WEDNESDAY 16 AUGUST KUNUNURRA TO OLD HALLS CREEK 399kms
We were up early and away from the park about 8.30.
Drove the rig to a refrigeration business in town, where John had arranged to have the van’s air-con checked. He wasn’t sure if it might need regassing, but they said it was ok. That cost $33.
We left Kununurra about 9.30am, heading west and south.
It was a pleasant drive on Highway 1, with varied changes of scenery to keep it interesting. It is spectacular and dramatic country – “true” Kimberley.
The road varied. It was good (and repaired) in parts. Other parts were narrower, a bit rough, and at times there were no white lines. There were quite a few single lane bridges, some with only very low cement kerb edges. Quite long, too, some of them. There did not seem to be much of a side margin for error, but I guessed they must be better than they looked, because road trains manage them.
We shared the driving.
Passed the turnoff into the Bungles National Park. We had been in there on our ’93 trip, so missing that, this time, was not too disappointing. Another for next year?
We had not before travelled the highway, south of the Bungles turnoff, so that was new road for us, between that and Fitzroy Crossing, well to the west.
We noted the track where we would have come out onto the highway, had we driven the Tableland Track. John reckoned what he could see of the country to the west of there looked interesting. Maybe next year, or the one after?
We stopped to have a look at the upper Ord River, where it was crossed by the highway. There was much evidence of the floods earlier in the year.
The highway went over on a low level causeway – obviously sometimes impassable in the wet season. The road surface had white river level markers painted on it to show how deep the water beyond would be.
Right now, it was a benign little trickle under the causeway – a total contrast with the huge, powerful river downstream of the Argyle Dam.
Reached the township of Halls Creek. We drove around to try to get a newspaper. It was not a pleasant looking town – there were many barricades on windows and doors, much graffiti about, groups of indigenes just sitting about.
We didn’t linger in Halls Creek, and were not tempted at all to stay in the town.
Took the Duncan Road to the south, heading for Old Halls Creek, some 16kms away.
John was not happy to find that the road was unsealed – dirt on his nice clean Truck!
It was a pretty drive out there. The road was not too rough.
Halls Creek settlement originally began out here, with the gold rush of the 1880’s. A prospector named Hall found gold near the Black Elvire River. The settlement that sprung up was by a tributary – Halls Creek. The rush was soon over, but for a few months, there were upwards of 15,000 people there.
The settlement battled on, servicing local pastoral runs, and what passing traffic there was. Water shortage was a problem in the dry season. It was abandoned, progressively, from 1948 to 1954, as the settlement was relocated to the present Halls Creek site, where the airstrip had been built in 1948, and the (gravel) highway rerouted to avoid the hills around the old site.
We booked into the caravan park at the Old Halls Creek Lodge, for $14 for a powered site.
The Lodge was a sizeable establishment, rather run down. It certainly needed some work. The managers had only been in place for two weeks. It was apparently built by a miner, possibly as a means of avoiding some tax, and he had put a lot into it. It could be really nice.
We found the camp ground really pleasant.
The original settlement remains consisted of a few ruins, street signs out in the long grass, plaques showing what was there. The buildings seemed to have been made from ant bed – or mud from termite mounds, so they hadn’t lasted all that well.
Halls Creek runs through the little valley. It is an attractive place.
We sat outside the van, which was parked up on a terraced level. We had good views of interesting hills around and we watched the antics of corellas having baths under a sprinkler – and ending up looking quite muddy.
I went for a walk around the ruins. John had a sleep.
A fellow camper (a prospector) lit a BBQ fire and invited us to share it, so I cooked potatoes and sweet corn cobs in foil on it. Very nice too.
There was no TV, of course, and the generator that powered the sites went off at 9pm. John played games on his laptop for a while. I had an early night.
It was lovely and quiet once the generator was off – no urban sounds out here.