Kimberley

Heavy Fuel- Dire Straits

Today was a bit of a long haul. We had thought of stopping between Kununnurra and Katherine but in the end nothing really appealed. The road winds through some nice escarpments as you leave WA but then becomes quite flat.
So we thought we would post some statistics of our trip so far. Some are big, none are scary, and some we don't believe either.

Total distance to Katherine: 11,994 km.
Total fuel used: 1816.17 liters
Average litres per 100 km: 14.72
Average cost of fuel (premium 95/98): $1.74
Average distance per tank: 1222.9 km
Average distance per day: 247km
Cost of fuel so far: $3171.94
Most expensive fuel so far $2.03 per litre (Nullabor)
Cheapest fuel : $1.47 per litre (Perth$)

Prados seen so far: gazillions, by far the most seen vehicle out and about
Most popular caravan towing vehicle: 200 series land cruiser
Most popular caravan: Jayco Sterling
Most horrible water: Geraldton, truly disgusting
Destroyed pluggers: none, yet. One is showing signs of going. Backups have been acquired.
Hottest day temp: 33 deg. Mt Hart Station
Jaks favourite spot so far: Lake Jasper.
Bryce's favourite spot so far: Gibb River Road. Dusty, corrugated, tyre wrecking, windscreen chipping, hot and expensive but still so worth it.

Elephant Stone - The Stone Roses

We arrived at the Pentecost River not long after leaving Home Valley Station. It was only 15km to what would be the biggest water crossing of the GRR. This iconic section of the road is, rumor has it, home to crocodiles. As we joined the line waiting to cross we noticed a red Hilux with its bonnet up off to the side. Curiosity got the better of me and I wandered over to see what had gone wrong. The magic smoke had been let out of the wiring when the owner tried to start the truck. After a bit of thinking and mucking around it was discovered that the main earth lead had broken inside its insulation so the starter motor found an earth through the voltage regulator wiring. Fascinating stuff!
A quick replacement with a new lug saw him on his way.
As we watched various 4x4s, vans and trucks come across the river a bike pulled up on the far bank. It is around 100 meters across the river but it's not very deep. Everyone watched in anticipation as he set off. The rider made it across with no problem which was a great effort. A quick look at the bike identified it as as a Cagiva Elefant. Not many of them about! Duncan, the rider is on a quick tour of Oz and had covered a lot miles to be here. You can read more about Duncan's bike and travels here: http://www.jum80.com/about
We crossed soon after with no problem and looked forward to Emma Gorge.
There are a lot of sealed sections along this bit and a new range of cars started appearing.
Emma Gorge looked nice, but as you have to pay a fee (not cheap) to park and visit we grabbed a stubbie holder and resumed heading to Kununurra.
Just when we thought we were going to make it with no real damage, the inevitable happened. Many of the camper-trailer drivers have no idea of the carnage they cause as they speed along. Most of the ones we encountered slowed down when approaching another car but some did not. Rocks come off their tyres hit the trailer and bounce forwards. We saw the rock coming that hit the windscreen. It has put a sizeable chip in it.
All caused by idiots with no idea what they are doing.
The rest of the run into town was nice smooth bitumen. When went straight to a Novus rep to see about the windscreen. He could fix it on the spot but after looking said it wasn't worth doing and would not crack. Let's hope he's right!
The tyre was next and we dropped that off to be repaired. When we picked it up we got the news that one of the bands has let go inside it. Two new tyres for us in Darwin. At least we will be doing the Cape with new boots.
A bit of shopping in the town centre resulted in some new surfie joes for when my favorites die, beer, lighter fluid, and some pink diamonds for Jaks.
A couple of hours spent cleaning the car has returned it to white and after a night at the Big4 bat park (Hayman people will know that smell) we will head east and into a new Territory.

Bulls On Parade - Rage Against the Machine

Elizabeth Station gets relatively cold at night, and with a clear sky we awoke with condensation on the tent. So after giving it some time to dry we packed up and hit the 30km of dirt back to the main road again.
There are not many gorges and attractions along this section of the GRR so we just cruised along, taking in the scenery and the dust. The inside and outside of Hillary are becoming more and more red, now come to mention it, we are becoming more and more red too.
Of interest today we passed a 2WD wicked camper, 2 Triumph Tigers who had lost a friend, 2 Germans in a x-trail with a flat tire asking where the nearest service station was and approximately 6 cattle. Some sections of the road are terrific, smooth gravel and no corrugations. Others are not so good. Hillary has developed a new rattle that is proving very difficult to locate. Still working on that one.
The final section of road down into Home Valley Station has spectacular views over the Cockburn Range. Photos do not do this place justice. It is truly spectacular.
As we approached the entrance to Home Valley, we saw a lady waiting at the gate. After initially thinking she was waiting for us to go through and then shut it, we were amused when she started screaming at us to stop. Thinking there was a problem we were alarmed when she yelled at us to close the gate in a very angry voice. After wishing her a very good day she drove off in a huff. We can only assume she had been stuck there for a while as there was quite a lot of traffic.
Home Valley is the most developed of the stations along the GRR. There is accommodation, pool, restaurant and bar. It's a great place to stop for the night and the campground is quite full.
We pitched up camp at the station and spent the afternoon swimming in the refreshing pool and reading our books.
Golden hour turned the Cockburn Range various shades of red and purple, and despite our best efforts it was impossible to capture this in a photo. This land is big.
We treated ourselves to a meal in the Dusty Bar - steak and kangaroo with an Ord River Rum.
We only have 60km of the GRR remaining to tackle tomorrow before hitting the black stuff and making our way into Kununurra, home of Ord River Rum and pink diamonds.

Another One Bites the Dust - Queen

4:55am seemed to be a good time to start packing up your camper, or so thought one of our camp mates. His friend later apologised to the camp after telling his mate to bugger off. I t turns he was only traveling just down the road to Silent Grove. At least he would have got there for breakfast!
The rest of the normal folks got going around 7:00am. The sun is up by then and it starts to warm up. This morning however we were greeted by cloudy skies and the smell of rain. After a quick check in on VKS and a chat to George the forecast was in our favour. We hit the road and travelled through to Mt Barnett roadhouse and Manning Gorge. The gorge is a great spot for swim. The water is clear and quite cold. There is something wrong about about swimming up rivers in the Kimberly though...
The GRR (remember?) has been great up to now. Very smooth and hardly corrugated. Around Mt Barnett though the surface changed and got quite rocky. Sure enough about 2km from the end we had a flat on the left front. Since we had no phone service to call RACWA we had to change it ourselves. Several people stopped or slowed down to check if we were ok which was very nice.
Soon after we turned north to Mt Elizabeth Station. This was the most corrugated road we have been on so far. The station has nice camping out the back and here we sit watching our fellow campers set up their various campers and tents. Always entertaining.

Wherever I May Roam - Metallica

Our triumphant return to Windjana Gorge was rewarded with slightly more water and a lot less heat and dust. Even the freshies seemed a lot happier. We spent the afternoon wandering around the gorge enjoying the views and hugging a boab tree (at Rene's request).
We returned to find the campsite quite overcrowded (approx 40-50 vehicles in our bit and a similar amount in the generator section) and we now had new neighbours that were camped closer than comfort would deem acceptable.
An early night (7:02pm) and early rise (6:50am).
We returned the 20km on a reasonably good road back to The Gibb River Road (herein known as the GRR). For part of our journey we were stuck behind a renta doing 50 that never checked their mirrors. We are travelling at around 80-90 km/h most of the time. With the tyre pressures around 30psi this makes for the best ride. After swallowing their dust for a while we gave up on overtaking them and stopped on the side of the road to allow them some time to get ahead.
We made a left hand turn and wound our way up into the King Leopold Range to Mt Hart Station. This station has been recently taken over by APT and they are still getting their feet on the ground so to speak. None of the facilities they advertised on the website were available. A bit of a shame but we would not have used most them anyway. The showers were hot and with plentiful water so we were happy. After watching a short, entertaining and slightly weird video on the history of this station we set up camp in the lovely and less crowded campground.
A few more punters rolled in during the afternoon. We headed off for a short drive to do a walk up to a swimming hole. The walk was ok but the swimming made the trip very worthwhile.
A late night for us, good heavens it was nearly 8 o'clock!