This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels August 26


It was very damp in the mornings, here. Sea mist or dew? There was much condensation under the awning roof, which dripped copiously on the table and anyone trying to use same, for several hours in the mornings.

John had organized that we three would, in the morning, play Scroungers bowls at the Broome Bowls Club. It was pleasant enough. They started early, to avoid the heat, so there was still plenty of the day left, after.

After that, we went to the markets in China Town. Didn’t think much of these. Yesterday’s Courthouse Markets were far superior.

I had a quick browse in a beading shop in China Town. They had some lovely materials – very tempting, but I resisted.

China Town – John being bored while I browse shops….

We had a Subway lunch at the Paspaley shopping centre – named for the family that is synonymous with the pearling industry in northern Australia.

We found a brilliant art gallery in that area.  It carried a lot of works from local indigenous artists, as well as the general run of items geared to tourist interest. I bought a wonderful painting by Melissa Waina, from Kalumburu. It was black Bradshaw type figures on a red brown background. Very effective and “different”. Her father, Kevin Waina, was also a talented artist.

M bought one of Melissa’s works too. A bit smaller than ours – and cheaper too! She bought a soft toy blue heeler dog, for a friend. M already travelled with a similar kelpie toy sitting on her passenger seat.

I went for an afternoon walk on Cable Beach.

There were bad bush fires around Broome – lots of smoke obscuring the sunsets. Apparently the worst of these was a control burn that got away! Red faces somewhere!

We had tea from Zanders take away at Cable Beach. We walked there from the caravan park. It was quite a wait for our order, but M and John’s fish and chips were excellent, as was my calamari and chips.

It was lovely to sit on the foreshore, eating tea and watching the evening light on the sea.

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2007 Travels August 25


I went for an early morning walk on Cable Beach. It might be legendary and all that, but it is really just another beach. We have seen better. It does have vivid sunsets, and it does have camel rides, but…..

Cable Beach

Whilst walking I got chatting with another walker, a lady from Melbourne who was staying at the Resort for a long weekend. Nice to have the life of some people……

At least, out here, there did not seem to be the groups of alcohol affected, yelling, fighting indigines that were so evident in the town areas, especially at night. From our past experiences here, early morning walking in town would involve picking one’s way through much broken glass and other rubbish, including that originating in the human body!

We went to the Courthouse Markets – along with a lot of other people. The atmosphere there was quite festive and very tropical. The stalls are set up in the gardens surrounding the old Broome Court House, as the name suggests, under lots of beautiful old shady trees.

Some of the stalls here were of a much higher quality than is often found at weekend markets. There were some very good jewellery stalls with unusual, local-related items. I bought pearly shell pendants for the three daughters, and unusual dichroic glass pendants for daughter’s partner, and myself. These were done in shades of vivid blue and red-browns, so evocative of the colours of Broome.

Bought a lovely smelling bath soaps pack for the errant daughter in law – in case a Xmas gift for her would be needed.

Another stall had items based on satellite photographs of Kimberley places and a few others of interest. (This was before the era of Google Earth, Zoom etc). I was really taken with a satellite image of the Kimberley, mounted on a lightweight board. It cost $90. but I thought it would be a real talking point at home, and illustrative of the area we had travelled this year. The detail was great. That whole northern Kimberley actually looked much more rugged on the satellite photo than it did, travelling it on the ground!

The same stall had a magnet with a sat photo of Antarctica. It looked like a slightly convoluted pearly shell – most unusual, so I had to have that too.

We bought lunch at the markets where there was a good range of “ethnic” food choices.

Also bought fresh vegetable and some fruit there – excellent quality.

We drove to the town shops, because it was where I could buy the Weekend Australian. Got sidetracked, first, by a stall that was selling floor rugs and bought a small one for the van, to go in front of the bed to help prevent the sand and grit from these ungrassed sites, that was finding its way into the bed.

Roebuck Bay at low tide

Refuelled Truck – $1.44cpl.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at camp, reading the paper.

Our not-so-spacious site at Broome
Cable Beach again

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2007 Travels August 24


Managed a reasonably early start, having been able to stay hitched up.

Refuelled – $1.44cpl.

Fitzroy River from bridge at Fitzroy Crossing. Caravan Park on right

Checked out the free camp area at Ellendale as we passed, but of course M was long gone – although we did wonder if her plans had worked out as intended, and she had even been there. Won’t know till we get to Broome…..

Today’s drive was less interesting than that of yesterday – no dramatic scenery of distant and near ranges.

The only points to note, amid the dry and dusty grass and scrubland, were the crossings of the impressive Fitzroy River – at Fitzroy Crossing and again at Willare Bridge, closer to Broome.

Fitzroy River from Willare Bridge

At this time of year, the river was a small flow in the huge river bed. It was hard to believe how high and raging it could become in flood times. In 1993, I’d bought a postcard of the caravan park where we’d stayed last night – with only the elevated amenity block showing amid the floodwaters from the river.

The Willare Bridge was one of the long, single lane bridges that feature in this part of WA. Again, it was hard to credit that, at times, Highway 1 could be closed here by the river in flood.

Willare Bridge (Google)

We reached the Palm Grove Caravan Park, at Cable Beach, Broome, about midday.

M was already there, of course. From her overnight stop at Ellendale, she’d had a good head start on us. She had found Old Halls Creek and its surrounding area, interesting, and worth the visit. But she had driven out to explore some of the area and at Caroline Pool had felt quite intimidated by a group of locals who told her white fellas weren’t welcome there. She didn’t stay round to argue the point.

The caravan park sites were on the small side, gravelled, but adequate. The amenities were reasonably modern, and clean. It was not the most upmarket park we’d stayed in, by any means, and really didn’t justify the $255 we paid for the mandated week’s stay. But, hey, that’s Broome.

M’s site was across the access road from ours, so at least that was convenient.

We heard that two of the Cable Beach caravan parks, including this one, had been sold, to be turned into resort units. That would put the squeeze on caravanners to Broome, even more. It was really hard to find a vacancy in a caravan park here, in the winter months. The overflow area used at this time of the year, at a gun club, was even hard to get into. It is one of those areas that poses real dilemmas for accommodation providers: in the winter months, a few more caravan parks could be easily filled, but for the rest of the year there would be insufficient patronage to be viable.

We set up, then went to the Information Centre in town, to see what we could suss out.

When I say, in town, it is because Cable Beach and the main Broome town were separated by a few kms  of scrub and industrial land. The original town of Broome, and the modern one that has grown up around it, is located on a peninsula that juts into Roebuck Bay. The much more recent development of Cable Beach is located on the other side of this peninsula, facing out into the Indian Ocean.

Broome and Cable Beach (Google)

We drove around the town, looking at the changes since we were last here in 2000. There had been a lot of development and building since then. Broome seemed to be really booming – we thought this might be due to the offshore oil and gas developments. Even Cable Beach seemed to be growing rapidly – and not only tourist resort development, but housing as well.

For our Friday fish and chip dinner, we walked from the caravan park, a few hundred metres, to a van parked overlooking Cable Beach, which did a roaring trade in take away food. The prices were reasonable, the food excellent. It was very pleasant, sitting looking out over the ocean, eating our dinner. Great to be by the sea again!

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2007 Travels August 23


We were away at 7.40am, for what we knew would be a long day of driving.

Rest area at the junction of Highway 1 and the road to Wyndham (Google)

It was, of course, going over the same stretch of road that we had driven a few weeks ago, last year, and a couple of times before that.  But the first part was very scenic, so it was not boring at all.

This time, there was diesel at Halls Creek! We refuelled – $1.45cpl.

We had intended to meet up with M again at the Ellendale free camp area, some 90kms beyond Fitzroy Crossing. But we had both had enough by the time we reached Fitzroy Crossing, so called in to the caravan park there, to see what was available.

They offered us a powered site in an ad hoc section away from their main caravan area. It was shady and reasonably pleasant. They were setting up to host some sort of large safari or rally, tomorrow, and so had been clearing out most of their powered sites for that. We paid $27 for the night.

Caravan park by the wide, sandy bed of the Fitzroy River. We were amid the trees on the upper RHS. (Google)

Just did a basic overnight set up. Because of where we were, we were able to stay hooked up, too.

In the cool of the late afternoon, wandered around the park – quite a pleasant way to stretch the legs after the long driving day.

A beautifully presented bower

Enjoyed a long shower in their good amenity block. Definitely better than the free camp would have been! We slept very well after the tiring day.

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2007 Travels August 18-22


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 applied  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.


2007 Travels August 17


We had an early start.

Son left about 7am. In a later phone call, he reported that he reached Darwin just on dark, and that it had rained from Katherine onwards.

The final pack up…..

His visit to the Kimberley was all too short, sadly, but hopefully that tiny sample would give him the motivation to return here, before too much longer.

We did the LAST tent pack up of this trip. Actually, part of me was quite looking forward to getting back to the van, too. It was coming into the hotter, dustier time of year in the Kimberley – always more noticeable in a tent.

After a rather routine leg, we got into the caravan park at Kununurra just after 10am. This time, we were allocated a lovely, big, shady, proper caravan site. $26 per night.

Drove down to the storage area to retrieve the van and put it on site. Discovered that it had, in fact, been moved by the fire brigade. Seems part of their response to the bushfire that K and I had seen, was to do a back burn. This then got into the big compost heap and area of reeds near the van storage area, and was more of a threat than the original fire had been!

They had parked the van on a slope, with the jockey wheel in a big rut. Not a great combination with a Treg hitch! The handbrake had to stay on. The rut meant I couldn’t wiggle the van sideways to help line it up with the hitch. John couldn’t manage to get it exactly lined up. So he got us to swap, with him directing and me driving. We still couldn’t get it right. Eventually, he lost his temper and started yelling at me, whereupon a very nice man from a nearby camper trailer rig came over and helped me manhandle the van onto the coupling.

The van smelled really strongly of smoke, inside. Not pleasant.

We spent much of the rest of the day unpacking and putting things away and back into travel-with-van mode. Cleaned truck inside as we did so. Got it all done, but overall it was a hard day’s work.

Starting to set up the van on site at Kununurra

Drove to the Post Office and collected a bag of mail, that contained little of note. There were two books on building pizza/bread ovens, that John had ordered before we left here. There was also a bill for physio treatment I’d had on ankle, way back before we came away. Apparently my doctor hadn’t properly submitted a form that would have given me five free physio visits, so they had to bill me. So, back at the van, I wrote a note to doctor, asking if it could be remedied. I also phoned our accountant and made an appointment to see them about our tax returns, in late October.

Visited the supermarket to stock up on luxuries like fresh milk, and bread……and salad and fresh fruit……

The business of the normal world intrudes!

We celebrated – though that was probably not the right word – our return to civilization, by having fish and chips for tea.

TV again, for John. I did appreciate the decent mattress again, and not having to get down on all fours to get into bed. Or assistance to stand up out of bed. The aging knees don’t have the spring they once had – the plastic crates containing our food, in the tent, had more than one function….

It had been a great circuit through some of the more remote parts of the Kimberley – a good mix of revisiting some favourite parts we don’t tire of, and discovering some new places. We had, in fact, only been away from the van for a tad over six weeks – it felt longer. Had it not been for the timing of son’s visit, though, we probably would have been out there for another couple of weeks.

El Questro to Kununurra (Google)

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2007 Travels August 16(2)


After a rather late lunch and a bit of pottering about, we drove off to go to the jetty from where the Chamberlain Gorge boat trip would depart at 3pm.

El Questro is a working cattle station of some three quarters of a million acres. Back in the early 90’s it was bought, as a very run down and uneconomic cattle operation, by a young couple from Melbourne. They began to develop tourist facilities – initially the Village and  campground and a very up-market house. This was built beside the Chamberlain River, a branch of the Pentecost, and partly cantilevered out over it. The cost to stay there – with all services – was an eye watering amount, and some very prominent people have availed themselves of its privacy and uniqueness.

ElQ was sold to a large scale tourism operator – GPT – in 2005. It had come a long way in just the 16 years since inception to now. Some visitors make the criticism that it is too “commercial”, but my own view is that there is a place in the Kimberley – and similar environments – for a range of visitor offerings.

The drive to the boat jetty took us near the big house, but it was tucked away in its privacy down its No Access track.

The boat was quite large, flat bottomed, with a canopy roof for shade. We only puttered along, with the driver doing a commentary most of the way. We were, as the name indicated, on the Chamberlain River, which joined the Pentecost just downstream from the jetty, past the big house.

Chamberlain Gorge ahead

At one point a group of archer fish came to the boat – obviously used to doing so, and there were some large catfish amongst them too.

The waterhole in the river into the Chamberlain Gorge, is only about 3kms long.

The later afternoon light showed off the Gorge at its best

Close to the Gorge end, where the river clearly was becoming more shallow, the boat pulled into the side and we were able to disembark onto a large rock platform at the cliff base.

End of the waterhole in the Gorge

Here, the ripple rock formations were evidence of the sedimentary nature of the rock and its  origins under lakes or shallow seas.

Sedimentary ripple rock

I really liked that we had been able to get out and do a walk around for about 15 minutes here.

Rock shelf where we could walk around

On the return journey, we were provided with a glass of bubbly and platters of fresh fruits were passed around. Very nice.

The trip took about two and a half hours, It was well worth doing and value for the $40 each that it cost. The commentary was excellent and the scenery wonderful. It was evident that the Gorge continued much further than was navigable. According to the property map, it was possible to access places further up, via the 4WD Explosion Track.

Chamberlain Gorge continued well beyond the end of the waterhole….

Although it was getting late and the light was fading a bit, we drove up to Branco’s Lookout.

This involved crossing the Pentecost – or one of its channels – then quite a steep little climb up a 4WD track to the lookout point. I went with M, so son could travel with John, who thought he might be able to impart some 4WD techniques to the lad.

The views from the top were worth the effort to get up there.

Branco’s Lookout
Continuation to left from previous pic, showing the rugged range country of ElQ

We could, in the distance, see the big house, on a bend in the river.

Using zoom lens, the big house by the river

After we got back to camp, son went off to the Village, to make phone calls.

It was our last night here. Son had to leave tomorrow, to do the drive back to Darwin, then the flight to Melbourne, to be back at work on Monday. I would not have minded staying on here for another couple of days, to see a few more of the sights of the place, and do more walking, but John really wanted the comforts of the van again – proper bed, and his ever-present TV! M decided she would stay here longer, though.

It was our last night’s campfire. Just before tea I discovered, to my horror, that the old basket that had travelled with us since 1997, on the back seat of Truck, usually holding our thermos and lunch making needs, was borer or bug infested. It was absolutely riddled with little holes in the cane. It was some little piles of sawdust that alerted me to it, when I’d moved the basket, so the bugs were obviously active. It had a ceremonial cremation on the campfire.

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2007 Travels August 16


John was up at a reasonable time, so we all got a good start to go and do the walk to Amalia Gorge and Falls.

We had to drive back through the ford to the parking point about 7kms from the Village.

It was a really scenic and interesting walk of 3.4kms return. The printed description warned that it was of moderate difficulty, for fit people who did not get vertigo!

One certainly did need to be sure footed to tackle this track! This was obvious from the outset, when the track followed a rocky creek bed.

Rocky going underfoot

We could see high cliffs and hillsides ahead of us.

The track crossed the creek a few times.

Creek crossing here – wet feet unavoidable

 The creek was flowing. In places it widened into lovely small pools which reflected the gorge walls and surrounds. As was usual up north, there were paperbarks growing along the creek.

Reflections in the clear water

Soon, the valley walls closed in and we were into the Gorge.

There were sections where the Gorge was narrow, the creek was deeper, and we had to make our way over water smoothed rock slabs.

The way ahead – over the rock sheets

In other places we were almost rock climbing, rather than walking. It was rather slow going.

There were a couple of places that were a bit squeezy, and one manoeuvre around an overhang above the creek that was not at all pleasant.

Part way round a squeezy point…..

After quite a lot of this clambering and scrambling, we came to the 32 metre high Amalia Falls, with its large plunge pool below.

Amalia Falls

This end part of the Gorge was well shaded, cool, tranquil.

The plunge pool had vegetation growing around, wherever it could find a spot to put down roots.

Tree roots using cracks in the rock wall

There was only a steady trickle of water coming over the Falls. Like so many of these that we had seen through the Kimberley, in the Wet season, it would be really spectacular. Not that one would be able to walk in here then, to view it. The smoothed rocks that we’d encountered on the way in were testament to large flows in the creek, at times.

M and K went swimming in the plunge pool. It would have been a good 75 metres across, from where the track arrived, to the ledges at the base of the Falls.

They said the water was very cold.

I wandered about, taking photos and finding things of interest growing around the pool, and just sitting resting and enjoying the place. It had been well worth the effort to get here.

The walk back was no easier, but at least we knew what was coming. As is so often the case, this made the return walk seem shorter.

The trickiest part of the walk

I noticed vistas and details not seen on the way in.

Heading back out of the Gorge

The Amalia Gorge walk was listed as 3.7kms, return. In some ways it seemed longer because of the nature of the trail.

Track skirted pool and went through the gap….

However, it had been an excellent walk that we all thoroughly enjoyed. M and K said it was a totally different experience to the Champagne Springs walk they had done yesterday and, they thought, more enjoyable.

On the drive back to camp, called in at the Village and bought cans of cold drinks.

We had already booked ourselves onto a boat trip this afternoon, so it was lunch at camp and go again. After a somewhat leisurely start to the time here, we were now intent on packing experiences into today.

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2007 Travels August 15


Last night, we had all planned to do the Champagne Springs walk this morning, before it got too hot. However, John did not wake up in time – he had a real sleep in – so son and M went off without us.

ElQ locations – from map supplied when we booked in

In the late morning, when John was eventually ready, he and I went up to the Village. We browsed in the souvenir shop there, looked at the work done by an artist in residence they had, and had an ice cream. I bought an Australian fauna colouring book for grand daughter.

Son and M came back from their walk while we were there, saw our Truck and stopped off too. They had enjoyed the Chanpagne Springs walk – bit of a warm up for a harder one tomorrow.

We sat and people watched for a while. It was a really pleasant atmosphere there, in the shady green, so much of a contrast to some other places we had been.

The very pleasant Happy Hour venue at the Village

The two hire motorhomes must have gone out this morning to do some sight seeing, because they came back, through the ford, while we were there. When they pulled up, one had a fair sized rock wedged between his dual back wheels, and was trying to work out what to do about it. Noted by son!

After lunch at camp, John and son drove into Kununurra. Son had to make contact with work, and was also intending to follow up on the two motorhomes. I think John appreciated being a passenger and getting the chance to look around that, as driver, he did not normally get.

Son reported to us that the motorhomes had been hired in Perth, for 21 days and were to be dropped off in Alice Springs. Surprise, guys!

ElQ camp

We had Happy Hour at the Village again, followed by time around the camp fire.

Late afternoon reflections in the river by camp

Son had a toothache and was a bit down because of it.

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2007 Travels August 14


After breakfast, son had a last – unsuccessful – fishing session while John and I did a slow pack up. We then headed off to destination El Questro, with son taking the lead and, after the Pentecost crossing, disappearing into the distance.

Pentecost River and Cockburn Range

Between the Pentecost and the turn off to El Questro, the old and very bald tyre on the driver’s rear side, that had been our spare before the most recent wheel change, went flat. It had done a heroic job and, at least, it died in service. John had not expected it to last nearly as long as it had.

So, we did a wheel change. We were already mobile again by the time son came back, from ahead of us, to see where we had gotten to.

The track into El Questro was in quite good condition. The quite long ford of the Pentecost, just before the entrance gate, was about 40cm deep, at its deepest point.

Pentecost ford at El Questro

ElQ was a very groomed and smooth operation now, and very much on the beaten tourist trail, with day tripper groups being brought by mini bus out from Kununurra.

M had gotten the Kingfisher private site, number 11 – up high, looking down on the river, with good room for all three of our rigs. It was an alright site, but with not much shade. This was a contrast to the site we’d had on our last visit here, which was right down at the river level, in a grove of trees and pandanus. But I thought that, given the popularity of the place, we had been lucky to get one of these sites at all.

Looking into our camp clearing

There was a pit toilet within walking distance, too, which we shared with the next camp site, which we could not see or hear from ours.

The walking track to the toilet

ElQ was not cheap: $15 each for entry to the place, and $15 a head, per night, to camp. However, given the quality of their facilities, the infrastructure they have to maintain, especially the internal tracks, I thought those fees were fair enough. They did provide a variety of activities for guests to do, too.

We set up camp, had lunch, explored around the immediate camp area.

Two aspects of the river beside our camp area

Took our shower gear and drove back to the Village, to have showers. There was a row of little single person ensuite style bathroom units – modern, clean, with hot water! I couldn’t remember the last time I had a warm water shower – long time ago!

Row of little bathroom units at the ElQ Village

Then we found ourselves a table on the groomed lawn area in front of the bar and reception area. This was really pleasant, under shady trees.

Happy Hour was from 5-6pm, when beers cost $3.50 each. We indulged. It was interesting, to sit and watch the other tourists.

I think son was quite taken with ElQ.

While we were at Happy Hour, two big hire motorhomes arrived. By the terms of their contracts, son said, they were not supposed to travel off the bitumen. However, from overhearing them talk – the men very boastfully – they had actually driven the length of the Gibb River Road, from the western end, regardless, and were quite proud of themselves. The water crossings of the Pentecost on the Gibb, and on the way in here, would have been well higher than their underfloor areas. The occupants had South African accents.

Son, who held a senior role with that hire company, was less than impressed. He noted their ID numbers, in order to track where they would be returned to, and he intended to alert the manager there about where the vehicles had been. They would not be getting their quite substantial deposits back, and those vehicles would be gone over very carefully for damage.

You never know who will be watching you!

Late afternoon light on the range by our camp

We had quite a late tea. Time around the campfire again. M told us all about her trip into Emma Gorge, on her way here the other day, and the walk she did there. That is another part of El Questro that is more easily accessed by day trippers from Kununurra. She said it was too busy for her real liking. She had intended to visit Zebedee Springs too, but discovered that access was restricted to mornings only – the afternoons were reserved for tour group access.

Route from Home Valley Station to El Questro (on Zoom image)