We arrived in Western Australia to Kununurra, a large-ish town that gets a lot of tourists due to its proximity to the Gibb River Road. Months ago when we had originally been planning this trip we had wanted to drive the Gibb River Road, however due to various delays with our car, getting sidetracked, underestimating the size of Australia, etc., it was December when we arrived and were thus greeted by a big “All Gibb River Road attractions and accommodation are closed for the wet season” sign when we arrived at the visitor information centre. I think the road itself was actually still open, but we figured there was no point driving it if there was nothing to see and nowhere to stay.
So the highway it was! Since driving the bitumen was going to be a lot faster, we spent a couple of lazy-ish days in Kununurra first. We stayed at a caravan park along the river, where the nice lady running the place let us rent a canoe for free. Of course because of the heat we had to start at the crack of dawn.
Fortunately the sunrises over the lake are pretty awesome, and it was nice being the only ones on the river. We paddled up to a lagoon by Buddha Rock and swam around a bit, although I was nervous about crocodiles. We were assured that there were only freshwater ones here, which don’t bite people, but I still think it would be pretty unnerving to swim into one.
Since we couldn’t visit the Bungle Bungles (famous mountain ranges also closed for wet season) we went for a walk through Mirima National Park, also known as the mini Bungle Bungles because of the similar rock formations.
We also took a drive out to Lake Argyle, which is a massive man-made reservoir. Unfortunately the government never asked the Aboriginals in the area if it was alright to turn their lands into an enormous lake, but oh well. You can drive across the impressive Ord River Dam. We enjoyed our drive because Kununurra has a pretty awesome eclectic radio station servicing the East Kimberley, playing music from LMFAO to Kenny Rogers, including Chris’s new favourite song Barramundi.
Just a little waterhole we stopped to swim at. There were lots of little fish and Chris was pleased to get a free fish spa experience.
Next we headed over to Wyndham. Wynd ham is a small coastal town with an enormous crocodile statue at its entrance.
It also boast the “oldest boab tree in captivity” and the Five Rivers Lookout, which you can drive up to see five rivers merge together and enter the ocean. We didn’t stay long as Chris was desperate for a washroom.
On the way out of Wyndham we stopped for a swim at the Grotto. The Grotto is a SUPER DEEP (like 300ft) swimming hole, with some fun swinging ropes. We goofed around for a while as we were the only ones there.
Wolf Creek Crater
After an uneventful night in the tiny Halls Creek (well, mostly uneventful – one of the neighbouring houses was having a bit of a raucous party at one point and playing loud rap music, then another house shut them up by blasting Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and it was amazing), we took the long dirt road to Wolf Creek Crater. Wolf Creek Crater is the second largest meteorite crater in the world (after one in the US, I think). Although they “recommend” you don’t climb into the crater, we did anyways because Chris just HAD to stand in the center.
The highlight for him ended up being a small lizard he formed a symbiotic friendship with on the way, who seemed to enjoy sitting on Chris’s feet and eating the flies buzzing around. We stood there for a good while until Chris couldn’t take the sun beating down any more.
Geikie Gorge National Park
Our next camping stop was Fitroy Crossing, where we discovered that Geikie Gorge National Park was still open, even though they were no longer offering boat tours because there weren’t enough tourists around. The walks were all open, so we took a stroll along the gorge to see the ancient Devonian Reef that comprises the park.
We also got to drive over the Old Fitroy Crossing on the way out of the park, which was pretty fun as it had rained quite a bit the night before.
After that, we were on our way to Broome!