Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Windjana Gorge

We got up early to head further west, not really knowing where our next stop would be. We stopped briefly at Hall's Creek, and called in at the bakery that someone had reccommended to us. I had a delicious pastry, but Randall, who is very hard to please when it comes to pies and pasties, was disappointed with his pastie. We kept on going towards Fitzroy Crossing, a place I had often heard about. The Fitroy River was very pretty, but the town was only small, and not all that appealing for staying the night, so we filled up with diesel and decided to stay at Windjana Gorge, north of the main highway. It was a gravel road for 90 kilometres, but the sign said "open to all vehicles", so we taped up the fridge and the side windows and headed in.
The first part was pretty awful with dreadful corrugations, so we went carefully along, but the road improved and it was not so bad, and we made it safely to Windjana Gorge with everything in tact.
We set up camp and settled in for the evening.

The campsite setting is quite nice and the rocks towering over us were very impressive.

The next morning we took a walk into the gorge to check it out. We were amazed to see heaps of freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves by the water's edge. This was our first experience of seeing crocodiles up close without being on a cruise. We were both very impressed.

The gorge was lovely and even had some fossils to look at, so we were very glad we had come.
In the afternoon we drove back along the road, gritting our teeth, to look at Tunnel Creek, as we had passed it on our way in, but it was too late to stop.
Tunnel Creek is a creek that runs along inside the Leopold Ranges. We came armed with torches and our bathers as apparently you have to wade through a fair bit to get to the other end. As we headed into the darkness, Randall was a bit apprehensive, as he is uncomfortable being underground, and he decided he'd seen enough and we headed back outside. Outside a tour group of 'older' people were coming in, and Randall decided he would not be beaten by some oldies, so we turned around and went back in.
It was a bit creepy and eery seeing torchlites of people heading towards us, but I'm glad that we did it.

We were glad to get through to the other end, but the water was not all that inviting - a bit slimy so we didn't go for a swim.

We both were glad that we went through Tunnel Creek, but we were glad to come out at the other end into daylight!!
Even though we were a bit gorged out, Randall had read about a place called Bell Gorge, which was about 130kms from our campsite at Windjana. We had the option of towing the van there, or just making it a day trip. In the end we made it a day trip and we were pleased we did as there were a few river crossings the van might not have coped well in! We stopped to get fuel at a roadhouse, and nearly died at the price, but had to get it anyway!

We then drove into Bell Gorge, which had a lovely swimming hole. We hadn't been able to have a swim since El Questro, so it was wonderful to swim in the fresh water again. Bell Gorge is very pretty and as usual there were quite a lot of people there.

We had a lovely time there, then stopped off for a late lunch at a nice picnic spot. We were very glad we made the effort to see the gorge, and Randall was happy that he could say he drove along the Gibb River Road. It was much better than expected, but we were glad that we didn't take the van with us. It was nice to arrive back 'home' after a big day and just relax and enjoy the peacefulness of it all.

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