Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Derby, WA.

There is only a short and leisurely drive between Broome and Derby but we still split the drive by staying one night at Nillibubbica RA. Nillibubbica RA is roughly midway between the two towns and therefore automatically becomes a natural stop for many travellers, including us. Of course you still see the 'rush and tear' brigade who barrel past without a pause in their quest for distance in the least amount of time. Certainly, some people are travelling within the constraints of 'Annual Leave Time' but most are not in that category. Nillibubbica RA is typical of the many excellent RA provided for travellers in Northern West Australia, a large gravelled area, picnic shelters, toilets and a dump point.

We initially booked into Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park for three days but very soon extended this to seven days as we experienced the sublime climate here this time of year. Mid to high teens overnight warming to low 30's during the afternoons with a slight breeze to moderate the sun's heat. Further more, after the first week, we then extended for another week. I could get used to this idea. I am calling it a holiday from our travelling holiday, I can feel myself slowing down!

Derby is a slow, quiet town. Everything seems to take place with a minimum of movement, probably due to the fact that the population normally has to contend with a hot and oppressive summer climate. Strangely, Derby is not prone to experiencing Cyclones during the Wet Season. I was told that the last Cyclone recorded in Derby was back in the 1960's. Apparently the huge body of water that is King Sound influences the weather in this area to Derby's advantage.

The Western end of The Gibb River Road is on the outskirts of Derby therefore we see many very red and dusty "Rigs" that have come across 'The Gibb' from the Eastern end near Wyndham. We are not attempting that adventure this trip but will return in the near future and 'give it a go'.

This is Clarendon Street, the area hosting most of the towns businesses.

Boab Trees feature along the wide thoroughfare that is Loch Street. As you arrive in Derby you enter by Loch Street and if you follow this road to it's end you will be at The Derby Wharf area.

The Tourist Information Centre is on Loch Street.

One of the larger Boab Trees in Derby, also along Loch Street.

The Derby Wharf is a popular fishing platform but is also used for the loading of shipping with Lead and Zinc Ore.

The old disused Derby Prison is located beside the current Police Station. This Prison was mainly used to detain the early Indigenous Population.

A 'Close-Up' of the Western end of the Prison. Facilities consisted of an open cold water shower and the toilet was a bucket in the corner behind a blanket suspended from the ceiling.

The Infamous Boab Prison Tree, estimated to be over 1200 years old. Once used to detain arrested Indigenous People charged with Cattle Stealing or Killing.

A 'Close-Up' of the Boab Prison Tree. The exterior appears artificial, it has a 'metallic sheen' that seems to look unnatural.

Adjacent to The Prison Boab Tree is Myall Bore. This bore has been utilised to water cattle but was also essential in supplying water to the Defence Base that was in this area during WW2.

The Cattle Watering Trough is still fed with water from the Windmill above Myall Bore.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek, WA.

Our initial travel plan was to visit Derby for a couple of days then tow our caravan out to Windjana Gorge Camp Ground, stay there for several days and explore the area. All the advice we received from various people suggested to us that we would be far better staying in Derby and travelling out to the gorge as a day trip. We took this advice one step further and booked into an organised one day 4 WD Coach Tour with Bungoolee Tours Windjana and Tunnel Creek Tour.

We were picked up at our caravan park at 8 AM and arrived back at the front gate at 6 PM. It was a big day but I didn't need to drive 1 km. The commentary from Karissa, our coach driver, and K Y, our young Aboriginal Guide through Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek, was excellent. We learnt much of the Aboriginal Folklore of the Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek areas of The West Kimberley.

As we discovered, we could have towed our caravan to Windjana Gorge but it would have been a very slow and tedious drive. Also with the risk of damaged tyres or worse!

Our purpose built M.A.N. 4 WD Coach. Those large truck tyres absorbed most of the road corrugations but not all of them!

On the way out to Windjana Gorge we briefly stopped beside this Boab Tree. It is estimated that this tree is in excess of 1000 years old.

On arrival at Windjana Gorge we participated in a Smoke Welcoming Ceremony. Our Coach Driver, Karissa, is standing nearby.

Walking along the sandy creek bed of The Lennard River into Windjana Gorge.

Fossils are visible in the Limestone Cliff Faces. Tragically some of these fossils have been defaced or removed by shameless or ignorant vandals. The Aboriginal Rock Art that we weren't permitted to photograph has also been desecrated. A 'Wendy' scratched her name completely across one figure.

Part of the Limestone Cliff face along the Lennard River.

Shear vertical cliffs line the gorge.

This large Johnson fresh water crocodile was quietly sunning itself on our side of the river.

However, there were many others that would rather keep their distance.

The Limestone Cliffs were quite varied in structure.

During the Wet Season water would be flowing through here up to several metres in depth.

During our walk out of the gorge this large snake crossed our path. Some of us thought it was a non venomous Tree Snake but everybody kept their distance anyway.

K Y, from the local Bunuba Tribe, and Karissa outside the ruins of the old Police Station. They are recounting the legend of Jandamarra. Jandamarra can be loosely compared to Ned Kelly. Jandamarra was a rouge aboriginal that switched between traditional ways and white mans ways whenever it suited him. However, Jandamarra did shoot and kill Richardson the Police Officer at the time. Jandamarra escaped and camped in the Tunnel Creek Region for three years. 

Judy talking to K Y and Karissa about the Kapok Plants that we have seen in many places in the arid regions.

The Kapok Plant was introduced by Afghan Camel Operators in the very early days but now it has spread far and wide,

Inside Tunnel Creek, much of the distance we are walking through water up to knee height.

The roof has caved in at about the mid way point through the tunnel. Fig tree roots, that have come through the tunnel roof,  can be seen seeking the water.

A reflection pool at the point of the cave in. It was just past this point that we detected a Johnson Crocodile in the water. Half of our group of 14 were reluctant to enter the water again but we goaded them into it. We all emerged with all of our original equipment intact.

The exit of the Tunnel Creek walk. The entry point is not open and clear like this, some rock scrambling is required to gain entry.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Broome, WA.

In some ways it was difficult to move on from Barn Hill Station, there is this 'rustic' fascination about it that keeps people staying longer. However, we have new experiences to uncover in Broome.

Most of the Caravan Parks are near full in Broome at this time of the year. One needs to be at the gate fairly early to gain entry. We arrived about 11:00 AM, pulled up behind three other vans, and gained entry to the 'Overflow Area'. We discovered that this was not as bad as it sounded, we had a very large area with power and water and our own Camp Kitchen. Also, we only had to walk through the gate immediately behind us to gain entry to the amenities block.

Broome is a far larger City than I imagined with about 15000 people. The layout of the City is rather haphazard, with shopping and services scattered far and wide. Retail Pearl outlets predominate the main tourist areas. We didn't buy any though. I saw a string of large pearls going for $11490, I was fairly quick at ushering Judy out of that shop!

My back and hip felt the need for another Deep Remedial Massage and following an hour on the table we went for a Camel Ride and I undid all the good work of the Massage. Camel Saddles are quite wide and my legs were spread wide causing my hips to tell me that things were not good with my body. By the time my camel was back on his haunches at the end of the ride I couldn't move my legs. I needed assistance from the handler to get this 'Old Boy' out of the saddle. I don't need to do that again!

The weather up here is sublime, low 30's during the day and dropping to high teens during the night. There is very little wind, only mild cooling breezes. We are tempted to stay in the Kimberley Area for a while. I think we need a Holiday from our travels.

Broome Wharf with a Kimberley Coastal Tourist Cruiser tied up.

This is the area of large tidal changes, the tide is receding past the wharf pylons at a fast rate.

Pearl Shell was once a large industry in this area. This exquisite demonstration of the beauty of the shell is on show in the Broome Catholic Church.

This is The Gantheaume Point Lighthouse standing above the very rocky point. Cable Beach is visible in the background.

At very low tides Dinosaur footprints are visible on the rocky base of the point. We couldn't view the original specimens as low tide today was after sunset. Fortunately for us, Broome somehow coaxed the dinosaurs to return and provide alternate footprints in this slab of concrete.

Cable Beach with Gantheaume Point in the background.

The Blue Camels patiently waiting on Cable Beach for the next beach walk.

Judy and I meet Moostive. He is a very docile 22 year old male camel. Apparently he is approaching Middle Age as the can live to about 50 years.

A view of Cable Beach from the drivers seat of a camel. Ashley, in the blue shirt is offering a commentary as we walk the beach.

Myself and Judy on the Camel Walk, this was taken by Ashley. Jubul, Jude's camel took a liking to my Maroons Guernsey, he was nibbling at my arm along the way.

A short video also taken by Ashley.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Barn Hill Station, WA.

We only booked into Barn Hill Station for one night, as soon as we had set up camp and sat down for morning tea we decided to extend for another two days on the spot. We couldn't stay any longer as we didn't have sufficient food on board. We fell in love with the Rustic Ambience of the camp ground. From the amenities blocks without roofs to the intricacies of using power at only six amps. All power outlets have Circuit Breakers set to six amps, exceed your limit and you are out of power. Until you reset the Circuit Breaker that is! Sunday Morning is Market Day and Sunday Evening is the three course Roast of The Week. Seeing this is a Beef Station I am guessing the roast tonight will be Beef.

I was able to compile two Blog Posts here at Barn Hill Station as we have fast 4G Internet Connection, Amazing. I was even able to watch NRL Footy on Fox Sports over the Internet.

We will be heading out to Broome tomorrow morning, I think this is about 130 km. That means we had nine nights camping along the highway between Port Hedland and Broome, a distance of about 635 km.

The next Blog Report will be from Broome or Derby.

The 'Village Green' outside the Shop/Office/Reception. On the far side of the building there is a Bowling Green.

Sunday Morning Market. The 'Boys' are grouped around the angling supplies stall.

The Unpowered Area is situated around the Cliff Rim.

The Unpowered Area from up there.

This is Barn Hill, a gigantic pile of rock and the reason for the Station Name. Towards the right of the top you can see a Cairn, this was placed here by Alexander Forrest during his expedition to the Kimberleys in 1879.

After a rock scramble we made it to the top of Barn Hill. The camp area, along the cliff rim, extends from right of picture around to Jude's hat.

Indian Ocean view from the cliff top.

Another Indian Ocean and Coastal view looking South.

Rocky Headlands abound with many rock pools to clamber around. Of course these are populated with very small fish and crabs.

The following is a series of different rock formations that form the coast along these shores.