With the weather slightly cooler a sleep-in should have been on the cards but sunrise was now 0530, argh! We made a slow start so that we wouldn’t get to Kununurra too early and drove at a leisurely pace to the Ivanhoe Caravan Park. After setting up we hit the supermarket to stock up on fresh vegetables. We were not able to bring any fruit or veg from the NT so we were almost completely out of fresh food although we still had stock in the freezer so there was no chance of starving. We were surprised to find that the local Coles had very little fruit and veg but figured the supply trucks must be due on Tuesday so we only purchased essentials. We caught up on emails and sorted out a large block of video and stills into the external hard drive along with all the normal admin you do when you have power and facilities including washing, charging up all battery-powered kit etc. and then hit the pool.
We both had shady campsites under large trees and next to the swimming pool which was very welcome and used every day we were there.
The rest of the week was made up of sightseeing drives to all points of the compass. We visited the zebra rock gallery; zebra rock is a fascinating striped rock only sourced from the Lake Argyle region in the dry season when the water is low enough to actually mine the rock. It is used for jewellery and other small artefacts which are on the expensive side! At the sandalwood factory we learnt about this interesting product and its increasing value on the world market. It’s amazing how many products are produced with a smidgeon of sandalwood in them and then sold at a price to reap the tourist dollars. Possibly time to buy shares? A short drive up the road is the Hoochery which makes a range of rums and a mash whisky along with tasty fruit-based liqueurs. We tasted several and ended up buying some mango liqueur which goes down nicely mixed with sodawater and a dash of lime as a sundowner. We also took a day trip to Wyndham a town with a long and interesting history but sadly in decline although the Rusty Shed café is a must-do spot for excellent coffee and food. The steep and windy drive to the Five Rivers lookout gives you an idea of how much land is covered in the huge tidal ebb and flow of this port. We drove up along the Parry Creek road which offered plenty of spots to visit including the boat ramp for a nice place to stop for lunch but no swimming due to the handbags. The drive back to Kununurra included a stop a Molly’s waterhole which was a great spot. Unfortunately cane toads have invaded the area and will eventually eat all the native fish and subsequently destroy the place for the surrounding wildlife who rely on it for survival. One other strange thing we found was a male peacock wandering around.
Thursday was the big restock before we hit the Bungle Bungles and the Gibb River Road so no supermarket, bottleshop or butcher for three weeks. We can highly recommend the butcher in Kununurra. Great quality and does cryovac for you as well. We will be frequenting his store when we are back there late June. We also booked our Bungles flight with HeliSpirit for Sunday which we were really looking forward to.
Friday was a bit more make and mend, tidying up the increasing number of photos into the travelling hard drive and trying to keep them organised. Pre-packing the campers and cars also helps reduce the stress of these early starts along with several visits to the pool to keep cool.
On the road by around 0800 and heading to the Bungles. We were still having trouble with the 90 minute time difference and the fact that it is daylight at 0530 and pitch black at 1800. But this drives each day you are on the road so we were slowly adjusting.
We aired down prior to heading into our campsite and the road was as bad as we had expected; rough, plenty of killer rocks, windy, dusty and endless corrugations. Seems this is the shape of most roads other then bitumen? A steady drive which took around 90 minutes and included coming across a cyclist pedalling along this rough track heading for the same campground as us. What a guy, he was amazingly fit, had no support and seemed pretty comfortable in a space I doubt many others would be. The visitors’ information centre closes from 1200-1300 so we had lunch and chatted to other travellers comparing notes and getting information on places and tracks we have yet to see and travel. The very helpful woman sorted out our bookings; although we had done them days before in Kununurra it seems they had not arrived at the Bungles computer, no NBN I suppose! All was soon sorted and we bumped our way into the Walardi campground and setup the campers. We did our normal checks of nuts and bolts, roofracks and tie-down straps to ensure what had worked loose was back under control. These rough roads are certainly testing all our gear including batteries, wheel nuts, roofrack mounts and my fillings.
Sunday we arrived at the Helispirit area by 0815 and got ourselves ready for the 30 minute chopper flight. All I can say is, do yourself a favour, spend the money as you will learn a huge amount from the pilot as well as getting a genuine bird’s eye view of this amazing place. The flight also helps you establish which sightseeing you want to do. We spent the rest of the day at as many spots as we could fit in including Echidna Gorge (for the lightshow at noon) and several other spots on the way back to Cathedral Gorge. The walk into this gorge takes you up close and personal with the domes you saw from the air and we feel there is something about this place that is truly special. Back to camp and after dinner we found a 1 metre long python finding its way through our campsite on his way to another camping ground I guess. Our usual pre-departure packing done it was off to bed ready for another early start to get out of the Bungles and heading to Wolfe Creek crater on the Tanami Track.