Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Wednesday 16th June 2004 to Friday 18th June 2004

Wednesday 16th June 2004

Today started a little earlier than yesterday, with us departing the caravan park at about 8.30am had heading off toward Wyndham on the Great Northern Highway.

Our first stop was at 'The Grotto' which is about 13 km north of the Broom turn off.  We pulled into the car park then climbed down the rock steps into the bottom of the gorge where there is a deep pool of water that is said to be about 300 feet deep in the middle.  The sheer cliff walls and the cool water really was an oasis in the middle of a desert. There were others down there at the same time and two of them went for a swim in the cold water.  Fortunately, there are no crocodiles in that pool, well they don't think so anyway...

From 'The Grotto' we continued on the way north up to Wyndham where we had a drive around Wyndham Town and Wyndham Port before heading up to the top of the hill that overlooks the surrounding area and is called the 'Five Rivers Lookout'  Yes there are five rivers within sight of this lookout.  We then returned to the town centre where we purchased a couple of fresh ham and salad rolls for lunch.

Next we headed west out the King River Road in company with another couple and their two children, with the intent of visiting the Goal Tree and circling the 'Cockburn Range.  This road was a 4WD road only that followed the King River  for the last part of the 24 km to the Goal Tree.  The river was very muddy and the banks were really dark brown, however it was possible to see fish swimming close to the surface, what could not be seen were the numerous crocodiles that we were told are in the river.

The Goal Tree was a huge Boab Tree that was hollow in the middle and had a small opening into that hollow section.  'One of us' would not climb in but the 'other one' fitted without any problems and in fact could have had five or six others in there with him at the same time.

It was then time to take the Karunjie Track which was just what it said.... a track.  This was fifty kilometres of 4WD track that traveled along the north side and then down the west side of the Cockburn Range.  To get onto this track we had to go through 'Diggers Rest' Station and drive the length of their air strip, but we eventually made it and started down this track. The next 50 kilometres were pretty rough and covered many creek crossings and rocky outcrops before reaching the Gibb River Road at the Pentecost River Crossing.  At this point we had traveled about eighty kilometres from Wyndham but it had taken us about four hours to do it.  The Cockburn Ranges were absolutely stunning from this side and well worth the time and effort to make this journey.

From the Pentecost River Crossing (which we drove over and back just for the sake of it) we then had about 66 km to travel on the Gibb River Road to reach the Great Northern Highway again, then another 50 km on the sealed road to get back to Kununurra.

We enjoyed the day so much but were disappointed that we did not have time to visit El Questro, so have made up our mind to stay in Kununurra one more day and go back to El Questro and Emma Gorge in the morning.  The Kimberly's are a fascinating place!

The Grotto - Wyndham Road

The big Crocodile - Wyndham

Pentecost River crossing - Gibb River Road

Thursday 17 June 2004

El Questro - what does that mean?  Apparently it doesn't mean a thing, it just sounded a bit mexican or spanish to the original owners of the property and they used that name when they made the claim over it.  So much for the romantic notions tourist may have about the place.

Our opinions were knocked about a bit by the extremely corrugated roadway from the Gibb River Road in as far as the El Questro village.  The corrugations were building up on the corrugations that were already in the road and there was not the ability to gain any speed to ride over them, fortunately it was only 16 kilometres in to the village.  For a longer visit it would have been necessary to lower the pressure in the tyres of the vehicle to soften the ride.  As it was we were lucky not to shake everything off the vehicle... good thing it was a patrol!

Entry fee to El Questro was $12.50 per adult and considering they had a grader parked at the El Questro Village, I think they could have used a few of those entry fees to pay someone to drive that grader for a day or two.

Our first call was to Emma Gorge, however this would have required a one hour walk over reasonable tough terrain to get to the main part of the gorge and the pool, so we did not tackle that walk and moved on to Amalia Gorge which also required a one hour walk to reach it's main attraction.  This walk may have been easier but the attraction here is said to be best in the Wet Season, so we didn't attempt this walk either.

Next came Zebedee Springs which is only about 500 metres from the car park and is a beautiful water hole with warm thermal springs flowing in on one side and cool springs on the other.  There is a large area of  Livistona and Pandanus Palms and tropical forest plants around the pool and it is located up against a sheer   red and orange coloured rock face.  There were quite a number of people swimming, or at least lazing in the numerous rock pools formed by the springs when we were there and 'one of us' had to take her shoes off to have a wade in the warm spring water.  It appears this area is closed to park visitors at 12.00pm and the paying guests at the El Questro Resort are given to use of the pool for the afternoon.  This was the highlight of our visit of El Questro.

From Zedebee Springs we continued the few kilometres to the village, crossing the Pentecost River one more, but today it was in a much smaller part of that river.  The village consisted of a visitors centre, restaurant, Cabins, a garage (must be for repairs to vehicle that shake to bits on the corrugations) and also a caravan park.  The area was quite green and well maintained with the obviously plentiful supply of water.  Prices were not cheap on the souvenir items that we looked at so we came away empty handed.

We then returned along 'that track' out to the Gibb River Road and stopped for our lunch under the view of the steep break aways of the Cockburn Ranges.  We had intended to drive a 4WD track that was showing on the map we had, however re growth must be quick here because we could not find the entrance or the exit of that track where the map said it should have been.

On our return to Kununurra we refueled the patrol at the Shell service Station then called in to the Coles Store for a few more supplies (Roast chicken tonight!) It was then back to the caravan park at about 3.05pm for the afternoon and to get ready for our drive to Fitzroy Crossing tomorrow.

More rugged Kimberly beauty - El Questro

Pammy Paddling in a warm pool under the Palms
Zebedee Springs - El Questro

Friday 18th June 2004

Talk about early starts.... On the road by 5.45am this morning and it had been daylight for twenty minutes by then (and only 4 degrees at that!).  This winding the clock back when we cam into WA from the Northern Territory is great until a long drive is ahead of us, then we have to get up before the sun, not just read the clock.

The ranges and break aways we passed through in the early period after the sun came up were just magnificent again and as the sun rose higher, the colour of the rock changed again and again.

We traveled down the Victoria Highway, then about 45 km west of Kununurra we turned left onto Great Northern Highway and headed south through more very scenic break away ranges.  We passed through Doon Doon (a road house and aboriginal community) then Warmun (Turkey Creek) and stopped for morning tea just south of the turn off to the Bungle Bungle Ranges.  'One of us' (fang) had purchased a Cinnamon Tea Cake just for that purpose so we sat at the concrete tale under the shade of a gazebo that was beside the road, out in the middle of nowhere.

Then it was back on the road again toward Halls Creek. We left the ranges behind before we arrived there at about 11.10am, however after driving slowly through the town, only stopped long enough to check for messages on the mobile phone.  We continued for about another hour before stopping for lunch in a truck bay on the side of the road.

The first 200 km from Halls Creek was through pretty level and plain country that did not produce any exclamations of wonder from 'one of us' but for the last 90 km or so into Fitzroy Crossing we were traveling through country that had quite a large number of small rocky break away outcrops standing out on the level plains.  Some of these looked quite fascinating and were telling us that we were still not too far from the Kimberley Ranges that we liked so much around Kununurra.

Finally we pulled in to the Fitzroy River Lodge Caravan Park at about 2.30pm and set up in this very green and comfortable park for the next two nights.  We then took a drive into Fitzroy Crossing itself where we stopped at the local 'supermarket' and had a wander through it, purchasing a paper and a few other odds and ends before returning to the caravan for the night.

Tomorrow we intend to have a look at Geiki Gorge and maybe just put the feet up for the rest of the day after that.

Morning tea stop
Near Bungle Bungle Range turn off

Lunch Stop
On the plains west of Halls Creek