Fitzroy Crossing - Halls Creek - Warmun (Turkey Creek) - Wyndham
12 Apr 2007
Our first task was to visit the tourist office and learn the road to Halls Creek, a journey of 181 miles was classed as suitable to drive with caution. So after our visit to the oldest pub in the Kimberley still on its original site, (it had just opened at 10am after being closed for a week due to the flooding), we set off.
Once across the bridge we were soon driving on the wrong side of the road whilst passing a stretch of about 50 yards of water, then after driving through a few inches of water at two floodway sections of road, we drove up hill. This journey was relatively uninspiring, mostly small trees up to 15 feet high and grass, plus various sizes of my favourite tree the Boab. The drive took three hours plus stops for refreshment and lunch at a lookout point; the last 30 miles were down hill. We arrived at Halls Creek with no hazards, the problems for this road were clearly at the Fitzroy Crossing end.
One traveller on our camp site must have been a road train driver. His rig was a lorry on which was a car and his lorry pulled an extremely long caravan. I wouldn't have fancied backing the lorry, let alone the whole shebang.
There are a lot of aborigines at Halls Creek. We were later told there are a lot of teenagers with no work prospects and the potential for future trouble. We witnessed nothing but good behaviour, even from a drunk aborigine who asked us for a cigarette. At the library/housing office where we found access to the internet, there were many adult aborigine's watching the television. We learned that it was purely entertainment and when the pubs opened at 12 noon most would leave the library. I liked Halls Creek but there are a lot of challenges ahead and progress did seem to be evident in the shape of new government offices to help the residents.
No trips to the 'Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater' were available and our attempt to learn of flights to the Bungle Bungles stopped at the locked door of the 'Flights Office'. Worst of all, at the town centre Roadhouse I learned the Monday paper, (arrives on a Tuesday and costs double that in Perth), had not come. The bus had broken down again. I was destined once more not to learn of the football scores from home.
Off we drove through wonderful countryside and hills to Turkey Creek, now known as Warmun, its aborigine name. This was a journey of 104 miles and at our sedate diesel saving pace of about 54 miles per hour it took 2 hours plus stopping times. These usually occur in picturesque spots and sometimes, due to laziness, last much longer than they need to. The road, winding its way over and through hills was a joy to drive. After another 30 mile down hill drive we drove past the entrance of Warmun village and turned into the Turkey Creek Roadhouse where we stayed for the night.
The flight booking office was locked up but a telephone number for Kununurra, about 110 miles as the helicopter flies, was available. I phoned and a lady informed the helicopter and the pilot were at Kununurra and she would speak with him. Yes, he would do the trip, what time did we want to go. Well, I would like to get my night's sleep I said. How about 8am? So we settled for 8am and set the alarm for 6.45am. We later learned of people at Kununurra who were getting up at 5am for their flight.
Later, we spoke with Peter and Sandra, fellow Australian Motor Home club members who work at Warmun with the aborigines. This gave us an insight into life in the village and the lack of worldliness the aborigines have in spending their money. As this is a relatively wealthy village due to payments from mining companies and revenues from paintings, some will soon be paying taxes to the government instead of drawing benefits. A person with good diplomacy skills will have to explain that one.
During our wonderful helicopter flight we learned that hundreds of miles of hills, most of which slope at a 30 degree angle, are the result of a massive land upheaval a very long time ago. A fault line named Halls Creek Fault stretches east for about the same distance as the well known San Andreas Fault in California. It seems we are in for some great scenery over the next few hundred miles.
On we travelled from Turkey Creek to Wyndham, again through wonderful hills and some areas of spear grass, (resisting the opportunity to go leaping through it). Twenty miles from Wyndham there were signs for The Grotto. This was a canyon which you had to climb down into to see the pool and waterfall. The steep stone steps had no hand supports but the intrepid travellers, defying age, made it. It was not for the faint hearted and I wouldn't tackle it after rain. However the sense of being inside this canyon was very good.
After viewing the small river, the water source for the waterfall at the top of the canyon, we travelled to Wyndham and drove past the main town, down the road through the flood plains to the harbour. There was little to commend it to us other than a Crocodile Farm which shut in 40 minutes, so we drove back to the main area and went on site by a Boab tree which is believed to be over two thousand years old.
We were recommended to drive to the five river lookout at the Bastion. This proved to be one of the best lookout points in the whole of Australia and well worth the steep hair pin bend road, (no caravans allowed), to reach the point. At the top we spoke with a very interesting man named John, travelling on his own in his car, and probably sleeping in the car. He has invited us to park on his lawn whilst travelling in his home area down the east coast, and if our itinery allows, we will probably meet him again.
A heavy rain fall, enjoyed from the inside of the van, provided a rainbow and clouds which prevented us from seeing a beautiful sunset. We drove back down whilst there was still some light to aid our journey. Tomorrow we can have a lie in to make up for our early rise today. The crocodiles do not get fed until 11 am so no need to get out of bed early; unless Sylvia makes me.