Windjarna, Tunnel creek & a birthday
Sep 6, 2006
|We arrived safely at Windjana around 5pm, a campsite that has a stunning limestone ridge as a back drop.
With the heat cooling off, we decide to head up into the gorge. It has towering limestone walls on each side, and the sun brings out the different colourings as we approach sunset.
There is a body of water almost immediately as we hit the start of the gorge, and not too far in, we see our first freshwater croc. From there on, we are blown away at how many crocs are out. They are absolutely everywhere in the river and even on the dry sand bed as we walk along up the gorge. Apparently it is the most prolific natural population of freshies in Australia. Given it is so far south it makes us wonder how many we have been swimming with along our Gibb River road travels.
At Windjana we meet another traveling family - the Fishers from Adelaide, who are traveling around Australia with their 3 kids for 12 months. We end up talking half the night with them, recapturing memories of places visited. Travelers like us going for a year are a rare breed (most seem to go 3-4mths) so we really enjoyed meeting like minded companions.
Next morning - September 7th
A big day for the Sol mister who turns 7 today. Jo has baked a caramel cake at his royal highness request. The Benton and Fisher families join us for happy birthday and some cake. We can't believe our little Gummy Bear is 7 - the time has gone so fast.
Soli has been keen for several days to be at Tunnel Creek - our next stop, for his birthday, so we head off. Tunnel Creek is around 40km further along the same mountain range as Windjana. As its name suggests, it is a long cave that has a creek running through it. You need to take a torch, as parts are pitch black and also require walking through water up to about 50cm deep, with the total walk about 1.7km in length. Our one torch's battery is fading fast, adding to the entertainment/fear/nerves. About 400m in and Soli is starting to get a bit edgy. It's hard to see and the water is getting deeper. Then about half way a long part of the cave has collapsed, exposing broad daylight. Up above hundreds of fruit bats can be seen dangling in the tree branches upside down. Every now and then, one launches off a branch, circling above us behind zooming just above our heads and into the darkness of the cave.
As we continue further, we hear that a 1-2 m croc (freshy) is wading in part of the creek. Watch your step folks. A little further on, as we are wading through water which is up to Mia's waste, an eel slides between our legs. Hmmmmmmm. We eventually make it to the end all in one peace and relieved to see some daylight. We see the Benton family again and make the trek back through the cave with them.
Soli is quoted at one point as saying: "Tunnel creek is the worst birthday"!
Safely back in the car, we make the remaining 2 hour journey to Fitzroy Crossing, where we find ...Bitumen! Ahhhhhhhhhh. The end of the Gibb River Road. We camp the night just out of town in a nice grassy caravan park with a big pool. It is relative paradise. With the chance to do some washing and wash the dust out a bit, we feel refreshed. We have a huge hamburger at the local roadhouse as the birthday lunch & spend the afternoon by the pool.
Geike gorge is just 20k up the road and we elect to take an early morning boat tour rather than do the 7km walk. The rocks formations as a result of erosion are quite spectacular, and the ranger doing the talk is great. All in all an enjoyable tour and well worth the cash.