We woke up before the alarm had a chance to go off this morning, and by 8:18am we were travelling through the gates of the caravan park and onto our next adventure. It was already 28 degrees.
We had already travelled the first section of the Victoria Highway when we went to Wyndham, so at 8:56am when we turned onto the Number 1 – Great Northern Highway – and started heading south, we were in new territory.
One of the truckies we spoke with earlier in the piece had commented that this section of the Kimberley was the very best part. He said that as you came over the hill there was a change of scenery, and it was a stunning new vista and absolutely spectacular. He said when you turned a corner you never quite knew what to expect except that it would probably be jaw-dropping. He was right!
At the beginning of the highway, we had the Saw Ranges on our right-hand side, and they were magnificent in their stark beauty. On the left-hand side we had the Deception Range. If you climbed up and went over the top of this range, you would be staring at Lake Argyle.
At that point we were still in savannah country and there were plenty of kapok trees heavy with blooms.
The country was very hilly, which we had not expected, and at this point the road was in excellent condition, apart from the fact that when they had upgraded the highway, they hadn’t upgraded their bridges and we kept coming up to signs in red saying “Reduce Speed”. After that you became very aware of the fact that they bridge was narrow and one lane only. You needed to be able to stop if someone was already approaching the bridge and then wait for your turn to continue.
One van travelling behind us may have almost had a heart attack as all we saw was the dust raised when he had to slam on his breaks. The traffic coming towards him was a road train.
The floodways in this section of the road are very long ones – six and twelve kilometres of them in a stretch. It is understandable once you
have seen the ranges on either side of the road, and you can easily spot the black marks on the rocks of the cliff faces which is an indication of where the waterfalls teem down once the rainy season begins.
Arthur Creek Bridge (bridge number 1305 in Western Australia) was the first of the narrow one lane bridges that we encountered. Then we met Mistake Creek, then Mabel Springs Creek, followed almost immediately by Rocky Creek before we met up with Frog Hollow Creek. These are the main ones that I took particular note of, but there were several others later in the day.
As we finished crossing the bridge at Mistake Creek, we met a four-carriage road train approaching from the other direction. Those guys are big, and the bridges are very narrow. I am glad I am not driving.
Deception Range petered out to be replaced by the Carr Boyd Range on our left. We then sighted Pompey’s Pillar, which is about 46 kilometres from Warmun at Turkey Creek and rises 319 metres above sea level. The annual rainfall here is about 700mm. However, that’s about all I could learn about the pillar and how it got its name. There are apparently several Pompey’s Pillars dotted around the world and it seems to have originated in Egypt.
After that came Mt Nyulasy. The scenery is stark and breathtaking.
Originally our schedule had us staying two nights at Warmun with the idea that we could safely leave the van at the roadhouse caravan park and travel south to see the Bungle Bungles.
Russ had a brainstorm and said let’s not stay at Warmun but go onto the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park which has good reviews on Wikicamps. So, I rang them, but they are short staffed and unable to answer their phones. You have to email them with your booking request, which I did, asking for two night’s accommodation with power and water. Keep in mind here that the signal for the phones goes in and out constantly, and you never have a really strong signal unless you are in a town.
We passed through Warmun after that and saw the vans already lined up waiting to get into the caravan park there. At Warmun it is first in, best dressed and they do not take bookings of any kind.
From Warmun to Muluk’s Rest Area the roads are not in a very good condition, and there are no shoulders on them to make life easier or safer. Thank goodness a shoulder was not required for us.
We then came across a ‘Roadworks Ahead’ sign and were directed onto an alternate gravel road about 500 metres to the left of the highway, which had been created to allow unrestricted access to the construction crews on the highway. We travelled on it for about two kilometres before we were back on the main drag, but it has been made for two lanes of traffic so no need to stop and wait for any signals.
We also saw where the gravel stretch reached back about four kilometres before the actual work area, so it appears that a much longer stretch is to be fixed and has been planned for different stages.
There were huge water pipes assembled on site, and even larger corrugated iron pipes to be used under the new road surface.
About five kilometres before the turn off to the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park (and we still had not received a reply to our email) we encountered another long, narrow one lane bridge across the Tickalara Creek.
The Bungle Bungles are a part of the Purnululu National Park. We had to travel a short gravel road with a few corrugations (not happy with the van on the back) before we got to the entrance of the caravan park.
We were warmly greeted by Miles who saw our Victorian registration and said, “Only Collingwood supporters allowed in here.” He was amazed, and mighty chuffed, to find out we were not only supports but members as well and had our Collingwood sticker on the back of the car.
Unfortunately, his good cheer didn’t travel as far as the office where the two ladies – one of them in training – were unable to accommodate our request for a site.
So, now we are two days ahead of our schedule and nowhere to go in a short distance. We continued on our way to Halls’ Creek to refuel and get some internet coverage and discussed our options as we went.
The next step was to email the ladies at Derby to see if our booking for one day could be extended to four days, but they informed me they were completely booked out for at least the next fortnight.
Hall’s Creek has a caravan park, but the town does not have a good reputation. The reviews on Wikicamps tell the story of problems with indigenous youths travelling in packs and ransacking any car or caravan to which they can they get access, stealing any item that is not locked down.
We refuelled at Shell there, which just happens to be next to the Police Station, but we could see the youth groups wandering around. Luckily, one policeman was in the store getting his cup of coffee while we were there, and the police car was at one of the bowsers. I think it would be fair to say we did not feel very safe in the town.
So, we still had no concrete plan for the night, and were definitely ahead of our scheduled stops, and had travelled much further than had been intended. We also didn’t get to see the Bungle Bungles which has now made our list for the next time we are here (and we will book ahead!!!)
Once we left Hall’s Creek the country started to level out more. There were far fewer hills to climb, and the land started to include flat plains. It reminded us of the country between Alice Springs and Coober Pedy.
Our next plan of attack, after further consultation with Wikicamps, was to send an enquiry about booking two nights at the caravan park in Fitzroy Crossing, and we travelled ahead to stay at Larrawa Station Nature Stay. We were a few days ahead, but at least this stop was on the schedule. However, the station does not have power, and you can
only use a generator in the daytime until 7:00pm. However, re-fuel for the generator is at Fitzroy Crossing – 120 kilometres away. It was already 36 degrees and very humid, and the weather forecast says it will not dip below 20 degrees overnight. We were starting to see clouds!!
We arrived at Larrawa Station about 4:00pm which is much later than we generally stay on the road. It was well past Russell’s sleep time, and I did not think he was going to handle the heat at all.
The road to the station leaves the highway, and you “travel four kilometres on an all surface, well-maintained gravel road.” It actually was like that, too.
It didn’t take us long to set up. We put on the jockey wheel to level the van but left the chains attached to the vehicle.
It was getting very cloudy by the minute and the humidity had not let up. The sunset was spectacular – lots of reds and orange. For the first time on this trip, I have unpacked my summer nightie.