With our days in the Northern Territory drawing to a close, we headed back down the Stuart Highway again towards Katherine, this time to join the Victoria Highway to venture west towards Western Australia. This section of the trip, from Daly River in the NT to Kununurra in WA, is just under 800 kms, but we plan to take it easy and enjoy the sights.
As we wanted to stay somewhere other than Katherine this time, we took the advice of many travellers we’d met on this trip, and camped out at the Leliyn / Edith Falls campground. And we were so delighted with the beauty and simplicity of the place that we even extended our stay!
Leliyn / Edith Falls is within the Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge). The main swimming area is at the base of the falls (the ‘plunge pool’), and is beautifully lined with paperbarks and pandanus trees. Like many popular swimming spots up here in the Top End, they are checked and cleared of crocs each year after the wet season, before being opened for swimming. Even so, signs warn of the ‘very low risk’ of crocs, but swimming is at one’s own risk. We did venture in but the water was quite cold, and very deep. And if your feet stayed still for more than a few seconds, they were nibbled by little fish!
The very popular camping ground was beautifully appointed, with lots of grassy areas, gas BBQs, hot showers and amenities, and plenty of room and privacy between campsites. If you’re looking to camp here, try to arrive early, as they don’t take bookings.
We walked the 2.6 km Leliyn Trail, a steep, rocky loop which provided great views (and even a bit of Telstra mobile reception up high!).
Best of all was the opportunity for a refreshing swim around the waterfall in the upper pool, about half way around the trail. Interestingly, there were many more people swimming up here than down in the plunge pool.
With the swim and lunch over, it was time to complete the Leliyn Trail loop walk. And it is fair to say that the second half of the walk is a tad more challenging and rockier than the first half!
The track may have been challenging but the views were definitely worth the effort.
The drive west on the Victoria Highway proved to be far more scenic than the other highways we’d travelled in the NT, especially the rugged rocky outcrops around the Victoria River area.
Our next stop was at Big Horse Creek campground in the Judbarra / Gregory National Park, just past the small outpost of Timber Creek. What a stunning, quiet little place, amongst so many boab trees and beside the muddy banks of the Victoria River.
We tried our hand at fishing from the boat ramp beside the campground but, alas, no barra (again). But then, nobody else was having any luck either.
Sadly, the boat ramp beside the campground was the site for police boat activity while we were here, as police divers combed the Victoria River for the body of a gyrocopter pilot who had come down into the river after hitting overhead powerlines some days before.
The final stretch of the Victoria Highway continued to delight us with boab trees and more fascinating rocky outcrops.
And, finally, we arrived in Western Australia …
… to be greeted by a very friendly WA state quarantine officer, who went right through the caravan fridge and cupboards in search of rogue fruit, veges and honey. Luckily for us, we’d either cooked, eaten or given away any such contraband! Also luckily for any unsuspecting travellers entering WA, disallowed food and products can just be confiscated; unlike SA, where you are now fined! That’s right folks, no excuses in SA!
And, so we’ve arrived in the town of Kununurra, in the picturesque East Kimberley region, in the north-east corner of Western Australia. We’ll be staying in Kununurra for a week or so, using it as a hub as we explore the region and all it has to offer.