Saturday, 14 June 2014

Silent Grove Camp Ground & Bells Gorge

Silent Grove Camp Ground & Bells Gorge

It was an early start from our Windjana gorge camp & we were packed & ready to go by 8am.  We set off to explore more of the Gibb River Road. After a quick stop at the rubbish collection station at the Windjana turn off, we were back on the Gibb & the first famous landmark we came to was Queen Victoria Head, a cutting through the Napier Ranges that has one side shaped like a head, that they reckon looks like Queen Victoria, I could see some resemblance. We travelled through some beautiful country & the road was pretty good. Next up we approached the edge of the King Leopold Ranges, they were just spectacular & we stopped at a couple of lookouts to take it all in & get some photos.  

Silent Grove is located in the King Leopold Conservation Park & is about 20kms north of the Gibb.  The campground is at Silent Grove, but the main attraction is Bells Gorge & Bells falls, another 10km or so in. The track is was ok with a couple of small creek crossings.  We arrived after lunch & it wasn't to busy, so we set up camp. We decided we would do the gorge the next day so had a quiet afternoon around camp watching the campground fill up very quickly. The campground was very similar to Windjana with flushing toilets, hot showers & areas for generators, tour groups & a quiet area.  The cost was again $12 per person per night. We were lucky enough to get free camping the nights we stayed. The ranger at Windjana asked us if we could do him a favour by dropping off a sign to the ranger at Silent Grove, no worries we said, he then offered us free camping, so we were definitely happy to oblige! The ranger at Silent Grove "Henry" turned out to be the best ranger we have met in a long time & he told us some great stories about his park & job. 

There are fire rings at the campground so we made use of that & got out the Furphy camp oven & cooked up some delicious roast chicken & veggies, it was then early to bed as we had been told to get an early start if we wanted the gorge to ourselves in the morning.

We did get up early & left the campground at about 6.30am for the drive to the gorge. The walk in to the top of the falls was pretty easy & meandered its way along a lovely creek.  When we got to the stop of the falls, there was another creek that you could explore & you could also view Bells Falls, it was one of the best waterfalls we had seen, with lots of water going over.  We crossed the creek & made our way down towards the falls, this was rivalling some of the Karrijini walks, but was much shorter. We when got to the bottom, we got some photos before any other tourists arrived & then jumped in for a swim, we had the place to ourselves for a good half an hour.  The swimming was great, but the current was really strong & took heaps of effort to get to the waterfall, Mat managed it, but my swimming ability wasn't that good!

After an hour or so we walked back up the hard piece & then walked along the smaller creek for a while to a secluded spot for morning tea.  After that it was a pretty easy walk back to the car park.

Back at camp for the afternoon, the campground filled up very quickly again, it was crazy how busy it was. We ended up camped next to a backpacker couple from Switzerland & Austria, who were fascinated by us making a cake in the camp oven.  We soon invited them over for coffee & cake after dinner & we had a great night chatting to them about their adventures & lives. It turned out to be one of the best days we have had on the road so far. Despite it being a busy camp ground it was ok, it seemed to be the camp of stories though, as we chatted to people about their experiences on the Gibb. The best one was a lovely couple towing a camper trailer who's trailer wheel came flying off, ripping out most of the underside of his trailer & it also catching on fire about 65km north of Drysdale River station on the Kulumburu Road.  He did manage to fix it with some help & was still travelling, but wow it was a great story, hopefully we don't end up with any that will compete with it (touch wood).


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