Until I began the drive through the far north of Western Australia I never realised just how desolate it really is.
As I travel I have plenty of time to think and absorb my surroundings. Sometimes, there are endless kilometres of parched vegetation, then along will come some beautifully white-boughed gum trees with blackened trunks which makes them look as if they’re wearing black socks.
There are different hues of green, even on the trees that have been burnt; evidence of nature’s determination to keep on fighting and re-generating new growth.
On the road to Warmun I encountered massive roadworks and had to wait for quite some time, during which about six huge road-trains rolled past.
Again, I was looking forward to a refreshing shower and when I got to Warmun the shower pressure was fantastic – but even the water in the cold tap was hot! I’m not complaining though …
Even this beastie was hot! Apparently he comes to this spot, right outside my unit under the tree, every afternoon for a bit of shade. I wanted to pat him but wasn’t sure what reception I’d get.
When I first went into the roadhouse there was no one at the counter and I couldn’t see or hear anyone so I yelled out “Hello is anyone here?” and a man popped out from behind a plastic curtain and yelled “Yes” in a voice equally loud to mine. Oops.
I told him I had only shouted because I didn’t think anyone was there, but we ended up having quite a good chat. He and his wife haven’t been here long; they are from Bundaberg in Queensland.
Warmun is actually an Aboriginal community but it has a rather unfortunate history – you can read about it here – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/warmun-a-tale-of-two-disasters/7462544.
Left Warmun about 8 in the morning to drive to Kununurra. Again, a very dry and dusty drive with the countryside looking absolutely parched. Stopped at Doon Doon Roadhouse where there was a sign on the petrol pump requesting people take their credit card inside to the counter before filling up their petrol tank, as apparently in the tourist season, many people tend to drive off without paying for their petrol.
Stopped just outside Kununurra at the Ord Irrigation Project. Odd to see so much water after travelling through the very thirsty countryside.
Arrived in Kununurra and found the motel and that’s when I had a shock as I found out I was supposed to have stayed the night before. I had somehow got my dates muddled and so had to pay twice for my mistake. Oh well, that’s life. Luckily they had another room vacant so instead of paying for a meal that night I ate some leftover Dolmades, tomatoes and a tin of salmon and honestly – it tasted quite good and I managed to have a decent night’s sleep.
Kununurra is a small township which evolved around the Ord Irrigation Project. It has a population of approximately 6000 people, with almost half of the population being Aboriginal. The Miriwoong Gajerrong are the recognised Native Title holders of the town of Kununurra. For further information see https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=kununurra. There are quite a lot of worthwhile things to see here, for example going to the Bungle Bungles, however I’ll maybe save that for another time!
For those seeking a shopping fix (definitely not me), the small town has shops like Target Country, Coles and a few cafes and restaurants but it was very hot and I didn’t feel like looking around so was quite happy to just relax. Breakfast at the motel was included in the cost so enjoyed that, and headed off to Lake Argyle the next day which was about 30km out of town towards Katherine.
The road in to Lake Argyle was edged with some high rock faces and many trees that had been burnt. I had a coffee and banana bread in the café and looked around, saw the infinity pool with people enjoying it. You can purchase a guest pass for a day and if I hadn’t been going on to Katherine I would have been tempted to do that as the pool looked fabulous. And definitely much better to be looking down on possible crocodiles in the water below from a safe place!
Going that extra 65 or so kilometres made it a very long day driving to Katherine and again, the heat really got to me. There was a fire just before Timber Creek and a very low flying aircraft swooped over which looked like an army plane? Stopped and had lunch at Timber Creek and the young fellow there asked me if I knew Heather and Swampy from Broome – his aunt and uncle. I told him I’d heard the names, believe it or not, but couldn’t place them.
Arrived in Katherine late arvo and booked into the motel. Katherine is a real ‘wild west’ town – quite large, even has a cinema – plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants etc. I’d always been fascinated by the thought of a town called Katherine so was keen to see it. Maybe Katherine reminds me of an Australian outback woman – and I have known plenty from living in Alice Springs, Nhulunbuy and Broome … strong, earthy and with a bit of an edge – hope I don’t offend anyone!!
Next I’m off to Darwin where I’ll have a couple of days rest. Looking forward to breathing the sea air again.