The absolutely marvellous Karijini National Park

Part of the walk along the bottom of the Dale Gorge
Looking down on the pool at the bottom of Fortescue Falls
It is not all work and no play. We took a couple of days off and went to Karijini National Park for an overnight camping trip. Robert and Dawn lent us their pop up tent . After a long trip on mostly bitumen roads we arrive and promptly met up with a couple we had met back at Barn Hill, Sheryl and Robert and they advised us to secure a campsite before we go sightseeing. It was good advice as there were only 8 sites left even at lunch time. So after setting up the tent - a lot of pegs and very red dusty soil, we went off on a 3 hour trek up the centre of Dale Gorge. This a very beautiful gorge with the wonderful Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool at one end and the Circular Pool at the other end. It is rather steep in and out of the gorge and very rough natural walking track but we thoroughly enjoyed it and were glad we had made the effort. The pools were suitable for swimming but it has to be a lot warmer to tempt me to swim, though I would have loved to sit by with my feet in the water and read if we had the luxury of time on our side. Back at the campsite to finish setting up the beds etc and lo and behold, Rob & Sheryl were only 2 campsites away from us, so we went over and joined them for happy hour (or 2). It quickly cooled down when the sun went down. Bob & I stayed up reading at first and then playing cards outside at the table until it was just too cold to stay outdoors anymore. It was only 9.30pm but off to bed we go. As Sheryl had mentioned that the mornings were down to 4 or 5 degrees we just hopped into bed in our clothes for added warmth. It was very cold in the morning outdoors but we were as warm as toast in bed. Bob doesn’t like to go to bed so early, no wonder he was up with the birds then next morning too- I think it was the first time he has seen dawn in a heck of a long time! I made bacon & eggs as compensation and to warm us both up. We were also a bit stiff and sore from all the climbing the day before. We packed up and headed off to Weano Gorge. We heard that this and some other gorges had to be accessed partly by wading through thigh deep water and neither of us were interested in doing this, so the lookout was enough for now. We then went to Tom Price. It is a nice enough for a mining town with plenty of green grassed areas but there is nothing of interest for us there. We picked up some extra food as the visitors centre warned us that the road past Hammersely Gorge and Wittenoom is rough and rarely travelled and we could be stranded there with little chance of passerbys for assistance, so we prepared for the possibility of camping overnight on our way back to Port Hedland as we didn’t want to back track and travel over the same road we came in on. Well we off and went first to Hammersely Gorge which hardly gets a mention in the paper works and yet it is truly marvellous. The water pools and the folded rock (layers of rock that have shifted and look like they have been folded together when the land was soft and malleable) and just the whole package. The photos can only show you what is meant by this description.
Just a aprt of the Hammersley Gorge

Bob in front a part of the Folded Rock
We thought Dale Gorge lovely but this beats it hands down. We couldn’t stay there too long either as we wanted to get onto the rough road and get most of it covered whilst still daylight. This so called rough road was well graded, plenty of traffic (not busy- but certainly enough traffic that if caught out or broken down you were not on your own!) We were able to travel at speeds of 90-100km along most of this road no problems, we did have to watch out for all the dips/floodways that slowed you down in between but the woman back at the visitor centre had no idea what she was talking about when advising us about the condition of the road. I suppose it has to do with Wittenoom. This is a deserted mining town that has been officially closed down and withdrawn off the maps due to the blue asbestos in the area, the mines, landfill, road base etc are all from blue asbestos and was declared unsafe and forcibly abandoned years ago. We were back on Port Hedland around 7.30pm tired and more than a little dusty.

Michelle in  a natural rock pillar on the Hammersley Gorge

 There are so many photos I could have added here but I didn't want to bore you with them all.

Port Hedland Anglican Church & The Mission to Seafarers

When we arrived we went straight to the shopping centre to stock up on some groceries and lo and behold we run into Daryl & Pam, the minister from the Broome Baptist Church whom we had met the weekend before. We invited them to sit with us for lunch and had a good old yarn and time of fellowship with them. I was almost sorry that we wouldn’t see them at the Baptist Church here where he was guest preaching the next day. Gosh lunch was expensive there. A pie and a hamburger with a cappuccino and an iced chocolate came to $26. Port Hedland Church is only a short distance away and so we went to set up the caravan Robert & Dawn Allen are the co-workers here. Robert is the Project Manager for the building of a block of units here and is doubling up as caretaker etc whilst here. They are easy to talk to and very welcoming. (The minister, Phil lives in South Hedland, which is about 20 minutes away.) Phil comes by later in preparation for the morning’s service. Church on Sunday is early, 9am. It is a great sermon. Coffee after church is friendly though I didn’t meet any locals as I introduced myself to 2 women and they happen to be visitors too. One of them, Janine and her husband, Peter, are from Tasmania; end up staying here at the church for part of the week too in their slide on ute thingy. Though they weren’t actually BCA volunteers, they did help now and then. They are early retirees seeking to work out where God wants them next. We had a great time of fellowship & a BBQ here with Peter and Robert and their wives later that night.
Monday we started work, or rather Bob started work, pruning the front garden, a trip to the rubbish tip at South Hedland. Pulled down shade mesh, awnings & timber (they will recycle some of the timber to make a frame work for the partition wall to go up inside the church building later). Monday night the 6 of us went to the Mission to Seafarers. This is basically an old house that has been set aside as a refuge, or somewhere to hang out on land for them. There is a shop, souveniers as well as groceries, and other essentials such as toiletries etc. There are internet facilities, a bar, a couple of pool tables, and some table and chairs for rest and conversation. It is really just somewhere different for them to take some time out away from the ship.
The rest of the week Robert and my Bob both worked on the church, mainly making a partition utilising the framework from the recycled timbers they pulled down on the back awning/verandah as well as pulling down hedges at the manse in South Hedland, etc. I spent a lot of time reading, catching up with emails and some more craftwork. I did spend Wednesday mornings helping Dawn with the crèche for the Women’s Bible study in the church. I also gave Dawn some assistance with computer work and some craft ideas for future Sunday school and crèche.
The Asian Lily box I made for Camille's birthday

Barn Hill

Sunset over the beach at Barn Hill
Barn Hill had been recommended to us a few times and so we thought we would check it out. It is about 150km south of Broome and 10 along rough corrugated dirt road. It is quite rustic. Even with a powered site, the power is only for lights & a fridge as each site is limited to 4amps and there is a flip switch set to go off as powered is generated on site. There is plenty of shade and we were only 200m from the marvellous beach. The beach is croc free so you can go in though takes forever to wade out deep enough for swimming. It is also a good spot for fishing. We walked both days for hours along the beach, collecting a few interesting pieces of rock that we thought might look good cut and polished. On the first night there was a happy hour and communal BBQ (BYO meat and all) on the common green grassed area. We especially befriended 2 couples, Bob & Sheryl and Peter & Alison. It is a lovely spot for total relaxation and I could have enjoyed another 2 or 3 days there however we had a time commitment to be in Port Hedland for church on Sunday. So off we go back up that long dusty dirt road and one more stop to do at De Grey River, another lovely free camping spot.
Sunset over the De Grey River

A touch of winter in Broome

The justly famed Cable Beach
Rocky landscape at another Broome beachscape
Setset over the De Grey River - just south of Broome
We timed our arrival in Broome to go to church first thing in the morning. We were made welcome at Broome Baptist Church. Daryl, the minister, has been here only for about 6 months. He is offering his experience and stability to them as they are a struggling church as are many in the outback towns. I feel sad for him and admire that he is spending his last few years before retirement, doing such a hard ministry. He hopes to encourage them to build each other up and be more community minded. As for Broome itself, there really isn’t much to see or do there. The weather is great and Cable Beach is beautiful. It is a great town if you want to sit back and relax. We drove around the town and peninsula and covered everything there within 2 -3 hours and that was at a leisurely pace. The tides were wrong to see the dinosaur prints so we were going to go back another time but in the end we forgot about it and didn’t get to see them after all. Bob fiddled with some repair work & I made 2 explosion boxes of a new design, drawing a frog and making it as a pop up on a lily pad. I also started on designing Asiatic lilies for one of my daughters’ birthday box. Winter here is great. The days are warm to slightly hot but cools down very quickly when the sun disappears. It is starting to get down to 14 degrees overnight. I pulled the doona out of storage a few nights ago. Bob just got his doona out the night before last.... Camille tells me that it hardly gets to 14 in the day down home....Boy I am so NOT missing the cold winter back home.

Sunset over the beach at Barn Hill. A camp spot between Derby & Broome

Derby & the Horizontal Waterfalls

Mary's Pool -  a lovely camp spot on the way to Derby
A boab tree used as a prison in the 'good old days'
We felt very welcomed at the Baptist Church in Derby especially by Mary & Tom, the hospitality/caretaker people here. They have this long shed that started out as an Australian Inland Mission medical centre (hospital) and then was converted to be used as a training and live in centre for Aboriginals and now is being converted into a manse on one 1/3rd and a church on the other side with a large breezeway in between. The minister, Paul and his wife are also heavy into training Aborigines but fly into the Aboriginal communities to facilitate the training as they found that this way they were able to train more people by taking the class and teachers to them. This part of their ministry is called Kingdom Aviation.
Sunset over the Derby Wharf

Bob has been changing doorways, basically closing off a doorway in the manse kitchen so that it can be re designed with cupboards later. He also has been lining a room with insulation, both walls and the ceiling. I haven’t done much here though I did clean up after Bob and I pruned a huge tree that had branches way too low. So instead I have made quite a few more of my explosion boxes and I also had a couple of market stall here on Saturday mornings where I was fortunate to sell some of them. The church has fish and chips fellowship on the wharf every Friday night watching the sun set over the sea. I caught a lovely snapshot on the camera. We have met quite a few volunteers here and some missionaries too that are also staying here at the church. All are very friendly and easy to get along with. Joan & Bill Gossman who are the National Directors of Growing Families International, an organizational and education program that teaches and encourages families to take back control of their families and to have a biblically based family values. Joan & Bill know Peter Abetz, who is a WA State Member of Parliament. We knew Peter a long way back from the Reformed Church. Paul, the local minister here, is also a member of the local council, and knows Peter. They speak very highly of him, stating that he is having a great Christian influence on the state government.

Whilst in Derby we took a day off to see the marvellous Horizontal Waterfalls. First we flew there in a float plane and then changed over onto a jet boat for a trip to and through the falls themselves. We also spent time on a floating boat that was anchored for lunch, a swim in the shark free cage and opportunities to feed the lemon sharks, balloon fish, sucker fish and other little fish. We also got an opportunity to walk on a reef and view a lot of the coral up close and it is amazing the colours within the coral. It was a terrific day and well recommended though costly – our big splurge.
Bob walking on the coral reef
Up close and personal with a lemon shark

The Bungle Bungles

Part of the rough road in
We left the van in Turkey Creek and drove into the Bungle Bungles. What a challenging rough road in from the highway. Some 70km to the campsite that took about 2½ hours to get there. It made Central Arnhem Road look good. We had lunch at the campsite and then went into the Piccaninny Gorge area.
Catherdral Gorge - watch out the rock is falling
We walked to the Cathedral Gorge and then around the domes. It is truly lovely. We then walked onto the lookout which was a beautiful vista over parts of the beehive striped domes and the ranges here. All up this took us some 3 ½ hours of walking over dry water beds, eroded rock formations and sand. A lot of exercise before heading back to the campsite last night where we slept in the car for the 2nd time on this trip (The other was back in Arnhem Land). The next day we went to the other end of the park. We made it to the Echidna Chasm around 11.45am which was perfect timing as you need the midday sun coming through the narrow gorge to get the best light effect on the chasm walls. There were maybe 20 people in the main part of the chasm waiting for the sun to get their photos. The chasm goes further though way less than half the people went the rest of the way into the chasm. Yet this next bit is by far the most interesting part. You scramble over big rocks and boulders and there are even a couple of small ladders to assist you but the play of light on the walls, the rocks stuck up the chasm as the fall down, all made it extremely interesting and very photogenic though we had low batteries and had to conserve battery power a bit. There are tall palms growing (starting) some 50 metres up the walls that must have been seed dropped by birds. It is amazing that they take root and grow in such inhospitable places.
The Domes

Here are Bob’s words in his journal...and he is not very eloquent in his words very often!
“Took to 10.15 to packup. Travelled to Echidna Chasm 27km 20km rough slow driving. To walk in following creek bed. Rough stoney path into chasm parts lined with tall palms. We arrived just in time 12pm for sun to shine into chasm. What beauty, Full colours then found small entry to end of chasm around large fallen rocks up 2 x 8 ft ladders to end. Sun shining in to show colours see photos. (Narrow 1m wide track in) Look back and saw 2 boulders jammed 7 metres above bottom. Travelled back along dirt road stopped ½ way for lunch at area between 2 rough creek crossings. NO DUST. Travelled on. Picked up van 5pm and finished hook up. Free camp at Leylesters Rest. Big camp area. Poor toilets. No seats or lid cover! Pee Wees (Birds) used front windscreen as slippery dip. Fun to see.
The bit about the pee wees was fantastic. We sat back as did some of the other campers nearby, to watch their antics on our windscreen for ages. This was back at the campsite in the Bungles..early in the morning before we took off for the day. The Bungle Bungles are well worth a visit – I just hope they upgrade the road before you get there – though I would doubt it.


We got off to a disappointing start to our BCA time in Kununarra. There was not much work ready for us to do. We started work there pulling down a chain link fence and Bob did some odds and ends. Later in the week they had a room they wanted converted into an office that required a bit of renovation, which Bob started with Chris (another volunteer that arrived soon after we did) but we decided to keep to our week commitment and left a week after arriving. We did do some sight-seeing whilst there. We did a day trip to the Ord River Dam which is supposed to hold 3 times the Sydney Harbour. Another day saw an enjoyable trip to Wyndham. On the way we stopped at the Grotto, which has a wonderful little pool at the base of a cliff to which we climbed down into. We saw this delightful goanna catching fish there and stopped and watched his antics for a bit. There is not a lot to offer in the town in self nor the port area. It is a tiny little decrepit village. We stopped at this dingy little cafe which was recommended, the barra and chips were delicious though very small and pricy being $15 per serve.
2,000yr boab tree - imagine: this was just a sapling in Jesus's day
We found the oldest known boab tree (in a caravan park) that is not well advertised for some silly reason. It is huge and still alive. It is believed to be 2,000 years old. We also found Warriu Park statues where there are 5 huge wooden statues of aborigines. That is all there is to see of the town.
The mudflats view from 5 Rivers Lookout

The nearby 5 Rivers Lookout though is fantastic, it gives a terrific 360o view of the town and the tidal mudflats and such which certainly looks more interesting from the mountain than they do down on the ground level. We stopped at Parry Lagoon which is only about 8km from Wyndham. Now this is absolutely a bird lovers paradise. There’s a billabong board walk and a hide where you can stop a view many of the birds without disturbing them. Many of the varieties included ones we had seen in Kakadu such as the Whistling ducks, Jabiru, Magpie Geese, Jacanas etc. It was here that we saw huge flights of the Whistling ducks take off and land several times and you really understand why they are called Whistling Ducks. No one could tell me if the birds were making the whistling sound or if it was the flight of their wings that caused the whistling sound. Now this is one time I am glad I have a hearing aid or was it the cochlear that made me hear these sounds. WOW!
Ord River Dam
 All too soon, Bob is pushing me to get back in the car to get back to Kununurra as it is still a good couple of hours drive. We decided to find the back dirt road back to Kununurra for something different. We saw boab forests, wallabies and semi-wild cattle though no actual buffalo on this trip. We enjoyed this well graded back road and it was much more interesting than the highway out. We eventually came to Ivanhoe Crossing which is a water crossing. It is a big long sweep of river crossing probably 100-150m wide. It is in 2 parts with very fast flowing water running over the road. The causeway is concreted but still it was both scary and exciting at the same time. There were quite a few people stopped on the far side of the crossing watching and ‘admiring’ the drivers as they cross the river, even to the point of offering a thumbs up as we crossed. It would have been nice and friendly to stop I think, but we decided to keep on going due to the lateness of the day and we still had some shopping to do when we get back before dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole day.
Part 2 of the Ivanhoe Crossing

Leaving Nhulunbuy for Kununurra

Picnic at Turtle Beach
We left Nhulunbuy following Allan’s car for our trip to Gurrumuru which is about 140km down the Central Arnhem Road and then 25km off on a side road that is as rough as guts to visit his Yolgnu family. When we arrived, we found out that Allan’s family were still in town even though they knew we were coming, however Trevor, the tribal elder, welcomed us and said that we may stay, that maybe Susan and her family would turn up later. So we set up camp, Bob & I were going to sleep in the car and Allan had a tent for his family. The town part of the community is nothing much, maybe 3-5 acres with a dozen houses we could see set out far apart, with a school, a community phone booth as the local landline phone for the whole community: people can ring in and someone will answer it and get the relevant person. Trevor came and invited us to go to the (tidal) river and meet up with the others that were already there fishing. He asked Allan if he had some lures with him and with his negative reply then asked him for some steak to use as bait. Allan gave him a Scotch fillet steak. To me it was hard to see a scotch fillet being used as bait. I was half expecting or rather hoping that they were using spears to fish but it was just a line and hook like boys do, not even a rod. They didn’t catch any fish whilst we were there (waste of good steak!) though they did catch a catfish before we arrived. Finally we go back and cook up our remaining steaks and baked some potatoes on the camp fire. Trevor came back and socialised with us for quite a while after dinner. Hospitality is a very strong tradition and he felt that he was responsible since Susan’s family were not there. He is very nice. We had the company of 5 dogs nearly all night too. We slept reasonably well in the car, considering it was the first time we tried it. I am so glad that I had made a flyscreen cover for the windows as it would have been too hot to leave the windows up and there were heaps of mosquitoes.
Camp at first light. (Swiped photo off Hol's blog)

It was still early when we woke up, (rather Bob slept on but the rest of us were up and about!) Allan got a fire going again and made coffee (he even has a camp coffee percolator which Benita gave them one time and they love it!) Toast and honey was the order for breakfast and soon it was time to pack up. We had all been invited to go fishing again this time to a fresh water river, though Bob & I declined as we had a long drive back to Katherine and we wanted to get there before dark.
Aaah... It was so good to hit the highway again. Bob and I seem to have this ritual thing where we are so happy to finally be back on the road again that we grin like mad at each other and then we whoop for joy. It sounds silly and it probably looks ridiculous but we enjoy the silliness of it all. Well the drive was a long 8 hour trip. A lot of the road had been graded since we were on it last but this didn’t necessarily make it better as they didn’t compact the road and thus there was a lot of dust corrugations. We stopped for lunch at the Goyder River and were pleasantly surprised to meet up with 2 couples that we had met back at Kakadu. The river had gone down a fair bit and now was only bumper height deep (instead of the top of the bulbar).
Entering the Goyder River on the way back
See the water only goes up to the bumper this time!!!

We arrived in Katherine just around 6pm with just enough light to hook up the van and relocate it to the park proper and reverse it into place. We decided to buy dinner at the caravan park since we were so tired. We decided to take it slow and easy. We were on our way to Kununurra but we decided to just travel 180 or so kilometres each day and free camp until we got there. We started to see Boab trees for the first time. Each morning we enjoyed a lazy morning start and left late as usual if and when we can get away with it. We still arrived in Kununarra before lunchtime and that’s without the 90 minute time difference.

Nhulunbuy at long jolly last

Hollay, Miriam and Allan
Allan & Holly started moving house the day after we arrived, so we were kept busy packing, cleaning etc.  There’s not alot we can do with unpacking so in the meantime I tackled the overgrown garden and cleared what might have been a vegie garden. Fruit & veges here is very expensive and worst that that is that it is either frozen or a week old by the time they get it. I also did my share of the cooking and baking. Of course I had my arm twisted to look after darling Miriam.

What a delight she is and I have forgotten how much of our time babies consume. She is 9 months old now. She is walking around furniture now and it seems as though she will be walking unaided in no time at all. She makes a lot of noise though no real words as yet. She prefers noisy toys, whether they be fancy expensive toys or bottles filled with rice. She has an el cheapo keyboard to play on esp when her Mum is practising on the piano. Miriam loves music and especially loves to ‘dance’. Enough of my granddaughter though you are all forewarned that you will be subjected to photos of Miriam when we pop in for a cuppa.
One Sunday. after church we went for a picnic to Turtle Beach which is a good 30km away through aver rough 4WD dirt track. There we met some of Al & Hol’s friends who were there too. The beach is nice but crocs are known in the area. Some of us went in a bit as the seas were very rough and the crocs generally don’t like rough seas So I was brave (or is it stupid?), I went in a bit – just upto my thighs. Miriam loves the surf though not being dumped though.
Miriam loves the water, whether it be bath time or surfing

Allan starts work at CareFlight as a medical pilot ferrying patients to hospitals etc for treatment. (Similar to Royal Flying Doctor Service). Holly works for Rio Tinto Alcan as some sort of publicity/communications officer 3 days a week.

Crossing Arnhem Land

Crossing the little Goyder River (much shallower thankfully)
After delays of nearly 3 weeks (where we went to Darwin and Kakadu) we still couldn’t get permission to travel across Arnhem Land as the road is classified as “impassable” due to the Goyder River being flooded. We decided to take a chance and travel anyway. The 2 worst things that can happen is that a) if we haven’t arrived by nightfall then Allan would have to come out to the Goyder River the next morning. (We would just sleep in the back of the car by the river side). And/or b) we could get fined for travelling without a permit. Even a $1,000 fine would be cheaper than going back to Darwin and flying across.
Now the fun & games started, 300km of rough dirt road. Some sightings of wild buffalo and wandering stock, some back burning in patches and then we reach the Goyder River. It was a metre under water. Bob was a little concerned as he had never driven in water that deep and it was flowing faster than expected too! I was too busy praying and watching anxiously to think of taking any photos of the crossing. The water came up to the top of the bull bar near the bonnet, none got inside the car though the door interiors were pouring water out when we opened them up on the far bank. We had a few more smaller crossing to go through but they were no problems. Bob soon noticed that the motor sounded rough but couldn’t work out what was going on so he proceeded with one ear on the motor and an eye on the gauges. We arrived at Allan’s around 5.30pm – 10 hours from when we left Katherine. It is a LONG time to be on the road. By the way I didn’t take any crafts with me at all so no crafts on the road.
Selective backburing off and on all along the road
Local animals on the road - we also saw a single dingo and horses