Friday, October 21, 2011

5 - THE GIBB RIVER ROAD

After leaving Wyndham we made our next stop at Diggers Rest - not very far, but a lovely place to spend a day and night.  It is a farm and accommodation complex offering campsites adjacent to the homestead, or several riverside camps on their property.  We elected to have one of the riverside sites, and each site is allocated to you exclusively, so no crowding in, just your own private camp with a long-drop toilet in a beautiful setting.  It was very tempting to jump into the river except for the threat of estuarine crocodiles so it's just look and enjoy the view.  While there we experienced a very strong willy-willy. It sounded like a freight train coming and as it crossed the river, lifted water up to about a metre or more.  Luckily it was not right in the path of our camp, but at the time Ken was walking down the riverbank and had to run behind a tree to get out of it's path.

Next day we hit the Gibb River Road, bypassing El Questro as we'd been there before, so made our first stop at Home Valley, then Miners Pool (part of Drysdale Station) on our way to Kalumburu.

What a rip off!  Kalumburu Community charges $50 for a permit to be there, then $30 to camp at a very ordinary camping ground at Honeymoon Bay very shabby toilet, no working shower. Admittedly it was a pretty beach but no better than hundreds of others and the roads are all in very bad condition.  To add to that the information sheet was very vague about places and signposts were almost non-existent so we didn't find most of the "attractions" we were supposed to see.  They're so desperate for tourist attractions they suggest going to the sewage treatment ponds for birdwatching, and their scenic tour around the town includes a trip into the rubbish dump!  Probably only worth going there if you're mad keen on fishing, but nothing else.

We didn't bother going to Mitchell Plateau as we figured I wouldn't be able to do the walk, and we're not about to pay $100 for a six minute one-way helicopter ride up or back.  Ken has seen it from the air and the road in was reported to be in shocking condition - and by then we were nursing a tyre with 4 plugs in it, which was still leaking slowly.  We returned to Drysdale River Station that night and went on to Imintji and bought another new tyre.  Now we have two good "light truck" tyres on the back and consequently have had no more trouble - so much stronger than the cheap crap tyres you get on a new vehicle.

From there we went back to Mt Elizabeth Station, another disappointing choice.  Their station tracks were very rough and their map poorly drawn.  We ended up with heat exhaustion doing a walk that was a lot further and more difficult that we'd been led to believe. To make matters worse their amenities block was full of mosquitoes - day and night, and the hot water system was playing up so hardly anyone got a warm shower - for $30 a night.

Charnley River Station however was a welcome relief - lovely friendly hostess, good amenities, beautiful grassy, shaded camping area beside a waterhole teeming with wildlife - wallabies, many different sized lizards and dozens of different birds and the same price, $30 a night. Their station tracks were also in good condition.  We ended up staying three nights.


Mornington Wilderness Camp was good, but a bit over-rated.  Their tracks were in good condition, and a lovely swimming spot in the Fitzroy River as well as a few good gorges and waterholes to look at.  But they charge a $25 "entry fee" on top of their $35 a night camping fee and for all the hype, we didn't see any wildlife there.  If I was doing it again I'd just stay at Charnley and give the others a miss.

After that we did a quick in-and-out of some other gorges close to the road, then camped at Silent Grove to do the walk to Bells Gorge, then on to Fitzroy Crossing, bypassing Windjana and Tunnel Creek as we'd been to them before.  The highlight of  Fitzroy Crossing is the boat tour of Geikie Gorge, quite reasonable price and very well presented.  It's a fascinating place - huge white cliffs which were once a coral reef about 350,000 million years ago..

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1 Comments:

At October 22, 2011 at 10:04 AM , Blogger Merilyn said...

Sounds very interesting! I'm surprised that so many places seem to let their facilities go, and they still want to charge people! Continued safe travels!!!!

 

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