Letho's Blog

From Broome to the Gibb River Road

by on Mai.21, 2011, under The Kimberleys

May 13, 2011

After leaving the amazing Karijini NPย  and a last stop in Tom Price for a shower and some shopping we returned to the Great Northern Highway and headed north to Broome – a whopping 1000 kilometers away! However, we made about 200 kilometers the first day, passing Mulga Downs and stopped for the night at the Bea Bea Rest Area 45 kilometers north of the Munjina Roadhouse.

May 14, 2011

The next morning we encountered some strange creature:

Caravan of hairy worms

Caravan of hairy worms

Actually it is not a single creature, but multiple single caterpillars one after the other. After a bit of research I reckon it is a so-called „Processionary Caterpillar“, famous for crawling through the scrub in meter-long queues!

We continued to Port Hedland, the biggest tonnage port in Australia. Bad timing – on a Saturday afternoon everything was closed, from the Visitor Information Center to the Harbour Lookout from which a great view over the harbour was promised. We got an idea how many natural resources, e.g. iron ore, are being shipped from here (and most likely from other places in the world as well) to China these days: out of 6 ships departing one was going to Japan and one somewhere else, but 4 of them to China! After a short look at the freighters we continued to the DeCray River Rest Area and camped there.

May 15, 2011

Mostly driving this day we passed not only the Sandfire Roadhouse, but the 80 Mile Beach as well. We stopped only for a short while, since the weather was cloudy and cool.

We managed to arrive in Broome late in the afternoon where the weather finally cleared. Failing to find a sportsbar or something similar in order to watch the MotoGP race we ended up in our car watching a juddery live stream on the Internet. Afterwards we searched for a free campspot. As there was nothing close by we headed up 50 kilometers on a rough dirt track north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula and finally stopped exhausted at the Quondong Rest Area.

May 16-19, 2011

The camp spot was really nice, but cursed with mosquitoes:

Campspot at Quondong Beach, Dampier Peninsula

Campspot at Quondong Beach, Dampier Peninsula

Being a bit enervated not knowing where to stay close to Broome and having no facilities at all we drove back into the city and decided to check in at Tarangau Caravan Park. We recovered a few days from the previous weeks packed with camping, sightseeing and driving by doing almost nothing at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

We went to the well-known „Staircase to the Moon“ event:

The staircase-effect can only be observed when the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of Roebuck Bay at extremely low tide creating the optical illusion of a staircase reaching for the moon. On our last day we visited Cable Beach, a famous town beach, and Cape Gantheaume. Here and at low tide you can find some petrified dinosaur steps about 80 meters into the sea on a rockbed. We had to be satisfied with a replica of them, otherwise we would have had to wait a few weeks for the next suitable low tide. ๐Ÿ™‚

On our way from Broome to Fitzroy Crossing we reached the Boab Rest Area in the dark and settled for the night.

May 20, 2011

The next morning we woke up to an incredible noise. A helicopter above our heads and heavy road construction vehicles on the rest area produced a noise unthinkable of in such a remote and distant place – you would reckon! ๐Ÿ™‚ But when we left our cosy shelter we saw a truly amazing thing – and we had pitched up our tent right underneath it:

Huge Boab tree between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing

Huge Boab tree between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing

A really massive Boab tree on a patch of green grass – well worth protecting it with a small fence! We found all sorts of encarvings on the tree, but even more astonishing was its interior. Better, the lack thereof – it was completely hollowed out! These trees were actually used as „prison trees“ in Derby and near Wyndham to lock up convicts temporarily. In this one you could have locked up 10 prisoners at once! Boab trees are typical for this region: they grow in a bottle-like shape and reach an age of more than 1000 years. This example doesn’t reveal a bottle-shape anymore, however, it must be 1000 years or even older.

We made our way to Fitzroy Crossing and spent the afternoon at the nearby Geiki Gorge. The walk along the river was ok, but not spectacular. Still, there are some fine views of the gorge’s unique look. We refused to spend a ridiculous amount of money for a half-hour boat cruise, though.

Finally two nice panorama views for you, starting with this:

Panorama of Geiki Gorge no. 1

Panorama of Geiki Gorge no. 1

The second one is pretty wide:

Panorama of Geiki Gorge no. 2

Panorama of Geiki Gorge no. 2

After taking a brave shower behind one of the visitor huts, forgetting my shampoo and therefore returning we finally left Fitzroy Crossing and entered the Leopold Downs Road already in the dark. Exiting the town we encountered some controlled burnings which looked quite scary in the night (excuse the poor picture quality):

Controlled burnings near Fitzroy Crossing

Controlled burnings near Fitzroy Crossing

Not far into Leopold Downs Road we found the RAAF Boab Quarry Rest Area. Pitching up our tent proved to be a total waste of time – we couldn’t hammer a single peg into the rock-hard ground. Some heavy stones did the job as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

May 21, 2011

After getting up we realized once again how beautiful our camping spot was:

The jerry can mentioned was a regular 15 liter water tank, filled with petrol – really not made for that. You can see how it slowly changes its shape. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had learned that all the roadhouses on the Gibb River Road would be either closed or still have no petrol available due to late wet season inducing terrible road conditions, meaning: no petrol could be delivered to the roadhouses. So we had invested a LOT of money in a further jerry can in Fitzroy Crossing to prepare for the long drive, and without a chance to refuel on the way we filled everything we had with petrol and LPG.

Not long after reentering the Leopold Downs Road we encountered the first obstacle: a deep, rutted puddle of mud. It looked pretty uncomforting, and knowing our wheels aren’t performing well in deep mud we tried to cross it from the left side. A few meters later it happened: we were bogged down!

For the first time ever in Australia we could not get out of here without help! Thankfully it was only a matter of minutes until someone with another LandCruiser arrived and pulled us out easily using our snatch-strap. Well invested money. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A few more cars arrived, stopping and investigating the puddle. We finally decided to tie our car to our friendly helper and get through the puddle behind them, so they could pull us through in case we did not make it ourselves. Guess what happened: we made it on our own using Low-Range right through the middle. If only we had tried that before instead going sideways .. well, lesson learned.

See this clip how it went:

Nothing stood in our way to make it to Tunnel Creek now, only a couple kilometers further down the road. It is a cave eroded into the Napier Range by a creek, leading through the rock as a tunnel for about 1.7 kilometers. In complete darkness as the tunnel is completely enclosed by the rock. It is also famous as a hideout used late last century by an Aboriginal leader known as Jandamarra. He was killed outside its entrance in 1897. To get through you have to put on some light clothes suitable for wading through the creek and bring a torch. Sounds like good fun? It definitely was! ๐Ÿ™‚

The first section of the tunnel after entering the cave meant searching for a way through complete darkness, trying not to step on all the crustaceans and finding the shallow sand sections in the water with the torch. Amazingly we found a small waterfall here – in the dark! Somewhere on the left side of the rock walls the water poured out of big cracks in the walls and over some stalactite-like formations!

In the middle of Tunnel Creek we came to a collapsed part of the cave where the roof had broken down, leaving a large gap in the ceiling.

You can recognize other adventurers here coming from the exit side of the cave using their torches. We departed again into the dark void aiming for the final exit out of Tunnel Creek.

There was even some unexpected Aboriginal rock art near the exit. Finally we waded back through all of Tunnel Creek again and resurfaced at the entrance, very happy with this experience! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Having changed our clothes we continued to Windjana Gorge. Among the first things we saw was this:

Eh .. well. Maybe the Aboriginals are allowed to do whatever they want, after all it is their land. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We walked into the gorge, preparing for a 3.5 kilometer walk. Not long until the scenery of Windjana Gorge presented its best side:

Only a few hundred meters into the gorge we came to a sandy patch. Guess what happened here:

Finally we found our first crocodile in the wild – a freshwater croc, also called „freshie“. It was only a few meters away, lurking in the waters. That is, until Inka decided to tease it a bit feeding it dead fish found on the beach. As a result we got a good impression how crocodiles eat: don’t fiddle with your food, don’t waste time chewing it – just swallow it in a matter of seconds. *gulp* Luckily for us freshies are scared of humans, so they normally keep their distance unless you really behave stupidly and with a lack of common sense. We went on, leaving the freshie behind, deeper into the gorge.

We encountered another freshie just 2-3 meters down in the water, almost invisible as you can see. At the end the walk became a bit frustrating, we could not detect the trail markers anymore and it all ended in the dense scrub. We returned at last, the crocodiles alone made the walk well worth it.

Some more panoramas for you, starting with this:

Panorama view of Windjana Gorge

Panorama view of Windjana Gorge

And now another one:

Panorama view of Windjana Gorge

Panorama view of Windjana Gorge

At the end of the day we reached the Lennard River Rest Area to stay there for the night, only a stone’s throw away from the entrance to the Gibb River Road.

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