WEST TO WA ON VICTORIA HIGHWAY
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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WEDNESDAY JULY 28 2010
JOURNEY: Katherine, Timber Creek, Kununurra, WA.
WEATHER: 22 degrees at 8am
OVERNIGHT: Timber Creek Road house- $27 pn
Hidden Valley CP- Kununurra $25pn
After a restful sleep overnight at Low Level CP, we set off at 8am keen to cover new territory and looking forward to our adventures in the East Kimberley's- North West of Western Australia.
We admitted that we were relieved to be off the long straight Stuart Highway and hoped for a more interesting roadside environment and that turned out to be true!
First stop was at a rest stop for breakfast and we enjoyed the company of 4 young English/Scottish travellers who were keen to get to Broome; they were studying the free campers’ bible- Camps 5 for possible future stopovers.
It was once again really hot so Sheila turned on the air conditioner to make the temperature more bearable- we tell ourselves that we should try to acclimatise but 43 degrees is debilitating and sends us drowsy. This is the northern Australia winter and we expected milder weather and the nights stay around 25+ which people tell us is warmer than normal. But no rain!
We pass through the Victoria River region, a vast rugged land that encompasses the Gregory National Park, a strictly 4 wheel drive adventure but we get glimpses of the River which is the Territory’s largest waterway, one km wide in places. We stop at Victoria River Roadhouse, on the banks of the Victoria River, along with a mob of travellers looking for food, drink, fuel and overnight accommodation- it is a well kept establishment and we laughed at the overhead sign about the "new wife management" corny but original.
We talked to an artist painting the river and landscape and he told us his trip was specifically a painting one and he stopped wherever he had a suitable landscape and then added the paintings to his “gallery” – didn’t ask if it was an actual gallery somewhere or just his collection of art. He was a bit angry about campers who were noisy and showed no respect for others and he was keen to give us examples of this. We walked back to the roadhouse with him and said goodbye.
The scenery was colourful, and the rocky escarpments of the ranges made for interesting visuals. The sky was a beautiful blue with pure white puffs of clouds making changing shapes and we agreed there was a lot more to see and talk about so far on the Victoria Highway. The road had curves and crests which was less monotonous than the Stuart Hwy.
We were fascinated by the magnificent boab trees that grew here, and their shapes are often human in form; they make an interesting contrast to the red earth and the brightly flowering, though mainly leafless, kapok trees.
Timber Creek is 280 kms west of Katherine and was our designated camping spot; we were hoping it would be “respectable” and it was, so we paid out $27 for a site with power and found a shady spot along the fence- a bit too close to the toilets which were not well maintained but never mind!
We checked out the creek with the “feed the crocodiles daily at 5pm” sign and the trees with the screeching bats, and then walked around the “town”. We met a few people that we had come across before and then headed into the “Front Bar” of the Timber Creek pub to buy some beer because the thought of very warm red wine with dinner was not appetising. We paid $22 for a 6 pack of Carlton Draught which was on the expensive side but heh! out here if you want alcohol this is the only place and the only price.
We noticed that the blackboard on the wall listed “banned from the bar” persons with the term of their bans beside their names- never seen that before, and the bar was full of aboriginal people and had a strange rule according to the barman that we could not rest our purchase on top of the bar; either you carried it or he had to keep it on the bar below. Why? Well it was just a rule that the pub had and maybe because as we left the sign on the door said no alcohol beyond this point. Oh well, sometimes things just are and you can’t really understand why.
We stopped in at the Croc Shop but decided not to do the croc cruise, admired the lovely boab tree, returned to the van, put on the TV and air conditioner to combat the 40+ temperature and “chilled” until dark!!! Even the locals were complaining about the unseasonal heat.
The freezing cold beer was a treat with our BBQ pork!
Back on the Victoria Highway, and again we admired the boabs, kapoks, and grevilleas tall amongst the Spinifex. Small ant hills dotted the roadside along with some surprising wild flowers. We did notice that “green cans Dreaming” were sadly very prevalent along the road, and in various stages of decline! “Green cans dreaming” is the name give to the VB beer cans, a very popular beer with the aboriginal people. The newer ones are still a vibrant green but others had faded to pale blue!!
Kath took to photographing oncoming traffic: road trains, caravans, motor homes, buses and even a motor bike, although we have to admit the traffic on this highway is a lot less than the Stuart!
We stopped at “Saddle Creek” rest stop around 12 noon and already there were a large number of campers settled in for the night; quite a pretty spot but very hot and dry but if you insist on “free” camping you have to get in early.
We were lucky enough to witness some cattle mustering at Newry station and pulled over for a better look; at one stage a big angry bull broke away from the mob, a couple of riders tried to herd it back, could not and went back to the herd. Dusty dangerous work and the riders were wearing hard hats, and we think the cattle were Brahmin . These cattle stations are huge and you notice fences and gates all along the road where the national parks finish.
We reached the NT WA border an hour later where quarantine is very strict; an officer enters your van to check on your food. We had used all our fruit and vegetables but enquired about our honey which had to go as well!!!
Clocks are turned back 1 ½ hours as you enter WA so you gain extra time but your body clock takes a while to adjust. So here we are in WA and we drive on to the famous Kununurra to stay a while, do some grocery shopping and investigate the town. The weather is HOT, HOT! and is making us a bit lethargic- well it has been 40+ and that is a bit hard to take!