Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old Fitzroy C rossing

After we had been to Geike Gorge we made one more stop on our way back to
the caravan.

A few kilometres out of Fitzroy Crossing township (which has a population of
just over one thousand people of which two thirds are Indigenous) is the
site of the old Fitzroy crossing townsite. These are now a few unused
buildings. The most important structure still standing is the old low level
crossing of the wide river. This is still passable during the dry season
but is obviously very limited during the wet season.

As we drove down the hill towards the river there were a group of girls
standing on the concrete crossing. They were keen to chat to us and were
very friendly. They were between nine and eleven and said that they went
down to the crossing every day after school. They occasionally swam in the
river (although the signage said not too), some people fished and they
generally just mucked around. They were keen to have their photo taken and
willingly gave their permission. As we pulled off slowly to drive across
the concrete crossing two of the girls stood on the bumper of the car and it
was just as well a little fellow told us or we would have had passengers.

It was around thirty degrees today but the girls said it was too cold to go
swimming (it is cool overnight and in the early mornings) and they have to
beware of crocodiles.

As we crossed the river (in which another little kid was playing in) we
spoke to a European lady who was walking with her two little boys in the
water. Obviously they were not too concerned about the possibility of

Geike Gorge

We saw a sign in the visitors centre in Derby the other day which said "we
are gorged out". I think we are getting close to that. After walking the
base of the gorge we took a few photos and then headed back to the visitors

There have been some amazing floods in this area. During the dry season
(which is now) the river is quite low and billabongs are created and used
recreationally. However in the wet season it is a very different story.
Apparently the water can rise twenty six metres above. Inside the gazebo
there were signs showing where the floods have reached. The highest was two
metres above the full height of the gazebo.

Surprisingly there were no crocodiles (at least that we saw) at Geike Gorge

Fitzroy River and Geike Gorge

We packed up and said good bye to Greg and Jocelyn today as they headed to
Broome and we headed to Fitzroy Crossing. We are both travelling around
Australia but in different directions - we are now heading east and they are
now heading west. We will meet up again in Melbourne later in the year. We
have enjoyed our time with them and it was sad to say good bye.

It was a trip of 260 kilometres and we arrived in Fitzroy Crossing early
this afternoon. Fitzroy Crossing is a popular stop off as it is close to
Geike Gorge which is a National Park. After checking into the caravan park
we drove the twenty kilometres out to the gorge. We were too late in the
day to take one of the river cruises but instead we walked the Jarrambayah
walk which took about an hour and a half. This walk follows the western
edge of the gorge and one way follows the river.

As we walked along the river bank the afternoon cruises boat came along.

Still more boab trees near Derby

In case you haven't seen enough of these great trees, here are a couple of
more specimens. As we travelled today from Derby eastward there were many
of these trees both sides of the highway in various sizes and shapes.

Boab trees in Derby

You can tell that I was very taken by the boab trees and had to take lots of
photos. There shapes are just so interesting and so big. So just in case
you don't ever get a chance to visit the Kimberley region share some of the

Wharfinger House Derby

I was not familiar with the word "wharfinger" prior to visiting the museum
in Derby. It actually means "to own or have charge of a wharf". The museum
in Derby is housed in the original wharf manager's house which was built in
1928 and was lived in until the mid 1960's. It is a fine example of a
prefabricated wooden housing from the late 1920's that was adapted for
living in a tropical climate without air conditioning. There are very wide
verandahs which are partially built in with netting and no windows. It is
still in very good condition and we thought with a little renovation could
easily be lived in today.

Inside the museum there are various items of interest divided into three
sections - shipping, communication and aviation. At the back of the house
one room has been set out in the style of furnishings from the 1920's.

The house is located at the end of the road which leads to the jetty, with
mud flats on either side of the road. Originally there was a tramway along
the road pulling loads of wool and other agricultural exports. The wool
shed still stands opposite the wharfinger house.

Mosaic floor in Centenary Pavilion

Down near the jetty in Derby there is a centenary pavilion which was
installed in 2001. From the outside it looks pretty ordinary and not worth
taking a photo of yet the floor inside the pavilion is an amazing mosaic.
The mosaic was a community effort involving 370 children and adults who
spent 700 hours laying the 30,000 tiles.

The floor is in the colours of the Aboriginal flag - I didn't take a lot of
photos but from these two you will be able to pick out the station worker,
the snake, fish, mud crab, turtle and other things.

One Mile Dinner Camp at Derby

Our photos of the boab at sunset was taken at "One mile dinner camp" in
Derby. This historic area was the midway point, and therefore food time, as
drovers took cattle from the Kimberley stations to the ships at the Derby
wharf. They would stop at the trough near the prison boab tree (photos in
earlier blog) and the next stop would be the One Mile Dinner Camp. Here
they stopped until the ship berthed and then they would walk the cattle
along the pastoral trail across the mud flats.

There was no cattle anywhere near One Mile Dinner Camp when we visited along
with a few other tourists and I am sure the area is like that every night as
shots of the boab tree are captured. No one seemed very interested in the
history of the area which was a bit of a shame.

Spectacular boab tree at sunset

We knew very little about the boab tree before we visited Derby and the
Kimberley district. Our knowledge was limited to tourist brochures with the
boab tree on them, a photo of a boab tree winning a competition depicting
the Kimberley area, and photos and postcards of amazing boab trees. We can
now understand why as they are just so spectacular and everyone is

One of the most common views of the boab tree is at sunset so we were not
going to miss out on the opportunity to have our own photographs. There are
numerous trees to choose from but we went along with a most popular tree
near One Mile Dinner Camp which overlooks the mud flats which surrounds
Derby township. Perhaps not as good a photo as those taken by professionals
but we were happy with them.

The change in the colours was quite amazing. These photos were taken
between 5.30 and 6 pm - early sunset but remember it is winter!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Climbing out of Tunnel Creek

Before too long we had completed the 750 metre walk through the tunnel and
it was time to climb out way out again. It is certainly a matter of
scrambling and squeezing your way through the best you can.

We had made it, even though Jocelyn and I thought initially we would have to
wait for Greg and Peter to complete the walk without us. It was a fantastic
visit and great fun. Tunnel Creek is certainly one of the top things we
have done during our travels.

It was now nearly 4.30 p.m. so we had time for a coffee and a snack and then
commenced the return trip to Derby. The sun was getting low in the sky and
it made it really difficult to see through the dust when another vehicle was
in front of us or coming towards us.

The sunset was again pretty amazing with the orange against the desert
trees. It has to be seen to understand.

Roos are always a hazard of driving at dusk and we were on the watch out all
the way back to Derby. It was a great day out and we really enjoyed sharing
it with Greg and Jocelyn.

Rock formations in Tunnel Creek

On our return trip back through the tunnel we were able to get more photos
of one of the areas in the tunnel. We thought that this looked like a cream
coloured pipe organ in a cathedral. It was pretty amazing.

One of the interesting things is that there were no guides within the tunnel
and no lights or directions to go - you just waded through the water and
tried to find the most shallow route. This was certainly part of the
excitement of the visit. There was no graffiti or people touching the
walls. We were most impressed. It is a National Park and there is the
normal daily entrance fee per vehicle of $11 but no other cost. Long may it
remain like this.

Climbing the rocks to the Aboriginal Art

We had been told that once we had reached the end of the tunnel if we looked
to the left we would see some original Aboriginal rock art. It is quite
rare to see the Aboriginal art so we were keen to see it. We hadn't been
told that we would have to clamber up the rocks to see it, but never to be
put off, up we went.

We saw the art work and it was well worth seeing. Hope you can see it from
the photos. It was red drawing on the rock walls.

At the end of the range Tunnel Creek

You can tell that Peter was carrying the camera as we walked through the
tunnel as there are no photos of him wading through the water. He much
prefers me to have nothing in my hands so that if I lose my balance I don't
try to save any damage to the camera and then injure myself. Such faith in

The end of the tunnel is much easier to exit that the entering. There are
no rocks to clamber over just water to wade through. Once outside Peter was
quick to find a rock to sit on to try and empty his shoes of sand and grit.
We still had to walk through the tunnel again to return to the carpark.

In Tunnel Creek

Excuse the legs, but concentrate on what is behind me. I was tempted to
leave this photo out. The wall of the cave in this section was pretty
amazing and worth wading through the water to see. It was right in the
middle of the tunnel so very dark and you can see the depth of the water.

Within Tunnel Creek

Once inside the tunnel it is really dark. There are pools of murky water
and sandy edges. Using the torch you can shine the light up to the roof and
along the walls of the cave. Of the pools were quite deep and I was most at
risk of getting my clothes wet as I am very short. I certainly had water
nearly to my crutch but fortunately saved my knickers from getting wet! As
for Peter, Jocelyn and Greg they are all much taller than me and just
thought it funny.

Fortunately the water was quite warm to walk through. There were some small
fish and other sea creatures swimming about in the water. I understand that
there is the odd little fresh water crocodile but we certainly didn't see
any, fortunately. Peter would have wanted to walk on water and get out
quick if he had seen any and certainly wouldn't have gone into the tunnel if
he had known of the possibility beforehand.

The walls and ceiling of the cave are pretty amazing but as it was very dark
inside the tunnel it was hard to photograph. About half way through the
tunnel the ceiling has caved in so some daylight comes in. Apparently
little bats come in and out of the cave and tree roots can be seen. There
are little waterfalls coming over the ledges on the sides and huge
stalactites dangling from the ceilings. All very impressive.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The entrance to Tunnel Creek

We were uncertain if either Jocelyn or I would be able to enter the tunnel
as we had been told that the entrance was very difficult and as we both have
bad knees this may have proved impossible. Still determination was on our
side and we both made it. We were aware that we were going to end up with
wet shoes and needed torches.

You have to climb over and squeeze between big boulders to get into the cave
- not so easy with wide hips like mine. Eventually after climbing over the
boulders and walking through the water there is a large gap through the rock
and the tunnel starts. The tunnel is very dark, but is fortunately very
spacious. A head torch or good hand held torch is absolutely necessary.