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).

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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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The Old Woolshed and Tramway restoration project.

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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