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Quick Kimberley roads and parks updates and other mixed items, and then I'm off!
May 04, 2011
5 May 2011, Issue #034
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In this issue:
Just a few quick updates on what's been happening.
The Dry Season has finally arrived. We did have another cyclone since the last newsletter, which affected the Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau region, but then moved out to sea again.
Most roads and parks however are still closed and will remain closed for some time still.
Roads and Parks Updates
Road work has commenced in Purnululu and the DEC hopes to open the park to the public by May 9.
Work in some other parks is also under way, but the damage this wet season has been extensive, so the work will take a while.
The DEC hopes to open Geikie Gorge around May 16, as well as the King Leopold Range Conservation Park (Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge and Silent Grove).
Work in Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek can only get underway in earnest once the Fairfield Leopold Road opens. The grader is out there at the moment but it's not clear yet if he'll be able to get through the Tunnel Creek area, which is still very wet. If he gets through, the road should be ok some time next week, and everyone will take it from there.
The Gibb River Road remains closed. You can access the eastern end as far as the Pentecost crossing, and the western side as far as the Lennard River crossing. (Something you can do most of the wet season anyway.)
Graders are on it as well, but the water in the rivers just isn't dropping as fast as people had hoped.
(Personally, I had not expected it to drop that soon. The country is so saturated, the ground will keep releasing water for a long time to come. The recent high tides also prevented the water from flowing out as quickly as it does at other times.)
The road itself has had some substantial damage, but that can be repaired pretty quickly once the trucks can get through the rivers. It all depends on the river levels.
Main Roads hopes to possibly be able to open the Gibb in about two weeks or so, but that is not a confirmed date, rather a hopeful best case scenario. (Wishful thinking?) I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!
(Mitchell Plateau? Kalumburu? For now, fuhgeddaboudit.)
Please remember that while I always do get these updates for you before sending out a newsletter, I am not a road reporting facility. The web links and phone numbers I use to get those updates are all in the appendix of your guide books, Destination Kimberley and Destination Top End. You have access to all the info just like I have.
I won't list all the details for the Territory, there are too many parks, and too many different places inside those parks, to give you detailed updates here. Check the web links in your appendix, make a phone call if you want a rough prediction, you have it all there at your finger tips.
Overall there has not been much change in the Territory either. Like here in the Kimberley, things are taking their time to dry out.
It's not all bad though, because the water is good for the country. The places you can get to, be it now or later in the year, will be a lot greener, lusher, and there will be a lot more water in the pools and coming down the falls, than what you get in drier years.
After a flash flood destroyed the Warmun community and art centre (The Australian published a well written account of the disaster, together with a hopeful look into the future) the Warmun residents were evacuated to Kununurra. They now occupy a workers camp on the edge of town.
The workers camp was supposed to house construction workers for the Ord expansion project, and those workers will now likely be housed in hotel and motel rooms in town. And that means accommodation in Kununurra may be in short supply until late June. You may want to book early!
Another nasty result of this epic wet season is that the cane toads have advanced a lot more than we had hoped. They have already reached the diamond mine, which means it won't be long until the first toad hops into the Bungles... :-(.
The Stop The Toad Foundation has now changed its strategy a bit. Previously all efforts were focussed on eradication, i.e. catching and removing as many toads, toadlets and eggs as possible. It was always clear that this would only delay the arrival, weaken the front and therefore the impact, but would not prevent an eventual infestation.
Now that the toads are here, the Foundation plans to build exclusion fences in an attempt to keep at least certain areas of perceived high environmental value toad free. One such fence is currently under construction at Emma Gorge.
I don't think that Emma Gorge has a higher environmental value as other gorges. Rather Emma Gorge has been selected because it lends itself well to such a project. Most of it is already enclosed by huge, vertical cliffs and only the 2 km entrance needs to be fenced off.
The DEC also plans to use exclusion fencing to protect certain areas within the Bungles.
But for most of the Kimberley, fences are obviously not an option at all. Like people in Queensland and in the Territory, we will have to learn to live with toads. (Mum, who is visiting from Germany, is already pretty good at catching them!)
After Malcolm Douglas' tragic death last September it was unclear what would become of his two popular wilderness parks in Broome. The parks had been operating at a loss for some years.
His family now made the decision to continue the conservation and tourism work that Malcolm had dedicated decades to. They will keep the wildlife and the crocodile park open, will try to make them profitable, and, in son Lachlan's words, will try to "build something for real substance and value for the future".
News from the Home Front
Well, my knee has deteriorated further and my plan to wait until it can endure a long haul flight is not workable. (Don't know what I'm talking about? See News from the Home Front in issue #33.) That leg will never get any better unless I get regular access to competent care.
And that means, I can't fly but I'll fly anyway. On May 7 to be precise. I'll be offline until I arrive in Munich on May 9, I have a specialist appointment on May 10, and I'll take it from there.
(I'm not exactly looking forward to the flight, but I still have some good painkillers left over from the op in March, where I had told them that I'm allergic to everything but opiates. I hope those will see me through. Keep your fingers crossed for me.)
One reader expressed concern that I might abandon my business and let the website fade away.
Look, I am not emigrating. I just need competent medical care, and then competent oversight during physio and rehab, and I will need all that for months to come.
I need a place to stay, I need people who'll help me through daily life (mum's been here for the last 6 weeks but she can't stay forever), and I need all that somewhere near a very good orthopedic and sports medicine facility (kinda few and far between in the Kimberley). The only place where I can find all that in one spot is with my family, which happens to be in Germany/Austria.
Anyway, rest assured that I am not giving up my Kimberley life and business, just because I had to cancel this year's field trip :-).
Alas, as one lovely reader wrote in an email to me... (you know who you are, I hope you received my answer?)
"I owe you a big thank you. Last year myself and two girlfriends took on the Gibb with your amazing full guide and had the best holiday ever!!! None of us had done much 4x4ing and your positive attitude gave us the confidence we needed. I am lucky enough to be going back to the Gibb this year with my boyfriend. I just saw you are heading home to have some surgery.
I will be thinking of you and I guess there is no point writing "are you Birgit?" in the dirt on the back of my truck like we did last time?"
This season there isn't. Sorry! And thank you so much for the kind words and for making me smile :-).
Talk to you soon,
Feedback? Go to https://www.kimberleyaustralia.com/contact.html
(c) 2005-2011, 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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