Sunday, May 31, 2009

- Litchfield National Park -

After Edith Falls we travelled to Litchfield National Park only 100km from Darwin. We stopped in at the Butterfly Park in Batchelor, taking some time out from the road and getting some awesome photo's.

We made camp at the Florence Falls 4wd camp ground and walked 15 mins for a swim in the plunge pool of the Falls. It was a little busier than expected, though still relaxing. Florence Falls is made up of 2 separate waterfalls cascading over a 15 meter cliff.

Once back at camp, we had to fight off the mozzies, while cooking etc and made for an early night.

The next morning we headed straight to the other end of the park to see Wangi Falls, again 2 separate waterfalls, though a much much higher cliff face. Unfortunately due to the recent wet season, swimming was still prohibited so we decided to do the 1.7km walk through the rain forest to the tree tops and then around the back of the falls. It was certainly a long way up and offered really great views of the surrounding country side.

Our Next stop was off the main track via 4wd to Blyth Homestead, having to cross river crossings deeper then we had on the Gibb and being potentially infested with Crocs!! Nice, i was a little worried to begin with as the water had seeped in under the bottom of the doors, however my worries lifted when we saw several other tourist vehicles had gone through and were much lower than our car!! Crazy if you ask me.

Blyth Homestead, was the location of an old tin mine back in 1929, a display throughout explores the hardships encounted by the early pioneers. We then made our way down to Sandy Creek Falls, which is a 3.4km return walk to a large plunge pool and of course a spectacular waterfall! It was amazing with the water temperature just right!!

Once back at the main road of the park we visited Tolmer Falls (a lookout over the falls as its home to 2 protected species of Bats) and then headed to Buley rockholes for a relaxing dip and a BEER!! The rock holes is a very popular spot, with easy access, and a few sections so your able to spread out and enjoy!! We stayed another night at Litchfield and then decided to head to Darwin in the morning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

- Edith Falls -

With the car all fixed (a seal had to be replaced) we finally left Katherine! About 60km up the road we took a detour into one of my favourite places in the N.T, Edith Falls. Situated in the northern end of Nitmiluk National Park, Edith falls is a great place to stay, swim and explore. Being early morning we decided to do the 2.6km walk to the upper pools and waterfalls...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

- Northern Territory, Katherine -

We hit the road first thing and 40km down the road we crossed the border into the Northern Territory!! The country side transformed, with the road winding through high cliff escarpments alongside wide croc infested rivers all the way to Katherine. We went straight up to Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge), on getting out of the car we saw oil had sprayed up the back of the car, leaking from the Diff!! I couldn't believe it, in a slight panic (as it was Friday) we found a mechanic to book in the car in, not available until Tuesday!! BUGGER!!

(Bren @ Victoria River)

We decided to stay at the National Park for the evening and booked a river cruise ($73 ea) for the following morning. On the tour we travelled through 3 gorges, at the end of each gorge was a rock bar, so we had to walk a short distance to the next boat. In the third gorge we got to swim at a large plunge pool, it was amazingly beautiful and definately worth it.

After the cruise, we nursed the car back into town to find somewhere to stay while we waited for the seal to get fixed... it was going to be a long few days.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

- Bungle Bungles & Lake Argyle -

On our last day in Kununurra, Bren took a 2hr flight over the Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle with Alligator Airways.

The Bungle bungles, It is an incredible sight of beehive-shaped sandstone formations, and deep chasms, formed over many millions of years ago.
Lake Argyle certainly impressed him!! He learnt that the "inland sea" covers over 1,000 km2, with water as far as the eye could see, and that's from the air!! With the abundance of water below, the township of Kununurra are on the same water restrictions as Perth!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

- Kununurra -

(Ivanhoe Crossing - We flicked a few lures here, though no success)

We've been lazing around in Kununurra for a few days now... checking out the sites, updating the blog, lazing by the caravan park pool etc. Our first day was spent cleaning out the car, the amount of dust throughout everything was unbelievable!! Over the next few days we have visited the Zebra Rock Gallery, The Hoochery, Kelly's Knob lookout, Ivanhoe Crossing and even made a visit out to Wyndham.

(Bren, pulled some interesting faces while sampling this 70% Rum at the Hoochery!)

(Sunset at Kelly's Knob Lookout.)

(Five Rivers Lookout at Wyndham)

This afternoon Bren is taking a flight over the Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle so keep an eye out for photos!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

- Home Valley to Kununurra -

The next day we had to cross the widest river of the Gibb, The Pentecost, complete with it's crocs. Thankfully the water level was only about 30cm, though still flowing fast and we crossed without a problem... or seeing any hungry lizards!

(The mighty Pentecost River... )

Our next stop was El Questro Station, now wilderness park,on a million acre property. We booked in for a night and set off to explore. Moonshine Gorge walk, 4km return, was beautiful with creek crossings, palm trees and red rugged cliff faces. At the end was Sprung Hole, a perfect spot for a swim, although a little cold!!

(Sprung Hole, at Moonshine Gorge... was so peaceful)

Next we walked into El Questro Gorge, a 6.8km return walk. This was more challenging than we expected with the gorge fairly narrow with large boulders and a lot of rock hopping. Part way along is a little water hole with big boulders Bren had to put me up!! Ferns lined the walls of the gorge and finally at the end we reached a deep plunge pool with a little waterfall called "Mac Micking Pool" It was amazing and well worth the effort! We then headed back to camp for a bite to eat & headed off on 4wd track to Branko's Lookout for sunset. Crossing creeks etc to get there!! It was awesome looking out over the gorge cutting through the escarpment...

(Branko's Lookout, El Questro.)

The next morning we rested our exhausted bodies in Zebadee Springs, a series of thermal pools fed by an underground spring. It was total heaven, with the water temp around 34 degrees... which made it rather cold when we jumped out! We pushed on to Amalia Gorge for a walk in to a slightly more open gorge to a large plunge pool at the end. However the waterfall had almost dried up, otherwise it would've been even more inviting to jump in!

(Bren & I, in Amalia Gorge...)

Next was Emma Gorge, a 1.6km walk into narrow escarpment cutting into the Cockburn Ranges. A little challenging in sections, though well worth it when you reach the end. A large pool of water, complete with waterfall... however the cliffs are so narrow the water would only receive 1 1/2hrs of sunlight making the water a VERY freezing 12 - 15 degrees!! I swam to the little waterfall.. though couldn't stay in for long!

Emma Gorge marks the end of the Gibb River Road, which we completed in 2 weeks. Driving just under 2000km of gravel , corrugated roads, creek crossings and exploring all the wonderful places along the way. It was everything and more than we expected. We definitely recommend it to anyone, with El Questro, McGowan's Beach and Manning Falls among our favourites!

We're now in Kununurra, staying a few nights to clean out the dust & explore....

- Manning Falls to Home Valley Station -

After a wonderful swim & look around at Manning Falls we headed off to our next stop, Drysdale River Station, situated 60km up the Kalumburu Rd. The station is famous for its outback hospitality with the "Kimberley North Bar and Restaurant" and we were looking forward to splashing out on a few drinks, catching up on laundry etc. We spent two nights there, exploring nearby Miners Pool during the day.

We set off early the next morning towards the Mitchell Plateau. The road was very rocky & we seemed to be climbing hills higher into the surrounding escarpment. We finally reached the turn off into Mitchell Falls and about 2.4km along is the King Edward River crossing! Which was an estimated 80cm-100cm deep and much wider & faster flowing than any crossing we had come across!! With our hearts racing a little we crossed without a problem! From the crossing it was a long 80km trek to the Mitchell Falls campground, over loose gravel, tight corners and steep inclines averaging 50km p/h!

(King Eward River Crossing...)

That afternoon we made a short walk down to Little Merten's Falls to cool off and check out some of the Aboriginal Rock Art found just beneath the falls. It was awesome! We woke early the next morning to get a head start on the 3.3km walk trail to the Mitchell Falls. On the way we saw more Rock Art and got an awesome view of Merten's Gorge cutting narrowly through the sandstone plateau. We finally arrived at the Falls and it was in every way IMPRESSIVE! The size and sound of the water cascading over the 3 separate levels was unbelievable!!

(Bren sitting in the rapids at the top of Little Merten's Falls)

(Some of the Rock Art we found on the walk to the Mitchell Falls)

(The mighty Mitchell Falls... It was an awesome sight!)

We camped the night back at the King Edward River, and pushed on the next morning to Kalumburu.To enter the town and surrounding areas we needed an access permit, $40 valid for a week. We decided to stay at McGowan's Beach about 30mins out of town. With campsites right on the beach, lawn, all amenities we had found our little oasis! We claimed a site closest to the beach nestled under a boab tree. PERFECT!

(Sunset from our campsite at McGowan's Beach, Kalumburu)

We spent 2 nights at McGowan's, fishing (with no luck) and exploring nearby Pago and Honeymoon Beach. On the way out we stopped to visit the Mission Museum, which is rich in history about the war, mission and local aboriginal culture. Well worth the visit. We pushed on with a full day of driving to arrive at Home Valley Station, which was made famous as the setting for the movie "AUSTRALIA". We spoiled ourselves with dinner at the "Dusty Bar & Grill".

Monday, May 18, 2009

- Broome to Manning Falls -

After a week of preparation - including purchasing food, last minute camping supplies etc our day of departure had finally arrived. I was excited and sad at the same time. Knowing that we had to say goodbye to our home of 2 years and on the other hand such a wonderful adventure lay ahead of us. So at 7:30am Monday the 4th of May we gave Meg & Nick our last hugs and best wishes and headed out of "Broome Town". We topped up the fuel at Derby and just out of town made a left turn onto the mighty "GIBB RIVER ROAD".

(Finally on the Gibb River Road!)

(Bren driving through one of the creek crossings...)

The road condition was reasonable as there were clear signs the graders had just been through. After about 200km we made our first stop to check out Lennard River Gorge. Quite a steep walk to a cliff face with excellent views. We headed on to our first night stop at Silent Grove which is the gateway into Bell Gorge. We set off early the next morning to walk the 2km trail over rocks and navigating over the streams down to the base of the falls... It was awesome and we had it all to our selves!! The water was freezing!!! So we decide to warm up a little exploring the gorge. once warmed up we returned to the falls and plucked up the courage to jump in, swimming to get under the rapids of the falls.

(Me at the base of Bell Gorge waterfall)

Our next stop was Mornington Wilderness Sanctuary. Which is a good 90km drive into the heart of the Kimberley from the Gibb & took around 2hrs with numerous creek crossings, gates, and wildlife to navigate. We spent 3 nights at Mornington, visiting both Diamond & Sir John Gorges, however most was only accessible via kayak... which they charged heavily for. So after a few walk trails, swimming at waterholes etc it was time to head back to the Gibb. We made a quick stop into Galvin's Gorge which was awesome... great for swimming etc though you could only visit during the day.

(Bren at the lookout for Diamond Gorge, Mornington.)

Fuelled up at Mt Barnett Roadhouse, fuel was $2.11 per Litre!! This took a huge chunk out of our savings having to fill the near empty tank and 2 Jerry cans!! Mt Barnett is the access point into Manning Gorge where we stopped for the night. It proved to be a very popular spot with 15 or so campers and 3 tourist coaches arriving in the late afternoon! A short walk from camp is a large water hole lined with paperbark trees and pandanus palms. The walk trail continues from here to Manning falls over steep and rocky terrain. At the end a beautiful gorge surrounds a giant plunge pool with a spectacular waterfall tucked into one corner!! After a few too many photo's we rushed in to get beneath the falls for one of mother natures best massages!!! Ahh we were definately in heaven!

(Me, over looking Manning falls...)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

- Farewell @ Gantheume Point -

Just wanted to thank everyone who came down to Gantheume Point for our farewell sausage sizzle!! We had a wonderful time… and maybe a few too many to drink. We will miss you all dearly. A big thank you to Meg & Nick for giving us a place to stay, while we were waiting for the road to open!