Sunday, 6 July 2014

Keep River National Park

Keep River national park is just across the NT border & only 50km from Kununurra. It has 2 options for camping. The first campground is about 18km into the park & called Gurrandalng, we pulled in here & it was a very nice campsite set alongside a huge escarpment, it was pretty full with lots of caravans & we knew it would get even busier so we went up a bit further to the second campsite Jarnem 31km in. Jarnem was not as busy with equally good views so we stayed there. It is a really big campsite that has really been wrecked by the use of bollards designating bays to camp in that are tiny & not very well designed. There are ample fire pits but these are in all the wrong places as well, there were 2 pit toilets & a water tank. It could of been a great campsite with a bit more thought. The cost was $3.30 per person per night, so very very cheap, hopefully it will pull our average cost of camping down for the month!!

Our first afternnon & night was really nice & quiet, it was hard to get our body clocks to NT time though as we had gained 1.5 hours. There were only about 5 other camps that first night. During the afternoon hundreds of red tailed black cockatoos came near the campsite, just beautiful. 

The next day we set off on the walk at the campground. A 7.3km loop track. As we moved away from the campsite we were treated to swarms of black cockatoos in the thousands, I have never ever seen so many, it was a bird lovers delight! They were in the trees all around us for almost the whole 7km loop. The walking was easy & we were greeted by some great views. We walked up to the top of a lookout that was just amazing & also completed Nigli gap a gap through the escarpments that had some rock art as well. It was a lovely walk & we really enjoyed it. We were back to camp by lunch & spent the afternoon taking photos of birds & reading. 

That night the camp was a bit busier but not too bad until a family drove in just on dark & camped right next to us. They had 3 kids probably aged 3-6 & wow they drove us nuts. Very loud & they had no discipline while mum & dad shouted at them continuously. They stayed for 2 nights & it really was a real detriment to our stay, it was just constant. 

Black cockatoos

Rainbow bee eater

Northern Rosella

The next day we did one of the other walks up the Keep River itself to an living shelter site where the aboriginals camped during the wet season, it also had some rock art. It was an interesting walk along the rocky banks of the river. We then made our way to the ranger station to look at Cockatoo Lagoon, a lagoon that rarely dries up & becomes a haven for birds, we only spotted a couple of little egrets. We then went to a place called Gingers Hill which has an aboriginal bird catcher on top. They used to hide in it, start a small smoky fire & have a lure on a stick they would use to attract hawks & then catch them, it was pretty cool. 

Cockatoo Lagoon

Hawk catcher

Back to camp & the screaming kids next door & we packed up what we could with the plan to get at least to Katherine the next day. Keep River national park is a great spot to spend a few days, definitely worth a look. 

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