...for a little way anyway...
Our first flat tyre since leaving home in December, so not bad at all. After
we Matt changed the tyre we on our way again, hoping that it could simply be patched at the nearest tyre repairs and we wouldn't be out of pocket a whole new tyre.
The first half of the Gibb River Road (coming from the Kununurra end) doesn't have a great deal on it, lots of driving and plenty to see from the car, but from El Questro we pretty much drove a few hundred kilometres to the turnoff north to Mitchell Falls and Kalumbaru. A quick phone call to a station up the road and we discovered that the falls had just been closed for the wet season, so now point going up there if we couldn't walk into Mitchell Falls we figured (a 12km return walk in 40+ degrees wasn't sounding too appealing anyway if you ask me).
We made camp for the first night on The Gibb at Barnett River Gorge, well we found a nice campsite by a dry creek bed which we figured was the Barnett, on further investigation in the morning and walking about scratching our heads we discovered the track actually continued through the dry creek bed and we finally stumbled upon the gorge. Just goes to show how much the landscape changes from dry to wet seasons.
Continuing on down The Gibb we came to Manning Gorge and the Mt Barnett Roadhouse, grabbed some bread out of the freezer at the store but decided to give the gorge a miss. Just down the road were two gorges close together, and not far off the road (about 1km walk). Galvan's Gorge was quite beautiful, a trickle of water over the falls into a waterhole where we took a swim. As usual it was getting up to 40 degrees - consistent if nothing else! Adcock Gorge was another smallish gorge, Matt explored the rock ledges and again only a trickle of water, but plenty in the waterhole.
After a stop in at the Imintji store to get our tyre patched we headed to Silent Grove campground, hot showers and shady site with a downpour of rain overnight to cool down, a welcome surprise, especially for the rangers who were keeping an eye on a fire nearby. The next morning we headed up to Bell Gorge 10km drive away and then did the walk into the gorge. You can walk across the creek, then up the rocks and descend down into the gorge to the plunge pool at the base of the falls where we had a swim.
Next stop, Lennard Gorge. By this time of the day it was getting hot (surprise surprise). A steep in parts walk that seemed like a very long 2km found us overlooking the gorge, very high, very narrow, pretty impressive really but it was so hot I didn't take many photos. Hot, hot, hot walk trudging back to the hot over the hots, of course making it feel so much hotter.
Driving on down The Gibb we made camp for the night on the Lennard River, just before the road where we were going to leave the Gibb River Road. Beautiful camp overlooking the river, on grass! Unheard of in these parts so we got a bit excited. Over the last couple of days the battery in poor Luxie had been sounded a little sick, come the next morning after camping at Lennard River and it simply gave up the ghost and wouldn't start. Boo! We pondered waving someone down on the road, but not many cars had gone past even since we had camped the previous afternoon. So out came the solar panels and the chairs to sit and wait...and wait...but then we heard a car coming and Matt ran out to the road. A friendly trio of fellows kindly jumpstarted poor Luxie and we made the decision to head straight into Derby to deal with the problem, 120km away, finishing the Gibb River Road though but we would have to backtrack to where we'd left after we got a new battery. A night in the Derby caravan park, checking out the amazing tidal power down by the jetty and becoming downright ashamed of some atrocious Australian history at the old gaol and prison tree.
We got Luxie kitted with a new battery, our wallet cried some more, and we headed back 120km along the Gibb River Road to the turn off to Windjana Gorge. We got there fairly early in the day, and again very hot, so decided not to walk in the heat of the day and to do the walk the next morning. Swung the afternoon away in the hammock, very hot, luckily got a watermelon in Derby to munch on!
Next morning we were up at dawn and exploring the gorge in the early light. Loads of squawking and screeching from hundreds of bats in trees and freshwater crocs everywhere!
Not far from Windjana is Tunnel Creek, which is quite amazing, the creek flows underground for 750m through a tunnel (funnily enough) which you can walk through. Sandals and torches are a must as you wade through the water of the creek in the pitch black, I was kind of scared to start with but is then quite cool as you explore your way by the light of your torch or the distant light from the other end of the tunnel. Unfortunately no photos from in there obviously (well some really dodgy ones from Matt's little point and shoot camera).
We came out onto the Great Northern Highway and decided not to go into Fitzroy Crossing, and instead head south through some station country and made camp on the Fitzroy River. Very hot night! Didn't get much sleep, hot and sticky with no wind all night. Yuck yuck yuck! Luckily the view wasn't that bad on the eyes which made it not so bad...
We headed off early the next morning, further south before turning west and heading through more station tracks to eventually join up with the highway again. Headed straight for the Indian Ocean in Broome - we'd made it! The entire length of the Savannah Way, from Cairns to Broome.
And that seabreeze...it was divine.