After eight months we had crossed the border and we were back in Western Australia. It was bitter sweet as it was great to be back in the West but it also meant our adventure would soon come to an end.
We arrived in Kununurra where the sweltering heat didn’t relent. It was regularly 42-44° which meant getting out early in the mornings (which didn’t seem to be a problem as the sun and the boys were up at about 4.30am) or late in the afternoon. We hiked to the top of Kelly’s Knob one morning which looks out over the town in every direction similarly to Castle Hill in Townsville. Another morning we drove out to Lake argyle, Australia’s second largest freshwater man-made reservoir. It is incredible, more like an ocean than a lake, and there’s some great lookouts and a nice shaded area where we escaped the heat while we had a picnic.
The sunsets in Kununurra are hands down the best we have seen anywhere! I’m not sure why but they start early, burn hard and last for ever. I could fill a whole new blog post with all the shots we took. Most evenings I was at Ivanhoe crossing trying to catch a barramundi so I was a little torn between wanting to flick a lure in the water and shooting with the camera. The first time we went to Ivanhoe we were umming and ahhing about whether or not to try the crossing in the new Ranger but after a while watching half a dozen or so 4WD’s cross we decided to give it a go. Buzz (lightyear space Ranger) handled it fine and it was a great way to christen the 4WD.
We really enjoyed Kununurra so we stayed a night or two longer than anticipated however soon enough it was time to move on. The plan was to drive to Bungle bungles caravan park, ditch the van as they don’t allow tandem axle vans into Purnulu National Park, spend the day at the bungle bungles and the night in the caravan park. Thankfully we left early, as when we got there the the park was closed which meant we would have to hitch the van up again that evening and find a camp for the night. The road in to Purnulu National Park is one of the worst we have been on, corrugated to crap and topped off with washouts at every creek bed due to recent rain. But its worth the drive, as you arrive at The Domes Walk the southern side of the Bungle Bungle range presents itself in a way that lets you take it in, in all its magnificence. We hiked out to Cathedral Gorge with the boys a bit after midday, luckily its quite cool in the shade of the gorge. The gorge ends in a spectacular amphitheatre of red rock with a pool of water in the middle. It would have been nice to stay a bit longer and explore more of the park but we had to get back to the van. We got there with just enough light left to hook up the van and drive to a free camp just down the highway.
The next day we drove to Tunnel Creek in the King Leopold Ranges. The road is rough and corrugated but not as bad as the one in to the Bungle bungles and the van handled it well. Tunnel Creek is exactly as the name suggests a tunnel with a creek flowing through it. Oh and did I mention the creeks full of freshwater crocs and you need to walk through the water in parts to reach the other end?
When we got back to the car I went to start it up to get the air con running and nothing – flat battery! In the middle of nowhere, and no one around I was starting to get a bit concerned however after disconnecting the Engel, and the Anderson plug (which we had left connected the night before and was the reason the battery was dead) and waiting a few minutes there was just enough charge in the battery to get Buzz started. Phew! (massive understatement) All this in 44° heat. From there we drove to Windjana Gorge and set up the van for the night where I think it was even hotter.
We checked out the gorge early the next morning however there wasn’t much water in there. I imagine it would be pretty spectacular when full. We did however manage to catch a pair of Brolgas performing their legendary dance, what a privilege to see nature at its finest.
It was time to escape the heat (did I mention its hot in the Kimberley?) so we set off for Broome. When we arrived it was 42° on the East side of town but by the time we got to the beach side the seabreeze was in and it was about 10° cooler. Ive never been so happy to see the Freo Doctor! Or the beach, my first surf in 130 days in windblown gutless slop felt unreal.
My mate Jamie lives in Broome so he arranged a trip mud crabbing for me as soon as we got there. His secret spot is somewhere across Roe buck bay so it was a bit of a hike in his tinnie to get there. We figured it had been ten years since we last caught up, so after yakking for too long in between each set of the crab nets, and a few quiet frothies, a few hours had passed. By this time the wind was up and so were the seas. The motor was playing up, and bashing into the waves it kept conking out. About two km’s from Broome it conked out again but when it wouldn’t restart we realised we were actually out of fuel. Thankfully Jamie had an ace up his sleeve and knew how to get another couple of hundred mil’s out of the tank and we made shore somewhere in Roebuck Bay. I had noticed a shed of some sort over the cliff so I scrambled up and lo and behold there was a couple of German tourists driving around in a jeep with jerry cans on the roof. Apparently they were looking for crocodiles?! So I grabbed some fuel and thanked them very much and we were back on our way. Well we would have been anyway if the tide hadn’t gone out so far that the boat was beached. In hindsight perhaps we shouldn’t have talked to the German tourists in bikinis for quite as long as we did. Anyway, by some miracle the water actually came back up for just long enough for us to push the boat out and get on our way again. Someone was looking after us that day! Next time we caught up with Jamie and Beth it was my turn. We were supposed to have a BBQ on Cable beach, but when I pulled the Weber and the gas bottle out of the Ute I realised I bought the gas hose with a bayonet head rather than a large thread. Oh well back to Jamie’s house to fry up the snags in the electric fry pan.
We wanted to check out Cape Leveque so we got up early and took a day trip out there, only another two hundred kilometres one hundred of which on one of the worst roads in the country. Along the way we stopped in at Sacred Heart church, built by Pallotine monks and local Aborigines and competed in 1918. The church is famous for its altar lined with mother of pearl shell. From there we drove up to On Arm Point and stopped in at the Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery which allows you to observe and feed fish you would rarely have the opportunity to see. Ardyaloon is also well known for its beautiful polished jewelry, made from the trochus shells that are farmed there. From there we had lunch at Yologo beach which was stunning and could easily be mistaken for any of the beaches near Exmouth, only about 25° warmer. Last stop was the red cliffs at Kooljaman, one of WA’s iconic places made for a memorable place to hang out at the end of the day
Back in Broome we hung at Cable beach a fair bit, checked out the markets, and the supermoon, and on our last night we were lucky enough to see the stairway to the moon. It was a fitting end to our time in Broome and a good way to say goodbye to Jamie and Beth, and the kids, over dinner and drinks at the Mangrove Hotel
We hightailed it from Broome to Exmouth but not without stopping for a night at Barn Hill. Mum and Dads go to spot for many years and where Dads ashes are scattered. We could see why they loved it there as its a beautiful spot and nice and peaceful. We were very lucky to be able to stay as they were actually locking the gates for the cyclone season as we arrived but they were good enough to let us in.
We didn’t hang around in the Pilbara as we had had enough of the heat. Next stop Exmouth, cool breezes and proper surf.