17th June 2017–Charters Towers

Distance: 59 km

Slept until 6.30am this morning. There was a lot of dew so I used it to clean the car windscreen, lights etc before washing yesterday’s clothes. I think I should have enough clothes to get me home now.

Because it is Saturday decided to go out to the Burdekin Weir first thing before the families get out to the picnic ground there. This is the source of Charters Towers drinking water. The original weir was built in 1902 but has been raised to its current level to increase the water available when the population increased dramatically during the Second World War.

170617 005 Charters Towers Burdekin Weir170617 007 Charters Towers Burdekin Weir

This is a half scale model of the old and new weir.

170617 001 Charters Towers Burdekin Weir

On the way back to town I detoured past the Columbia Mine Poppet Head.

170617 012 Charters Towers Columbia Poppet Head170617 016 Charters Towers Columbia Poppet Head170617 018 Charters Towers Columbia Poppet Head170617 020 Charters Towers Columbia Poppet Head170617 022 Charters Towers Columbia Poppet Head170617 024 Charters Towers Columbia Poppet Head

Followed that by a trip to the Zara Clark Museum. Strange place – absolutely jammed with stuff and vaguely organised into ‘rooms’ with a theme. Spent quite a time there because it covered anything from transport, communications, Flying Doctor, home furnishing to mining and agriculture. There was the occasional exhibit which reminded me of my grandmother’s and great aunt’s homes (the reason why I rarely visit country museums) but overall it was interesting.

170617 040 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 028 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 029 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 030 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 035 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 032 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 033 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 034 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 036 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum170617 039 Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum

The museum was very close to the centre of town so I retraced my steps to follow parts of the self guided walk that I missed yesterday.

170617 046 Charters Towers170617 045 Charters Towers170617 049 Charters Towers170617 050 Charters Towers170617 069 Charters Towers Ambulance Station170617 079 Charters Towers170617 083 Charters Towers170617 087 Charters Towers

I visited the Miners Cottage which was from the same school of curatorship as the museum. Room after room of objects piled upon each other, this however was a private collection with even less organisation and explanation than the Museum. The owner was a prospector who used a metal detector which he demonstrated – it can tell the difference between gold and iron. I had no idea.

170617 053 Charters Towers Miners Cottage170617 056 Charters Towers Miners Cottage170617 058 Charters Towers Miners Cottage170617 059 Charters Towers Miners Cottage170617 063 Charters Towers Miners Cottage170617 066 Charters Towers Miners Cottage

Made a return trip to Towers Hill to have a walk to Clark’s Gold mine  which I had missed yesterday. To be honest it was not a great miss.

170617 072 Charters Towers Clarkes Gold Mine170617 071 Charters Towers170617 073 Charters Towers Clarkes Gold Mine170617 076 Charters Towers Clarkes Gold Mine

Followed this up with a bit of shopping (postcards and biscuits) before returning to the caravan park in the middle of the afternoon.

Took down the gazebo as the sun went behind the trees, there is dew in the morning and I don’t want to pack it up wet; besides taking it down is a time saver in the morning.

At about 5.30pm decided that I needed a curry so drove to the Charters Towers Indian restaurant.

170617 027 Charters Towers

I had intended to eat there but when I entered it was one of those places designed for takeaway only – absolutely no atmosphere, flouro lighting, plastic tablecloths, bare tables, hard chairs etc so ordered take away. When it arrived (20 mins later) drove back to my site, got out the paper plates and had a delicious Rogan Josh with Nan bread – far more than I could eat. Had to throw half away but for $22.20 who cares?

Moving on tomorrow. This is really the start of the dash for home, I expect to be there by Thursday or Friday – crossing NSW will only take a couple of days I hope because it will be too cold to hang about.

4th June 2017–Timber Creek to Katherine

Distance: 321 km
Fuel: 35 L

Another easy drive through varied scenery but a lot skirting or cutting through ranges. Ignored the 130kph speed limit and stuck to my now self imposed 100kph limit. Only overtaken half a dozen times and most of them were not travelling at 130kph judging by the time it took them to pull ahead (one maybe).


Stopped several times during the trip otherwise I would have arrived at some ridiculous hour; as it was I still arrived at a caravan park about 1pm. The park I chose was about 5km outside town which might have been fortunate because one I passed one near the centre of town had a queue of five caravans outside waiting to check in.

I was in Katherine only last year on my Darwin trip and spent several days looking at the sights so am probably only staying one night.

Spend a lot of the afternoon trying to work out rough distances I need to travel each day to see what I want to see and still get back home within the approximate deadline I have set for myself. I want to revisit the Undarra Lava tubes but from now on I am largely in familiar territory. I am only allowing two days to get from the Qld border to home which should be do-able but it is a long drive each day. I just don’t fancy sitting outside in the NSW winter.

The temperature at the moment is just over 30’C during the day and about 20’C at night – it suits me perfectly.

3rd June 2017–Kununurra to Timber Creek

Distance: 281 km
Fuel: 27.93 L

After 20 minutes driving from Kununurra crossed into the NT and lost 1.5 hours of my life.

170603 004 WA NT Border

Note the sign telling you that the maximum speed limit in the Northern Territory is 110kph – about 200 metres down the road was a 130kph speed limit sign (someone must have forgotten to remove the first sign when the NT went back to its old limits).

Driving was easy on a fairly good road through undulating bush.  I made a few stops at things that interested me.

170603 007 Kanunurra to Timber Creek170603 009 Gregory's Tree170603 013 Bradshaws Bridge170603 015 Bradshaws Bridge

Was undecided whether to stop at Timber Creek or push on another 90km to Victoria River. I stopped for a few sights along the way and it was after 1pm by the time I arrived at Timber Creek so I booked a night.

While I waited to book in I enjoyed a bloke going rabid about paying $1.70 for a two day old copy of the NT News (paper) the girl behind the counter was trying to explain that this was a remote location and the newspapers were always a couple of days old. He only wanted to pay $1.40 for it – how he arrived at that figure I don’t know but he was very insistent. He eventually flounced out but rather spoilt the flounce by having to come back to get his money back.

Unhooked my trailer in a nice shady spot and went to see the local sights having seen a couple of signs indicating lookouts as I drove in.

170603 019 Timber Creek170603 016 Timber Creek170603 023 Timber Creek170603 024 Timber Creek170603 028 Timber Creek170603 034 Timber Creek

The road in the last picture is the highway from Timber Creek to Katherine (only 290km away).

In the creek and bush at the bottom of the caravan park were some freshwater crocs, turtles, kites and bats. Actually there was a two metre croc (as big as the males get) on the bank when I first walked down but I thought it was a fibreglass garden ornament and walked within a metre of it,  it didn’t move. It was only later when I went back and found it gone that I realised it was the real thing.

170603 041 Timber Creek Freshwater Crocs170603 044 Timber Creek Freshwater Crocs170603 048 Timber Creek Freshwater Crocs170603 069 Timber Creek Freshwater Crocs170603 071 Timber Creek Bats170603 077 Timber Creek Kites

Power for this town is generated locally at a small diesel power station.

170603 078 Timber Creek Hotel Fees

I could do without the power I suppose except I like a cup of tea and some toast, videos and my music (am listening to Captain Beefheart as I type).

2nd June 2017–The Bungle Bungles

Distance: 1.5 km

Another brilliant day… Was standing outside the caravan park at 8.10pm when the little bus picked me up to go to Kununurra airport. At the airport we were briefed on where we would be flying and the day’s schedule. The flight was due to leave at 9am so we didn’t have long to wait before we board.

170602 002 Bungle Bungle Tour Plane

The flight to the Bungle Bungles airstrip at Bellburn took about one hour and flew down the western side of Lake Argyle (the lake is far more impressive from the air than from a boat), over a couple of cattle station homesteads before reaching the Bungle Bungles.

170602 009 Bungle Bungle Tour Elephant Rock170602 016 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 024 Bungle Bungle Tour Lake Argyle170602 030 Bungle Bungle Tour

Those rectangles (above) are the tailings dams from an abandoned alluvial diamond mine. It took this mine a year to produce the amount of diamond that the Argyle Diamond Mine produces in a week.

170602 033 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 038 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 041 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 045 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 051 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 062 Bungle Bungle Tour

At the airstrip we were met by a 4 wheel drive truck to take us the 10km drive to Piccaninny Creek Carpark and the start of the walk into Cathedral Gorge.

170602 091 Bungle Bungle Tour Coach

The beehive shaped mountains have red and black stripes where the blonde coloured sandstone has either reacted with algae to form the dark colour or the iron has oxidised to form the red. When you find a flake of the surface rock the colour is only as thick as a fingernail over the underlying yellow sandstone. This coating protects the rock and slows down erosion.

Millions of years ago these northern ranges were as high as the Himalayas, in 30 million more years they will be gone and northern Australia will be a coastal plain.

170602 080 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 090 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 096 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 102 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 104 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 108 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 114 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk

The guide took us on a slight detour to see where the Qantas ad was filmed in Piccaninny Creek.

170602 118 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk

The walk is only about 1.5km to get to the gorge but the path is very uneven and is often just soft, dry sand (it was hard to walk on).

170602 096 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 102 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 104 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 108 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 114 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 126 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 128 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 130 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 157 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 139 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk

The Cathedral Gorge is immense and the acoustics are unbelievable. It was so cool and an incredible place to sit, relax and have the packed lunch provided for us.

170602 143 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 152 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 149 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk

After hiking back to the carpark we were driven to the company’s Savannah Lodge for afternoon tea.

170602 158 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk170602 163 Bungle Bungle Tour Cathedral Gorge Walk

After cake, biscuits and tea it was time to return to the airstrip for the flight back to Kununurra which included passing over the massive Argyle Diamond Mine.

170602 180 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 183 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 195 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 210 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 224 Bungle Bungle Tour170602 227 Bungle Bungle Tour

The plane landed at about 5pm so it was a pretty full day.

170602 251 Bungle Bungle Tour Plane

BTW I remembered to count the seats on this plane – there are 12 plus the seat beside the pilot.

1st June 2017–Kununurra Day One

Distance: 4 km
Fuel: 33 L

Up before 6am presumably because, being on the edge of a time zone, the sun rises unreasonably early. Anyway I showered, washed yesterday’s clothes, had brekkie etc while most people were still asleep.

170601 003 Kununurra Town Caravan Park

At a far more reasonable hour drove into town to the Visitor’s Centre where a helpful lady booked me on a flight to the Bungle Bungles with a walking tour of Cathedral Gorge. Pretty pleased with that, there is also a chance of a helicopter ride when I get there (hoping and clutching my credit card). Actually I thought it was another seaplane ride but reading the brochure it is a normal plane and we land on a dirt airstrip in the National Park.

While I was in the shopping centre I also bought, wrote and sent postcards to all the usual suspects as I had a coffee and a vanilla slice (haven’t had a vanilla slice for years).

As I will be away all day tomorrow filled the car up with fuel too.

The main event today was a cruise on Lake Argyle; the bus picked me up at 1pm and drove half a dozen of us to the lake. On the way it stopped for 15 minutes at the Argyle Downs homestead. This was the original house built by the Durack family when they first started grazing in the region in the mid 1800s. It was dismantled when the property was to be flooded by the dam and rebuilt on higher ground.

170601 009 Argyle Homestead170601 013 Argyle Homestead170601 010 Argyle Homestead

The cruise itself was so so. Everybody else seemed to enjoy it but personally I thought it was a bit dull, no dolphins just a few freshwater crocs, some short eared wallabies, the odd wallaroo and lots of water. The dam wall itself is made of locally quarried rocks and clay there is no concrete except in the pump towers.

170601 051 Lake Argyle Cruise

170601 075 Lake Argyle Cruise170601 026 Lake Argyle Cruise Short Eared Wallaby170601 037 Lake Argyle Cruise170601 042 Lake Argyle Cruise Walleroo170601 054 Lake Argyle Cruise170601 062 Lake Argyle Cruise Fresh Water Crocodile170601 066 Lake Argyle Cruise Fresh Water Crocodile170601 072 Lake Argyle Cruise170601 080 Lake Argyle Cruise170601 089 Lake Argyle Cruise170601 115 Lake Argyle Cruise Sunset170601 118 Lake Argyle Cruise Sunset

Just before sunset some of the passengers went swimming in the lake, the water temperature is 26’C.

There was one redeeming feature – two cans of free beer. Yes, I know it is me but cruises and water don’t excite me much.


It has been six weeks since I started on this trip so time for some statistics (you know… those things made up on the spur of the moment) rounded to the nearest whole number.

Total Distance travelled: 10995 km
Fuel Used: 1099 litres
Fuel Cost: $1510
Accommodation Cost: $1384

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.

170531 012 WyndhamThe Grotto170531 014 WyndhamThe Grotto170531 015 WyndhamThe Grotto170531 018 WyndhamThe Grotto170531 022 WyndhamThe Grotto170531 023 WyndhamThe Grotto

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

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.

170528 001 Derby170528 004 Derby170528 003 Derby

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