This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels July 23


Made sure we got an early start today. The plan was to walk to the Upper Manning Gorge, with its Manning Falls. We wanted to get started on that before the day got too hot.

The walk track was on the far side of the river from the camp ground. We had two choices to reach it. We could swim across the waterhole, pushing styrene boxes, containing our clothes and gear, ahead of us. Or we could take a detour around the end of the waterhole, and do some rock hopping in marshy bits, and across some swampy sections – wet feet probable. This was what we chose to do – I was very reluctant to risk my camera by swimming across, for starters.

The swim route – from the far side, looking back to the campground

The walk to the falls was almost 3kms, each way. It was quite well marked – better than in ’93, when we had to hunt for the occasional tin can stuck on trees to show the way. It took a rather direct line, across a low ridge, rather than follow the longer, winding river course.

Walk track to Manning Falls

It was, though, not an easy walk. There were a lot of short up and down sections, the going was rocky and one had to carefully watch their footing. It was also open and exposed for most of the way.

Eventually, the track went down a small cliff – a scrambly descent back to the river. The Falls were not far, then. A very welcome – and beautiful – sight they were, too.

Manning Falls

There was a considerable amount of water coming over the falls.

There were some other people there when we arrived – not of the rowdy, show-off variety though. They eventually left, and we had the place to ourselves, which was lovely.

M and John rock-hopped and climbed to the top of the falls, to see what the views were from there, and to see what was beyond. They explored back up the river for a short way.

I wandered about taking photos, and eventually sat on a rock and soaked my sore heel in the cool water, waiting for the others to return. I debated whether to go for a swim in the very attractive pool under the falls- either in my clothes or stripped to my underwear. In the end, I just couldn’t be bothered. It was nicer sitting on my rock, listening to the sound of the falling water – almost meditative.

Looking downstream. The ridge the track comes down is back left

When M and John made their way back to my level, they didn’t want to swim, either.

We had intended for this to be a morning walk only, so after a couple of hours in the falls area, started back to camp.

Gotta go up there….
The way back…

The walk back was hard. The initial steep climb back up the cliff was a draining way to start back. The heat of the middle of the day, reflecting off the bare rock surfaces, made walking a chore. It was becoming very dreary by the time we started down the gentle incline to the camp waterhole. My heel was really hurting, and I’d turned my oft-sprained ankle again. Of course, the heel and the ankle were different legs, so I was doubly lamed.

M and John had obviously had enough, because they decided to take the easy way back and swim the waterhole. John was rather in two minds, because he does not like deep water, but still opted for it. I said I would take everyone’s cameras safely around the long way. I certainly didn’t fancy stripping to my undies in front of a campground audience!

M took the lead – and the styrene box of clothes – and John followed.

Elegant – not!

There was a rock outcrop almost in the middle of the waterhole, which broke the swim into two sections. John was happier when he’d reached that far.

Always an audience when it is least needed……

I waited to photograph the intrepid swimmers, before commencing my trudge back around the long way. So I arrived back at camp a little while after the others.

On the walk back, we had passed a couple of tour groups walking up to the falls – over twenty people in all – so once again we had been lucky with our timing.

Lunch was very late. We sat round, reading, for the rest of the afternoon and watching the crow display. The background noise of crow calls was ongoing, but pleasant.

Passed another enjoyable evening round our campfire. Being really comfortable in each others’ company helps.

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2007 Travels July 22


After getting going at a respectable hour, we drove back west along the Gibb, to Galvans Gorge, some 14kms from the Roadhouse. We’d passed the turn off yesterday, but had wanted to push on and get camp set up, before the afternoon rush arrived. Today, we were in the mood to linger…..

From the carpark, we had a walk of just over a km to the Gorge. Like the streams at Charnley River, the one here runs into the NW flowing Isdell River. Yet, just up the road where we were camped, the Manning River water ends up in the Fitzroy system, to the SW.

The walk, along a narrow track, mostly beside a creek, was pretty in its own right. The creek formed a series of little pools, where water lilies grew.

Walking track to Galvans Gorge

The Gorge itself was scenic, with a plunge pool beneath a water drop large enough to be called a  waterfall, rather than rapids.

Galvans Gorge

However, I thought we had been spoiled by our recent experiences, by having lovely places largely to ourselves. Here, there were maybe a dozen other visitors, mostly of the younger, backpacker variety, and the peace of the place was disturbed by the loud yells of those who were climbing up the Gorge walls and jumping off into the pool below. What is it about these types of people that they can’t just peacefully swim, without all the “look at big, brave me” behaviour? Gosh I was becoming a Grinch.

In the way of such visitors, we did not have to wait all that long for them to have been, seen, and then left for the next sight. So I was then able to get some photos and we could enjoy the place to ourselves for a little while.

Adcock Gorge, approximately 20kms further west again, was supposed to be even nicer than Galvans Gorge, but access to it was closed. It was on Mt House Station land, and the owner was fed up with the behaviour of previous visitors. I remember that, on one of our previous visits, despite the clear No Camping signs at both Galvans and Adcock Gorges, a large group had set up camp at Adcock Gorge, then had the effrontery to complain that the mustering activities of station staff were affecting their camp – and proceeded to try to interfere with the muster! It was after that episode that access was closed to all. Familiar story of the selfish few spoiling it for the majority who try to do the right thing. Though I had to say that the selfish few seemed to be in disproportionate numbers in the Kimberley, these days.

Gorge wall, Galvans Gorge

On the way back to camp, stopped at the Roadhouse. M and I’d had the foresight to take  a washing basket full of our dirty sheets and towels along with us. We put the load through the public access washing machine at the Roadhouse – the $2 charge was reasonable, we thought. Waited for the load to be done, then rigged up a line back at camp to dry these on. I did some other, smaller item, washing, too, in the plastic wash bowl, and hung that out too.

We’d also done some wood gathering on the drive back. Hadn’t done that since we were back at Keep River!

Had a lazy afternoon around camp. The local entertainment was watching the crows investigating around any camps where the people were absent. The Mt Barnett crows had definitely not lost their touch at “doing over” anything accessible that just might contain something edible. On our first stay here, in ’93, we’d watched this happening in the morning, as soon as campers departed to sightsee. I had put all food away in our vehicle, before we went off to walk. But I left out a plastic crate containing inedibles like a roll of tinfoil, mosquito coils, dishwashing sponge and green pot scourers, not thinking the marauding crows would have any interest in those. Believe me, it takes a long time to pick up 10 metres of tinfoil, in tiny pieces, spread over a wide area of campground!

We discussed whether this was an inherited, genetic, trait in these crows, or was a learned ability. We had done a lot of camping in places with crows, but had never seen such thorough and determined raiders anywhere else!

I went to the waterhole for a swim. Figured that if I had to venture into cold water, I would enjoy it more that way, than in a cold shower. It was one hell of a shock to the system, initially, but very pleasant once I acclimatized. M watched on from the bank. Coward!

It was really pleasant to have a night time camp fire again, and to sit around same, after tea, watching the stars and passing satellites.

The  lamp was still not working properly. It wasn’t fuel shortage this time. I wondered whether John had put it back together properly, at Mornington?

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2007 Travels July 21


We were packed up and away from the Charnley camp in good time.

Traversed the 40-something kms back to the Gibb – cautiously. Then, east on the Gibb, it was 50kms to the Kupingarri Community, set back a little distance from the road.

The Gibb River Road was so good, these days, compared to what it was like in the early 90’s. The drivers doing stupid things, mentioned earlier, were far more of a hazard than anything the road presented!

Mt Barnett Roadhouse was the community store for Kupingarri, and also served the needs of travellers. I suspected just about every Gibb traveller called in here – for fuel, supplies, some to pay the camp fees for the Manning Gorge camp ground, accessed from here.

We refuelled Truck – $1.94cpl. Did some shopping at the store – csabai sausage, frozen chicken drumsticks, sausages, peanut butter, a couple of apples – at $1 each!

At the public phone, I called son. He seemed alright.

Booked into the campground – for $12.50 a person; unpowered of course. Then it was through the gate to drive the 7kms down the track to the large campground by the Manning River.

I think most people who drive the Gibb stay here, even if they don’t do the walk to the Gorge. It was a pleasant place in its own right, by a lovely large pool in the river – safe, albeit freezing, swimming.

A new amenities block had recently been built in the camp ground – with flushing toilets and cold (very cold) showers. We were told that the community had hired new, non-indigenous managers, so I hoped the standard of upkeep would be more consistent than we’d found on previous visits, and heard some horror stories about.

We found a good place to set up camp – away from the foot and vehicle traffic, and more crowded spots by the river.

Camp at Manning Gorge Campground

This was such a scenic place, with a number of really large boabs scattered about, and plenty of other shade trees. Wet season floods caused some changes from year to year. Now, there was lots of sand alongside the river, dumped by the big floods of earlier in the year. One day, they’d had about 170mm of rain in a few hours, and the rivers came up, big time.

The waterhole by camp, on the Manning River

After we’d set up the camp, John went back to the Roadhouse with the wheel he’d taken off at Charnley. He was able to get a new tube, and got the old one patched – in case it was needed further on. There was just a little rubbed patch on the tube, again. The fact that this had happened now on both left hand side wheels was suggestive – maybe confirming the idea that it was a big boulder run over in the Fletcher Creek that caused the problems.

The tyre work cost $70.

Waterhole by camp

Went for a wander around the campground and environs, taking photos.

Our day’s route marked on map from Derby Visitor Centre