Having filled up with 108 litres of fuel on Wednesday, this is a tale of long roads with not much between other than spectacularly wide landscapes with amazing rock formations.
A brief diversion in the story leads me to talk abut the rocks in the Katherine Gorge which we went to before leaving Katherine – spectacular is an inadequate word.
There are 13 gorges, each separated by rapids and the total length is over 30 kms. Towards the end there was one rock formation shaped like a
crocodiles head, one of the resident beasts who had failed to be tempted by the trap baited with a smelly pig’s heads.
We have also come across our first Boab Trees. These are a most peculiar tree with enormous trunks and branches that spread out in the air
in a very strange way. We passed some very large ones during the day – one of the larger ones had a trunk circumference of 18 metres and apparently there are larger ones to come. One of the largest was used as an overnight jail many years ago – it was hollow inside and the police simply put the prisoner inside the tree and then went out for a night on the town. Aboriginal folklore says that the Boab tree was a once arrogant tree which was turned upside down to teach it humility. Looking at the branch structure, you can easily imagine them as roots.
Whilst on the road, we keep ourselves occupied with crosswords (a book with 60 of the Times weekend giant crosswords when we are feeling brave and a book of 80 of the daily crosswords for other times) plus recordings of books which we play through our SatNav (for technical reasons too complicated to explain). At the moment we are listening to David Copperfield which will last about 30 hours end-to-end. We have already listened to Captain Corelli and Chocolat.
Whenever one passes a vehicle going in the opposite direction, you are obliged to give the driver a little wave by raising the fingers of your right hand off the steering wheel – the response is usually similar. If you pass a stationery vehicle, you have to check that they are ok and are not in need of assistance (out of fuel, flat tyre, driver ill etc).
Sam, we did see these small Road Trains (the really big ones have four trucks behind tem) which we thought you would like a picture of:
The only excitement recently has been going through Quarantine on the Western Australia border (and into our third time zone seven hours behind
the UK) when any vegetables and fruit you have (together with Honey, Bull Semen and Flower Pots) are confiscated – or you can eat them before crossing the border. We managed to give away our remaining contraband at a rest stop just before the Border so at least we did not have to throw it away.
Kununurra is a small relatively new town (built in 1960) just over the Western Australia state border from whose life is focused around tourism and vegetables because of the large man made lake nearby (the largest in the world apparently). Behind the camp site is the Mirima National Park with its own sandstone pillars (mini Bungles) which change colour in the evening sun
We are now making for the Bungle Bungles (officially known as the Purnululu National Park) for three days wild camping - this means camping out in the open with all supplies (food, water, fuel etc) being brought with us. Who knows, we might get to use the solar shower!
I wanted to see the Bungles from the air because the guide books say you have to do that in order to appreciate their beauty – whilst one can get a helicopter in the Bungles for a short flight around the park, we decided to take a longer fixed wing plane flight from Kununarra before we got to the Bungles on land because the plane covers more of the area over a longer flight period and it also has doors (the helicopter does not, much to Pat’s concern). So Saturday afternoon sees us taking off in Alligator Airways 1430 flight to the Bungles and around the Kimberly area.
The Airport Terminal in Kununarra
The plane was a small 8 (including the pilot) seater (our plane was the middle one). Having got over the shock of the size of the plane, the next was the pilot who, if anyone wore long trousers in Australia, we would have said was just about old enough to wear them! At the end of the day when they were deciding how to get us back to our camp site, he gave us to understand that he did not have a driving licence yet but it turned out that he meant that he did not have a driving licence for the coach they usually used to take passengers back to their accommodation.
Below are five pictures chosen from the 151 taken during the flight (thank goodness for digital cameras). The first three are general photographs of the amazing landscape in the Kimberley (the general backdrop to the film Australia)
and the last two are the Bungle Bungles where we shall be camping and walking within a couple of days when we leave Turkey Creek where we are now on Monday. The route we went is the “yellow ovoid” on the map at the top of the blog.