A long way to anywhere!
If there’s one thing we are continually reminded of on this trip, it is that Australia is a BIG country. It’s a long way to just about anywhere!
The leg from Kununurra across to Broome is a little over 1,000 kms. Reluctantly, we decided to give the Bungle Bungles a miss, partly because we’d already seen extensive aerial views of them on a scenic flight, and partly because we’d also seen many mini Bungle Bungles land formations around Kununurra. Not to mention that the 56 kms goat track in to the Purnululu National Park (not including the vast distances once inside the park) is pretty unforgiving at the moment, and we’re not equipped on this trip to leave the van to go camping. So, maybe next time?
So, our first stop was Halls Creek which, again, seems a long way from anywhere.
Make sure you’re carrying sufficient fuel and supplies to ensure you comfortably make the next services, because there’s a loooong way in between!
We were fortunate enough to see this friendly stockman giving us a wave as he herded his many charges along the side of the highway, just outside of Halls Creek.
Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater
One reason for stopping in Halls Creek was to see the famous Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater, which was kind of nearby … in an outback Australia kind of nearby. It was 152 kms each way, of which only 17 kms was sealed. The rest of the road (most of which was the famed Tanami track) varied between soft sand, big rocks, gravel and LOTS of corrugations! And yes, we left our trusty van back in town as we headed out to see the crater.
What this next road sign neglects to mention is that Alice Springs is over 1,000 kms down the Tanami!
This next sign also gave no details of the vast distances. So much for checking out the Warlayirti artists’ gallery in the Balgo Aboriginal community, a “little bit long way” down the road … try 260 kms down the road! (Note that the artists’ gallery sign is actually painted on an old car bonnet. This is an emerging local community arts theme in and around Halls Creek … more example further down this blog.)
After more than 130 kms of kicking up dust, we arrived at the crater.
The Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater is the second largest in the world from which meteorite fragments have been recovered (which have been found up to four kilometeres away). The meteorite is thought to have crashed to earth here around 300,000 years ago, leaving a massive perfectly formed crater which today measures around 850 metres in diameter.
Sights in and around Halls Creek
We stayed for two nights in the Halls Creek caravan park to allow us some time to explore the town and the surrounding area. The CP was pleasant enough, with a very transient overnight population of caravans, motorhomes, camper trailers and tents. While basic in terms of amenities, the staff were helpful and there were plenty of sites.
Two quirky things that struck us about Halls Creek were the many painted public garbage bins and the use of painted car bonnets as ‘canvases’ for directional signs to local attractions.
The bins were painted by some 40 local artists and schoolchildren to brighten up the town and instil a sense of ownership and pride for all ages in the community. Even this public composting toilet facility at nearby Caroline Pool campground couldn’t escape the artists’ brushes!
Some of the old painted car-bonnets-cum-direction-signs for local attractions are depicted below:
Next stop after Halls Creek was a free camp about 55kms past Fitzroy Crossing. After setting up camp, we headed back to town and out to Geikie Gorge, about 20k north of Fitzroy Crossing.
What a gem of a find!
We took the sunset cruise up the Geikie Gorge, which was formed by the Fitzroy River. The cruise was expertly guided and commentated by one of the local rangers through stunning scenery, with colourful sandstone cliffs, sandy river banks, and plenty of birdlife and freshwater crocodiles to be seen. The late afternoon sun lit up the cliffs as we cruised past, and, in some spots, almost beneath them.
Next day, we left the van at our free camp again, this time to venture about 60kms north on the Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road to visit Tunnel Creek.
Tunnel Creek is a 750m long cave carved out of the limestone range by flowing water. The cave is up to 20m high and 15m wide – in parts. Other sections necessitate bobbing down low and guarding your head!
Walking the full length of the creek through the cave system entails wading through sometimes knee-height water, with only a torch to provide some light in the pitch darkness! Oh, and did we mention there are freshwater crocs in the creek? (Fear not, we didn’t see any … but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there!)
But some of the views were stunning, as the following images indicate.
And so, we were back on the road again heading for the coast at Broome. On the way, we caught a glimpse of these two rock wallabies, sitting almost invisibly amidst a dry rocky river bed.
We also saw this mobile department store! Wow!
With less than 200 kms to go, we were still reminded of the distances people travel every day in these parts:
Next stop, Broome and the west coast for some seaside R and R at Cable Beach!