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Kimberley News: Huge bushfire finally under control, wet season forecast
October 20, 2016
20 October 2016, Issue #049
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In this issue:
We will soon be running out of October, meaning the tourist season will be well and truly over.
I think, and in Destination Kimberley I write, that November is the only month in the year in which I would not recommend to visit the Kimberley. Dirt roads and attractions along them are closed, the waterfalls that can be reached during the Wet are not flowing yet, and it's jut too hot and humid to bother.
Precious few brave souls visit the Kimberley during November and it is for that reason that...
I'm going on a holiday!
I have chosen November to finally go on a real holiday! (My last one was in 2008!)
It's a bit scary, because I will be way off the beaten track in Nepal, without any access to internet, for three weeks.
No, I'm not scared to travel off the beaten track.
I am a bit worried because there will be nobody here manning the ship while I'm away!
If you write to me during that time, you won't get an answer.
If you buy one of my guides and have a problem with your download, I won't be able to help you until I'm back.
(Which should not be a real problem, because it's November, so you won't need the guide straight away, right? Or so my thinking goes...)
I will of course be putting up notices all over the website to let people know. But experience tells me that no matter how much info I put out there for people, there will still be many who don't read it.
As I wrote above, November is a very quiet time.
So, going away in November, I'll hopefully piss off as few people as possible :)
If you are planning to visit the Kimberley next year, and you are thinking of buying one of my guides to start some dreaming and planning, do it straight away! I'll be here until October 27 to help you if you run into problems.
I'll be back on November 20 and should be functioning again by say November 22 ;)
The last wet season was pathetic to say the least. Northern Australia has been hotter and dryer than average for a long time now.
A lightning strike sparked a bushfire on Ellenbrae Station in late September, which grew into a massive blaze. For three weeks it marched through the Kimberley, across cattle stations and wildlife sanctuaries. Due to the strong winds and high temperatures the almost hundred fire crew battling it were unable to contain it. Several smaller, unrelated fires have started since.
The good news is that the largest fire seems to finally be under control. It ended up burning over 1.7 million hectares. Luckily there has been no loss of life, also no major damage to infrasturcture. It's still been devastating for the eco system and also for several cattle stations (especially Mt. Elizabeth and Gibb River), which lost a lot of their pasture.
To give you an idea what's been happening and what it means for the affected stations, here some news reports in chronological order:
850,000 hectares destroyed in the Kimberley as bushfire spreads across cattle stations
A million hectares destroyed as Kimberley bushfire continues to spread
Kimberley bushfire: Relief on way as emergency services 'at mercy of gods'
Immense bushfire burning through Kimberley wildlife sanctuary
Also a few days ago Emma Gorge Resort was damaged in a separate fire.
Emma Gorge Resort in East Kimberley damaged by fire
So far there has been no sign of the promised early, heavier than usual rains to help with the remaining fires and the pasture regrowth.
(There have been showers and thunderstorms here and there, and there was some rain up on the Mitchell Plateau, but nothing substantial yet.)
Wet Season Forecasts
What do I mean by "the promised early, heavier than usual rains"?
You may or may not have heard it already: the 2016/17 wet season had been forecast to start early and bring above average rains and an above average number of cyclones.
The initial forecasts predicted a strong La Nina system likely to develop, bringing flooding rains to many parts of Australia. Rains were supposed to start in early October, possibly even September.
That forecast has since been softened considerably. Most climate models predict the ocean temperatures to remain ENSO neutral, meaning neither an El Nino nor a La Nina system is likely to develop. Some indicators, however, are shifting towards La Nina-like levels. So we may see some La Nina effects over the coming wet season. If a La Nina system forms it will be weak and short lived.
What does that mean? The wet season may still bring above average rains, especially from now till December, but we won't see the extreme weather and floods that had been forecast initially.
In any way, it should be a much better wet season than the last!
You can read the scientific details here and the final forecast here (rainfall onset) and here (rainfall summary). Click around some in the menu of the last link to find more detailed info.
By the way, when and where exactly that "above average" rain will fall remains as unpredictable as ever!
Lets hope that some of that rain materialises pretty quickly to help with the remaining fires and the regrowth.
-------------------- Stop press!!!
50mm in Halls Creek last night! :)
Keep your fingers crossed that it won't remain an isolated event.
If you are new here and want to understand more about our wet seasons, see your Pocket Guide or Destination Kimberley for details!
Robin wrote a little trip report on my website. Unfortunately, because of the format and lack of photos, it does not lend itself to online publishing. I don't want you to miss out on those recommendations, though, so here it is:
Gibb River Road and on to Darwin June 2016
Brilliant, Birgit's book essential. Flew in from UK to Darwin, then flew to Broome. Picked up 4WD and satellite phone (picking up satellite phone from Landwide was a nightmare, as was returning it, and it didn't work to start with !!). Drove to Derby, 3 nights there, delightful, café on Marina recommended. On to the Gibb. Stayed at Bell Gorge Wilderness Lodge for 3 nights, staff exceptional. Then on to Drysdale for 2 nights, didn't do Mitchell though. Then on to Home Valley for 3 nights. El Questro was first choice but they didn't reply to our emails !!. Home Valley lovely, Grass Castle room beautiful even though they don't have doors on the toilets !! - very strange. Also visited Galvans Gorge, Emma Gorge (really hard walk), Ellenbrae (scones, jam and cream to die for !!). Then back on the bitumen to Kununurra, visited Wyndham (also delightful) Katherine and Darwin to drop the 4WD off and fly home. Whole trip memorable, Pentecost a disappointment though as not very deep !! People lovely. Also paid a visit to Neville the mechanic on the Gibb (very chatty especially about the Robson Green thing on the TV). Didn't blow a tyre, although plenty did (very careful, took Birgit's advice).Wife and I did the trip.
Robin and Sue Cooper
(Robin, I would have contacted you about a few pictures and required changes to have your report on the website on its own page, but unfortunately you did not leave an email address with your submission.)
And last but not least, on a very different note, I offer you this:
What not to do in Kakadu
And that's it for today!
Talk to you again some time after November 20 :)
Those of you planning on leaving for their trips soon, please always also refer to the appendix of Destination Kimberley and Destination Top End or to the links in previous newsletters to keep yourself up to date about the conditions.
Feedback? Found some out of date info in one of my guides? Let me know via http://www.kimberleyaustralia.com/contact.html
(c) 2005-2016, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
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