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A Summer Holiday Down Under
Part 1: London to Kimberley.
Thurs 29th May to Monday 1st June 2008 . . . Days one to four.
In brief : A long haul flight from Heathrow to Darwin via Singapore, then straight onto a short haul flight to our first stop over in Australia at Kununurra. A days R&R then it's on with the travelling, this time by small plane to Mornington Wilderness Camp.
Weather : Kimberley's dry season - sunny with blue skies - they say cool - we say pleasantly hot !
A spin of the globe takes us south of the equator for our holiday in the sun
Before we left, we had to make arrangements for our immediate dependants . . . .
Harry and Bethan stopped off on the way south for a holiday with their friend Bailey.
Without the kind offer to host our dogs for the best part of a month, life would have been a lot more complicated. Many thanks Angie and David.
Be good now both of you (the dogs that is !)
We fly the big bird east, leaving Thursday evening from Heathrow, reaching Singapore late afternoon next day.
[ Our aircraft was named Longreach after the outback town where the company, Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service, was started in the 1920's ]
Darkness falls rapidly, as it does in the tropics, as we wait for our next aircraft to be made ready .
Spending for a few hours in Singapore airport is not a problem, especially given the pleasant airport environment.
Nice carpets, indoor waterfalls, helpful people and good service make the transfer pain free.
7.30 am Saturday morning (local time) saw us climb aboard a short haul flight south west from Darwin.
48 hours after leaving Loweswater, less the 8.5 hours forward and 1.5 hrs backward, we arrived in Kununurra.
I think we have arrived - welcome to Australia.
Lake View Apartments - our first overnight stay.
The journey had been very reasonable considering the lack of good sleep, so we decided to take a walk into town to see the sights without delay.
Sandstone hills known as the Sleeping Buddha, across Lily Creek opposite our apartment.
Welcome to a different way of living - road transport in the outback takes on a new meaning.
Most folk are driving 4x4's or pickups and a couple of these road trains passed us on the way into town.
The third trailer he was towing was missed from the photo but it's tow bar can be seen on the right hand side.
Kununurra Information Bureau
This is a relatively new town, developed to support the Ord River Irrigation Scheme which started in the 1960's.
It is now a thriving town in it's own right and supports the whole community here in the north east Kimberley region.
On the day we were there it was the local market day on the green.
There were loads of stalls, selling local aboriginal art, offering massage treatments, selling books and cards,
locally grown fruit and veg and even someone offering face painting and tattoos for the kids.
After a pleasant few hours in town looking in the shops and buying a few items for breakfast the following day,
we returned to our apartments for a swim and to cool off. No need to unpack much as we were still in travel mode.
Kununurra Airport for an next day 8am flight courtesy of Sling Air.
A light aircraft flight would take us west into outback Kimberley and our next destination.
As we climbed over the town we looked down on our temporary home, the square buildings with the central courtyard to the left of the picture.
We'd be back here towards the end of our stay in a few weeks time.
The Diversion Dam.
The water backed up behind the sluice gates is taken by canal and pipeline to irrigate the new farmland of the region.
They grow fruit and veg and are starting into growing specialist hardwood timber as a cash crop.
The Cockburn Ranges in the background and Mount Brennan below us as we start our descent into Mornington Camp.
It was our stay at Emma Gorge on the El Questro Cattle Station ten years ago that encouraged us back to the region this year.
Final approach, our pilot set the plane up for a textbook landing.
New to the company, Dean was accompanied on this occasion by his colleague Kathie.
Later in the holiday we met up again when he flew us solo to one of our other destinations.
Baggage handling at Mornington Airstrip.
These dirt runways are fine in the dry season but become unusable in the wet.
The camp therefore only accepts visitors for eight months of the year.
This will be our home for the next four nights - a safari tent underneath the Gum trees.
Boab - the name of our luxury tent, one of ten alongside Annie Creek.
Firstly we make our way over to the reception and restaurant area to report in and enjoy some refreshments.
Mornington Camp was an old Cattle Station but is now owned and run by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. The station has been cleared of cattle and is being returned to indigenous flora and fauna by the efforts of the AWC. The camp is now run as a research establishment and also a holiday destination with safari tents like ours and a campsite for those following the Gibb River Road trail.
After lunch, time to explore the creek.
Wild pandanas trees and river washed debris from the wet season set the scene for this riverside walk.
The trail takes us out of the trees so see the spiniflex and savanna grassland area, just a short distance from the water course.
Hiding in the bush, our first Wallaby of the holiday.
A log had been washed down, caught by the make shift stepping stones across the creek.
Our return we walked past the camping ground.
It's a popular adventure holiday to drive the Gibb River Road and stop off at the outback resorts along the way.
Dinner is served.
After a brief twilight, we adjourn to the bar restaurant to meet the staff, chat with other holiday makers and enjoy a great evening meal
made all the more romantic by being eaten under the unknown stars of the Southern skies.
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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Cannon G7 or Ann's Ixus 75 Digital cameras.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a last check of the passports before you leave home.