Saturday, 14 June 2014

Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek

Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek

We travelled from Broome to the Windjana Gorge campsite via Derby for some fuel (we filled up the jerry can for the first time, diesel was $1.899 already) & bread on the 28/05/2014. We finally got to start the Gibb River Road, we were very excited! A lot of the road out towards Windjana is actually bitumen, so that was a little bit of a downer, but we are sure we will be sick of corrugations by the time we are done! Once the bitumen finished the start of the Gibb River Road was pretty good, after the the turn off to Windjana the road deteriorated as seems to be the norm when you are going towards a national park, but it wasn't to bad for Ruby & the trailer. We arrived at the campground at about 2pm, WOW it was right on the edge of the gorge & had spectacular scenery, it was busy but there was still plenty of room & we found a spot with some shade & near a fire ring, we could finally have a fire again. The campsite is split into 2 areas, 1 for generators & tourist groups & the other what they call the quiet camping area (it wasn't quiet!). We ended up in the quiet area. There are flushing toilets & even warm showers & it is $12 a night for adults. It is a find your own space/site campground in a large flat area with lots of room to spread out, by nightfall it was probably half full, so not to bad. There are fire rings spread out over the campground, we had to share with 2 other caravans. 

After we set up we drove the short distance back out of the park & cut some firewood for dinner. The rest of the afternoon/night was chatting to our neighbours & cooking some dinner & then early to bed because we wanted to get an early start on the gorge walk in the morning. We were up early the next morning along with most of the campsite (everyone wanted to get the walk done before it got to hot) & after a quick cup of tea & cereal, we set off to Windjana Gorge. The gorge is only about 400-500 meters from the campsite, it is then a 7km return walk through the gorge. This walk is easily the easiest we have completed.  There are no rocks to scramble down like a lot of the other gorges, there are a few steep bits and a bit of sand to walk through, but mostly the track just meanders along the side of the gorge.  It was really lovely especially early in the morning.  We spotted our first freshwater crocodile about 300 meters in and we continued to spot them in the water as we walked along.  We saw double bar finches, lots of little fish & lots of boab trees as we wandered along.  We reached the end of the path and as we made our way back, some freshies had started to edge towards the banks and some had started basking in the sun. We saw probably a dozen crocs for the day, but we have heard you can see lots more, we were there very early though.  

We had made it back to the campsite by 9.30am. We then decided we should also do Tunnel Creek as well that day, so had a quick smoko break & jumped in the car for the 35km trip up to Tunnel Creek.

Tunnel Creek is creek that runs through a cave & you need to take a torch to explore it & you also have to walk through a fair bit of water.  We were super excited to check it out. We set off from the car park with just the basics, our camera in a dry bag, our torches and a bottle of water. A quick walk and we were at the entrance or what we thought was the entrance, it was blocked by huge rocks. Yep this was it and we had to scramble over the rocks to get into the cave, the water started straight away and we had our feet wet 5 meters in. Once you get over the rocks the walking is really easy. The light from the entrance soon fades away and you need to use your torch to find the path, it gets incredibly dark!! You make your way through pools of water, over little rocky outcrops & over sandy beaches, all in the pitch black, while bats fly around you! It was awesome! Half way along you come to an area were the roof has collapsed letting in some light, but you are soon back in the darkness until you get to the end of the tunnel. At the end is a beautiful little creek, we decided to have a break for 10 minutes and sat on the rocks soaking it all up, it was so quiet, a small Goanna then meandered over the rocks near us, looking for some food.

It was then time to head back, as we made our way back into the tunnel I shone my torch on the first pool of water we had to wade back through, 3 sets of orange eyes blinked back at me, sh!t what were they! I tried to point them out to Mat but his torch was fading, eventually he saw them too, they were fresh water crocs, only little, but still scared the crap out of me, cause we hadn't crossed the water yet, bravely we walked across (we didn't have any choice it was the only way back) & of course it was fine! I can definitely guarantee there are crocs in Tunnel Creek!!

We continued back along, only spotting a few fish as we walked back and tried to get a few photos, but being so dark made it pretty hard to get a good one. The climb back out at the entrance was actually easier than it looked and we were soon back at the car park.  Tunnel Creek was amazing & we would definitely recommend it.  There is a huge amount of history in the Tunnel Creek & Windjana Gorge area, including the stories of the famous aboriginal Jandamara.  On our way back to the campground we called into the remains/ruins of the Lillimooloora homestead, which was also a police outstation & played a significant role in the Jandamara story. 

The whole area has a magical vibe about the place with the beautiful gorges, hidden creeks, freshwater crocs, amazing birdlife (we saw a family of Brolgas and there is a greater Bowerbird nest at the campsite) & amazing boab trees that are all different shapes & sizes. We ended up being back at the campsite by 1pm, so exploring Windjana & Tunnel Creek is definitely possible in one day. A lazy afternoon of blog posts, reading and planning our next stop was had. We had planned to stay 3 nights, but 2 was enough to see it all.  One of the best scenic campsites we have had so far, with good amenities. 

A great start to the Gibb River Road, bring on some more!!!

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