We left Derby this morning and headed up the Gibb River Road (GRR). We decided not to visit Windjana Gorge as we had seen it before and Ken's feet were giving him some pain being almost the last week of his monthly chemo regime. At the end of the very short bitumen section we took 10psi out of all the tyres and continued on.
We were looking for a morning coffee stop and pulled into Lennard River Rest Area (WA Camp 768 in CAW 6) and drove in a short distance to find several vans parked up including BOG members Grin'n'Bearit (John & Wendy) and Track'n'On (Bob & Sue) who we had met at Denmark. That was enough for us, we decided to stay overnight.
This is the Lennard River looking down towards the bridge:
At sunset we all took our chairs up to the high banks and enjoyed some wine, beer and nibblies.
Queen Victoria Rock:
Our next overnighter was at Silent Grove which was very pleasant:
Continuing on we stopped at Mt Barnett Roadhouse and went through to Manning Gorge to camp the night. Ken and I had a very pleasant swim in the pool at the end of the campground.
Russ Creek was our next overnight rest area (WA Camp 752 in CAW 6). It was dusty but pleasant. The creek was all but dry:
Leaving Russ Creek we saw several signs enticing us to call into Ellenbrae Station for scones and jam and cream. Resistance was useless. After washing these down with some coffee we went for a brief walk along the creek bank to see where a tinny had been forced into a tree during last wet season's floods:
The grounds at Ellenbrae:
Approaching the Pentacost River there were some beautiful vistas in front of us.
By this stage of the dry, the Pentacost was really shallow. It only just reached our side steps. But we had to record the crossing so I whipped out my Fat Gecko and stuck my video camera on to a window the van.
Here are Ken & Lyn taking their mighty Spinifex across the Pentacost:
We spent three nights at El Questro. It wasn't too bad. A bit over-priced but I reckon it would be an economic nightmare to run. It is now owned and operated by an American company, the same one that operates the campsites at Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks in the US.
On Chamberlain Gorge the power of the wet season flooding was obvious.
Putting aside my negative feelings about Robinson R44 helicopters we took to the air. Here is the El Questro homestead. $2500 per room per night, minimum 2 nights. The floods last wet were lapping halfway up the pylons to the verandah.
Lyn is hiding her white knuckles behind Ken's back.
We arrived in Kununurra on Monday 18th July.
My impressions of the GRR:
West of the Kalumburu turnoff the road is very good. A lot of roadworks happening and only a few short corrugated sections.
East of the Kalumburu turnoff it is a goat track and steadily gets worse around the El Questro entrance road (which is really bad too). The corrugations here reduced us to 10 to 15kph. Obviously Royalties for Regions has not reached here yet.
Perhaps the worst thing about our drive along the GRR, and the factor that will stop me ever coming back, is the complete selfishness and arrogance of the drivers. Those that have UHF radios do not use them. Others don't carry them at all. So hardly anyone called up behind us to negotiate getting around us.
They passed at reckless speed, throwing up stones. They would appear out of our dust on our right on blind corners and hills and then cut us off as if we were on their road.
And a special mention to the managers of Thrifty Rent-a-Cars: give your Prado customers a better briefing than just throwing them the keys and saying good luck. They seem to be a breed of their own.