On the morning of Saturday the 27th August we set off from Wyndham for Kununurra to stock up on some much needed supplies. While there are quite a number of attractions around Kununurra we decided that we would leave them for another time as we had made arrangements to meet up with our good friends Sheila and Ken from Darwin in Katherine and so were keen to continue heading east and we wanted to visit Keep River National Park on the way. It is only about 100 km to Kununurra from Wyndham, so we were able to set up camp and do the shopping. before the shops closed. As is the case with many outback towns, the shops are not open on Sundays.
We decided to have a rest day on the Sunday and found a great cafe for lunch then checked out some of the newly developed irrigation areas which spread for some distance north of the town.
Fully rested on the Monday morning we set off for Keep River NP, which is just over the border in the NT. Chris and I had been to Keep River previously and thought that it was a wonderful park that is not often spoken about by other travellers. So with our recommendation it was Keep River for one night. We set up camp with some difficulty, as with many of the NT run parks, they do not facilitate easily camper trailers, the camp sites are primarily designed for car and tent travellers only, particularly in the non generator camp ground (Jarnem) that we chose to camp in. After some lunch we headed for the Jarnem walks. Chris, Di and I decided to do the 7 km loop walk which included some climbing while Harold having some trouble with his dicky knee decided to do the easy section only to the art site and back, but still a 5.2 km walk, none the less. This is a fabulous walk with wonderful views and rock formations plus some impressive Aboriginal art.
The following morning we broke camp, hooked up our campers and headed for the Goorrandalng camp ground and the Goorrandalng walk. This is a short 2 km walk which was easy to complete before setting off east. Wouldn’t you know it there was a wanker in a caravan with a noisy “el cheapo” generator chugging away that we could hear for the entirety of the walk, or at least until he pulled up camp and was on his way. There is simply no need for this, generators should be banned in all National Parks as they are in NSW, full stop. Here you are trying to appreciate the remoteness and the tranquillity and you have the bloody drone of a generator completely spoiling the experience. What could have possibly have needed the damn thing for while breaking camp. Probably to run his microwave. IDIOTS!!!! On a brighter note, we recommend that anyone heading across the Victoria Highway between Katherine and Kununurra should not miss a visit to Keep River NP.
We continued East and camped that night at Timber Creek which would leave us a fairly easy drive to Katherine the following day.
The following day a little short of Victoria River, we did a short walk to a an Aboriginal Art site at Joe’s Creek in the Gregory River NP then headed for Katherine.
Arriving in Katherine we set up camp at Riverview Tourist Park. The following day Ken and Sheila arrived from Darwin and over the next 2 days we spent our time catching up, having the occasional beer/wine, out to dinner and having the occasional swim in the Katherine Hot Springs which we could walk to from our camp.
On the following Saturday morning after a fabulous couple of days, we said our goodbyes and headed for Mataranka. We decided to stay at the camp ground walking distance from Bitter Springs. Bitter Srings as a much more natural experience than the main Mataranka Springs area which is very over developed and usually very crowded. We arrived in time to set up camp and go and and experience the hot (warm) springs for an hour or so.
That night the heavens opened up and we had about 35 mm of rain. Consequently our camp site was a little the worst for ware. However we soon had breakfast, de-watered what we could and headed for Roper Bar. Chris and I, way back in 2008 stumbled across a fabulous camp spot that is known by only very few people, a few km further on from Roper Bar. We have camped there twice before, once in 2008 and once in 2010. But since then the are has been included in the Limmen National Park, so I felt sure that the track, normally hard to see and a little overgrown would either be completely covered up or have a sign erected, “authorised vehicles only”. While the track was a little hard to see as there had been some road works undertaken where the track leaves the main road, we did find it. It is a fairly bad track in and has had some damage caused by erosion but we got in OK. My other fear was that, despite the fact not many people know about the camp spot, I was worried that someone would be camped there. To my relief we had the place to ourselves. In fact, while not impossible, having more than one group at the camp spot would prove difficult. We found out in 2008 from a Ngukurr elder that the spot was called mermaid dreaming. We were a little surprised that mermaids existed in the Aboriginal culture but she seemed to know what she was talking about. The area is very rocky and the historic presence of Aborigines is obvious from the plethora of petroglyphs on the rocks. In addition there are plenty of Crocodiles to observe (mainly freshies but I wouldn’t swim there in a fit), and many birds. It is a simply beautiful spot. If you the reader are planning on a trip up that way, and would like to know how to get to the spot, please contact me and discuss your bonafides. It is not a spot that we would ever put on Wikicamps.
We camped at Mermaid Dreaming for 2 nights and then headed for Butterfly Springs/Gorge, our next planned camp spot.
The next morning, 6th Sept we set off, dropped into St Vidgeon ruins and had a “cuppa” on the Lomareium Lagoon. A fabulous spot, OK for overnight camping and fabulous bird life. From Roper Bar east along the Roper River it is a popular area for fisherman. Many varieties can be caught including the very popular Barramundi. There are a number of camping areas provided by NT Parks, the main one being Tomato Island (Munbillila). It is a very large camp ground with a camp host and serious facilities.
Next stop was Towns River, normally a very interesting spot to stop, by there were very strong winds blowing, however we were able to get out of the wind to have some lunch. After lunch we headed for Butterfly Springs/Gorge with great expectations as our next camp spot. Chris and I had been to Butterfly Gorge on 2 previous occasions. It is normally very crowded, but as we were late in the season we hoped that it would not be too busy. Well when we arrived there was no another sole. Fantastic, but why. Well further investigation revealed that the water level was very low and not very inviting for swimming. Despite this we set up camp and had a great night with no neighbours. Especially no generators. The top end has had 2 very dry wet seasons and there is a general lack of water in the whole area. The experts are supposedly predicting a very wet season this year. Lets hope they are right.
Setting off the following morning we headed for one of Limmen National Parks main attractions, Southern Lost City. Again Chris and I have visited it twice before, in fact I have visited it three times before, but look forward to it each time. So we were keen for Harold and Di to experience the area. I will let the photos speak for themselves.
After doing the pleasant 2.5 km loop walk we headed for Lorella Springs station, (now called Lorella Springs Wilderness Park) and our next camp.
While it is only a 30 km drive in on the dirt road, the road is not too good. Harold screeched over the two-way “hope this is worth it!” Well worth it was.
Chris and I had visited Lorella Springs in 2008 and loved it. Well since then it has continued to develop into a significant destination for travellers. If they continue to as they are and with an injection funds, we could see it becoming easily a match for El Questro in the number of attractions to drive and walk to. As a result of the small charter helicopter that operates from the homestead, they continue to find features that they did not know existed and they consequently set about opening up roads and walking tracks into them. So our initial reaction of $20 a head for very basic camping (no power and a donkey boiler for a hot shower), was ill founded.
Camping options are huge, in fact you can camp anywhere you like on the 1 million acres.
The weather was starting to get very hot with 36ºC being the norm. Additionally many of the attractions that we were interested in were short of water due to the last 2 very dry years, so we decided to reluctantly head off after 2 nights with a promise to ourselves to return in the future. In retrospect maybe we should have stayed a couple more days.
So ends this post, next post, Lawn Hill and more.