Kimberley - Geike Gorge, Galvans Gorge, Barnett River Gorge July 22 - 25 2018
  Leaving Derby we called in to see the Prison Tree.

A large Boab Tree. May be as old as 1,000 years. Boabs are hollow in the middle and don't have growth rings so its a bit hard to tell.

Used as a temporary prison on the walk to Derby. As well as the conventional use of a prison for deterring criminal activity there was blackbirding throughout the Kimberley..

It seems the current Derby Prison is custom built with rehabilitation in mind. A description by one of the prison officers suggests if one has to be in prison there are much worse places.

  The route past the tree was also the route for cattle on their way to the port of Derby.

On the right of the pic is a very long concrete trough, circa 1908.

Fed by the bore to provide water for cattle.

  The Great Northern Road. Part of "The Savannah Way".

To Fitzroy Crossing.

  With some peculiar (to us) trees.
  We turned up the Leopold Downs Road.

Stopped to camp at the Oscar Range ..... a smaller, shorter, limestone reef parallel to the reef containing Geike Gorge, Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge.

We'll visit Geike Gorge then return along this road to continue along the Gibb River Road.

The new engine held its temperature well, had no external water or oil leaks, no fluid loss and is quieter than the old engine. The oil was so clear on the dip stick I thought it had lost all its oil. But no, I just had to look more closely. A "tighter" engine. So after the first 200 km we are feeling lucky.

Looks like I'll be able to clean the oil that leaked out of a front seal on the old engine onto the front axle.

  We found a shady spot. Far enough away from the dust of occasional traffic on the road.
  Then climbed some of the limestone.

The bedding planes are tilted upwards about 30 degrees to the west. Which makes it easy to climb up the eastern side and in the middle.

  This part of the range, which has a gap for the road, is flat areas with limestone outcrops. A bit lower than then bigger range to the east.
  And boab trees.
  Our campsite as we leave early morning.

We'll return after Geikie Gorge.

  Fitzroy Crossing was about 50 km.

Do not park on the lawn ....

  There's a boat trip. Just as there was in 1978.

We decided to walk. Just as I did in 1978.

The biggest difference is that this time we can't camp.

  Apparently this looks like the cooked flesh of barramundi.

We touch it for good luck. Even though we aren't fishing.

  The track takes us alongside the limestone edges to the gorge.
  Lots of these. Flitting from tree to tree.
  The end of the track on this side of the river.
  We decide to walk back along the water's edge.
  There's an ibis in the middle of the pic somewhere.
  The bee-eaters and finches are friends.
  We admire the reflections.
  And surprise a goanna having a quick swim.
  In the distance is the boat ramp for beginning of tours.
  We saw a couple of fresh water crocs.

There aren't many places for them to bask along this stretch of gorge, though we think we have seen lots of tracks in the steep sand banks.

  More reflections.

Its many a year since the water was as high as the clean white limestone suggests.

Trees and recent debris along the edge of the sandbar suggest a couple of meters variation.

  Until the next boat tour was reflected and rippled the water.

Completely ignoring the croc. Perhaps distracted waving to us.

But then the croc was ignoring the boat.

  One day this rock will fall.
  Lots of bird life along the river bank.

A honey eater we think.

  One sign said 4.4 km return, another said 3 km return.

We measured 5.5 km return.

Heading west on the Great Northern Highway to return to our last night's campsite across the horizon is the limestone reef.

  We returned to last night's campsite for lunch.

And time to bake more bread.

Late in the afternoon, as the day cooled, we went for a walk through the middle of the limestone in the Oscar Range. We are in a ridge of limestone a bit south of the ridge that has Tunnel Creek.

The two ridges seem to meet around Geikie Gorge, which is why the gorge is longer than most as the combined ridge is wider.

North east of us the Oscar Plateau and Oscar Valley are between the two ridges, and are part of the Devonian Reef Conservation Park.

Between here and Geike Gorge is Brooking Gorge Conservation Park, also part of the Oscar Range, which would have been nice to explore. Our large scale map shows tracks to Brooking Gorge .... but of course then we would end up short of time.

On reflection, we think the reef ridges are a bit more like the Great Wall of China than Hadrians Wall. The ridges are not contiguous, they aren't all joined above ground. Some are long, some are short. While roughly aligned they aren't parallel. They are different widths and heights.

The Leopold Downs Road weaves in and out and around. The Oscar Range is about 15 km from the ridge which has Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge.

  Sort of islands of limestone with channels and creeks.

If it wasn't tilted we would be walking across pavement areas with clynts and grykes.

In parts its heavy going, but we do manage to be on top in parts.

  With some lovely shapes and colours as the sun set.
  After one and a half km east north east we reached the Oscar Range Mine. A limestone quarry? We were looking for a cave, but went round in a spiral following the gps (shades of chasing stromatolites!)!

There's an Oka parked in the midle of the pic.

We walked back to camp along the road. It was quicker than through the middle. About 7 km in all, added to the 6 km in Geike Gorge a long day. Finishing the walk in moonlight. Rock hopping in the dark is not a good idea .....

We have mobile phone and, with the help of our 5m pole, 4G internet. Not at our camp spot but on the roadside where we turned into the camp. Amazing ........

  south of Leopold Downs we passed the entrance to a school.

We have no idea what a Studio School is, nor what its doing here.

The Leopold Downs Road involves driving parts we have driven previously to see Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge. It takes us a lot further west than we would like.

But the Gibb River Road seems to be the only east-west road through the King Leopold Ranges.

  The walk from roadside car park to Galvans Gorge is about 1 km.

We disturbed this heron, sneaking a quick drink between people.

  It was probably guarding the wanjina and serpents, just like those we saw at Mowanjum,

or perhaps felt safe being guarded by them.

We have no idea how old this is. "Painting" rather than the carvings of the Pilbara and elsewhere. Vulnerable to weather, but in a well sheltered position.

People visit gorges for a variety of reasons. Some to admire them, some to swim in the pools, perhaps some simply because they are there.

As we walked in we asked a few if they had seen the rock art.

Once we found it there was some interest. I guess the only difference was that we knew there was rock art somewhere in the gorge.

  A pretty sort of gorge with a big swimming hole.

We decided to carry on to Barnett River Gorge to camp and swim.

  Below the swimming hole are a series of lilly ponds.
  And a flock of double-barred finches.

In just the three weeks since we travelled the road to Derby the corrugations have grown and more have appeared.

With tyres at 40psi cold our comfortable speed is around 60-70 km/hr.

Apparently the Kalumburu Road to Drysdale River and Mitchell Falls is fairly bad. Probably have to let more air out and slow down a bit.

  We stopped for fuel at Mt Barnett Roadhouse. They remembered us. Fuel consumption from the tank full immediately before engine failure was 20 l/100km which suggests something had been happening for a while, consumption has returned to 17 l/100km with mostly new engine.

Onward to Barnett River Gorge .... Jigngarrin.

Occasionally life delivers a surprise.

There are welcome notices and there are welcome notices.

The welcome notice at Jigngarrin is ..... well, welcoming.

I see a not so fine line between the unwelcoming extreme of demanding respect while articulating the rules and the welcoming extreme of earning respect while requesting standards of behaviour.

Related is the difference between "mine" and "ours" with perhaps the thought of whether nature can be "owned". Perhaps shades of the Manchester Rambler song "no man can own a mountain" - the sign talks of "custodians". And "please" always helps.

Even the little bit of "colonial history" seems to have been written simply as an objective story, leaving me to make my own judgements about events without trying to tell me how to think.

In some respects, though very very different context, the sign reminds of the "landscape reading" notice we read at Lake Vauglans in France (November 2011). I can imagine that both notices in some way reflect the local culture of those who wrote them. Filtered through my own culture of course.

This is quite different to the "welcome ..... the penalty is" notices we've seen a few of recently.

Of course the apparent (to me) subtlety of the welcome notice is lost on some. The request to not denude the area of firewood and homes for wildlife seems to be widely ignored given the number of fresh fireplaces and smell of woodsmoke in the air. One neighbour was fully armed with a chainsaw. Fallen branches have been cleared, there are broken stumps and green branches.

  The gorge is not the most spectacular.

But, for us, it has a nice "feel" to it. A pleasant place to be.

This is the "plunge pool". Longer and wider than an olympic pool.

So we did. Plunge that is. Additional cooling as the heat went out of the day.

  Watched by a darter of some sort, which I initially mistook for a black cockatoo.
  The white cockatoos were making lots of noise attacking a bright orange grevillea.
  We just admired the rays of the dying sun on the trees.

Eight vehicles camped.

  Next morning a look along the side of the gorge. About 5 km round trip.
  At the north end of the track there's a way down into the gorge.

So we walked downstream a bit.

With a bit of planning its probably possible to walk and swim down the gorge to the swimming hole. Its more a series of small cascades rather than a big waterfall. Though there are places with wall to wall water.

  There's lots of vegetation in the bottom of the gorge.
  "Blocky" sandstone sides.
  Then back to the truck for breakfast.

As with Manning Gorge we can see the escarpment in the distance that has the Gibb River Road running in front.

At some stage the Barnett River must have been quite big.

  A day of rest and maintenance.

No external leaks, no fluid loss. All good.

When I added the relay for heater fan and aircon I broke the permanent power for the radio. Took longer than expected to sort out as the blade connections on the relay move and have the same effect as the relay operating. Three wires, two powered through the relay, the third permanently powered. Should have been easy. Instead for a while I thought I was going insane (no comments required ...). A replacement relay required.

Looking for the source of strange noises. Possibly a king pin bearing (I have spares). Jack up the wheel, there's less than a mm play in the vertical plane where I prefer none. But really not enough to be a problem. I replaced the top rollers just in case. Last changed in September 2012. What looked like adjustment was too tight for me to undo. I decided not to dismantle any more - its a wheel and brake drum and drive shaft removal to have access to the whole king pin arrangement. Doable, just time, but it can wait. Wheel bearing feels and sounds ok - same as it did when I adjusted the brakes!

I guess I'm more sensitive than usual to strange noises. And after the engine transplant some of the noises are new, or different. It would have been nice if some of our noises had fixed themselves, but that never seems to happen ....

Failed to have the fuel gauge sender wire from second tank connect through changeover valve. Its usually the plug at the valve, which is proprietary and only comes with a new valve. All nicely caged in plastic so hard to clean (or bend) the obviously dirty pin. Bah humbug.

Pack the "new" turbo into a locker. Not only does the inside look "dirty", and evidence of oil weep, but there's sideways play in the bearing. Well done Brian for not fitting it.

Pack a few other things, like camping mats on roof rack, to regain space lost to "the upheaval".

Ali has caught the chest infection I had. Its knocking her about more than usual infections. So a rest day is good for her.

  Earned another swim. The water is "Goldilocks" temperature.

And watched the white cockatoos in the grevilleas.

Fewer vehicles camped tonight.

Kimberley - Mitchell Plateau July 26 - 27 2018

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