A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: OzJourney

Edith Falls

Lush

semi-overcast 34 °C

Edith Falls campground was a short 100km drive from Katherine Gorge and we arrived at 9am to make sure we got a camp site. The campground has about 50 sites of varying size that surround nice green grassy areas where you can sit or lie on the grass in the shade and enjoy the peaceful bush surroundings. There are hot showers, flushing toilets, drinking water and a kiosk where you can buy takeaway food, drinks etc. The best part about the campground is that a 150 metre walk takes you to a fantastic swimming area which is huge and has a small waterfall at the far end. With the hot humid weather we had many swims here over our two day stay, the water was a nice temperature and the scenery a very beautiful backdrop as you swam.

On the morning we arrived we did the loop walk to the top pool which is a steep climb up a rocky track with some lookouts on the way. The upper pool and waterfall is a beautiful place to stop for a swim to cool down before continuing the walk by climbing up to another couple of lookouts which offer great views of the falls and river valley. The walk then descends to the lower swimming area and across a bridge back to the campground. Our original plan was to stay for one night but we loved it here so much we extended our stay for another night to just relax, swim and enjoy the beautiful setting. The campground and swimming area was very busy as it was school holidays in the NT and also the weekend, but this didn’t detract from the experience.

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Posted by OzJourney 05:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Katherine

Gorgeous

semi-overcast 34 °C

Our next main destination was Katherine where we needed to restock our supplies, get a new regulator for the large solar panel and other odds and ends, we also wanted to be here for Deb’s birthday so we could celebrate with a night out. To break up the long drive we decided to camp at Big Horse Creek for two nights, however our plans changed once we arrived there. We arrived at 11:30am and the camp was almost full and we were lucky to find a space in a very narrow site on a slope, there aren’t many flat sites here. The pit toilets were full and in a disgusting condition, the sites were red dust, the tiny ants invaded our camper trailer kitchen and bit you as you sat around camp, and we were surrounded by inconsiderate people who drank too much and shouted at each other until very late at night. Needless to say we didn’t stay for a second night and would rate this the worst campsite we have experienced on our trip so far.

From Big Horse Creek we rang all the caravan parks in Katherine and all the ones in town were full except the Big 4 so we had no choice but to stay there as we needed power because our dead solar panel. Despite being expensive at $48 a night it was a very nice park with great amenities and a nice pool which proved indispensable in the hot humid conditions we experienced here. For the first time on our trip we encountered cloud and high humidity which was very unusual for this time of year, the locals saying it was like the build up to the wet season. The pool was the only escape from the constant sweating and very uncomfortable conditions which continued at night and had us resort to a 12v fan we had purchased before the trip and only used once before. As I write this sitting in the shade at the Edith Falls campground the hot humid conditions are still with us after six consecutive days and nights, which make bush walking very uncomfortable and debilitating.

Our three nights in Katherine were an eye opening experience, the crime rate here is obviously very high with businesses and houses protected by high fences and barred windows and the police have their own car parks and outstation in the Woolworths car park, which seems to be where lots of trouble occurs. When we shopped here there was an altercation in the car park with three police cars in attendance and then while in Woolworths we left our trolley with a gold coin in the slot for a few seconds while we were bagging up some fruit, only to turn around and find the trolley gone and obviously returned to the trolley rack to get the coin. Apparently we weren’t the only victims as when we were going through the checkout the woman serving called over the security guard telling him to keep an eye out for the kids who were doing this to lots of customers.

We had intended to visit the hot springs just down the road from the caravan park but couldn’t bring ourselves to bathe in warm water in the hot humid conditions but we did drive 30km south down the Stuart Highway to the Cutta Cutta Cave to do the guided tour. You have to fork out $23 each to do the tour with a ranger which runs every hour if you want to see the cave. The cave was interesting to see with lots of unusual features and critters inside including a snake and various types of bats. As the third largest town in the NT Katherine had a surprising lack of decent shops, I needed a new pair of hiking boots but there is no shoe shop in town, we need new gas struts for the camper but there none available, we need a new solar panel regulator but there were none of those available either, so it looks like we will be busy in Darwin. Needless to say Katherine did not impress us at all.

However Katherine Gorge was completely the opposite, it was sensational. We had booked a dinner cruise up the gorge so left Katherine and drove the 30km out to Nitmiluk Caravan Park to set up camp and do the 4.8km Baruwei Loop Walk. The walk takes you along the river and then up to a couple of lookouts and back to the campground. At the start of the walk were thousands of fruit bats hanging upside down in the trees along the river fanning themselves with their wings in the heat. The smell was terrible as we walked along, dodging a snake on the path before climbing a rocky path to the first lookout overlooking the river. The second lookout gave you views back towards the campground and visitor centre. The humid heat was stifling but with lots of water to drink along the way we made it back to the campground and straight into the nice refreshing pool.

The afternoon was spent beside the pool reading and swimming before our dinner cruise which left the boat ramp at 4:30pm. The cruise passed through the first two of the thirteen gorges, disembarking at the rock bar at the end of the first gorge we walked about 400 metres passing some aboriginal rock art on the gorge wall to board a second boat which took us to the end of the second gorge. The scenery along the way to the end of the first two gorges was absolutely stunning, high gorge walls with each bend in the river revealing more amazing scenery. At the end of the second gorge we turned around and made our way back to the rock bar at the end of the first gorge to board the dinner boat where were greeted with a glass of bubbly and seated at the dinner tables.

With the sun setting we enjoyed a lovely three course dinner and a few drinks while swapping stories with fellow travellers around the dinner table. The boat docked around 8pm and we walked back to camp after a thoroughly enjoyable experience to find a fairly busy campground. The campground is nice with good facilities and a nice pool but is quite noisy as even at night the bird noise is quite loud, and when the bats fly over at dawn to return to roost in the trees at the river after feeding all night the noise ramps up even more. The thousands of bats flying overhead in the pre-dawn light is an amazing sight though, just watch out for the aerial bombardment if under their flight path.

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Posted by OzJourney 04:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Zebra Rock Mine

Geological Anomaly

sunny 30 °C

Zebra Rock Mine was just a short drive from Keep River NP, once back on the Victoria Highway you turn off to the right about 10km to the east and then another 10km along a good dirt road to the campground. At $10pp/night it is good value, choose your own grassy site with shade, toilets, cold showers, free wi-fi tea and coffee. There is a communal camp fire each night and you can purchase scones for $3 or fish and chips for $15. The campground was busy the night we stayed but quiet at night with campers well spread.

There is a free talk each day at 3pm by Ruth, who with husband Kim established this amazing place, giving you the story of how Kim discovered the unique zebra rock on this land and made the place what it is today. Zebra rock is only found on this property and two islands in Lake Argyle, one of which was stripped of all its rock years ago and the other one up for sale. Scientists aren’t sure how the rock was formed and it exists nowhere else in the world. The striped patterns in the rock are very beautiful and Kim and Ruth have a shop on site where you can buy jewellery, ornaments, sculptures etc made from the zebra rock which they mine themselves.

The reason Zebra Rock Mine was on our itinerary was the blogs we had read before the trip praising the Sunset Wetlands Tour on Lake Argyle which they run from here. We decided against doing a sunset cruise on the lake when we stayed at Lake Argyle Resort in favour of this cruise and what a great choice we made. You leave the campground at 4pm on a 4wd bus and are taken down to a creek on the property where you board the boat and head out through the creek which passes through wetlands full of bird life and freshwater crocodiles. You then head out into the lake and through areas of dead trees which were inundated when the lake was formed and into another creek where you go ashore and enjoy some nibbles and drinks. Back on the boat you pass ospreys in nests, numerous species of birds including a large sea eagle which Kim throws a fish and he swoops down and picks it up from the surface in his claws.

As the sun sets you travel through areas of dead trees creating great photographic opportunities with the last of the sun’s rays shining through the trees. There was some light cloud around as the sun was setting creating one of the best sunsets you could ever imagine, the colour changing from yellow to orange to red as we cruised back to the bus, stopping along the way for photos and enjoying more drinks on the way back. The cruise certainly lived up to the favourable reviews and was a fantastic experience we will remember fondly. We had pre-ordered fish and chips for dinner on our arrival back at camp at 8pm and they were delicious. The fish was Silver Cobbler which is a type of catfish that is abundant in the lake and it was very tasty. We had to leave the next morning as one of our solar panels has a faulty controller, which we will need to replace in Katherine, so the fridge is not coping without the extra 140 watts it usually gets. We would have stayed another night in this great place if we had enough power to run the fridge, there are no powered sites here.

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Posted by OzJourney 02:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Keep River National Park

Mini Bungle Bungle

sunny 30 °C

It was only a short drive from Lake Argyle to the Jarnem campground in Keep River National Park but we crossed the WA/NT border so lost 1.5hrs which meant we arrived at 10:30am. Just as well we arrived early as this is a busy campground and by lunch time it was full. Our logic for choosing Jarnem over Gurrandalng was because the Jarnem loop walk is 8km and we wanted to do this early morning before it got too hot and also because Jarnem doesn’t allow generators. Anyway our planned walks got reversed when we discovered that the ranger was doing a walk and talk on the Gurrandalng walk the following morning.

Luckily for us the day was cooler than it has been recently and there was a cooling wind blowing as we set off on the 8km Jarnem loop walk. The walk takes you along the forested valley floor before ascending up the escarpment to the Jarnem lookout which gives 360 degree views. The view as we sat on the rocky ledge with a nice cool breeze coming up from the valley floor below was absolutely breathtaking, you could see for many kilometres up the valley with escarpments on either side and it was a lush green. We sat here having some morning tea and mesmerised by the view for quite some time, not wanting to leave this amazing view. Looking out the opposite side you could see a range that resembled ones we had seen at Purnululu with the beehive dome like structures.

The walk then descends into the valley on the other side of the range and in amongst palm trees and more domes then around beside a high escarpment which has some very faded aboriginal rock art. This was a great walk which took us around 2.5 hours and well worth the effort. We spent the rest of the day around camp, cooked dinner on the camp fire and enjoyed the mild night watching bush tv.

Christian the ranger began the walk/talk at Gurrandalng at 8:30am the next day with a tasting of the nectar from some lovely orange grevillea flowers which are found around the campground. They had a nice sweet flavour but need to be harvested early morning before the dew on the nectar dries up. The talk was very interesting as Christian explained the traditional use of the plants we saw along the walk up to the lookout, as well as the geological features of the escarpment. The view from the lookout highlighted the beehive dome structures of the escarpment in the distance and the valley below. The ranger left the group here to continue the walk down into the valley and back to the campground. This walk was much shorter (2km return) than the Jarnem walk but well worth the effort.

Heading back on the road to Jarnem there is another walk to do which takes you along the side of the Keep River past lots of large boab trees to an aboriginal wet season shelter site under a large rock overhang where you can view some rock art. The Jinumum walk is 3km and fairly easy going but worth a look to see the rock art. Back at camp people kept rolling in all afternoon looking for a camp site with some camping where they shouldn’t and others missing out. There were way too many people here for the one toilet to cope and National Parks either needs to install another toilet or control the numbers of campers here.

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Posted by OzJourney 04:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Lake Argyle

Water Water Everywhere

sunny 31 °C

We left Purnululu at 5:30am as we had a big drive back to Kununurra to get fuel and a few groceries before continuing on to Lake Argyle Resort where we had booked an unpowered site for 2 nights. The drive through the ranges as you near Lake Argyle is very scenic with lots of greenery and rocky escarpments. On arrival at 12:30pm we were greeted by a staff member who gets you to check in then asks you to follow him on his bicycle to your site. We managed to score a great site on lush green grass with a hilltop view to the valley below and across to a rocky escarpment which changed colour around sunset.

The resort is a very busy place with a steady flow of caravans, camper trailers and small tour groups coming in the front gate all day. Luckily we were camped down the back end of the park which was quiet and away from the tightly packed powered sites and associated comings and goings. The park is very well run with lush green grassy areas looking out over the lake, a large beer garden which has a bar and bistro with entertainment on most nights, helicopter flights from the resort and cruises on the lake. There is also a very nice infinity pool on the cliff overlooking the lake which offers amazing views while you cool off. We spent the afternoons in and around the pool, reading and admiring the view.

On our first night they had a movie called Kings in Grass Castles playing at night in the beer garden which was a very interesting story of the Durack family who opened up the Kimberley to cattle grazing. The following afternoon the resident muso Steve Case played a selection of his original music on the lawn near the pool with the lake as the backdrop. It was b.y.o drinks and chair, sit back and enjoy his musical story of getting out of the rat race and traveling around Australia for 12 months, and his love of the Kimberley. He also played that evening in the beer garden, this time covers of some great songs.

We used our time here to slow down and catch up on the blog, visit the lookouts over the lake, drive over the dam wall and do a bit of fishing without success. We had originally booked for 2 nights but stayed an extra night as we really liked it here. There isn’t a lot to do here but the views and the relaxed feel of the place make it easy to stay a while. The sunrise on the morning we left was what makes this part of the world so special and was a fitting end to a great stay.

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Posted by OzJourney 04:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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