WEDNESDAY 4 JULY KUNUNURRA TO KURRAJONG CAMP, BUNGLES 310kms
We got up early, but did not get away from Kununurra as early as I’d hoped.
Because John had gotten mired down yesterday, in trying to sort out his technology stuff, things that should have been done yesterday – like tying down the roof rack contents – had not been done.
Then John had to call Telstra to get the new phone scenario sorted out. Today, they told him that the new phone could keep the old number, after all! Talk about left hand not knowing…..A new sim card would be sent to our home address. We did not, after all – and again contrary to previous advice – have to send either phone back to them.
There had been much angst and time wasted over the whole business. Note to self – in future, absolutely insist that any technology changes are done at home and well in advance of any planned travel!
We had to hitch up the packed van and tow it around to the Park’s storage area, which was beyond the waterfront unpowered camp area, but overlooked by some powered sites higher up. This part of the Park was securely fenced with a really high mesh wire fence, so I was reasonably content about the security of the van. I put on the Treg lock that stops the van being able to be hitched up. John sprayed our very powerful ant spray on the ground all around the perimeter of the van.
After all that, left town about 8.30am.
The highway west, then south, from Kununurra is such a scenic drive, with the stark red ranges always present – near or far. We had, of course, travelled this way last year.
Stopped at the roadhouse at Warmun – formerly Turkey Creek – to top up the fuel at this last available outlet, knowing that given our plans, we would need every drop! $1.60cpl.
The place was humming – I was surprised by how many travellers were here. I noted that they now had a fenced van storage area here, that looked well patronized. Still, for a long period like we were planning, I thought Kununurra was the best place to have left ours.
We travelled about 250kms on the highways, before turning onto the unsealed road into Purnululu National Park – the Spring Creek Track.
Not far along the track, we came to the Fletcher Creek crossing. This was nearly the end of our Bungles expedition! After all the rain, it was quite wide, with a noticeable current, and muddy brown in colour – obscuring any idea of the nature of the creek bed.
We joined other vehicles parked up, waiting to watch someone else drive it! Logic said that since the track was officially open, this crossing must be do-able, but it looked pretty marginal to me. Eventually, a vehicle appeared on the far side and headed towards us. He took a curving path and made it without mishap, though it became obvious that the creek bottom was very uneven as he tilted about. His vehicle only looked to be in about 60cm deep water – we could manage that. With its rubber matting floors, a little water ingress was not a big deal for Truck; the rear contents, the HF radio unit and the air compressor controller, were all some 10cm higher than the footwell level for us, as the floor was stepped.
So we ventured in – with us in the lead and M waiting till we got through, and watching the line we took. We must have crawled over some fairly large rocks under the water – certainly got up some distinct leaning! The rocky bed wasn’t firm, either – a couple of times it felt like we slipped sideways off rocks. But got through unscathed, as did M when she followed us. Funny how the angle of tilt feels so much greater when one is sitting in the vehicle, rather than just watching on…..
It was clear, despite our success, that this crossing was obviously deterring the majority of would-be campers. No one seemed to immediately follow us. Maybe our crossing looked as bad as it felt!
After that, the track was quite good – a pleasant surprise as it had a reputation for often being rough. We covered the 52kms from the highway in about 90 minutes, to the Ranger Station/Three Ways corner.
We decided to go to Kurrajong Camp area; the alternative – Walardi – was much closer to the helicopter base, with its attendant noise. It cost us $20 a night to camp (unpowered of course), plus an entry fee of $3. Because John was going to be out of camp, up at Picaninny Gorge, we were only charged a $15 camp fee for each of those nights! Not cheap, for a National Park!
We booked for a week in all. That would, we thought, allow us to visit all the special sites, do the walks, and for M and John to have their two nights away, and then recover afterwards, which I suspected would be needed.
At Kurrajong Camp, we set up in their designated generator section – wanting to be able to re-charge camera and laptop batteries, if needed. This area was large and pleasant and had hardly any other campers. Across the little creek, the non-generator, “quiet” area was quite crowded, and really not quiet at all. I think we may have stumbled on a useful campground strategy!
I wondered how many of the campers here were recent arrivals, and how many were still waiting for Fletcher Creek to go down before leaving, after a prolonged stay?
It was a pretty camp area, with the nearby range red in the afternoon sun. The little creek behind us was dry. The pit toilets were not too far to walk, were alright for their type, and there were water taps not far away.
It took us a while to set up our camps. Our big tent was relatively easy to put up, as these things go, and we had done it many times before, so knew what we were doing. But it did take time to unload the gear from Truck and set it up – like the plastic crates of foodstuffs, in the tent. Had to blow up the lilo we slept on – the Truck air compressor did that. Then I had to make that up with underblanket and sheets, and open up the sleeping bags that would be our top coverings.
The camp gas stove, outside tables and chairs were set up. The Chescold fridge was unloaded and placed in the shade of the tent, and its gas bottle attached and fridge lit.
Then we felt we’d earned a beer or two before cooking tea. So good to be out in the bush again.
It was a really dark night – no moon to speak of and no general urban light.
We were exhausted again and went to bed early.