave the water was cool which made it easy to walk through, the deepest part being about thigh high. During the early months of the dry season, the water through the tunnel is quite deep!!!!
Windjana Gorge is also part of the ancient limestone reef that runs through Kununurra, Geikie, Bungles and Tunnel Creek. The cliffs around the entrance to the gorge were about 120m tall and looked sharp as razor blades. The formations reminded us of the rock formations in the Chillagoe area. As we moved along the walking track into the gorge the clouds built rapidly. We were lucky to snap off the few pictures before the rain started and we (unprepared) tried to keep our camera equipment dry. This meant no more pictures for the day and was the first time we have felt rain since Cooktown. The rain certainly muddied up the roads and stuck to our tyres and built up in our wheel arches.
Lat night we shared our bush camp with a family from Victoria. Carolyn, Phil, Eamon, Tamsin and Patrick have been travelling in an Isuzu 4WD truck and had just finished the Gibb Road. It was a great night and we ended up chatting until well after midnight before we realised the time and hit the sack. Story of their ghost truck was amazing! Each morning they would look outside at their new purchase while they arranged their insurance. Now the morning comes when they woke up to find their pride and joy gone and they race outside to try and find it. It seems that the solenoids in the starter motor corroded one night (3 days after the purchased it) which meant their truck simply drove itself up the driveway, past their bedroom window and into their garage. Unfortunately the garage door was still closed, but it did stop the truck from going further! A truck with its own mind!
We were a little disappointed with the sunlight yesterday in Windjana Gorge - due to the storm cloud that burst over us, so we returned to the gorge this morning. In hind sight we had seen the best part of the gorge in the short time we were there yesterday and we only succeeded in totally exhausting ourselves doing the 3.5km (7km return) walk through the gorge. The time to visit Windjana is earlier in the dry when there is more water in the Gorge. Apparently it can be great fun canoeing your way up the Gorge. Hope the crocs are friendly at that time of year.
The next stop for the day, and what was supposed to be our overnight stop over, was Derby. Now the tides are what Derby is famous for so we headed for the Derby Wharf. It was high tide and the waters were muddy. The drive to the wharf gave us a taste of the geography of Derby which showed it was built just above the high tide mark on the middle of a salt plain. The reflective heat was incredible so we headed back to see two other of Derby's sites we had read about, the Prison Boab Tree and the longest cattle trough. Next was a call into their Tourist Bureau to see what local sites they could recommend to us. All they could suggest (excluding what were had already seen) we do was to fly to the horizontal reef. Needless to say we found the heat too much and retreated to our air conditioning and the drive to Broome.
Slept about 100km from Broome last night at a roadside rest area, which meant the run to Broome was easy. The first place we visited in Broome was Town Beach. A swim was the order of the day, and a long one at that! We never thought we would miss the ocean (that we could swim in) that much. We both have been calling it BLUE WATER FEVER! Today it felt great to soak up the salt!
Swim finished we took a walk around China Town. One of the places we visited was Sun Pictures, a classic 1916 open air picture garden with the old canvas deck chairs. It is so very easy to see what an experience it would have been going the the pictures with the stars above!
When in Broome what do you do at sunset - Cable Beach of course! So we did. Camels everywhere, 4WD's everywhere, people everywhere! The tide was at a low which exposed a large crystal white beach. There were 3 camel trains being loaded with passengers near the rocks, each train with camels saddled in its unique colours. They proceeded down the beach and back again with a sunset for a back drop. Just after the sunset a police vehicle with lights flashing proceeded down the beach. Shortly afterwards a multitude of emergency vehicles followed. Later news reports told us of a landcruiser, reportedly travelling at 100km/h, had rolled further down the beach. The speed limit is 15km/h! The radio went on to say the council are now reviewing vehicle access to the beach. Very sad how a minority spoil it for the majority!
Rest day today!
As we were in a caravan park close to Cable Beach, a short walk to see the sunset was on. How could a photographer ignore the chance to take more photos of camels with a sunset backdrop!
Today was spent just touring the sights of Broome. The scenery, textures and colours are incredibly impressive. Sometimes our cameras are able to capture it as a true representation and at other times we are struggling to do it justice. The statues in China Town were a good memorial to the people of Broome's past. The rocks near the lighthouse were so colourful you would think they were not real. We also learnt that Cable Beach is rated as 1 of the top 10 beaches in the world - and who could argue. Some of the sports practiced there looked great like the sail car and Para surfing.
Those who know us, know Steve is partial to the micro brewery at Cheers in Spring Hill Brisbane. When we discovered that Broome also has its own micro brewery at Matso's and they have live music on a Sunday afternoon you can guess where we headed. Pete the manager at Matso's was wonderful and allowed us to take some pictures inside the premises. Their beer pictures advertising their beers, were certainly gorgeous as well as the general décor. Pete even snapped Alison in front of the Monsoonal Blonde Beer Poster! Simply a relaxing and entertaining afternoon was enjoyed by ourselves over a few tasty ales and some seafood. Thanks Pete and the other staff! Such a great place to chill out.
As we happened to be in Broome at the time of month when they have what is called "Stairway to the Moon" we headed to Town beach to watch the moon rise at 7.07pm. The stairway is formed by the reflection of the moon in the sand and mud flats at low tide. This can give the appearance of a stairway, but unfortunately not on this occasion!
Before we left Broome we called into the Buddhist Meditation Centre to see the huge quartz crystal Buddha. The carving was incredible, especially if you know how hard quartz is! From the Centre we headed north of Broome to Quandong Point. We parked on top of a rise over looking the beach and swum the turquoise waters. A little later we took a stroll around the head land at high tide where Alison posed for a photo for Steve. Now she has no idea of the soaking she was about to receive, although it was reported that it was very cooling!
As the evening meal settled we watched the storm clouds, with their electrical shows, light up the distance. We know this is only a small sample of what is to come.
Stay tuned as the adventure continues......