A Travellerspoint blog

July 2013 - Mataranka to Exmouth

Looks like it has been a few weeks since the last update, and we've covered a bit of ground since then, so:

After our 3 weeks at Mataranka, we headed into Katherine again, this time as proper tourists and ticked another of the must see box's being Katherine Gorge.
We soon got used to walking on the right hand side of the footpaths as European tourists (mainly Germans) outnumber everyone by a fair margin. They also seem to be proficient at heading off on some sizable bushwalks in midday heat with no shirt and even less water.
We had 3 nights there to allow two full days for a look around. I walked into the second gorge the first day, then Evan and I paddled up the first gorge the second day:

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Still within Katherine Gorge NP but up the Stuart Hwy a bit is Edith Falls. Lovely big swimming hole with nipply water. Kids built a gorge of their own:
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Edith Falls Salon
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From there we headed into Kakadu. Driving in is a bit underwhelming, the only striking thing being the quality of roads that mining brings to isolated areas.
Then we went on a boat cruise on a huge wetland called Yellow Water. This was very impressive. Amongst the plethora (big word for the day!) of birds we saw at least 6 or 8 crocs and a water buffalo. The guide was a local indigenous lady who was very informative and could spot wildlife from incredible distances.
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Next stop was Jabiru, with all the appointments of a mining town (everything you need and nothing in particular that you want), so we camped on the Eastern end of the NP on the East Alligator River which is the border with Arnhem Land. Local sport here is to watch the crocs catch fish on the causeway as the tide changes.

There is also some impressive rock art and lookouts in the area:
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Beth found a traditional bed:
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The road out was even better than the road in, and ends in Darwin. A fair proportion of Australias baby boomers saturate Darwins caravan parks for the winter so getting accommodation is a bit challenging, so we had a week there once we'd found a site. While there the local show was on:
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The army had a very good display with lots of hands on stuff.
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Not sure how cranky this thing ended up by the end of the day.
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Proof she's lethal:
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Darwin has a lot of World War 2 history including these oil storage tunnels underground to protect their fuel supplies in anticipation of being bombed.
There was only one tunnel out of about 14 open. Although impressive it lacked any detailed information so was a bit dissapointing.
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Hadn't seen the sea or a beach for a while (since Karumba). This is as far North as we are likely to go:
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Midil Beach Markets. Most of Darwin out to watch the sunset, which was a bit of a fizzer as it was overcast.
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After Darwin was Litchfield, which a lot of advice suggested is better than Kakadu. WE found it very different to Kakadu and both are well worth visiting.
Kakadu is all wetlands and Rock Art. Litchfield is waterfalls, and termite mounds:
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Ran into this young bloke from Victoria doing a lap of the country on his home made solar bike
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Florence Falls swimming hole. Standing room only.
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Blyth Homestead is an old outstation which a local pioneering family housed their kids (over the range from the main homestead) to operate a tin mine. They had something like 14 kids and as soon as they were old enough to work they lived here with their brothers and sisters. Tough (or insanely stubborn) people:
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The track in had a few puddles:
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Highlight of Litchfield - Wangi Falls. Another big swimming hole:
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As Katherine is the crossroads to everywhere here, we were back there again for about the 5th time. Luckily the caravan roof decided to collapse here and not way out in the bush so was able to spend a pleasant day finding stainless wire rope and pulleys.

Heading west finally and into Gregory National Park. Victoria River is a reasonable size:
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Boab tree at site of Gregories base camp on the Victoria River. Very interesting explorer who I have found reasonably difficult to find many books on, Probably because he wasn't a spectacular failure. When he missed the rendezvous with the supply ship (I think the captain was drunk), he simply gathered up his blokes and rode back to Brisbane.

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Into Western Australia, and to Kununurra. Famous for it's residency by previous generations of Hookways during the Ord River Dam construction.
Lots of green grass around and well watered crops.
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A tiny bit of Lake Argyle:
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Some of the locals
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Lagoon beside Lake Kununurra. No shortage of water anywhere:
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After servicing the car in Alice Springs it was due again.
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The road into the Bungle Bungles is legendary for corrugations, and didn't disappoint. After 80km in we weren't really looking forward to coming out the same way. Anyway we ended up with a few new rattles in the car and surprisingly reduced a few old ones.
The drive was worth it though:
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This is Cathedaral Gorge (Most of WA's attractions are gaps in rocks), which of course is much more impressive than this photo would suggest.
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A family we met at the camp near the Bungles kept running into us of the next few nights. We also ran into a couple from Portland (as you do).
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Halls Creek was only a lunch stop, although one claim to fame is a distinct lack of water.
Fitzroy crossing was less inspiring.
After that was into Tunnel Creek, which as the name suggests, a creek running underground. The walk is about a km long and requires a bit of wading through water slightly above freezing:
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Further along this road is another gorge, Winjana this time. Famous for its freshwater crocs sunning themselves on the opposite bank:
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The Winjana Gorge road meets the bottom end of the Gibb River Road. Then heads into Derby.
Had a look at the tide roaring in at the jetty, then continued onto Broome:

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Broome is very much like an Airlie Beach on the west coast. Mainly a resort and tourist town with a bit of pearling history.
Struck it lucky again when the caravan bed broke and were actually near somewhere that could weld it back together.

Cable beach fish and chips view:
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South of Broome is some of the most monotonous driving in the country, which is only interrupted by the immense industriousness of Port Hedland. No photos of "Hedland" as there's not a lot to take photo of.

Between there and Karratha the scenery does improve a bit with the lumpiness of the Pilbira.
We stopped in Karratha as a couple of blokes I worked with in Moranbah had move here. Karrratha is also famous for being near Dampier which is famous for the Red Dog:
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Birthday celebrated:
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Next stop was Exmouth. Camping in the NP was a bit competitive. Required lining up at the gate at 7 in the morning for a campsite.
The wind here made it a bit unpleasant. We did get to snorkel about on bits of Ningaloo reef and saw turtles, sting rays, heaps of fish, then turned blue in the wind when we got out of the water.

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The map of the last 5 weeks or so. As we've been heading west the sunrise and sunset times have been changing all the time. The hour and a half time change at the WA border took a while to get used to. Sunrise moved from 7am to 5:30.
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Were currently in Caranarvon and the weather has just turned pear shaped.
Onto Geraldon and Perth from here.

Posted by enookway 05:29

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Comments

Brilliant as always Ian. You've been to some incredible places and the photographs are great. Stay safe and enjoy the west coast. Love from us

by Alf & Rosemary

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