Kimberley - Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek June 18 - 20 2018
  Having refueled, made a couple of bookings, and said goodbye to the internet in Derby we headed for Windjana Gorge.

The Gibb River Road.

There are many stories of this road. In 1978 it was all gravel and considered a bit of an adventure. It rained so we took the main road through Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek.

It became a road in the 1960's. Prior to that it was probably rough station tracks.

Not having looked too closely at the map the first surprise was its mostly sealed for the first 100km. Roadworks in progress to seal some more.

  And when it wasn't sealed the corrugations were light to moderate and hardly noticeable once tyre pressures were dropped.

The graders were through here a few weeks ago, after the end of the wet season.


A short evening walk to admire the limestone cliffs that stretch either side of Windjana gorge.

The gorge was a sea passage through these cliffs.

A bit of an absence of bedding planes. And the characteristic vertical erosion of fine grained limestone that has been rained on.

Its a small remnant of a much larger reef. Geike Gorge, which I visited in 1978, about 110 km south east, is part of the same reef.

In a huge loop, way out to the north, we possibly flew over part of it, the other end of the crescent is near Kununurra, about 450 km east-north-east.

  An Ent that got away,

guarding the cliffs from we know not what.

Boabs are "deciduous", lose their leaves in the dry season. Odd for a tropical climate.

  Its hot in the sun during the day so up early to walk through the gorge.

Underneath the veneer the limestone is white.

  the marked track is along the side of the gorge, through trees,

we try hard to walk in the sand of the creek bed,

trying to catch the early morning sun on the cliffs

  Having dropped the camera just before boarding the plane for Talbot Bay we are now alternating between two cameras.

The dropped one has lost the ability to focus with no zoom (really wide angle), and occasionally says "turn off camera and turn on again".

It is usable for now, but I suspect quite likely it will steadily deteriorate until unusable.

We are getting used to the old camera, again.

Bedding planes in the cliffs of the gorge.

Some fossils have been found in river gravel 40m up the cliff.

The limestone is an old (Devonian) reef. Not as old as the Pilbara by a long stretch.

  And to compare the colours, the new (dropped) camera.

If I managed to set the times on both cameras to be the same, this is about 5 minutes later.

The sun has moved quite a bit.

Now I remember why we bought a new camera .....

  The sand is coarse. As with all the rivers since we left the desert.

Faster flowing, less braided, rivers.

  Our first crocodile.

Fresh water.

Totally harmless, except when they bite.

  Well caked in mud, totally still.
  If we return in a few thousand years we can imagine the landscape looking a bit like the stone forest we visited in China.
  We watched the juvenile Straw-Necked Ibis for a little while.

We've watched Ibis in our garden pecking at insects and grubs in the grass.

Intrigued as this one adopted the side to side beak movement characteristic of water birds to presumably find grubs under water.

  We reached the end of the track after about 4km from the campsite.

The gorge carried on a bit further, but the end was about visible.

This is beginning our return.

  Could this be remnants of a stromatolite.

Much, much, younger than those we have previously seen.

  A look over shoulder at the end.
  The light has changed, and we find a more open path across the sand.
  Unmistakably fine grained limestone.
  We stopped to follow the instructions on a sign.

Look for a fossilised nautiloid it said.

Also look for stromatoporoids - but we forgot to read the earlier sign that showed us what they looked like. We imagine something like branching tube worms, without the worm.

This is another type of fossil. It may be a cross-section through the top of a nautiloid. Or it may be a brachyopod. Either way, its fossilised.

  The living fossils line up on a sandbank.

They've emerged from wherever they spend the night to bask in the sun.

  Initially mystified, there were lots of these birds. Not a close flock, just seemed to be in the same area, all keeping a safe distance from us.
  We think Great Bowerbirds.
  Our bird identification helped by the presence of a bower, next to the track near the entrance to the gorge.
  Early start, south along the east side of the limestone.
  To Tunnel Creek.

Looking back at the entrance.

Standing room throughout.

  There's a hole in the roof after a couple of hundred meters.

The floor is coarse sand, with pools of water in some places.

  The cave is dry, and not live. In the sense that precipitation of stalactites and stalagmites is very limited.

An exception is a continuous flow of water from the side that's created this flowstone.

We heard it before we saw it.

About as far as we went. The next pool was a bit deeper than knees. And Ali's knees are lower than mine.

Its possible to walk all the way through the reef (about 1km).

At some stage the cave has been active, some very dusty looking stalactites near the entrance.

  Back at the entrance.

Of course we mentioned three toed dinosaurs ... but really, a different era.

  Back whence we came. Headed north.
  Lillimooloora Police Station (ruins).

Built of limestone blocks.

Of course.

The floor is 50mm slabs of limestone.

  Back on the Gibb River Road we head east.

Through the King Leopold Ranges.

We are uncertain what connection a Belgian King with a dubious reputation in Belgian colonies of Africa has with mountains in the tropical north of Australia.

There's a lot of fine grained granite. And then a lot of sandstone.

  March Fly Glen is a roadside stop with a most unattractive name but a plethora of birds singing.

Among others were a flock of Double-Barred Finches.

We are slowly seeing different finch varieties.

Strangely (we think) finches are easier to spot in this part of the world than wrens.

  We decided not to camp at March Fly. On to Silent Grove so we can have an early start, walk in Bell Gorge then move to Mt Elizabeth station.
Kimberley - Bell Gorge and Manning Gorge June 21 - July 5 2018

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