One of our main targets of this trip was to do the infamous Gibb River road starting from the Kununurra end across to Derby on the Kimberley coast, albeit 6 weeks later than we had previously planned. This meant one major element we had to face – the monotonous heat & humidity.
We always knew we would be arriving late and towards the end of the season (just before the wet) in doing this leg of the journey and therefore expected it to be warm …but not this warm. 35-38 deg, humid and not very pleasant to see things unless basking in a crocodile-infested river (more about this below) or frolicking in an over-chlorinated caravan swimming pool. We thought the latter was only just less riskier (and mildly healthier) and thus decided to adjust what we now plan to do on the Gibb River – but more about that in the following blog, so on to Kununurra.
What a lovely little town: an oasis and a genuine surprise. The town started as a services town built for the Ord river and Lake Argyle irrigation dam projects a couple of decades back. It was a town before these projects however it was small and mainly cattle stations with a few local businesses. Kununurra today has Australia’s largest man-made fresh water lake which is home to many fish species (Barra etc) as well as many fresh water Crocodile. We stayed a few days at the Discovery Caravan park in the western end of town which backs onto the lake not far from the Kununurra dam wall and was the best park to date we have stayed in. The boys loved it, we all loved it with much to see and do, poke, marvel at, run from or chase, or simply making fun of the local population of dreaded cane toad.
Of course, there is the usual local indigenous problems (or country men and we like to call them) in this town just like any other in this part of the country, but it’s not as acute here and seems to be better managed by the police than other Northern Australian towns we’ve stayed at so far on our trip.
Creative Commons – ‘George’, photo taken by someone else.
It was however, George the totally wild fresh water Crocodile in our van park that stole our hearts and minds.
George (actual photo of him) is approx 25 yrs old, 2.5 mtr in length, missing half of his bottom jaw, has no right front foot (It’s just a stump) and lovingly visits the park every evening around 5:30pm for a few hours just below our van site for a feed from anyone willing.
Our park van neighbours & friends, the Dudins from Mooloolabah, managed to catch a few local catfish right next to George as he patiently waited and and gave him one which took 30 minutes to get it down. Poor George!
In the park, we also saw Owls, Tawny Frogmouths, Gecko’s, Tree and ground dwelling Frogs, big insects and countless other wildlife here and best of all, no biting bugs.
Ivanhoe crossing, Kununurra, WA – Copyright Geoff Hunter
Within the Kununurra area itself, there was much to see and do and just out of town, the Ivanhoe crossing is well known among 4×4 enthusiasts and we wanted to cross it in our D4. We didn’t unfortunately as the crossing was recently closed off by the local council after a string of numerous vehicles being swept over the edge by the strong currents here. The Ivanhoe however was rather low this day and you will notice Celia and the boys wading the crossing up to their knees in this shot only to be informed the crossing is frequently visited by both Salt and Freshies and at times they are seen basking on the crossing itself. Just out of frame to the right were several people standing on the crossing fishing, and to the left out of frame, a few local indigenous children were merrily swimming so we thought little of the potential danger – we are now – here’s the large Croc Safety sign we missed at the crossing opposite to where we parked. There’s a lesson in safety if I’ve ever seen one!
Fortunately, Celia, Aidan and Lochie all made it back across the crossing without a “Croc incident”.