Day 28-31 Across the Kimberley

Leaving Kununurra was a little bit hard. We had settled in well to our lagoon side site, the kids had made friends and we finally sat down long enough to read our books – it was feeling less touristy, more holiday-like. Regardless we did pack up and headed south to Turkey Creek.

The scenery on this part of the drive was most enjoyable once again. I kept trying to think what it was like, but kept coming up blank. I know I’m not the most widely travelled person getting about, so it may just be my perspective, but it seems to me this is a unique part of the world. We passed by the entrance to the Bungle Bungle with something of a sigh… Next time. Only 50 km as the crow flies from the highway, but not so much as a hint of anything resembling them from our vantage point.

On the way we encountered a peloton… Cycle for SMILE. From their website: The SMILE (Supporting Medical Innovation for Life Enhancement) Foundation provides financial assistance to families whose children suffer from rare diseases as well as much needed funding into medical research. We took some photos… Amy and Oliver thought Grandpa Brucie might like to join them… Much flatter than the Italian Alps out here! The peloton was supported by an amazing crew, we got to see them in action at Warmun or Turkey Creek where we stayed that night. They had about 30 matching tents set up, dinner cooking, air beds blown up and a massage table at the ready when the group arrived in the afternoon. It was impressive. And they were packed up and gone before we got up the next day!

There wasn’t much at Turkey Creek apart from the Roadhouse and an abandoned tour booking office which gave it something of a sorry feel. The attached caravan park where we stayed did have a pool which was welcome. The stray dogs from the aboriginal community up the road were less welcome, especially when we were warned they steal thongs and shoes if you leave them out. It was the dogs fighting in the middle of the night that I really didn’t appreciate!

Next day was our first free campsite. For those uninitiated into this caravanning world, there is a big book called Camps 6 which lists all the free and cheap campsites across the country. A lot of them are roadside rest areas, but some are in really lovely spots (and are marked as such in the book). This one was called Mary Pool as it was perched on the banks of the Mary River. Lovely big gum trees and a view and all thanks to the good people at WA department of main roads. And people say public servants are good for nothing (they really do out here, sometimes I think about saying I’m from somewhere else, but am determined to stand proud for Canberra and the hard working public servants!).

At Fitzroy Crossing we visited Geike Gorge once again to participate in the live tourist trade. No need to book, they run four cruises a day each capable of taking 180 passengers! It was well worth the visit though and good value at $60 bucks for all of us. The Gorge has been formed by the mighty Fitzroy River which at full flow would apparently fill Sydney Harbour in about 5 hours. No wonder it has worn its way through the Devonian era coral reef system which makes up the limestone rock. Lots of freshies basking on the banks, but I think we were all more taken with the swallow nests nestled under the overhangs like upside down mud igloos. Swallows launch out in droves, dive for insect from the water surface before expertly swarming back into their homes.

And now here we are in Derby. Bit of a lazy afternoon before we walked and the kids rode 2.5 km from the van park across the broad mud flats and down to the jetty for yet another spectacular sunset. We sat and watched while enjoying fish and chips, while everyone else was fishing! I’m pretty sure 9 out of 10 would also be purchasing their fish, but I could be wrong. We made it home in the dark, the kids surprising us with their endurance and good attitudes.

A note from Emma:
As we packed up the van in Fitzroy Crossing, the grey nomad lady from next door dropped over. She said something to the effect of ‘where’d you find him?’! It took me a minute and a bit more conversation to figure out she had been watching us pack up and seen Greg carefully wiping each chair down before packing it up. I think she wanted to take him home, at least to teach her husband how to do things. Another grey nomad also felt the need to say how impressed she was as Greg expertly slotted the van into position around a 90 degree corner and into position at Derby. It is true. They have adopted him as one of theirs… And he does have a few grey hairs.

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