Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Time to catch up from Derby

Just landed in Derby, this means I am back on the coast for the first time since leaving Darwin on 5 July. After retracing my steps from Darwin to Katherine, it felt real nice to have left the humidity of Darwin behind me. A float around the hot springs brought back memories of the hot springs at Mataranka on my way to Darwin. The place, to my amazement was very crowded compared with last year's visit, but I enjoyed it as much. Coming out of the warm river waters the ambient temperature outside always seems rather cool, so to wrap up with my towel felt real nice.

The night, also much cooler than those at Darwin, was a real relief, a good night's sleep much appreciated. Leaving the following morning, I drive on to a camp spot, about 10km west of Timber Creek, "Big Horse Creek" or #158 in my "Camps 4" book, camping amid a large stand of Boabs.

Billabong at a camp spot by the highway

I had contemplated another ride on the Victoria River but found the increase in price extraordinary since last year ($25 to now $85!) easy to see why his boat was only filled to about 20% max. Left the following morning to travel on across the border to Western Australia, stopping at Kununurra for 3 nights and taking myself onto a flight across Lake Argyle, The Bungle Bungles with adjacent gorges, yet another feast for my eyes, with lots of pictures to prove my point. I also took myself to the outskirts of the town to stock up on freshly grown fruit and vegetables straight from the growers.

When I leave Kununurra I decide to not stay at Halls Creek but put down instead at Spring Creek, some 120km east of Halls Creek instead. A good decision as it turned out to be a lovely spot right by the river, with only about another 10 campers on site. It als turned out to be a rather cold night, quite a change from the many hot nights I experienced at Darwin, just a few days ago.

Next morning I drive on to Fitzroy Crossing, staying at an almost opulent campground at the edge of town. Its good and I stay for 2 nights, as I want to explore Geikie Gorge, about 20km out of town. Its hot and dry on my walk along the gorge, the rock formations this time, lime stone. I also take a tour on the boat through the gorge. Very colourful images, also see some freshwater crocodiles who breed in this area.

Views in the Geikie Gorge near Fitzroy Crossing. The white markings on the rock wall show the water level during the wet season.

This morning I leave Fitzroy to cover the 260km to Derby. Its still Savannah country, mostly straight highway, excellent road and driving conditions. Heat haze in the distance over the road, oncoming vehicles seemingly materialising out of nowhere in the distance. This being the Kimberleys, lots of Boab trees scattered all over the landscape, Termite mounds everywhere, some spikey looking, narrow structures, some gigantic mounds, generous in height as well as girth. They also give an idea what the ground they are built on is made of, as colours change in some areas quite drastically, some grey, some brown, some dark read. The odd bunch of cattle roaming along the highway, forcing me to slow down as I can't predict just where they might wander at any given moment.

At Derby I take a tour to see the "Horizontal Waterfall", about one hour's flight from Derby Airport. Quite a spectacular flight with stunning views. The Falls are a phenomena that is caused by the huge tidal highs and lows, where sea water flows in and out of land-locked lakes through narrow gaps in the rocks. The water levels between high and low tides vary by as much as 8 metres. One can only imagine the enormous quantities of sea water that have to flow in either direction through those gaps when the tides change.

Views around the Falls...

On the way to the Horizontal Waterfalls our flightpath takes us across large tidal flats as well as a privately owned cattle station that encompasses an area of about 1.5 million hectares. The only way to access this place during the wet season is by aircraft as all roads in are under water. The location of the station buildings looks good, from the air, located on the side of a hill in a valley with a large river, supplying fresh water year round.

After the aircraft has put down on the water we taxi to a floating platform that has various boats and motor yachts tied alongside. My fellow passengers and I are taken on board one of the motor yachts where we are served coffee/tea before being taken on a joyride through the Horizontal Falls in a large inflateable rubber boat with 8 seats amidship and 8 chrome handlebars before each seat to hang onto while we are hurled at high speed, driven by hundreds of horsepower outboards through the narrows. The process is repeated several times with rest periods in between for taking photographs. It does require some skill for the driver to negotiate the rushing waters through the gaps, so its quite a rush for everyone on board.

After all this adrenalin rush we are taken back onto the Yacht where a lovely lunch of Barramundi is served. Delicious! We spend much of the afternoon relaxing in the sun before being flown back to Derby Airport. What a day!!

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