Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mick & Mike’s Tag-a-long Tour Part I: From Broome to Manning Gorge

So, the blokes I met in Broome caravan park turned out to be a couple
of retired blokes from the east coast. Mick (60), from Eleebana (Lake
Macquarie), NSW, had the 4WD and the camper trailer and Mike (66),
from Nambucca Heads, NSW, was along for the ride. We hit the road
pretty much straight away and, although I later wondered at my
reckless decision, at the time I didn't feel there was any reason to
hesitate, or to be concerned at the turn of events. Mum thought
otherwise. And even Mike was telling me I should have taken a picture
of their licence plate and sent it on to someone. I know he had a
point and I guess I was a bit lucky that in the end none of these
safety concerns mattered.

We stopped briefly in Derby to shop for food and booze, but upon
discovering there weren't many other things to do in Derby, continued
another 126km (our first foray along the Gibb River Road [GRR]!) to
Windjana Gorge. We camped for two excellent nights there, visiting the
gorge itself and its many freshwater crocs (oh, I saw about 13 in half
an hour), as well as Tunnel Creek, which in my opinion is an
over-rated walk in the dark through waist-deep water surrounded by
large groups of elderly tourists wearing not much and freshwater crocs
who'd rather be left alone. As an introduction to the Kimberley
though, Windjana Gorge is perfect. Even better if you actually know
of the history of the place, an awful tale of genocide well-described
in Jandamarra and the Bunuba Resistance.

From Windjana, Mick n Mike's tour continued along the GRR to Lennard
River Gorge (even though it was closed!); Imintji, where we had a tyre
repaired by Neville, and at about 307km from Derby, we stopped for the
night – at Mt Barnett Roadhouse and Manning Gorge. We camped
overnight at Manning Gorge campground, which was packed and without
functional amenities (no lights, no hot water) but not entirely
unpleasant. We ended up playing cards with our neighbours, a friendly
couple and once again, getting stuck into M&Ms goodly supply of

The 4km return hike to Manning Gorge is an awesome hike and the gorge
itself is a stunning spot, with a waterfall and heaps of space for
swimming. We didn't hang around all that long, but you could, if you
had some tucker to keep you going. Instead we got back on the road
and, although I'd chatted to Peter Lacy briefly at the Roadhouse, the
sign at the Mt Elizabeth turnoff warned of a very rough road, so we
continued on and made ourselves a bush camp on the banks of the Hann
River instead.

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