Back to Back Issues Page
Ash clouds over Europe, rain clouds over Australia. Have your travel plans been messed up yet?
April 22, 2010

22 April 2010, Issue #024

In this issue:
  • Road and weather update
  • Did you receive your Destination Top End bonus download?
  • Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge
  • Reader Submissions

To unsubscribe or change your address please use the links at the bottom of this message.
To write to me please see the contact page:

Ash clouds over Europe, rain clouds over northern Australia, and Mercury just turned retrograde. Have your travel plans been messed up yet?

Mine might have, but that is not a problem compared to European travellers having their Australia flights cancelled. Knowing the situation over there certainly puts things into perspective.

I can't tell you what it will take to clear the flight back log between Europe and Australia, but at least I can tell you a bit about what's happening here.

The weather has been somewhat mixed. We certainly had more rain than some farmers and tourists had hoped for, but nothing so substantial that it would make a difference later in the year.

It did however make a difference for the people who were on the road. The Bungles had opened over Easter but then had to close again after some heavier downpours. They reopened on the 15th.

The same thing happened to Bell Gorge which also had to close. According to what the DEC told me on Tuesday, Bell Gorge and the Silent Grove campground should have reopened yesterday (Wednesday).

Some of you may remember that the little Bell Creek bush campground had closed last season for environmental reasons. At the time it was a temporary closure, to be reviewed over the wet season. The situation has since been re-assessed and the outcome is that the Bell Creek campsites remain closed for good. Bell Creek campground will never reopen. The only campground at Bell Gorge is Silent Grove.

The Gibb River Road did open some time after Easter and remained open. Of course the Pentecost can still be an obstacle, especially if you don't have a snorkel.

As expected, anything up towards Kalumburu and the Mitchell Plateau is still closed.

Another little update for the Kimberley: El Questro has changed hands! That doesn't change anything for you, all the operations, prices, phone numbers, everything remains the same. But Voyages has of course pulled their website. And the new owners, Delaware North Parks and Resorts, don't have theirs up yet. So you can't get any info online. If you need to contact them, just ring either the Kununurra booking office or the station township office. Both numbers are in your guide.

What about the Territory? There is not much change so far in the Top End. If anything there are more road closures now than last time I wrote. No change that I can see in Kakadu, you can't even get across Magella Creek at the moment (not at the time of drafting this newsletter anyway). A couple more of the southern walks in Katherine Gorge have opened. Still no swimming at Wangi in Litchfield and the Wangi loop walk is closed as well. As I said, not much change overall.

You can find all the web links to road reports, National Park access information, any phone numbers for additional information in the appendices of Destination Kimberley and Destination Top End so you can keep a close eye on things yourself.

The unstable weather might be upsetting my own plans, too. I was hoping to leave early next week and head for the Gulf Country and then over east. I've never been to Cape York and was really looking forward to it. Three weeks ago things looked very promising, but now?

Cape York is still pretty wet. And Roper Highway, Limmen NP, Savannah Way... Closed, closed, closed. And more rain is possible...

Oh well, for now it seems the weather has finally turned dry, so let's see what happens.

Did you receive your Destination Top End bonus download?

By now everyone who bought Destination Top End during the newsletter special or the introductory offer should have received the link to the final version with the bonus chapters included.

If you haven't then it may have landed in your junk folder. Or maybe there was a problem with your initial purchase and I emailed you the file manually and now you are not in my database. Or maybe you bought offline. Or...

Whatever the reason. If you did buy the early special or introductory offer and did NOT get the link to the bonus download, please contact me with your details. (After checking your junk folder, that is.) Include your full name and if you suspect that you may not be in my database also let me know what happened (bought offline, received guide as attachment, etc.)

Write to and put the words "Bonus Download" in the subject line to help me spot your email amongst all the other stuff that drops into my inbox.

Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge

The dates for the infamous Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge are as follows:

Sat, May 22 - Safety Briefing and Registration at Derby.
Sun, May 23 - Derby to Silent Grove
Mon, May 24 - Silent Grove to Mount Elizabeth Station
Tue, May 25 - Mount Elizabeth Station to Ellenbrae Station
Wed, May 26 - Ellenbrae Station to Home Valley Station
Thu, May 27 - Home Valley Station to El Questro
Fri, May 28 - Free day of rest and exploration at El Questro
Sat, May 29 - Airnorth Kimberley Moon Experience

You were planning to take a 4WD not a mountain bike, so why am I telling you this?
Because you want to avoid being on exactly the same schedule!

Challenge teams, support teams, organisers and volunteers... You are looking at several hundred people, all crammed into one campground. Of course, the hosts at each camp are prepared for this and have space set aside. Although large, the groups are quiet and very well behaved as I have witnessed myself. But still, it isn't quite the same with that number of people around.

An even bigger issue is that a road full of bikes, support vehicles etc. makes driving difficult. Organisers will ask you to slow down whenever you overtake a bike and beyond to avoid kicking up dust. Slowing down means down to 30 kph or less. And the bikes are everywhere.

Avoid them if you can. You will be happier for it and the mountain bikers will be happier, too. (The dust that the cars kick up is unreal.)

And if you can't avoid them, please be so considerate and really do slow down.

Reader Submissions

Peter asked my input into his essentials packing list. The thing is, his list is a heck of a lot better than anything I could come up with!
It's here: Essentials list for Kimberley trek

I also had a couple of questions about fishing licenses/permits.
The answers are here:
Fishing licenses/permits in the Kimberley
Fishing licenses/permits in the NT

And that's it for today. It could be a while until you hear from me again. As I mentioned above, I hope to go on a trip myself some time next week. I expect to be on the road for about four to five weeks.

I will be online every chance I get, of course, to see if any of you wrote in with problems. But as always I am travelling in a fairly remote area so during that period you may have to wait a few days for a response. Thanks for understanding.

More from the Kimberley soon!

Feedback? Go to

(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.
Back to Back Issues Page