The Gibb River Road! Whatever you do, make it your mission to get here it’s one of the best things you’ll ever do. Strap yourselves in this is a big one.
Our first stop was Windjana Gorge, as always we rolled on in after dark realised there was not a mozzie in sight and that our crappy impulse buy was in fact crappy!
Win-gina Gorge as we affectionately named it. What they don’t tell you about this Gorge is that you see the best bit 800m into your 7km walk…jokes on us. Cynicism aside this was a phenomenal sight, the camp looks out on to this tower of a rock face and once your inside the colours get even better. To put it into perspective it literally makes you feel like an ant walking through this gorge AMAZING! In dire need for a swim we were on a mission to Bell Gorge with a detour to Tunnel Creek.
Tunnel Creek is amazing, full of so much history in fact it played a huge role in the indigenous resistance. Another fun fact…Tunnel Creek used to be apart of the Barrier Reef! The opening into Tunnel Creek and the walk is not to be missed, and neither are the copious amounts of baby boomers trying to navigate their way over the rocks to get in.
It was then onto Bell Gorge…what a treat!! This was everything I imagined the Kimberly’s to be. Our walk opened up to beautiful freshwater infinity pools, which turned into to a massive cascading waterfall to scale down for swims in the pool below. This was the first of our ‘proper’ hikes, using all available limbs to climb up and down…absolutely gorge-ous. This was also the first of the visits from the formidable water monitor. Chocco the lizard lover wanted to take pictures, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, while I almost ran on water, parted the 7 seas to get away. Thankfully I survived.
Next up was Manning Gorge. Heading north, The Gibb gets better and better. Manning Gorge walk was challenging but the baby boomers continued to be unstoppable in the complaints, bracing, taping and adipose tissue departments. Here we jumped off a waterfall and met some great people…the first contact with people under the age of 80 driving more than 80kmph. Their hot tip: the burgers at Drysdale Station. Conveniently, we were heading in that exact direction.
This day will be forever etched on Chocco’s brain as the day I nearly strangled the lady at Drysdale Station when she told me they stopped serving for the day. I know I was unreasonable but I hadn’t eaten lunch in preparation…I was HANGRY. Chocco to the rescue *language warning “don’t worry about those c**t’s darling I’ll make you a vegemite sandwich” so after sanga and packing some emergency chocolate in case I went troppo again we were on the road again headed for Mitchell Falls!
Up to this point the drives have been unbelievable, apart from the dusty boogies and endless cow traffic the road is basically a gravel highway and the scenery is ever changing. It felt as though we passed through about 5 Aussie States in 2 days.
They have a sticker saying “I survived Kalumburu Road” and that we did! It was winding, full of water crossings, ditches and corrugations but all in the name of arriving at the infamous Mitchell Falls. The burning off, a once every two-year event, was stunning to look at and concerning to camp next too but hearing dingoes and falling trees while in bed was an amazing reminder of how remote we were.
The longest walk so far…8.6kms. We found ourselves a little waterfall, which we discovered underneath, was full of aboriginal rock art and that we could climb behind the waterfall to sit and watch on. Absolutely breathe taking! Off we went to our next natural wonder Big Merten’s a sight to behold…looking from above, the sheer face of this waterfall made Windjana look like the abseil at Nanga Bush Camp. On we trekked to Mitchell Falls and my lord it was amazing. After a quick dip and a vegemite sandwich (way better than a burger) we made the trek back to camp.
On our way out of the falls, we were stopped by a group of kids needing help, they got bogged chasing a cow for dinner…ya know normal kid stuff.
The next morning after a dip in the King Edward River, we were off to Home Valley Station and the iconic Pentecost River water crossing. Conveniently we were on track to make it in time for a burger at Drysdale Station (I swallowed my pride…and a whole hamburger and chips, and half of Chocco’s chips) AND scones at Ellenbrae station. I was one happy lady and Chocco was one relieved dude. We camped out at the Home Valley River Bush Camp, highly recommend this but do note that the cows here make noises as if the resident salty’s are eating them and will run from the bushes at you while your eating your dinner causing Chocco to throw you in the back of Bluey.
Detours are apart of our travel regime. So off we went, straight past our next stop at El Questro Station to visit Brad and Shez in Wyndam. We were treated to the ‘The Club’ where the only safe thing to eat is red meat, swam at The Grotto- a 300ft hole in the ground and watched the moon rise over the marsh. This place is full of aboriginal culture, you just have to go digging.
El Questro Station has some of the best gorges you’ll see, hence travelling north and leaving them til last is the sensible option. Here we met with my cousin Chad and dragged him up El Questro Gorge, the most challenging 6.8kms we’ve done to THE most stunning thing I’ve ever seen. We did a 10km hike to the secluded Champagne Springs (because no one else is dumb enough to do it), made our first batch of damper and Chocco begrudging came horse riding with me. We finished El Questro with a dip in Zebedee hot springs and a contrasting dip in the artic Emma Gorge- I lost all feeling in my body, before heading further north to Lake Argyle for the night.
Lake Argyle is a HUGE man-made dam of monstrous proportions, watching the sunrise over these hills was amazing. After a french toast made by Chocco and a quick dip we were on to Darwin for the night, ready for Chocco to fly out and me to start work at Katherine District Hospital. 3 amazing weeks! 3 weeks of work and the adventure continues.