A Summer Holiday Down Under

Part 9: Kimberley to Kununurra

18th and 19th July 2008. Days 21 and 22.

In brief : We leave the superb Kimberley Coastal Camp and complete the circle back at Kununurra. We had already booked a Lake Tour before we left a few weeks ago, so as to avoid the feeling that we've started back on our return journey already.

Weather : Kimberley Blue - we're quite getting used to the delightful predictability of it all.

Click here for our holiday travel map

The Ord River Diversion Dam as we make our final approach to Kununurra Airport.


This would be our last morning at the camp.

After another fine breakfast it is time to pack our bags and get ready to leave.

We're just gathering our gear and see, through the mesh window of the cabin, the arrival of the helicopter.

The incoming transport has brought fresh supplies for the campand the ground crew off-load the goodies

fresh fruit and veg and all the other day to day shopping requirements they need !

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Baz and John leave on the first helicopter

as they have an early flight booked to Broome.

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Ours is the second flight of the day

so now it's time to say goodbye to everyone.

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Ann and Bella pose for a last photo

as we leave Rocky,

Pixie, Steph, Mick and Gary

to look after the camp and it's new guests.

What more can we say . . . A BIG THANK YOU . . .

We had a brilliant holiday.

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We're up and away

heading for Mitchell Plateau, the high ground at the far end of the bay.

Flying low over the Mitchell River we make our way inland.

The sandy river banks are lined with Mangrove trees which are no doubt home to large numbers of crocodiles.

The Mitchell Plateau transfer, from the Slingair helicopter . . .
. . . to their light aircraft for the next part of our flight.

From the air, we say our goodbyes to the bay that has been home for the last five days.

The camp is on the peninsular in the centre, the Mitchell River is to the left, the Lawley River where we met Bucky to the right.

Steep Head Island, where we had lunch on the beach, is presumably the first tall island across the bay to the right of the photo.

Headphones meant we could talk to the pilot along the way . . .
. . . as the aircraft flew on . . . at fluffy cloud level !

A natural, circular salt pan beach . . .
. . . opposite the town of Wyndham on the bend of the Chamberlain River.

Looking down on the artistic meanderings of the estuary.

Flying inland now we cross several mountain ranges . . .
. . . before finding ourselves back once again at Kununurra.

We've gone full circle on our trip out here, but the holiday isn't quite over yet.

Dean our aircraft pilot now changes vehicles to drive the Heliwork people carrier, so after a short car journey we're back at the Lakeside Apartments.

The Kununurra Information Centre.

We walked into town to do a little shopping (souvenirs and tomorrows breakfast) and then enjoyed a late lunch in the Boab Bookshop and cafe.

The tractor unit from a big Road Train
Midday rest under the trees for the locals.

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One of the many memories of the town

will be the many Red Kites that were flying around.

They were almost as common as crows or magpies are

to our British towns and parks.

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Next morning we have a trip planned and we are up early again . . . it's getting a habit !

Across the Lilly Pond is the "Sleeping Buddha", the sandstone rock hills reflecting the early morning sunshine.

Suburban Kununurra.

Our bus arrived and proceeded on a short tour of town, collecting the other passengers for the Lake Argyle Tour.

First stop, the old Durack Homestead house.

This is an old and solidly built stone house that was the centre of the Durack Family cattle station.

It was saved from flooding by the Lake Argyle water and re-built on a headland overlooking the new reservoir. It is now a museum and heritage centre. Unfortunately the speed at which the waters rose, and the difficulty of access in the wet season, meant that the other outbuildings were never rescued, and they lie to this day, submerged at the far end of the lake.

A picture of the old Homestead above the oven,
The Nursery and other household artifacts
. . . and some riding tack saved from the water

We visited the dam and looked down on the Ord River.

The initial scheme in the 1960's was a small Diversion Dam downstream at Kununurra, but the seasonal flows were too erratic to ensure a regular off-take of irrigation water. The main Lake Argyle dam acts as a regulatory dam to balance the water flow in the river over the differing seasons. They generate enough hydro power here to supply both Kununurra and Wyndham townships and replaces the old diesel power stations that were used previously.

The Water Tower controls the outflow.
The short but effective stone dam.

By closing off this narrow gorge, they have created the largest man made lake in Australia, Lake Argyle.

Our trip included the coach ride, visiting the Homestead on the way, lunch and a video in the visitor's centre

and now a lake tour on this rather interesting looking fast catamaran, Kimberley Durack.

A modern aluminium boat . . .
. . . with it's laid back skipper, Travis.

First stop, a chance to see the Rock Wallabies that live around the lake.

Despite the use of the plural noun, don't try looking for any more as there's only one in the picture !

We cruise the lake, Travis giving us an interesting commentary as we go.

This is a Fresh Water Crocodile and they are quite common on the lake.

He / she's about 2-3 metres long and has a much thinner, less muscular snout than the salt water variety.

Whilst they are not considered dangerous to humans, as they are quite shy, I still wouldn't want to upset one !

Barbecue Island.

You are allowed to camp on the islands in the lake if you wish, but the park authorities insist on a no fires policy, that you have a boat available at all times and that the boat has onboard facilities including a toilet to prevent pollution.

This effectively has stopped overnight camping out here. I'm not sure I'd fancy it anyway, with the neighbours like we have just met.

We stop in the shallows to meet more of the wildlife.
Archer Fish and Catfish.

The Archer fish have developed the skill of shooting down flies by squirting water several feet up into the air and effectively knocking their food out of the sky.

We duplicate this by holding out crumbs of fish food at arms length. If they squirt your hand then you drop the food as a reward. Very impressive !

The activity attracts the catfish too, and they go berserk over a handful of food thrown directly into the water !

Peace and quiet returns as we move on.

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Travis shows us a map of the lake

and explained how all the islands were the tops

of the old mountain ranges.

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Our two and a half hour cruise would only

visit the smaller north western corner of this vast lake.

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Sit back and enjoy the ride.

While moving from one location to another, the boat manages an impressive turn of speed.

The sun is staring to set now and the rich colours are reflected in the sandstone hills and islands.

The far end of the lake was so far away it was beyond the horizon. The Durack Ranch was up there somewhere.

We moor up in a small bay to enjoy the last of the sunshine. It was a sunset cruise after all.

On the brochure it also advertised "Bring your bathers" as there's chance to swim in the lake . . .

They advertised that they would be serving drinks . . .
. . . but Champagne in twenty fathoms of water ?

I found a float pole too, as drinking bubbly and trying to tread water at the same time is more difficult than you think !

The last of the sun for today.

Ann and a fellow passenger enjoy the views as the sun goes down.

Sunset over Lake Argyle.


All that remained was to enjoy that fast boat ride back to the landing stage.


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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 . . . an extra sunrise surprise when you're not expecting it.

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