A fleeting visit to the Kimberley
07.05.2016 - 10.05.2016
We had to come back down the Northern Territory the same way we went up in order to make it over the border and into WA. We decided to break the journey up by stopping at Katherine. Katherine is famous for its mighty river that has cut thirteen huge gorges into the earth and it now has the Nitmuluk National Park (Katherine Gorge National Park). 30km out of town is an information centre and the national park and everything happens from here. The river was too high and so closed for swimming or canoeing so we decided to do the bush walk from the information centre up to the first gorge, the Barrawei Lookout which was a few kilometres. It snaked next to the river up and down until you reached the cliff and then it was an extremely steep climb up steps and rocks to the top. Obviously we were in flip flops with no water as we thought it would be a short walk so by the time we got to the top in midday sun we were absolutely beside ourselves, sweaty and bright red and it felt like we were climbing up to the actual sun.
But it was worth it at the top. The views over the river and gorge were beautiful, you could see for miles over the countryside and you forgot you were only 30km from town and felt you were at the top of the world in the middle of nowhere. We lingered at the top in the breeze admiring the views before making the decent back down.
It took a few more hours to make it to the WA border but on the way we saw a wild dingo stood in the dry grasses which is our first wild dingo we have seen alive. At the border we celebrated and stopped for a photo of the sign. We have now made it through Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, the Northern Territory and now Western Australia!
At the border you have to stop at quarantine to have your vehicle and belongings inspected. You can't take plants, soil, fruit, veg, flowers or honey across the border and they do a thorough check in and around your car, in your boxes of food and eskies. Then you are free to go, and politely reminded that the speed limit is only 110km in WA.
The scenery in this area is all huge, red, Rocky Mountains, balls of spinifex grass and cows. We stopped in Kununurra to restock up on fresh food, get information from the info centre and make some calls while we had phone reception. We know we want to see the whale sharks a bit further down the west coast at Exmouth and assumed it would be busy so would have to book in advance so gave them a call. They have been fully booked every day since the season began so we decided to book for ten days time which gave us a while to get down there. There is a 90minute time difference once you cross the border so it was now only 11am again so we decided to drive a bit more since there was nothing here we really wanted to see. We drove a few hundred kilometres and stopped at Leycester rest area, a free camp spot next to the highway. We set up out little tent on some spiky dry grass next to a fire pit and settled in for the night, glad to be back in our tent in the middle of nowhere.
It rained all night and when we woke up storm clouds were looming ominously so we quickly packed up, we are the time trial tent packing champions at the minute and set off, having breakfast on the way and stopping for a service station coffee. Some of the things we were thinking of doing in the area were closed due to wet season. Both the bungle bungle ranges road and the tanami track road, leading to Wolfe Creek meteor crater were closed so we powered on driving all day on a gloomy day. We also found out lots of the four wheel drive tracks were closed and several national parks due to lingering wet conditions. We decided to just drive to Broome, we had another night in a rest area by the road, near Fiztzroy Crossing and powered on through stormy skies all the way to Broome. On the last leg just before Derby is the Boab rest area, a pull in with a ginormous Boab tree in the centre so we pulled in for a look. The area is famous for its distinct Boab trees and in colonial times these were often used as prison lock ups by the police as they have huge hollowed out trunks. We stood in amazement looking up at the gigantic, bulbous tree walking round, looking inside it and having loads of fun climbing it.
Since everything was closed this turned out to be the highlight of our trip through the Kimberley but that was ok, pretending we're spider man kept us entertained for ages.