A Week at the most Northerly Point of our Trip
Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
24Trip End Sep 11, 2008
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We booked a river cruise up the Ord River to the Ord River Dam and while waiting for our bus by the Reception, Peter and Hazel drove by, saw us and asked us about the Bungle Bungle but then we had to rush off as our bus arrived. After picking up a few more people from various locations, we were all dropped off at the boat ramp at Lily Creek Lagoon to begin our boat cruise along the Ord River to Lake Argyle and return by bus. The boat cruise was 55 kms long with a stop half way at the riverside camp for a good lunch. We sat at the back and enjoyed the leisurely boat ride.
Every now and again the tour guide stopped along the river to give us a commentary about the Diversion Dam, Ord River Irrigation Scheme and general fauna and flora. He is an interesting knowledgeable young arborist. All the food for the lunch was brought on our boat in eskies and when we stopped at the camp, which consisted of wooden tables and chairs with a roof and a couple of "long drop toilets" a few metres away, another boat driver/guide was waiting there to help unload and serve the lunch. They first put out a fruit platter with delicious melons and pawpaw from the region and a cheese platter for us to enjoy while they were laying out the various cold meats and salads and drinks. All very delicious and enjoyable. As we continued on along the Ord river in the afternoon we stopped along the bank to view an interesting spectacle of hundreds of bats (flying foxes) hanging in the trees making a remarkable sound which sounded like birds chirping. Along the way we had seen quite a few small crocodiles and then as we reached Lake Argyle the boat driver stopped for us to photograph the biggest – about three metres. We got off the boat at the Ord River/Argyle Lake Dam wall and spent a while looking at the amazing huge structure made only of earth and local rocks.
We then drove by bus over the dam wall and stopped at the Durack Homestead. There we heard about how this intrepid family, who brought their cattle over from the Northern Territory, established themselves in the region as the first pastoralists and came up with the original idea to dam the Ord river as it was drying up during the dry season to just a few pools of water. They had the vision of how the surrounding land could be irrigated all year by constructing first the diversion dam across the river at one point and then the dam for the Argyle Lake at the other. All the land is irrigated by gravity and no pumps are necessary. We then drove the 70kms back to Kununurra in the bus and returned to our caravan park about 4pm. In the evening we enjoyed a lovely swim in the pool. We were now 3,209kms from our house in Parkwood but had traveled 4,077 kms in the three weeks since leaving home.
We were quite tired that evening and turned in about 10pm. At 10.30pm we were woken by the smell of bacon cooking as one of the campers decided it was either dinner or breakfast the next morning! After putting up with them talking outside our window till 11pm (campground rules are “quiet after 9.30pm”) we reminded them what time it was and that we were actually trying to sleep. All was then quiet till 1am when it started again and Mike yelled out the window. Thankfully the rest of the nights there were peaceful after 9.30pm. The next morning after doing our laundry, we drove into town to Coles and used the voucher Lesley had given us and all we needed came to $76.22 and the voucher was for $75 so that was really great. In the afternoon we sorted out the itinerary for the rest of our holiday and made the bookings at the phone box using the free call phone numbers for the Big 4 Caravan Parks. On Thursday morning we drove out to the Zebra Rock gallery which is in a lovely location and well set out with a tea garden behind the shop with peacocks, shady trees and the Zebra Rock work shop. The polished pieces made into all sorts of artistic designs were beautifully made but very expensive. Zebra Rock is found no where else besides the Kimberley.Out the back in the workshops, we could not only watch the men working on the pieces of rock, but buy some nice fish bookends unpolished and much cheaper and also choose a piece of unworked rock which they weighed for us to buy for our friend Pierre.
We then cooled off with a delicious cold mango smoothie before setting off back towards town stopping at the HCJB Christian radio station. We were impressed with the size of the whole place and found out that the working farm had been donated to them so the fruit trees are harvested (mango, pawpaw and bananas) to help support the radio station. After meeting the Director of HCJB and the wife of an engineer from South American helping install the masts, another lady gave us a very interesting tour of the whole place. We first drove out to where they have installed a couple of 90 metre masts across which the antenna curtain will be hung with various other masts along side of varying heights which are being installed at the moment. It was very hot out there and as we stopped to take photos of the masts, a truck with the workers drove past on their way back to base to a well earned lunch in the cool main building. We also were shown the room from where they transmit the programs across Asia. She also told us about a recent problem they have been having with arcing and everything going off the air because of an eagle who had decided to build a nest on top of one of the high masts! Before we left we bought the most delicious, huge pawpaw and some bananas grown there. On our way back we stopped at the Diversion Dam to take photos close up.
By the time we returned to the caravan park we were so hot and really enjoyed a swim in the pool. In the evening we walked to Diane and Tony (Carissa's Auntie and Uncle) who had invited us to dinner. We sat out on their balcony and had an enjoyable evening chatting and having a BBQ, after which they showed us around the church and told us how it came about and how they came to be ministering there. The building used to be a government office block and now the top floor has been converted into a church the one side and their apartment the other and below is rented out to an Aboriginal Art Gallery.
Friday the First of August (Swiss National Day) we had the delicious pawpaw for breakfast. We spent the morning driving around the area just north of Kununurra. Our first stop was Ivanhoe Crossing which was on the original road to Wyndham but now since the diversion dam has been built, the bridge is always under water and the large dangerous crocodiles are around there so there are many signs around for those who might decide to try and wade over the weir! We drove through all the huge irrigated lands which were very impressive seeing how it is all irrigated just by gravity with no pumps. Just before we got back to town we drove through the Mirimba National Park (Hidden Valley) a mini bungle bungle. We walked a short way down the path but by then it was getting really hot. In the afternoon a swim and siesta was very welcome. About 7.30pm Esther Buergi and Guido Wagner came for dinner and wine to celebrate the Swiss National Day with us. We raided our pantry and fridge and came up with snacks, steak cooked by Mike and a salad with fruit salad and yoghurt for dessert washed down with SCWA Swan Valley Fond Ant and Italian Lambrusco with the dessert. Esther and Guido had brought along a Toblerone to enjoy with our coffee,
The next morning I walked into town to read the emails, then enjoyed the amazing paintings at the Lovell Gallery (across one wall she has painted a 3m picture of the Bungle Bungle) and also went to the market across the road. One of the stalls was selling various things made of Boab tubers and I picked up an interesting leaflet about how and what they are doing with the tubers. They are now cultivating Baobabs (in Australia the Adansonia gregorii variety). The tubers are used in salads, stir-fry’s soups and dips or grated for cakes etc. The leaves are also used in salads etc and of course the fruit which is very high in vitamin C is used in baking. I then bought a wine glass with a boab etching, Ord River zucchini, butternut, cauliflower and pawpaw chutney. I arrived home just on 12 noon and Mike was sitting at the camp kitchen table chatting to Esther and Guido who showed us his photos of when he drove down Africa on a motor bike. Maurice and Cheryl were also there and we had an interesting afternoon chatting and taking photos. Cheryl and Maurice have been through tough times and they had arrived at the camp site with only a couple of bags. They had bought a tent and he now has a job, so things are looking up for them.
In the evening we went with Esther and Guido to the Kununurra Beer Garden just around the corner and we were impressed by the pleasant surroundings and music. There we met a Melbourne couple who had been working in Perth for a few years and she had had a business called Professional Landscape Design – they had sold up and were on their way back to Melbourne.
On Sunday morning at 10am we walked round to the Baptist Church. Diane was playing the piano and Tony preached a good sermon. It was all good and very similar to the church we go to in Perth including the style music. There were about fifty people in the congregation and they put out a good spread after the service. We stayed for a cool drink (quite hot) and chat with a few people and said goodbye to Diane and Tony. When we left it wasn’t yet too hot, so I walked to the shops to buy some postcards (10 for $3!) and books on the Kimberleys. I just returned at 12 noon again when Esther and Guido had packed up everything onto their motorbikes and were ready to set off. After saying goodbye, Mike helped push start Guido’s bike and then off they went heading for Katherine and Darwin.
In the afternoon it was hot again till about 4pm so we stayed in the air conditioned caravan and wrote postcards and typed up the journal and put the photos onto the computer. At tea time we enjoyed watching the Kite Hawks soaring above and then packed the caravan ready for an early departure the next day.