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Is a wet season trip even worth it? Minor guide updates. What's happening in the Kimberley?
March 05, 2010

6 March 2010, Issue #022

In this issue:
  • Is a wet season trip even worth it?
  • Minor updates to Destination Top End
  • What's happening in the Kimberley?

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Hi everyone,

A week ago I returned from my short excursion, dropping off a German visitor (lets call her M) at Darwin airport. The trip took two weeks as there is plenty to see and do on the way, even this time of the year.

Every now and then someone contacts me about travel during the wet season and asks if it's even worth it. Like most locals I have always loved the wet season.

I think the wet season is the best time of the year. But I have never before played tourist during that time of the year.
I am well adapted to our climate. But most visitors are not.
And I used to have an air-conditioned car. But that air-con died in May 2008.

Considering also that M came from the sub-zero temperatures of a German winter (she did have a couple of weeks in Kununurra before we took off, but still...) I was curious to see how this trip would turn out...

Is a wet season trip even worth it?

Both of us loved it! People, air-con or not, the wet season is the most beautiful time of the year. No ifs or buts about it. No, it isn't the most comfortable time, and it certainly limits your range of movement. There are many places that you can't access. But the places you can access make up for it.

This was the first time I visited Kakadu in the middle of the wet. Those "boring" endless savannah woodlands that you drive through aren't boring at all in February! And I can see why the official tourism bodies try to change people's perception of this time of the year, by calling it the "green season" rather than the "wet season". The vegetation is so lush, so dense, and so intensely green, it looks artificial.

The Kimberley is incredibly beautiful over the wet as well. It's still a warm red with green lace draped all over it. The flood plains and woodlands between Darwin and Kakadu on the other hand are just green, green, green. Greener than you can imagine.

It is hot, of course. Steamy and hot. Kununurra and Katherine are a lot hotter than Kakadu or Darwin. But the latter two make up for that by being ultra steamy. You have to accept that you will basically be sweat soaked all day. That any biscuits will go soft if you leave them out for more than a few minutes, that the salt will be one lump if you forget to close it immediately, that all your books and papers will curl up and so on. That's just how it is.

In Darwin the monsoon caught up with us and the last few days it rained and rained and rained, due to the low pressure trough that then turned east and flooded Queensland.

Those troughs, sometimes turning into cyclones, present another face of the wet season. And they can certainly throw a spanner in the works by causing widespread flooding. We were lucky that we were in Darwin already or we wouldn't have been able to do many of the things we did.

There was even some water over the highway when I drove back to Kununurra, but nothing dramatic.

It was the second time since living up here that I came through Victoria River just after a good rain. There were dozens of waterfalls on the escarpment along the first five or so kilometres past the roadhouse. So gorgeous!

All in all it was perfect timing and it also allowed me to introduce M to all the different faces of our wet seasons.

M coped extremely well and loved it all. She was the one who insisted we do the Joe Creek Walk in Gregory NP again (she had seen it before at the end of a dry season). It was a sunny day and 3pm in the afternoon. It's on a western slope. Now THAT was warm... It was worth it though. It's a great little walk.

We also walked the whole circuit of the Barrk Bushwalk in Kakadu. So, so, so beautiful!! I feel I was nowhere near enthusiastic enough about it in the guide. But the dry season just doesn't compare.

This is a 12 km walk. It took us four hours without pushing it. Luckily it was a lovely "cool" day with a breeze and some clouds in the sky.

I think the official description of the walk may put many people off (i.e. "challenging terrain", allow 6-8 hrs). But the thing is, even if you feel the whole loop would be too much, you could always do part of it. I have updated the Top End guide with some details regarding which sections are the best.

Minor updates to Destination Top End

I have also made some little updates and changes in other places (nothing major though). I have again compiled the updated sections into a PDF file for you. You can download it here:

DTE updates, Mar 2010

Ok, that's enough about that little trip and the NT.

What's happening in the Kimberley?

For me, not much. It's hot, it's steamy (though nothing like Darwin), it's quiet.

As always this time of the year I get some emails that ask me to predict the end of the wet season and the opening times for different roads and tracks.

As always I answer by referring people to this 2009 newsletter issue.

Sorry. Nobody can predict anything about our wet seasons.

I want to extend a belated thank you to everyone who responded to Martin's query. Martin had asked about packing for a trip with children, but the answers are useful to anyone who plans a camping trip in the Kimberley. Recommended reading:

Gibb River Road with minimal baggage
Many useful nuggets in there!

In another recent question Tahni asked about towing his camper to the Mitchell Falls. Questions about towing anything tend to elicit a great variety of responses because people's experiences are so varied, but in case of the Mitchell Falls most people agree: leave your trailer or off-road van at the King Edward. (If you feel that's not safe enough, leave it at Drysdale.)

Towing off road camper to the Mitchell Falls

I have this odd feeling, a little voice in the back of my head persisting that there was something else I wanted to tell you, but I can't for the life of me remember it or find anything about it in my notes. It'll probably come to me as soon as I hit the "Send" button...

Oh well, the Gibb is not going to open any time soon, so I will save it for the next newsletter issue!

More from the Kimberley soon,

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(c) 2005-2010, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved. The Kimberley Guide is published by Birgit Bradtke in Kununurra, WA 6743, Australia. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.
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