|Kimberley - Pentecost and Ord Rivers||July 31 - August 1 2018|
|The 61 km from Drysdale River back to the Gibb River Road passed reasonably quickly.|
|Then east towards Wyndham.|
The road surface changes from the red/brown gravely laterite to grey stony stuff.
The road is formed.
Still rough and corrugated, but very different, and much easier.
We had heard the east had been graded recently.
|Also, a return to "Pentecost Sandstone".|
|The eucalypts are not as high.|
The road is sealed, and has furniture.
Just this short section over a hill.
|Down the Bindoola Jumpup in the Pentecost Range.
Looking northwards, the Pentecost River estuary in the distance.
|We stop at Home Valley.
Camp on the banks of the Pentecost River.
About two minutes to spot our first estuarine crocodile on the far bank.
|Too hard. The small birds are shy, and fast. Occasionally we catch on on the sunny side of a bush.|
|Two for the price of one. Painted and double-barred finches. Mixed up in a largish flock,|
|Sunset highlights the Cockburn Range to the east of the
A tad above 500m high.
|And highlights our truck.
We have good Telstra 4G using the modem atop the pole.
When checking in we were emphatically informed there was no Telstra Mobile.
|Next morning, the tide is out.
We have heard that the Pentecost River crossing, a few km upstream, is tidal. Strangely we can't find any relevant information about how tidal it is.
Its the dry season, the tide is out, we don't expect anything difficult.
|The Cockburn Range looks very different in the morning sun.
We will cross the river and drive north on its true right. The Old Karunjie Track to Wyndham.
|Before we leave we do a few truck things and catch this
character hopping (both feet) between bits of food.
Its so much easier to identify birds when they have distinctive colours and shape. "Hopping" is not easily found in the book.
|A convenient guinea pig.|
|The Old Karunjie Track starts off well.
Karunjie Station is now Pentecost Downs Station and is south of Ellenbrae Station, west of El Questro. Non functioning the area is looked after as part of Home Valley.
This is just part of the old track from Wyndham to Karunjie.
|Then it rapidly deteriorates.
Lots of dry creek crossings with odd angles that occasionally challenge our tall vehicle, in which the sense of rolling over can be somewhat exaggerated.
Soft tyres don't help.
|took a while to figure out what this is. Pottering on the
mud flats along the river side.
Probably a striated heron.
|Ibis and Brolgas.
We learned today that the Sarus Crane, an Asian bird, looks very similar to the Brolga and is slowly expanding its range.
There are several pools between us and the river.
|Central in the distance, on the far bank, is last night's
We haven't come far, but its taken so long. 10 - 15 km/hr.
|We've passed through a couple of gates.
There are two or three gates here.
Yes, we've come from the Pentecost.
Our map tells us we are on the track which leads to Wyndham.
|False North Mount Cockburn.
We wonder if there's an agadir?
|Across the mud flats.
|We didn't expect to see magpie geese.|
|Ali is enjoying seeing clouds.
The increased humidity makes the landscape a bit hazy.
About 5 raindrops hit the windscreen.
The next morning radio news is pre-occupied with reports of a short, unseasonal, shower of rain in the middle of the night in Broome.
|El Questro isn't our sort of place. Providing services we
don't require, while creating a commercial barrier between ourselves and the
But thanks for letting us through.
|The Wyndham prison tree.
Similar to the Derby tree. But no fence, so we get to look inside this one.
There's a hole in the top, and a cooling breeze through the door.
But we are reasonably certain we wouldn't enjoy being inside for long.
Apart from its use, what a fine tree.
|There's a sign-posted rock art site not far north of the
No Bradshaws that we could find. Perhaps they are part of West Kimberley art.
We think the gallery must be a significant site locally as an El Questro ranger arrived with guest in tow.
Note to self ..... "write letter to El Questro suggesting better education of their rangers / guides".
|Is this a mixture of Wanjina and clawed appendages partly filled in?|
|Some things are simply hard to interpret.|
|The gallery is accessible along a ledge, halfway up a river
It reminds us of Roche St Christophe (Les Eysies, France). Sans troglodytes.
|There's a causeway to complete our drive to Wyndham.|
|We buy some bread in Wyndham, couldn't find postcards, and
set off across Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve.
The lagoons are south of the tidal estuary of the Ord River. There's a series of reserves on the eastern side of the Cambridge Gulf and extending south and east between Wyndham and Kununurra. Its all a bit confusing as the Cambridge Gulf seems to be part of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. Simplistically, the Pentecost and the Durack rivers join and enter the west arm of "the gulf" and pass Wyndham to be joined by the Ord in an area wide enough to be called a gulf. It seems there's more to the Kimberley than gorges, though we could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
There's a lookout bird hide part way into the reserve. Strategically placed at the southern end of large patches of water, between the hide and the Ord, 10 km to the north.
Unfortunately there's a party of Victorian birdwatchers occupying the hide and making lots of noise. We move eastwards a little in our mobile bird hide and find other patches of water where we can quietly marvel at the variety of birdlife.
Radjah Shelducks. That they exist is a surprise. Their range is eastwards from about here. That seems significant to us. Perhaps its the weather, perhaps its the climate, the humidity is higher than further west, there seems to be a quite radical change between west and east Kimberley. We first noticed haze at Home Valley.
|We run out of energy at the Mambi Island boat ramp on the
Ord River. Not so much a long drive as a slow, rough, drive.
We stop to camp mid afternoon.
Just one boat at the boat ramp and one single fisherman a hundred metres away in the next camping spot.
|Lots of kangaroos hop away from the river as we arrive.
We try not to intrude, but fail miserably.
|The crocodiles are not perturbed.
About 25m from our camp.
|We wonder who or what is doing the stalking.
We have a camera. The crocodiles have jaws.
Both are stalking. The aim seems subtly different.
|Much easier to think about crocs on the far bank.|
|Willie Wagtails are ubiquitous in Australia.
Wherever we stop there is at least one wagtail. And plenty more where we don't stop.
We occasionally take a pic.
This isn't a wagtail.
We are surprised at the iridescent blue colouring. At first we thought it was a result of the light. But we read that willie wagtails are black.
Eventually we think it is perhaps a paperbark flycatcher.
And wonder how many other times we've just assumed "wagtail" without really looking.
The pic really doesn't contain all the differences. Perhaps what caught our eye was its behaviour rather than its colour. Among other indications this little bird didn't wag its tail in quite the same way we've become accustomed to.
Perhaps not explaining well. Behind each of our bird pics is a bit of observation, the results of which are sometimes difficult to articulate as disjointed thoughts take time to evolve into conclusions. The pics in the blog are to remind us.
I feel we are on a journey, at first we are able to simply label birds with the aid of pics in a book, but are becoming able to distinguish different behaviour. Perhaps we will reach a time when we are able to predict what birds we are likely to see from the vegetation and terrain.
A clue from an earlier life was a short walk through a national park north of Sydney with a botanist and an ornithologist partnership. One pointed out the subtle changes in vegetation, the other the related subtle differences in bird species. At the time it was a special experience, 40 years later I can't even begin to emulate it. But its nice to have something to aspire to. Hopefully very different to ticking off a list of birds observed in the same way as spotting trains or bagging peaks.
There are many people who know this isn't a wagtail. On our journey we are a long way from being among those who could write the book which we routinely consult.
|Kimberley - Tanmurra Creek||August 2 - 3 2018|