Back in March, after travelling 10,000 kms, Pam and I put together a photoblog of our travels up to that point. We also promised to do the same after the next 10,000. Well, on June 25, we clocked our 20,000th kilometre on the Gibb River Road, heading out into the East Kimberley. And as promised, here is a collection of images and notes from some of the places we visited on the way that point.
The 20,000th kilometre and the Kimberley stretching out into the distance.
Salmon Holes. We have both been to Albany prior to this trip and weren’t expecting much this time but a closer inspection of the city’s surroundings revealed some unexpected surprises. We left Albany with a better impression than the one we arrived with.
This wind turbine is one of 12 on the wind farm at Albany. The combined output of the turbines can provide up to 75% of the city’s power needs. Each blade is as long as the wing of a 747 jet airliner and when rotating at maximum speed, the blade-tip travels at around 220 kph.
Parry Beach is about two hours drive west of Albany. We spent a relaxing week here in the shade of the Peppermint Gums.
Green’s Pool. This natural swimming pool is not far from Parry Beach and we swam there most days.
The mighty Karri and Tingle trees that were once prolific in the south-west are now confined to remnant forests, the result of environmental changes as much as logging. We found the old giant in this image in one such forest near Walpole.
This scene is typical of the forests around Pemberton.
Yeagerup Dunes. These extensive sand dunes south of Pemberton are mobile, burying lakes and forests in their slow march north. The only land access to the coast in this area is across the dunes and they provided the first opportunity on our trip to get into 4WD.
An unusual perspective on Margaret River.
The pier in Busselton reaches out into Geographe Bay almost two kilometres and back in history more than 100 years. It has recently been restored and is now a major tourist attraction for the town. Pam caught these fish swimming passed a window in the underwater observatory out on the end of the pier.
The Bell Tower on the north bank of the Swan River in Perth.
Kings Park in Perth.
The Pinnacles near Cervantes, north of Perth. The exact origin of these stone outcrops is a matter of conjecture but one popular theory identifies them as the fossilised tree trunks of an ancient forest.
Waves crash below Kalbarri’s version of the Natural Bridge.
The Rainbow Jungle in Kalbarri touts itself as a parrot breeding centre. Pam & I spent an afternoon there in the walk-through aviary, getting up close to some fantastically plumaged exotic and native parrots.
Kalbarri lies at the mouth of the Murchison River which has carved a deep gorge in the land on its way to the sea. The Murchison is seen here through Nature’s Window, a natural rock formation in the Murchison Gorge.
The Rainbow Jungle again, this time a female Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.
A swimming hole in the the Murchison Gorge.
It’s official then! We passed this sign on the way out to Monkey Mia in Shark Bay.
Monkey Mia was a disappointment. Pam went there on the legendary expedition of ‘84, before the curse of fame was visited on this tiny outpost in the wilderness. In those days, she took her own fish to the water’s edge and talked to the animals. Now, feeding times are specified and strictly controlled. National Park staff, wading up to their knees, keep the crowd back on the beach. If you’re lucky, they give you a fish from the stainless steel bucket and allow you to come forward to feed a dolphin. There’s an informed expert with a megaphone, an interpretive centre, merchandise. Such is the way of the world.
Exmouth sits at the feet of the Cape Range and is the gateway to Ningaloo Reef.
Charles Knife Canyon in the Cape Range, near Exmouth.
Yardie Gorge. We camped near the mouth of Yardie Creek (far right of image) during our stay at Ningaloo.
Sandy Bay is not far from Yardie and its clear, turquoise water is perfect for snorkelling on the coral reef just off shore.
Sunset at Sandy Bay.
Kalamina Gorge might be the easiest to negotiate but it is by no means the least of Karijini’s jewels. (I should point out here that while the Pilbara is, in itself, a wonder to behold, the gorges of Karijini National Park are the region’s big tourist draw card.)
Knox Gorge is one of the most difficult and dangerous gorges in Karijini NP to get into and out of. Pam took this photograph from the look-out and we left it at that.
Weano Gorge is the fun gorge in Karijini – difficult enough to be exciting without threat to life or limb. In this image, Pam is climbing out of Handrail Pool. To get to this pool, we inched our way through a dark, narrow fissure with cold fast flowing water up to our knees, then descended into the pool chamber clinging to the handrail. The wet rock underfoot was worn smooth and extremely slippery and the sound of cascading water reverberated around us. It was very exhilarating.
An ore train, 2.4 kilometres long, moving iron ore from Rio Tinto’s mines in the Pilbara to port in Dampier – three locomotives, 230 wagons, 26000 tonnes of ore, A$5 million per load, four loads per day, seven days a week (average figures for RT’s Pilbara operation). The Pilbara is wealthy in many ways.
Paperbarks at Millstream National Park, 180kms west of Tom Price.
Lunch stop at Hearson’s Cove in Dampier after coming out of the Pilbara.
End of the line – an ore train from the Pilbara waiting to off load at Dampier.
Rio Tinto’s salt works at Port Hedland.
Broome here we come!
Sunset watching – a tradition in Broome.
This is what it’s all about – sunset at Cable Beach.
Moonrise watching – watching from Town Beach as the full moon comes up is just as popular.
A Pied Oyster Catcher on Eco Beach, near Broome.
Signs like this are commonplace in the north west. This one was prominently placed at the beginning of the Cape Leveque Road. It was larger than life, obviously important and its message (I thought) was clear: There are crocodiles here! DO NOT go swimming! Okay. No need to say it twice. But we arrive at Cape Leveque and the receptionist at the resort there blithely provides directions to… the swimming beach? Are you serious? In the Kimberley, people just smile and shrug their shoulders when the conversation turns to crocodiles. I don’t get it. And for the record, we did go swimming but I personally stayed very close to shore, made it very snappy and didn’t have a jot of fun.
Cape Leveque sunset.
Late afternoon light on the cliffs at Western Beach, Cape Leveque.
The Boab tree is an icon in the Kimberley. Determining the age of a Boab is difficult because, unlike other trees, Boabs have no growth rings, in fact becoming hollow with age. This particular tree near Derby is famous as a prison tree, inside which Aborigines kidnapped for the blackbirding trade were held enroute to port. It is estimated to be over 1000 years old.
The Gibb River Road – welcome to the East Kimberley. This road goes all the way from Derby to Wyndham, 600 kilometres more or less, and provides access to Windjana Gorge and other splendours along the way.
Cattle stations in the Kimberley cover vast tracts of largely unfenced land, leaving livestock free to wander at will. Motor accidents involving cattle are not uncommon. We came across this big Brahman bull on the Gibb River Road. He stood two metres at the business end of his horns.
Boabs in a creek near Windjana Gorge. They lose their leaves in the Dry.
There are two types of crocodile in Australia – Freshwater and Saltwater. The Johnston River Freshwater Crocodile, like this one in Windjana Gorge, is happy to mind its own business if left alone. The larger and aggressive Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile, on the other hand, weighs-in as Australia’s most dangerous predator and is a reptile of a very different colour.
Not far from Windjana, Tunnel Creek cascades through a crevice in the Napier Range and disappears into the darkness. If I remember nothing else of this trip (as if that’s likely!) I will always remember climbing into that crevice and following the creek, in the dark and up to my waist in icy water, as it wound its way underground for two kilometres to finally reappear in the sunlight on the far side of the range. Pam took this shot halfway along where the rock above has collapsed, allowing sunlight to flood that part of the tunnel.
After a two kilometre journey underground, Tunnel Creek emerges from beneath the Napier Range through this huge cavern, to splash into a plunge pool before flowing on its way.
A Jabiru fishing in Windjana Gorge.
Galvan’s Gorge, about 300 kms along the Gibb River Road.
Lennard Gorge on the Gibb River Road.
A giant Boab in the firelight at Manning Gorge camp ground.
So that’s it – the last 10,000 kms and all of them in Western Australia. This is a huge state, in every way, and we have seen and done so much, it’s impossible to be anything here but brief. Nevertheless, I hope you get an accurate impression of our experiences and believe me when I say we are having the time of our lives.