WEDNESDAY 12 JULY WYNDHAM
We decided that, since we are here, we will spend a couple of days doing the touristy things.
Today was cloudy, hazy, but hot. Wyndham does battle with Marble Bar for recognition as WA’s hottest town, it seems. Wyndham claims to have the highest consistent average temperatures.
We drove to the original, old town, port area and looked around it. The town is strung out on pockets of land between tidal salt flats, and squashed by the steep rise of the Bastion Range behind it. It is dislocated, and more like two nearby townships – the Old Town and the Three Mile which is the newer – and nicer – part.
After the early gold rush petered out, the little port serviced the needs of the big pastoral holdings of pioneers like the Durack family. In 1919 the meatworks opened, so beef was exported, but this closed in 1985. For a while, after WW2, beef was frozen here and flown to Britain – the Air Beef Scheme. I remember learning about this at school, in the 1950’s! These days, live cattle are exported from Wyndham.
The old town seems pretty decrepit now. The old meatworks buildings are run down.
Signs near the meatworks warn of the dangers of crocodiles. Apparently, in the meatworks days, the crocs were well fed by the discharge of blood and offal into the sea here – and crocs have long memories, it seems, and still hang about that area!
There is a new bulk fertilizer storage facility at the wharf area, and they are working on wharf upkeep.
We walked out on the wharf and looked at life on the mudflats exposed by the tide – there was a heron feeding, mud skippers, crabs and the like. Quite busy there, and quite engrossing.
There had been a load of cattle shipped out yesterday.
We then drove up The Bastion, the big peak behind the town, to see the outlook from the top. The road rose steeply, and twisted around, giving some rather good views as we went.
Five rivers empty into the Cambridge Gulf – the Durack, Pentecost and King, south of Wyndham, and the Forrest and Ord to the north. We have been by the Ord River already; will ford the Pentecost, Durack and King Rivers on the Gibb River Road. The Forrest River is the only one we will not encounter, in the remote country to the NW of Wyndham.
The view from the Bastion was very “different” – out over the salt flats and the Gulf. And very impressive. The smoke haze make the colours interesting too.
Drove back down again, and went to the Three Mile Valley, where there was a walking track along a creek, but we did not feel like walking in the heat, so just looked at the area and went back to camp for lunch.
After that, drove out to Marlgu Billabong, in the Parry Creek Wetlands Reserve. We took the highway back out of Wyndham for a little way, then turned back to the east. It was a great drive, some of it over dirt roads. The bird life was superb, and we had no trouble watching birds for a couple of hours. The late afternoon light on the lagoon was just beautiful.
Then it was back to camp for tea of sausages and vegies.
Again, I had nightmares about the van – it being ransacked and destroyed – and got very little sleep. I just have a really bad feeling about this.