31st May 2017–Warmun to Kununurra

Distance: 332 km

Was in two minds whether to go to Wyndham or Kununurra today but I was ready to leave very early (7.30am) so decided to go to Wyndham for a look then continue on to Kununurra.

The journey to Wyndham was through a series of interesting ranges and winding passes.

170531 001 Ranges Near Kununurra170531 006 Ranges Near Kununurra170531 008 Ranges Near Kununurra

Just outside Wyndham is an area called The Grotto which is a hole in the ground with very dodgy looking stairs.

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Wyndham has a Big Croc…

170531 028 Wyndham Big Crocodile

I did want to go to the Five Rivers Lookout BUT there was a sign which said, “No Caravans” so that was that.

Kununurra is only 70km from Wyndham so it was an easy drive. Found a caravan park right in the centre of town where I booked in for a few nights and also booked a cruise on Lake Argyle for tomorrow arvo. There is a dinner cruise on Lake Kununurra but I think I have eaten enough Barramundi for a while.

After setting up my camp including my gazebo and doing my laundry I went for a drive. First stop the Kellys Knob Lookout with its views over town.

170531 036 Kununurra Kellys Knob170531 040 Kununurra Kellys Knob170531 049 Kununurra Kellys Knob170531 053 Kununurra Kellys Knob

Then it was down to Celebrity Park and Lake Kununurra.

170531 055 Kununurra Lake Kununarra and Celebrity Park170531 057 Kununurra Lake Kununarra and Celebrity Park170531 063 Kununurra Lake Kununarra and Celebrity Park170531 064 Kununurra Lake Kununarra and Celebrity Park

Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra are part of the failed Ord River scheme. I have read the signs but still have only the vaguest notion of why the scheme needed two separate dams so you will have to Google it.

When the sun went down I was feeling pretty hungry so I wandered into the town centre looking for a restaurant and eventually found an Asian one opposite a Subway when I had almost given up. The meal wasn’t bad at all but I think I need to do better preparation in future; wandering about in strange towns is not the best way to find a feed.

Kununurra is only about 40km from the WA/NT border. The next town is Katherine on the Stuart Highway 500km and a time zone away.

30th May 2017–Fitzroy Crossing to Warmun

Distance: 468 km
Fuel: 55 L

This morning, before packing up, I went for a drive to the old Fitzroy Crossing. It is still there but the river silt either side has effectively blocked it off. There were some tyre tracks but they had come from the river sand flats. It is still only a metre above the water line now so one can understand why it was replaced by a higher level bridge.

170530 015 Old Fitzroy Crossing170530 004 Old Fitzroy Crossing170530 008 Old Fitzroy Crossing170530 009 Old Fitzroy Crossing

The drive to Halls Creek where I had originally intended to stay was pretty straight forward though there were many single lane bridges on the way which had to be approached with some caution.

170530 017 Near Halls Creek

At Halls Creek I filled up with fuel but because it was only 10.30am decided to press on to Warmun (Turkey Creek) Roadhouse only another 160km further on. Warmun is a small Aborigine community who own and run the roadhouse.

At Warmun I enquired about a site and was told to take one and come back to tell them which site it was – it was $35 for a powered site. Once I had set up I wandered over to the Helicopter Flight office and asked if there were anybody who wanted a flight but needed another to make up the numbers. Oh dear, nothing looking likely and at $400 per person I wasn’t going to pay for two seats. Will try again in the morning because Kununurra is only 200km away.

170530 022 Warmun Roadhouse170530 029 Warmun Roadhouse

What was an almost empty caravan park was nearly full by the time 6pm came round.

170530 025 Warmun Roadhouse

29th May 2017–Derby to Fitzroy Crossing

Distance: 308km
Fuel: 58 L

Was out early buying fuel for the journey to Fitzroy Crossing and was on the road by 7.45am.

Easy drive to Fitzroy Crossing  where I arrived about 11am. Found a Caravan Park right next to the IGA store, Checked in and the lady told me that there was a boat tour at the Geikie Gorge at 4pm.

The Geikie Gorge is only just over 20km from town and that sounded a good idea so at about 1pm I took off for the Geikie Gorge National Park. Of course I arrived in plenty of time for the boat trip, originally I had intended to suss it out and return later but there were a number of walks at the park so I decided to try out a couple – I was carrying plenty of water in the car.

History: Geikie Gorge is a reef from the Devonian Period (250 million years ago?) when the area was a sea. As I understand it it is limestone from a combination of algae and coral.

Anyway my first walk was in among the reef formations. BTW this is a story where too many rocks are just not enough.

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Then it was a walk along the side of the Fitzroy River to the sandbar and the Margaret River. (In case you haven’t working it out yet Fitzroy Crossing is so named because it was a place early settlers could get across the Fitzroy River).

170529 035 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP170529 038 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP

Here you can see both the start of the sandbar and where the Margaret River joins the Fitzroy to the left of the sandbar.

170529 041 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP170529 044 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP

These were not arduous walks being about a kilometre or so each but the path was mainly soft sand (silt from the river flood) which made it hard going. They were well marked.

Suddenly it was time for the boat trip…

170529 055 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip

170529 056 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip

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These are birds nests made of mud and saliva stuck to the underside of overhanging rocks.

170529 112 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 115 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 117 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 124 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 136 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 141 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 149 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip170529 150 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip

The dark areas of the rocks are oxidised limestone while the light areas show where the river comes to at its peak. The limestone is eroded and scoured by the river. The ranger’s pagoda roof has been under 2 metres of water and it is not an insubstantial structure perhaps 5 metres high and many metres above the current water level.

The crocs are Freshwater Crocodiles much smaller and less threatening than the Salties further north, the river is quite safe to swim in they don’t attack humans.

This rock island is sacred to the local aborigines and is the only place where swimming is not allowed.

170529 093 Fitzroy Crossing Geikie Gorge NP Boat Trip

The boat trip finished just as the sun set so the drive back to town was at my least favourite time of day (for driving). As it happened I had to stop several times for wallabies with all the road sense of a two year old but I didn’t hit anything and got back safely.

I decided I didn’t want to cook so I went looking for a restaurant… Nope! the only food was at the servo but I really wanted a meal so I just bought fuel for tomorrow.

The diesel here is $1.43/L compared to $1.52 at Derby – how does that work?

28th May 2017–Derby

Distance: 21 km

Today I exhausted the charms of Derby. I had to wait for the park shop to open for me to buy ice but once that was done I set off.

First stop the Visitors’’ Centre where I parked the car and followed the Heritage Walk Guide. It was a typical self guided town walk a mixture of what had been but was gone, a brief town history and an explanation of what still remained. It passed a pleasant hour or so in the cool of the morning.

There were the Boab Trees down the main street.170528 006 Derby

The propeller and anchor of a ship, SS Colac, that was damaged and sank at the wharf in 1910.

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The Derby Museum.

170528 009 Derby Museum

The Old Woolshed and Tramway restoration project.

170528 012 Derby Woolshed

170528 014 Derby Woolshed and Tramway

Finally the Derby Picture Gardens a once typical bush open air cinema, alas only the screen remains.170528 020 Derby Picture Gardens

By now I was a bit peckish so I called in at the Jila Gallery Cafe for coffee and cheesecake.

Finally back at my starting point I decided to revisit the wharf because I had missed the Centenary Mosaic when I visited yesterday.

170528 035 Derby Centenary Mosaic170528 036 Derby Centenary Mosaic

The tide was out so the tidal mud flats were visible.

170528 037 Derby Wharf Mangroves170528 040 Derby Wharf Mangroves

I drove to Derby’s Old Gaol next to the Police Station. What an awful place it must have been, just a cage with a tin roof and rings in the floor for attaching chains, No toilets. Terrible!

The original  Police Station is long gone having been eaten by termites but even termites didn’t like the steel cage.170528 027 Derby Old Gaol170528 028 Derby Old Gaol

Finally I was out walking looking for lunch when I came across this hollow Boab tree which was just part of the streetscape. From one side it looked a healthy solid Boab from the other it was a different matter.

170528 042 Derby Hollow Boab170528 044 Derby Hollow Boab170528 045 Derby Hollow Boab

27th May 2017–Broome to Derby

Distance: 243 km

Shock… Horror… I was awoken this morning by what sounded like raindrops on the roof… except instead of a continuous pitter patter it was about 4 or 5 drops then perhaps 30 seconds pause then 4 or 5 more drops! when I finally got up sure enough the ground was damp but the surprise was that it was foggy! Thank goodness this didn’t happen yesterday.

170527 002 Broome Fog

Performed my usual ablutions and set about dismantling my camp, making breakfast and topping up the Esky with ice (I am multi-tasking).

By 8.30am I was ready to leave but I had still not decided where I was going; was it Derby or Fitzroy Crossing? A quick look at the map – Derby was only 40km from the highway – so it would be a visit to Derby first; if it looked OK then I would stay, if not I would carry on toward Kununurra.

Derby looked OK, the caravan park had vacancies so I checked in until Monday, set up camp and took off for the local visitors’ centre. Just outside town I had noticed a sign for the Boab Prison Tree so asked about that and the lady also gave me a self guided walking tour brochure. Unfortunately the local National Parks are not yet open so the day bus tour I was hoping for was not available (the problem of travelling early in the season – remember Kakadu last year? a lot of the crossings and parks were not open there either).

Anyway after the visitors’ centre I drove down to the wharf area for a look. The tide was on its way in so was flowing very fast under the wharf. The wharf was not a hive of activity except for a fishing boat being refuelled and the odd fisherman along the pier (not entirely sure that fishing can be classed as an activity).

170527 003 Derby Wharf170527 007 Derby Wharf170527 008 Derby Wharf170527 012 Derby Wharf

170527 015 Derby Wharf

At the entrance to the wharf was a restaurant/takeaway called “The Wharf” which reminded me that I was hungry. Went in to look at the menu and discovered they had a selection of Indian dishes. I selected one called Prawn and Scallop Curry, I was tempted by Rogan Josh or even Vindaloo but this won the day. It was excellent – fairly spicy (but could have been more) and plenty for a lunch.

I took a photo of the Mangroves just before I went for lunch and when I had finished took another from just about the same place. Gives you some idea of how quickly the water rises when the tide comes in. Actually it was going out again by the time the second picture was taken.

170527 006 Derby Wharf170527 013 Derby Wharf

After eating decided that there was plenty of time for a visit to the Boab Prison Tree.

170527 019 Derby Boab Prison170527 018 Derby Boab Prison170527 022 Derby Boab Prison

At the same location was a couple of other historic objects.There was Myall’s Bore and Cattle Trough. The trough is 120 metres long, was built in 1917 and could handle 500 cattle at one time. Unfortunately the bore pressure failed so now the water has to be pumped to the surface with a windmill.

170527 025 Derby Myall’s Bore and Cattle Trough170527 027 Derby Myall’s Bore and Cattle Trough

Finally there was Frosty’s Pool built in 1944 for troops stationed in the area during WWII. It was constructed by the 3rd General Transport Co and nicknamed after a platoon member. BTW I hesitate to call this ‘historical’ as it was built only three years before I was born.

170527 029 Derby Frostys Pool170527 030 Derby Frostys Pool170527 031 Derby Frostys Pool

26th May 2017–Horizontal Falls Trip

This is a highlight – perhaps the highlight of this journey.

Woken by my alarms at 4.20am, had a shower and was outside the caravan park at just after 5am – as I got there so did the bus. I was the second pick up so some time was spent driving to all the resorts picking up passengers.

We were at the airport before 6am, sorted into our groups (day and half day), told which was our aircraft before being issued with a life jacket and finally allotted a seat on the plane. They are quite tiny, I didn’t count the seats but there was probably only 12 or 15 and you cannot stand up in them.

170526 001 Horizontal Falls Trip Sea Plane

Flew straight to Talbot Bay where they have quite a set up – there were four seaplanes tied up (including ours) together with a house boat and various pontoons..

170526 012 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 022 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 038 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 042 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 052 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 063 Horizontal Falls Trip Talbot Bay

First up they told us a bit about the place then led us down to see the local sharks being fed (Tawny Sharks from memory but there was a Bull Shark skulking among them). Some keen people had a swim in the shark cage – the water was 27’C (like swimming in soup I would imagine)

170526 075 Horizontal Falls Trip Talbot Bay Shark Feeding

Next it was bacon and eggs for breakfast; we helped ourselves and there was seconds if you wanted it.

These trips are all about the tide, so while we ate some people went on 10 minute helicopter rides for $100 p/p. I would have liked to have gone but there was limited time On reflection I doubt they saw more than we saw from the plane later.

It was time to get on the speed boat to see the Horizontal Falls in action. There are two gaps that create the effect – wider outer gap and a narrower inner one, It is only safe for boats to go through when the difference in height is 1 metre (the highest tidal difference is 10 metres and the water depth is 40 metres).

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Going through the gaps when the tide is running is like riding over rocks; very bumpy.

After going through the gaps several times and driving through the turbulence the boat then went back past the pontoons/houseboat to Cyclone Creek. The creek is so named because it provides safe harbour for boats during cyclones. It is very beautiful and full of signs of geologic contortion.170526 149 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 152 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 154 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 157 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 167 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip

Back onto our plane for a half hour flight to One Arm Bay for lunch – this landing was not on water but on a dirt airstrip. On the way flew low over the Horizontal Falls.

170526 185 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay170526 201 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay170526 223 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay

170526 233 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay

There was a short visit to a fish hatchery which was entertaining. It was originally a place for breeding Trochus shells for buttons until plastic put them out of business.

170526 240 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding170526 248 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding170526 255 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding170526 256 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding

Lunch was Barramundi at Cape Leveque which was pleasant enough. Afterwards the truck drove down to the beach for people to swim, The scenery is interesting with low, red rocky cliffs on a golden beach (I didn’t go swimming – remember I don’t even like sand).

170526 258 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque170526 273 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque170526 274 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque170526 276 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque

Then heading home along the dirt road to Broome we called in to Bingle Bay community for afternoon tea and a visit to the pearl church built by interned German missionaries during the war.

170526 292 Horizontal Falls Trip Bingle Bay170526 289 Horizontal Falls Trip Bingle Bay170526 284 Horizontal Falls Trip Bingle Bay170526 286 Horizontal Falls Trip Bingle Bay

I was dropped off at my caravan park just before 5pm so I had time to dismantle my gazebo for tomorrow’s move, have a cup of tea, a shower and finally a beer just as the sun went down. It was a very good day.

25th May 2017–Broome Day Four

Distance: 22 km
Fuel: 45 L

Wash Day! After my shower I straight away got all my laundry washed and on the line. There will be no chance tomorrow and I leave on Saturday so it had to be done.

Once it was on the line I took a drive to the  northern end of Cable Beach. There are a number of top class resorts in the area. There is no doubt that the beach is very nice as are the facilities at the back of the beach. It seems to cater mainly for people that fly in on a package holiday though there is one caravan park relatively near by.

170525 006 Cable Beach170525 008 Cable Beach

An interesting bronze on the Cable Beach seafront commemorated Lord McAlpine the British builder being made a Freeman of Broome.

170525 001 Cable Beach170525 002 Cable Beach

Drove to Chinatown for a late lunch where I ended up at Bluey’s Fish and Chips – Oh well… it was nice fish.

Had a final drive round Broome before filling up with fuel. It is a town I am getting to know by now, afterwards I returned to the caravan park to get my washing in and for a swim in the pool. BTW it is a very nice pool but about 1.4m in depth all over, certainly not suitable for non swimming children. It has a lap section and a large general area, there are only steps in two places. I have splashed about in it most afternoons since I arrived as it is rarely used and I have it all to myself most of the time.

24th May 2017–Broome Day Three

Distance: 30 km

My temperature estimates yesterday were a bit off – Day 32’C Night 19’C.is more like it.

This morning I was shocked to see clouds so I took a picture of them.


170524 002 Broome Cloud

Went to the Visitors Centre this morning to book a cruise if one was available for today. I was lucky and booked a sunset cruise on Roebuck Bay. They would pick me up at 1.40pm at the Visitors Centre.

As it was only 9.30am I had plenty of time to do other things. I returned to Chinatown for a coffee and time to plan the rest of the day.

170524 007 Broome170524 009 Broome Star Cinema

The Sun Picture Gardens is an open air cinema, the oldest in the world, built in 1913. It is still in almost original condition.

Next up was a visit to Broome Museum because it had a display about the pearling industry and the attack on Broome in WWII. Normally I avoid small town museums because they tend to be just like visiting my Grandmother’s or Great Aunts’ houses but as country museums go this one was quite interesting.

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After the museum I had a look at the Pioneer Cemetery and Town Beach complete with mangroves.

170524 023 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery170524 024 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery170524 028 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery

In a day when one cemetery is never enough I also visited the Japanese and Chinese cemeteries. One thing I learned at the Broome museum was why there are so many Japanese and their descendants in Broome – it is all to do with pearling – the White Australia Policy and the notorious English test was not applied to Japanese pearl divers however they and their Australian born descendants were all interned during WWII.

170524 030 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 033 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 034 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 036 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries

Zoomed back to Chinatown for lunch I thought there was a Thai restaurant there but I must have seen it somewhere else (I’ll find it tomorrow). I could only find one Chinese restaurant among all the cafes and bars so I had lunch there – to be fair after I had eaten and was leaving the area I saw at least two others.

170524 041 Broome

Went back to the caravan park for a shower before the cruise. At the back of my camper was a lizard – he scuttled up a tree.

170524 045 Broome Lizard

I was only waiting at the Visitors Centre for five minutes before the cruise bus arrived. We picked up the rest of the passengers before driving onto the beach next to the wharf. A launch came from the boat to pick us up.

170524 048 Broome Sunset Cruise

…and drove right up the beach.

170524 049 Broome Sunset Cruise

I’d never seen anything like it but the bloke reckoned he bought it ten years ago.

The cruise was quite interesting (in my opinion all cruises I have ever been on go on far too long. Water can only hold my interest for so long). We did see plenty of Snubfin Dolphins, some Flatback Turtles, a Hammerhead shark, a Dugong and some fish – the first photo is Batwing Fish (or something like that). I have lots of photos of empty water but these are a few with something visible.

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170524 098 Broome Sunset Cruise

170524 095 Broome Sunset Cruise

The turtles, shark and dugong got away.

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It was a sunset cruise…

23rd May 2017–Broome Day Two

Distance: 26 km

Not the most exciting day of my life. Took my car into the Isuzu Service agents in Broome at 8am for its 40000km service. I had been warned last time that this was a major service with all oils and filters changed together with major inspection.


I asked the manager how long the service would take and was told they’d need the car for at least six hours but that they would drive me to and from my accommodation. This they did but from 8.30am until they picked me up at about 3pm I was stuck in the caravan park either reading or drinking tea – it was a slow day.

Finally they called to say that my car was ready, while I waited to be picked up a small (ish) goanna scuttled past – perhaps a metre long over all.


Once I had my car back I drove to one of the two shopping centres (this one on the edge of Chinatown) where I had a hair and beard trim (“Put #1 spacer on your clippers and cut everything above the shoulders”). Felt so much better after that – must remember to take my clippers next time. The young fella that cut my hair was a pommie and kept asking me about how and when I came to Australia

Afterward I strolled around the centre then bought a 6 pack before returning to the caravan park with a six inch Subway Teriyaki Chicken Roll. Wolfed it down with a couple of beers so the day ended OK.

The temperature in Broome has been quite pleasant – about 31”C during the day with fairly low humidity and down to 14/15”C at night. Still not a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze taking the edge off the heat; a very bearable climate at this time of year.

22nd May 2017–Broome Day One

Distance : 53 km

Went into Broome first thing to check out the Visitor Information Centre – arrived just after 8 am but it didn’t open until 8.30. As luck(?) would have it I had run out of breakfast cereal yesterday so while I waited I visited the McDonalds’ opposite for breakfast. First Macca’s I have had since gawd knows when, they haven’t improved in my absence but I had my free seniors coffee with a bacon and egg McMuffin.

Returning to the Visitor’s Centre I asked about visiting the Horizontal Falls something I have wanted to do since I heard about it on  Senior’s Holiday a few years ago. I knew it was expensive but what I hadn’t counted on was a cruise ship visiting Broome! The only chance was Friday so I booked – they pick me up at 5.15am

Went for a look around Chinatown and was surprised at the number of people there considering how empty the caravan park is but of course it was the cruise liner passengers but just in case I rushed back to the caravan park to make sure I had a site until Saturday morning, all was well, the park still only has less than a dozen visitors.

170522 001 Broome170522 003 Broome

Returned to the town centre to look at Cable Beach and the port where a P&O Cruise liner was berthed.

170522 004 Broome170522 005 Broome170522 018 Broome Port and Town Beach

There can’t be a slipway in Broome because people were launching their tinnies from the beach.

It was late lunchtime by now and I found myself at the Wharf Restaurant which is supposedly famous for its seafood. I decided to try a medium grilled barramundi. It was OK but frankly no better than one I have had at Dapto Leagues Club and it was probably only half the size. However it was pleasant enough eating while looking over Town Beach and watching the coaches ferrying the cruise passengers back and forth.170522 021 Broome Port and Town Beach

170522 022 Broome Port and Town Beach

Did a bit of shopping to replenish supplies especially breakfast cereal and bought a $5 towel from Target. I wouldn’t have thought it but a spare towel is actually a good idea.

Late afternoon returned to caravan park where I had a swim in the pool and a shower. Good relaxing day, ended up watching the local wildlife eating the park’s new grass.

170522 028 Broome Caravan Park