This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels August 18-22

SATURDAY 18 AUGUST – WEDNESDAY 22 AUGUST     KUNUNURRA

On Saturday morning I walked to the shopping area to get a newspaper. Browsed some shops. Visited the Saturday markets and bought some grapefruit and tomatoes.

Kununurra has so many superb boab trees

While I was away, John washed Truck and appliedĀ  vinyl protectant to all the necessary places. Truck looked a different vehicle to the dusty, dirty one that had come in yesterday.

We washed the outside of the van – that was allowed, here.

The Sleeping Buddha across Lake Kununurra

M arrived from El Questro. She had done some walking and driving yesterday, but decided that she, too, was ready for a dose of “town”. They put her on a site that overlooked the lake – pleasant, but a bit of a distance away from us.

Seen by M when walking – python digesting dinner

Son phoned. He’d had a great day with the Darwin branch manager. They even went to a rodeo! He would be flying out on the red-eye later.

On Sunday we went out to the rock gallery on the Packsaddle Road. John had a chat with the owner, who said he would cut John a nice slab of the type of stripey zebra rock he likes. We were to go back on Wednesday to collect it. John had in mind to carve shallow bowl like pieces to become Xmas presents for the offspring.

I bought a bag of assorted rock pieces, for $20. I had in mind to try carving these myself – to make earrings, perhaps, or bead shapes.

M bought a carved stone wine bottle holder rack – very “different” but also quite heavy and awkward to store in her Troopy for the rest of the trip. She only realized that later….

The Weekend Australian came into town  on Sundays, so bought one of those and enjoyed a thorough catch up on national affairs. Yesterday’s WA paper was not the same…..

Kununurra – the contrast of the irrigated areas

Refuelled Truck – $152cpl.

On Monday, M and I walked to the shops, in the morning, and to the Post Office. Then we explored some streets, walking on our way to meet John at a yard that also had slabs of the local rock. I think we inadvertently took a really circuitous route!

John selected several pieces of the rock. More weight!

Later in the day, he went out and organized buying a new tyre for Truck, as replacement for the one that blew out on the way to El Questro.

Dusk over Lake Kununurra

On Tuesday, M left to go to Old Halls Creek, to explore, for a couple of days. That was another place we had already stayed at.

John was basically just happy filling in a few days here, before we could head directly for Broome. Bit boring. I’d have preferred to Have left yesterday or today, and maybe had a couple of days in Derby, instead, as we hadn’t been there since our 1993 trip, But John’s quest for rock complicated it all.

Two views of the old Ivanhoe Crossing, from the western side

On Wednesday we went back to the gallery to collect the cut slab. It was lovely. John was so impressed that he had a second one done, too, and we waited there for that. It cost $120 for both.

We did some preliminary packing up.


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2007 Travels June 12

TUESDAY 12 JUNE   VICTORIA RIVER R/H TO BULLITA CAMPGROUND   130kms

Today our destination was in the western section of the Gregory National Park. This is the second largest National Park in the NT, but was only declared less than twenty years ago. This larger section preserves some pastoral history of the region, but also has some special landscapes.

We drove about 80kms west on the Victoria Highway, then turned south onto the Bullita Track. This was unsealed, but reasonable going albeit a bit rough in spots. The creek crossings required some caution, sometimes being in little gullies.

There was one creek that surprised John by being deeper than it looked – we were not doing as we should have by checking and maybe walking crossings first. It was only a small creek, but about 3 foot deep! We made an enormous splash as we hit and ploughed on through – more by momentum than anything else. We were through before John had much of a chance to react. Didn’t seem to be any ill effects…. There was more than one good reason why M was content to follow us!

We were clearly back in boab country. These trees, with their weird shapes, are fascinating, and are just such an intrinsic part of the Kimberley experience.

After about 50kms, came to the Bullita camp ground.

This was a very pleasant, basic camping area, by the East Baines River, with a toilet and water tank. Camp spots were delineated by bollards. After finding it so pleasant, decided we’d need three nights here, and paid accordingly. Didn’t have quite the exact change needed, so put $20 in the envelope. Slight tip for the Ranger!

We set up where we had a fireplace and table. Also had a collection of fruit bats in the trees not far away – they were very noisy, but to us that was nice “bush” background sound. There was no one else here.

Bullita camp

The campground surrounds were reminiscent of our Safari Creek camp at Pungalina, in 2005. Similar climate and vegetation zones of course – the monsoon affected savanna grasslands and tropical riverine vegetation.

After setting up camp, we walked to the nearby stockyards and the former homestead.

Bullita

Bullita was once an outstation for the pioneering pastoral Durack family. It was never a stand alone property in its own right. Various important stock droving routes passed through what is now the National Park – some of them for moving stock between various Durack holdings.

The Bullita Homestead was not a grand old building in the pastoral traditions of the south. Rather, being a “back block” outstation, it was a glorified tin shed! It would have been a very hard life style here, even into the 1970’s. Actually, for the Park staff, it would be no picnic today, and they have more modern accommodations.

Of note, near the Homestead, was a big old boab tree, with a Durack name carved into it, and 82 – the question arises, was this 1882, or 1982?

The stock yards were interesting. John, of course, was interested in their construction. Bloodwood, found around here, was used, as was lancewood from further south, along  the Murranji Stock route. This was the timber commonly used for posts and uprights in these parts, and would have involved considerable effort to get it here.

The finished stockyard here was regarded as an exemplar for a drafting stockyard, where cattle were to be sorted into different categories.

An information board explained their layout and place in the pastoral saga of the area.

Totally strangely, and most incongruous, next to the stock yards, was a modern Telstra, solar powered, functioning telephone box!

Walked down to the point on the East Baines River, near our camp, where the Bullita Track crosses it. This was definitely not a river for swimming in – crocodiles in there, for sure. It is a feeder stream to the lower Victoria River.

East Baines River at Bullita

A couple of interesting 4WD tracks go out from where we were camped. The Bullita Track follows one of the old stock routes and then makes a circuit. The Humbert Track goes south and is a way through to the Buchanan Highway and Top Springs, or the Buntine Highway that runs between Top Springs and Halls Creek in WA.

On a different occasion, we would have been tempted to go day tripping, at least, on these, but all the 4WD tracks radiating out from Bullita were currently closed. The height of the river here might partly explain that. I hoped this might keep any yobbo type 4WDers away, whilst we were here.

It was lovely sitting around our campfire again at night. It was so quiet here – just the nocturnal critter sounds one would expect in such a place – and the occasional louder “plop” that one hoped was only a large fish.

At dusk, the bats departed  for their evening of feeding.

All was very well with our world!