Day 127: Lake Argyle to Kununurra
It’s 29 degrees at 8.45am as we leave Lake Argyle. We fell in love with the lake, the staff are so friendly. Customer service is the most outstanding that we have seen on our journey so far. They know how to do tourism right!
Our journey today is only 69km, we arrive at the Lakeside Kununurra Resort just after morning tea. We’ve got a lakeside site with another amazing view.
After setting up Andrew is tasked with doing the shopping while I catch up on some work. It’s now 4.00pm. Drinks time has been moved forward an hour as the sun is now setting at 5.00pm. We are both struggling with the early sunsets.
Sitting back with drinks and nibbles overlooking the lake, the sunset is absolutely beautiful. From blue & white cloudy skies to pastel pink, purple and yellow hues. It certainly did not disappoint.
Wildlife: Jabiru, falcon, willy wagtails, terns, purple swan hen, ducks, ibis.
Day 128-129: Kununurra
There’s more work to be done today so the morning is spent tapping away at the keyboard and making a few calls.
After lunch we take a short drive out to the infamous Ivanhoe Crossing. We are not adventurous enough to drive over it, we abide by the warning signs. The crossing is flowing quite fast and there are plenty of signs warning of the crocodiles.
This afternoon is spent indoors as the temperature rises to 35 degrees. Time for me to finish last weeks blog. It’s a big commitment writing a blog every week. Much bigger than I ever imagined. The week can easily get away from you if you don’t keep up to date each day. And then choosing the photos to post as well. As Andrew often says to me; just make a decision Arian!
Today we head out to the Sandalwood Factory and The Hoochery. Both are on the same road just 16km out of town. We’ve never been to a sandalwood factory before so we weren’t sure what to expect. It really is just a retail showroom with a coffee shop and a room that shows a video about the history of sandalwood. There are many products on display and most are reasonably priced.
Next up is the Hoochery. Famous for “rum from the middle of nowhere” created using traditional, inefficient and labour-intensive methods. It just looks like an old tin shed when you pull up in the car park. Open the glass door and what a surprise. You feel like you are entering a saloon bar from a John Wayne movie set. There are wagon wheels hanging from the ceiling with lights and fans attached. The building inside is all corrugated iron and timber with loads of memorabilia from early farming days.
We can just imagine “Spike” standing at the bar serving up his rum. He was a real visionary, originally a seed farmer he diversified creating WA’s oldest continually operating legal still. We are the only two doing the tour today so it’s very personalised and very informative. There is nothing high tech here it’s all very labour intensive! We taste quite a few rums in the barrel room and then taste a new product; mango balsamic vinegar which is currently being tested. It is going to be a winner in our view.
It’s worthwhile to take a walk around Celebrity Tree Park. Opened in 1984 celebrities such as John Farnham, HRH Princess Anne and Harry Butler have all planted trees here. There is a boat ramp and walking pontoon that overlooks Lake Kununurra.
Tonight is our last night in Kununurra and we have sunset drinks by the lake again. There is no cloud around so the sunset is not nearly as spectacular as two nights ago. We enjoy a few drinks with other caravanners chatting about their and our adventures.
Wildlife: snake, jabiru, purple swamp hen, kangaroos, kingfishers, plovers, Willy wagtails, terns, pigeons, lorikeets, jacana, pelican, ducks, egrets.
Day 130: Kununurra to Spring Creek
Leaving Kununurra at 9.00am the temperature is rising to 31 degrees already, it’s going to be another hot day. We are travelling 252km today as we continue to head towards the west coast.
Tonight’s stop is at a free camp at Spring Creek. There is no water in the creek. There are two levels to this site. The lower level is already full of vans so we park up the top of the gravel by the shade of a small gum tree. WikiCamps tells us that a lot of people leave there vans here & drive into the Bungle Bungles. We are not doing them on this trip as there is nowhere to leave Cinta and we do not feel comfortable to leave the van at the free camp. There will always be another trip at another time!
It was a lovely cool night at 19 degrees.
Wildlife: black cockatoos, purple swamp hen, ibis, galahs, cattle, horses.
Day 131: Spring Creek to Ngumbun Cliff
Leaving Spring Creek this morning it is already 26 degrees at 7.30am. Our body clocks are still trying to get used to the change in time zones. With the sun setting at 5.00pm we are eating earlier & going to bed earlier when free camping. Which means getting up earlier.
We are heading for another free camp somewhere between Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. The scenery changes every day. The grasses along the highway are constantly changing from wheat colours to rust and burnt orange tones. Boabs are aplenty and some have lost there foliage and are full of fruit. Red soil, ant hills and mountain ranges of rugged rock. The creeks and river systems are all dry, such a shame to see. We see many eagles feasting on carcasses and not leaving until the very last moment as we pass.
I can’t believe that we are in the middle of nowhere in WA and I have Telstra reception on my phone. I’m bored today, so I’m busy chatting on messenger with my scrabble group ladies (who I really miss). I had to send a selfie to them to show them just how relaxed we really are!
Mary Pool was recommended as a great spot to free camp, however we are travelling further today to the Ngumban Cliff Rest Area which is 299km. That’s a big day for us.
We see something in the distance. It’s another bike rider. As we approach I grab my phone to get a snap of the intrepid traveller. There is an eagle soaring above and it swoops down. Andrew has slowed right down as we pass, to our amazement it is a woman! We are astounded, so many questions come to mind. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to chat to this traveller to get a first hand experience of their journey.
After our early start we arrive at the Ngumban Cliff just after lunch. We park up and take a walk around the cliff site. There are no trees, just shade from the picnic table areas. We park right out on the furthest point to take full advantage of the sunset. The clouds have rolled in today so I’m expecting something pretty amazing.
We are all set up and we meet a couple from Millmerran. They had worked in the Bungle Bungles for some years and are now retired. We enjoy swapping travel stories.
The cliffs are so picturesque and we spot our first wild flowers, Bachelors Buttons. My favourite colour too. Out on the cliff face there are what appear to be wild lavender. The colour is almost finished.
I wasn’t planning on doing any work today but something has come in and we have reception, so out comes the laptop. Happy hour is calling me early today at 3.00pm. Who could refuse that offer… it’s now 4.30pm and we have moved over to the picnic tables to take full advantage of the sunset. We are chatting away to some other grey nomads telling them about the bike lady and would you believe it she rides right in to the shelter!
This is an OMG moment. We get to meet this mysterious traveller. There are a million questions we want to ask. Her name is Marielle, just like Arielle from Frozen but with an “m” she says. Marielle is from Sweden and is on her 105th day riding around Australia. She has our full attention.
How much water do you carry? A 10 litre napsack & two bottles on the front of the bike. What type of food do you carry? Breakfast is the same every day; oats. Snacks for during the daytime; nuts & dried fruit. Dinner is beans and corn chips and a banana for tomorrow.
Marielle quickly sets up her tent before sunset. It broke 3 days ago so she needs to tie it to the pole. Out comes a blow up mattress like an egg carton & she hand pumps it up. The sun is setting quickly so I offer to take her photo with her bike. On comes the red shirt, helmet & shoes. The photo is done so I ask if we could have a selfie. She is very obliging. We exchange social media channels to follow each other’s journies. I offer her more water for tomorrow’s journey as there is no water available at the free camp. Marielle is very thankful so I take her to the van to get the water & show her inside. She politely asks if she can wash her hands so I offer her soap and she explains what a treat! It was the least we could do!
We say goodnight & offer to take some action shots on the bike when we pass her in the morning. We will slow right down and toot the horn before approaching so she knows it’s us.
The sun set is amazing, it almost looks like the sky is on fire.
Wildlife: Dead kangaroos, crows, wild budgerigars, finches, horses, eagles.
Day 132: Ngumban Cliff to Derby
Andrew is up early and bids farewell to Marielle at 6.02am. We are keen to see how far she will travel before we pass her on the road today.
We head off at 7.45am this morning & see Marielle in the distance at 8.20am, 50km from the cliffs.
We slow right down, toot the horn and I begin snapping her. We drive alongside for a short distance while I’m photographing her. There is a good headwind so she is making great time today. She plans to stop about 100km past Fitzroy Crossing. We bid her farewell & wish her a safe journey.
I messaged the photos to Marielle through Instagram and she was ever so thankful for the action shots! Marielle rode 175km today in the heat – she is a remarkable woman. Her goal will be complete in 2 more days with only 300km to do. Go Marielle!!
Bachelor buttons are prolific all along the highway today. We are making good time and arrive in Derby just after lunch. We plan to stay at the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park for 4 nights on a powered site as the temperatures are going to be in the mid 30’s over the next few days. This is a very large park with 285 sites and it is the only park now in town. Ian the Manager is a real character and makes the checking in process quite comical.
After we are all set up we take a drive around town to get our bearings. Derby has Australia’s highest tides and one of the highest in the world being 11.8m. Derby is located on the tidal mud flats on the edge of the King Sound and has a population of around 4500 people.
We head back home and I am tasked with getting us booked onto the Horizontal Falls Seaplane tour. Another experience to tick off our bucket list. Getting close to the “season” it pays to start booking ahead as we are unable to do the flight until the following Friday. I immediately take the seats. It’s not cheap at $1576.61 for the two of us for a 6 hour trip. The cost includes the Marine Park Fee and a credit card fee. I’ll be writing about this experience in next week’s blog.
I head back to reception to extend our booking by a further 3 days and are delighted that Ian gives me a deal for the whole week.
Wildlife: Dead kangaroos, crows, hawks, eagles, wild budgerigar, horses, cattle.
Day 133: Derby
Last night was another very pleasant 19 degrees. We’re expecting a top today of 37. In the coming week the temperatures are expected to decrease each day. The bonus is that the nights will all be under 20 degrees. It’s time to do the shopping and then head out to do some exploring.
A short distance from town is the Prison Boab Tree (I know another boab tree photo!) This is a site of significance (from its reputed use as a rest point for police and escorted Aboriginal prisoners en-route to Derby). The site is now protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. It’s an amazing tree. The sun is shining on the eastern side of the tree and the colour is pewter, it really is a sight to see.
In the same location is Myalls Bore & Cattle Trough built in 1916/17 and later extended to a length of 120m to water over 500 bullocks at one time. Today, water is pumped into the trough from the windmill.
We will be exploring more of Derby over the coming week, so make sure you look out for next week’s blog. I hope you are enjoying reading about our travels.
Wildlife: Peacocks, corellas, parrots, bats.
Week 19 total expenses: $2331.41 over budget but 2 extraordinary expenses this week on tours; $28 for the Hoochery Distillery Tour and $1576.61 for the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Tour. I’ll be talking about that in next week’s blog!
That’s a wrap for Week 19 of the Lap of the Map.
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!