Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Kimberleys



The Kimberley region is a vast wilderness covering the north west corner of Australia.  It is one of the oldest settled areas on the continent, with Aboriginal presence here for over 50000 years as migration pushed south from the Indonesian archipelago.

There is evidence of ancient trade with China, long before European settlement.  The diversity of indigenous culture is highlighted by the fact that this corner of Australia was home to 27 distinct tribes / language groups.  Today they make up roughly half of the 35000 people who call the Kimberley home.  Some 25 native title claims are being pursued.

The economy of the area is diverse also.  Pastoral (huge cattle stations), gold mining, fishing, agriculture (Ord River scheme), pearling and tourism all contribute.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Itinerary

Here is a copy of the Kimberleys Itinerary.

A PDF file will open here.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

It's a long way...

Tonight I am in Broome, but it was along journey to get here.  The 8.45 am flight from Brisbane, a crowded Boeing 737-800, took 5.5 hours to cross the continent to Perth.  A couple of hours at the airport waiting for the connection to Broome.  I managed to find a quiet spot where I could stretch
out on the carpet and do some leg stretches in an attempt to keep my left thigh pain free.  The Airbus A320 took 2.5 hours to cover the distance to the Kimberley coast, arriving at 5.45 pm local time.  A shuttle bus finally delivered me to the Blue Seas Resort at Cable Beach at dusk.

The apartment here is spacious, comfortable and well appointed.  I limped 200 metres down the road to the local eating spot, the ZeeBar.  Had the tastiest, juiciest, tenderest Eye Fillet in memory!  Before I hit the bed I just need to do a little planning as to how I will spend my time tomorrow.  It promises to be a fine, warm day.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Broome - 1 Sep 2018

A glorious day here to start Spring -- clear blue skies and 26C.  My first task was to taxi in to the International terminal at the airport where Thrifty car rental have their depot.  I took possession of a near-new Pajero Sports, the largest car I have ever driven, and a diesel to boot.  It is a joy to drive once one gets used to its length and width .. And try to remember that the trafficators are on the right.

McDonalds was nearby so provided an easy breakfast.  I drove around Chinatown to get a feel for the central town, then headed to the town's 2 museums for a history lesson.  Both are well set out and a fund of information.  The town museum concentrates on the history of Broome's pearling industry with lots of photos and memorabilia on show.  At first it was the pearl-she'll that was valued, used especially in Europe to make buttons and knife handles.  Once cheap plastics took over the pearls themselves became the focus.  The living and working conditions of the divers were pretty terrible, resulting in many deaths and crippling injuries.

The second museum is in the old convent of the St John of God Sisters, and it is a superb record of the nuns' work in Beagle Bay and Broome over many decades.  They were predominantly concerned for care and education of aboriginal children, but also worked in hospitals and with other Christian church agencies.  The photography and information banners at a this museum are as good as any I have ever seen.  As is common, no photography allowed at either place!

The Catholic cathedral was next door to the SSJG property, so I paid a visit there.  A couple of interesting aboriginal paintings, but no explanation of their meaning.  The icon of the church's patron, Out Lady Queen of Peace, is an interesting mix of artistic styles.

Broome must be the roundabout capital of Australia.  You hardly drive a few hundred metres without zigzagging through one.  It certainly keeps the speed of traffic down.  The streets alook next to no parking or stopping along the kerb.  You have to look for parking bays that are set in the wide footpath area.  Quite a problem if you need stop suddenly to consult a map or navaid.

After lunch and a nap I headed over the do a wander through the town's cemeteries.  A good source of history.  The Japanese cemetery is laid out neatly with crushed white granite.  There are over 700 graves there, mostly of pearl divers killed on the job.  There is a small Malay and Muslim plot too and a nicely gated Chinese cemetery.  Unfortunately there is no historical information attached to it.

Late afternoon now, and I headed to Cable Beach -- so named because the undersea telegraphic cable from Java came ashore there.  Parking was a search as hundreds of visitors crowded the area to watch the sun go down off Cable Beach.  A perfect evening for it, with clear blue sea and a cloudless sky.  I thought I'd see the famous camel ride at sunset -- but it was apparently along a different stretch of the beach.  I did the see camels returning home past my resort a littler later riderless.

As is my wont, I headed in to the local RSL for dinner -- only to find that it was closed for a private function.  So I found a nice seafood cafe nearby and settled for the local barramundi.  Across the road is the world's longest operating "picture gardens" . An open air cinema in garden setting showing the very latest releases.  From the number of cars parked nearby I think they had a reasonable patronage tonight.  

Something that strikes me is the large area of scrub that splits the town up into several distinct sections.  It was explained to me that they are tidal flats that fill up with extra high tides.  By giving the tidal water a place to spread out, they save the residential areas from flooding.  In summer they do have the disadvantage of breeding sandflies and bringing an occasional crocodile into the area.

Tomorrow I head off for Derby.  Today's photos can be found Here

Friday, September 7, 2018

Derby - 2 Sep 2018

You are never too old to have a new experience!  I did breakfast this morning at the Runway Cafe after I attended 7 am Mass at the Cathedral.  Outdoor tables, each knitted out with a wooden box containing salt and pepper shakers, sugar, cutlery and napkins .. A common enough arrangement these days.  But also in each box was a can of AEROGARD to deal with the flies!!  That was a first for me.

I got on the road at 9 am, taking National Highway 1 towards Derby.  The road was in good condition and presented no problems.  Lots of traffic, mostly 4WDs but plenty of caravans and road trains as well.  Quite a boring drive.  The countryside is completely flat, not a hill in sight anywhere along the 230km journey.  Covered in thick scrub as far as the eye can see, with a good sprinkling of termite mounds adding variety.  Passed a few turn-offs into cattle stations, and in the middle of nowhere a very large abattoir.  I stopped for a leg stretch and Weiss bar at the Willare Bridge roadhouse, an hour south of Derby. 

Booked in to the Spinifex Hotel, sampled their lunch menu, and had a nap.  The hotel is quite modern, with a large accommodation block next to the tavern.  Outwardly it has somehting of the appearance of miners' quarters with lots of corrugated iron and steel pipe structure.  But inside the apartments are really first class.  Spacious, with a lounge area for TV watching, fully fitted out kitchen, laundry and bathroom.  Good aircon.  One could very comfortably spend  a week or two here if ever had a need to be stuck in Derby that long.  

The town claims to be the oldest in Western Australia, being gazetted in 1883. Population is 4500, so it is pretty much a typical small country town.  A Woolworths and a big BP service station are the only big city businesses that I could see .. All the rest small and local.  The main street is split by an avenue of Boab trees, making for an attractive aspect.  But when I did a drive around the back blocks, the overall impression is of a very tired and somewhat neglected place.  

On the way in to town I stopped at the Prison Boab tree which has been carefully preserved and provided with excellent information plaques.  This was an overnight stopping place where groups of Aborigines chained together we're being marched to Derby to be pressed into service on the pearling fleet.  At least the local historical society is upfront about the horrors of those days when the young men were rounded up from all over the Kimberley and walked in chain gangs for many of them to early death at sea.  The local Pioneers Cemetery is home to their graves, but are all unmarked and unknown now.  Near the Prison Boab Tree is a bore that was sunk in 1910 to provide water for cattle being driven to the port.  A windmill still pumps water from the bore today -- but just as an historic memento.

Derby has the largest tidal range in Australia at 11 metres.  I joined many others at the wharf to see the sun go down across King Sound.  It was near high tide, so didn't get a feel for the huge difference between high and low tides.  There is a very nice fish restaurant at the wharf with a beautiful outlook over the water, so I settled for their grilled barramundi and prawns with mash and veg for dinner.  The breeze even got a little chill to it, a change from the 30+ daytime temperature.

The town is home to the Kimberley School of the Air -- drove past their setup near the high school, but of course Sunday meant everything was closed.  The Flying Doctor is also based here at the airport a few km south of the town.  There is a disused jail on the edge of town, seemingly occupied now by Aboriginal squatters.  The hospital is much larger than I expected, but it has to service a very large area of the Kimberley and not just the townsfolk.  The Catholic church was locked tight and has a sizeable and well appointed primary school attached.  And that was about all Derby had to offer me on this sleepy Sunday.

Today's photographic offerings are here.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

To Fitzroy Crossing -- 3 Sep 2018

Today might be described as "a taste of ..."  I will explain!

Started out after an early breakfast at the hotel, and soon had my first taste of the infamous Gibb River Road.  To my surprise, the first 50km was top quality sealed surface.  The next 30km was on a side track beside the main road which was being restructured and sealed, speed limit 40 kph much of the way.  The remaining 40km to the Leopold Downs turnoff was OK gravel.  I set the cruise control to the recommended 70 kph and found that the car handled the corrugations relatively smoothly in 4WD.  Had to watch for sandy patches though, especially on corners, to avoid swerving.  

The Leopold Downs road is all gravel and not as well maintained as the Gibb River Rd was -- but still able mostly to keep a steady 70 kph.  21 km along I reached the first stop of the day:  Windjana Gorge.  Here I came face to face with the Devonian Reef, a quite spectacular geologic feature that rises out of the flat surrounds of the Kimberley Savannah.  360 million years ago all this area of the Kimberley was submerged below a shallow sea.  Over the centuries a barrier reef was formed that stretched from beyond today's Fitzroy Crossing to near Derby and out to sea.  In time that land surface  lifted and the sea drained away, leaving the reef rising between 100 and 300 metres from the old sea bed as a limestone range.  It has a quite startling aspect to it.  At Winjana Gorge the Lennard River has carved a path through the reef, creating a gorge with sheer cliff walls.  The many layers of coral that formed the reef lie exposed in the cliff face.  Apparently the area is a treasure trove for scientists who continue to uncover fossil remains of prehistoric sea life here.  

I did the first 1km of the gorge walk to get a taste of its bird and animal life, as well as to admire the beauty of the towering limestone walls.  The river at this time of year consists of a series of billabongs.  In the first I counted 10 freshwater crocodiles lazing in the water, and a couple sunning themselves on the beach.  I kept my distance on the high bank.  Signs assure the visitor that the crocs are not aggressive unless you get between them and the water!  I didn't attempt to check that out.

A little further along the road are the ruins of the Lillimooloora police station.  In the 1890s the local Aboriginal people fought against the pastoralists taking over their land.  This isolated police outpost was an effort to offer protection to the settlers.  In 1894 a local Aboriginal working as a tracker changed sides and set prisoners free, murdered the police sergeant and stole all the weapons.  He then led the police and pastoralist a merry dance for a couple of years before he was finally cornered and shot dead at Tunnel Creek.  Hard to imagine a policman's life back then so far from the nearest town and with just a couple of horses and a tracker to help.

40km further down the road is the Tunnel Creek national park.  Here the creek has worn away a 750 metre cave through the Devonian Reef that the adventurous can wade through.  I went all prepared with torch and flip flops, but all I was to get was a taste of the tunnel.  The entrance is reached by scrambling over a series of huge boulders which my legs had nowhere near enough strength to handle.  So reluctantly I had to make a strategic withdrawal.

The remaining 30km of gravel to meet up with National Highway 1 was uneventful.  Back on the 110 kph highway was a short 40km run into Fitzroy Crossing.  The Fitzroy River is the largest in Western Australia, over 500km in length from its origin in the Durack Ranges to its mouth at Derby and King Sound.  Until 1974 the national highway would frequently be blocked for weeks in the wet season by flooding on the low level crossing.  A single lane high level bridge now eases that problem.  The township is quite small, some 1500 people.  Lots of Aboriginal industry apparent.  Several of the nearby cattle stations are run by Aboriginal communities. 

After checking in to the Fitzroy River Lodge (all the motel rooms are on stilts in case it rains too heavily!) I drove 20km out to Geikie Gorge National Park.  The river has permanent flow here and an 80 seat sightseeing boat takes on for an hour's float up and down a very scenic stretch.  The commentary by a local indigenous ranger lady was excellent, and she took the boat very close to the gorge walls to point out interesting features.  A nice relaxing end to the day's travels.  A rather expensive dinner in the Lodge's restaurant has me ready for bed!

Relevant photos can be viewed here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

To Mabel Downs -- 4 Sep 2018

Lots of driving today.  Did a drive around Fitzroy Crossing township to see if I had missed anything worth exploring.  Drove out to the original concrete causeway that had been the only path across the river for ages.  Coudn't drive across it as the road down the cliffs is barricaded closed.  Topped up diesel and hit the road, next stop Hall Creek.  Along your way there was a nice rest stop set high on a cliff with all conveniences.  Good place to stretch the legs.

Just before Halls Creek there is a major turn off south, prominently signposted ALICE SPRINGS.  Not an expected destination from up here.  But it is in fact the start of the 1000km Tanami track, one of Australia's famous cross desert 4WD adventure trails (think also the Birdsville Track).  I kept driving!

Halls Creek presents as a very civic proud township.  Bright signs everywhere, neatly kept streets, free wifi in the town centre, and a very comprehensive tourist information centre. This was a gold mining centre, and I think a small amount still goes on.  In the Tourist Centre there was a display cabinet with small nuggets of the local product for sale, a couple at $10,000 and $13,000.  I commented to the attendant that they were brave having such valuable merchandise on display in a simple glass cabinet. "There's a lock on the door" she replied, apparently quite unaware of how easy a smash and grab would be!  The Shire Council collaborates with the local Lands Council to provide local employment in small arts industries etc.. The paintings I saw at the main gallery seemed very over-priced to me. 
Another 150km along Highway 1 brought me to the Mabel Downs Caravan Park turnoff.  I was all booked in and quickly shown to my Safari tent which is mounted on a timber platform on stilts.  It was quite stuffy at first, having been all closed up in  the heat of the day.  A nice breeze came along just after dark and cooled things down nicely.  The tent has a very comfortable double bed and an ensuite with shower, toilet and washbasin.  No power.  Lighting courtesy a couple of battery lanterns.  Sat on the balcony after a pizza dinner and marvelled at the stars.  I had forgotten what the Milky Way really looks like.  The campground is very quiet, and I slept soundly.  The wallabies around seem pretty tame, so I suspect they find food to suit their tastes here.

Today's photographic offering can be found here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bungle Bungles -- 5 Sep 2018

Now I can die... I have seen the Bungle Bungles, and am a happy man.

The campground was magic at night, so quiet and the canopy of stars mesmerising.  I sat outside the tent for ages taking it all in, and trying to spot a satellite.  No luck.  Actually so many bright stars I couldn't even identify the pointers for the Cross until after the moon rose and I could identify east.

An elaborate continental breakfast awaited me at 6 am, and at 6.30 I joined 15 others for the day trip into Purmulula National Park, home to the Bungle Range.  The tour is run by Mabel Downs Station itself, using a very high clearance 4WD bus .. Comfortable with aircon etc,  but nonetheless it is a bone-shaking ride on the tracks through the park.  We drove for 90 minutes to the National Park visitor centre .. Toilet break etc.. Then continued to the southern end of the Bungle Range, stopping at Picaninny lookout (is that name PC these days?) which had a nice picnic area for the bus.  Here we were in the midst of the famous bee-hive banded cones.  The guide gave us a good rundown on how they came to be formed, result of erosion of the Osmond Ranges further north depositing layers of sandstone which were then shaped over millions of years by rain and wind and sand blowing from the desert.  From here we took to walking, destination the Cathedral gorge.  Very rough track, much of it over dry creek bed full of rocks and pebbles.  The end of the gorge is shaped like an amphitheatre, the sheer walls rising up to a circular opening far above.  I am sure the acoustics would be fabulous there if an orchestra ever managed to haul there gear in there to play.

Lunch on return to the bus .. Individually packed salads with bread fo sandwiches, cold juice, watermelon and tea/coffee.  The young fells driving/guiding earned his keep, hauling all these goodies in and out of the bus' baggage holds.  We then drove north the length of the Bungle range, some 50km.  The geology at this top end is very different, being much closer to what remains of the eroded Osmond Range.  Huge boulder-like structures everywhere.  Stopped at Enchidna Chasm, and set off on the walk in.  Along a very rough creek bed.  I soon fell far behind the group, so at halfway mark I sat down in the shade then did a strategic withdrawal back to the bus to join three couple there who had decided not to try the walk.  I missed seeing the ridge that featured in the Qantas "I still call Australia home" ad where the kids from the Australian Children's Choir were stood along it looking out over the Kimberley.  The return trip to the campground took 2 hours.  We were away fro 10 hours, and 5.5 of that was driving.  I would never dare try to cover that visit in a car.

Dinner tonight was a huge mixed grill .. Too much really!  And dessert too.  A cool shower when we arrived back was in order:  but the generator had failed and no power meant no water.  However all was back in order before dinner and will be heading to bed early for me.

You will find photos of today's trek here.

Today's photos are to be seen 

Monday, September 3, 2018

To El Questro -- 6 Sep 2018

Woke up after a sound night's sleep sore and sorry!  I had to struggle to find my feel which I discovered were badly blistered from yesterday's expedition.  Shower brightened me somewhat, but the walk down to the mess tent for breakfast was slow and agonising.  Eventually I packed the car, hauled myself into the driver's seat, and headed off.

First stop was the aboriginal community of Warnum just down Highway 1 a few km.  Needed over half a tank of diesel there at $1.98 a litre.  Top dollar for the trip.  They have an art centre in the township comprising a gallery and several houses used by artists to produce their work.  Side by side were similar paintings by different artists -- one asking $350, the next one over $3000.  I couldn't see the price difference reflected in the art I must say.  I didn't buy anything.  

The surrounding country changed notably now.  Moved from the flat Savannah plains into hill country.  The long straight stretches of road disappeared as the highway wound its way between hills and ranges.  Top quality road surface still.  A couple of hour's drive brought me to the Kununurra turn off; I continued on towards Wyndham until I reached the Gibb River Road turn off.  Twenty minutes along the Gibb one arrives at the entrance to El Questro wilderness park.  Reaching the station HQ involved a couple of water crossings and some pretty corrugated road.  Had a light lunch there, did my initial book in, and had a go at 4WD to one of the lookouts.  I chickened out on the Pentecost
River crossing...  The water part was OK, but 100 metres of riverbed rocks was too much.  If I was ever going to do a tyre in, it was there!  I am getting good at reversing out of tight spots!

Drove back to the Gemma Gorge resort which is part of El Questro where my "deluxe" cabin awaited me.  Mounted on a raised platform, the tent-cabin is powered, has a fan and complimentary tea/coffee etc.. As well as a full ensuite, double bed and 2 singles.  Spacious and comfortable.  I would describe El Questro as the Noosa of the Kimberleys.  Over-rated, over-priced and snobbish.  I was told at check in that if I wished to have dinner in the restaurant, a booking was essential.  So I booked for 6.30.  Total occupants of the dining room ..4 tables.  Menu sir .. I ordered the roast chicken breast.  "And for entree sir??"  No entree.  Drinks.  Yes, a XXXX Gold thanks.  "And would sort be considering the recommend wine for his meal??"  No telling me it was a Shiraz at $32 a glass;  I could read the menu!  She huffed off and made me wait 40 minutes for my chicken.  The bill had a prominent space for "gratuity" ... None added.  I wonder how these places train their backpacker staff to be so snobbish in such a short period of time??  

Back in my cabin/tent with the fan on (it was 39C today) I have enjoyed a cool shower and will not be long out of bed.  I hope tomorrow finds me a little more mobile than I have been today.

Not many photos today, but they are here.
Pics to follow.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

To Kununurra -- 7 Sep 2018

Awoken early by the screeching and squawking of the abundant bird life that inhabit the trees surrounding each of the tent cabins.  I put off rising for an hour or so, then showered and headed down to the resort centre for breakfast.  The bus loads that stayed overnight were already packed, fed and ready to head off.  I settled for the continental breakfast at $30 -- that did nothing to change my opinion of El Questro!

I did a backtrack once I got on the road and visited Zebedee Springs which is on the main ElQ property.  Only a short though rough walk from the car park.  A natural mineral spring flows from the mountainside down through a series of small rock pools.  Temperature is 28-30C all year round.  I found a spot where I could sit and soak my blistered feet -- felt so good.

Back on the road I took the Gibb River Road back to its start at the junction with the Great Northern Highway and turned north for Wyndham.  The last 30 km into Wyndam is being upgraded, and the drive is limited to 60kph with several lengthy stops along the way.  Of course there are always the idiots who don't believe speed limits are meant for them, and pass you in a shower of mud and stones.

Old Wyndham town is situated next to the port on Cockburn Sound.  The Main Street has been preserved as a ghost town.. Shops and pub all closed but kept in museum style condition.  There is a local historical society museum where I got lots of interesting information for my $5 admission fee.  The new town is situated 3 miles inland, clear of the mudflats that are caused by the 8 metre tides there.  It is small and looks to be largely indigenous in population.  Above the town is the Five Rivers Lookout which gives one a 360' panoramic view for a great distance.  I couldn't work out where or what the 5 rivers are .. But that didn't spoil the view.

On the way out of town I stopped for lunch at the town's bakery.  Noted for its crocodile pies and barramundi pies.  I settled for a very tasty beef and mushroom.  Then I had to crawl back through the 30km of roadworks on the highway.  The drive to Kununurra took a couple of hours. 

Found the apartment resort easily: it is on the highway into town opposite a small lake.  Is very comfortable and fitted out with all the conveniences one needs.  No eatery on the property but there is a large pub next door.  I checked out the town's Coles for some brekkky items, and the pharmacy for Panadol and blister patches.  Prices didn't strike me as too much more than Brisbane, but that was just a quick look.

Some photos from today are located here.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Lake Argyle and Ord River -- 8 Sep 2018

All good things come to an end .. But not necessarily a good end.  Happy to report that my final day of Kimberley exploration was superb.

It was a two part story.  

Part 1 was a luncheon cruise on Lake Argyle.  Bus pickup at 8.30, with a 70km drive to the lake.  On the way we stopped at the relocated Durack homestead.  The entire Durack cattle empire today lies submerged below the lake.  Before the dam wall was completed and flooding began, the historic homestead was dismantled stone by stone, carefully numbered, and re-assembled on land above the level of the proposed lake.  Today it houses a museum of all things Durack, including maps of the extraordinary 2.5 year cattle drive from the Diamentina to the Kimberley by the Durack brothers.

There were about 20 of us on the cruise in a very comfortable tour boat capable of quite some speed.  We had a 2 female crew, and the captain's information flow was very good.  Lots of trivia -- like the lake at the moment holds 21 Sydney Harbours in volume; in the 2006 flood, double that.  The lake loses 120,000 litres of water per second through evaporation!  The dam wall is rock and clay .. No concrete except for the road surface across the spillway.  We pulled in to a small cove just around the corner from the Argyle Diamond Mine for lunch .. A very substantial meal of fish, cold meats and salads with beer, wine or soft drink.  Those inclined could also swim off the back of the boat before lunch .. A few hardy souls did.

Part 2 started on return to the caravan park at the dam wall.  Bus took us down to the bottom of the wall where we hopped aboard a smaller high speed tour boat (45kph most of the way).  We set off on a 55km down river run from Lake Argyle to Kununurra.  The scenery along the way was varied and ever changing ... High cliffs closing in narrow stretches of the river;  wide lazy flowing stretches with plenty of fresh water crocodiles sunning themselves.  And our guide took us up some backwaters bird spotting or to point out native trees of the area.  Halfway down we landed for a comfort break and afternoon tea. Perfect timing had us arrive on the home wide stretch of the river called Lake Kununurra just as the sun set ... My 3rd sunset over water on the trip!

I took a few photos, but was all the more aware of how limited the camera really is (unless you are Steve Parrish) in capturing the grandeur of water and mountain, of forest and plain.  The human eye can capture and enjoy the richness and depth and spread of it all, but the camera just snaps a tiny segment that does not do justice to what one is actually experiencing.  For that reason on this trip I have taken many fewer photos...as it has been a scenic odyssey rather than an historic documentary as my previous voyages have been.  No famous buildings to film or statues to capture or galleries to portray.  Just the wild of Australia's north-west!

As to the photos I did take, I will add them as soon as I get home.  Internet connection has been inadequate for the uploads involved, so I have given up. 

A few final observations.  The Pajero ran faultlessly.  I only travelled 250km in 4WD .. All the rest was on sealed roads and 110 kph limit.  Cruise control makes the time behind the wheel much less stressful.  This car is fitted with an intelligent cruise control.  You set you maximum speed (say 110 kph) and sail along until you come up behind a slower vehicle.  Your car automatically slows to keep you a safe distance behind until you intervene to overtake or the other car turns off.  Then it speeds up to your set speed again.  Brilliant!  The other noticeable feature of the drive has been the almost total lack of road kill.  I think I have seen no more than 5 dead wallabies in 1000km of driving.  In country Queensland you would see as much in just a couple of km.  Final note:  dehydration is a real risk in these parts and one always needs a couple of bottles of water on board for regular gulps.

Tomorrow I will do a little local sightseeing, turn the car in at the airport at 3pm, and hopefully leave on time at 4 for the flight to Perth, thence on to Brisbane.  Here's hoping for a good tail wind to speed the overnight journey.

Today's pictorial record is here.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Homeward bound-- 10 Sep 2018

Sunday morning dawned a every other day has here, sunny and already hot.  I slipped next door to the  Grand Hotel for a continental breakfast.  Their reception had checked out scenic flights last night for me, only to find that both companies were booked out.  So I didn't get to see the diamond mine and Bungle Bungles from the air.

Did the 8.30 am Mass which saw the small church quite crowded.  The local pastor is an African, and quite a performer.  I forgot my hearing aids so don't know what the longish sermon was about, but the antics of the speaker made up for it.  Then drove up to Kelly's Knob lookout vers a good view of the town and the beginnings of the irrigated farmlands.  Next I checked out the diversion dam which holds back Lake Kununurra and feeds controlled flow into the Ord River for the rest of its flow to the ocean, providing irrigation as it goes.  After that I took a few km drive out to the beginnings of the irrigated farms.  This one grows sandalwood.. Hectares of host trees in neat rows with the sandalwood growing attached as a parasite plant.  The harvested wood is chipped and distilled under steam pressure to extract the oil which is mainly sold to the perfume industry world wide.

Back to town and I cashed in a 10% discount card at the old Pump Station lakeside.. It used to lift water from the low levels to the irrigation channels before Lake Argyle came on stream.  Now it is a nice little restaurant which serves an excellent salad for lunch.  One last circuit of the town and I headed to the airpor and returned the car to Thrifty.  Virgin flight for Perth left 10 minutes early and arrived 20 minutes head of schedule.  Which just means I now have over 3 hours to fill In here at Perth airport for my overnight flight home.  C'est la vie! Finis.

And the last of my photographic effort can be discovered here.