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Kimberley News: Road and Parks Update, Reader Trip Reports
May 19, 2016
19 May 2016, Issue #047
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In this issue:
Hi, me again!
It's only been 4 days since the last newsletter, but there are several things to report.
First of all I need to apologise for my embarrassing mess up in the last issue when I mentioned availability of unleaded fuel.
Unleaded fuel is available at Mt. Barnett, always has been at Mt. Barnett, and of course never was at Imintji.
(You also get unleaded at El Questro and at Drysdale.)
You find the correct info on my website and in Destination Kimberley, it's not like I don't know.
I think my comment in the last newsletter was triggered because EVERYONE I spoke to about the reopening of Imintji emphasized how now they only sell diesel...
You can tell I sent the issue out in a hurry...
Anyway, sorry about that. I am human. Please don't hold it against me :-)
Very Quick Road Update
There was a big reponse to the last newsletter, and quite a few people concerned about the road conditions and closures even though their trips were only to start in a couple of weeks or so, so I thought I'd send you a quick update.
Don't worry, things are drying out quickly.
As of May 18 Lennard Gorge/Bell Gorge/Silent Grove access is open again already, Charnley River is open, Mt. Hart is open for anything under 4T.
The Fairfield Leopold Road is open, too, with maintenance grading still under way. Also, there is water over the road about 500m north of Leopold Downs Station turnoff, but you can get through.
Just take it easy. But I always say that anyway :-)
I also heard back from the first readers who have completed their trips and I want to share some of their comments with you.
Ladina got caught out right in the middle of the rains, but as you can read for yourself, she has a great attitude and didn't enjoy her time any less for it.
(She also mentions people who were not as fortunate as she was and had their trips quite messed up due to the rain. So sorry if that was you!)
We have just returned from our Kimberley trip. Both books from you were great and unbelievably helpful. Of course, we planned ahead what we would like to see and where to go. We rented the car in Darwin and first went to Kakadu. For some reason the way to Gunlom was still closed. No clue why, maybe too many crocs or just laziness ;)
However, we continued our trip towards GRR with a small detour to Purnululu. But once more it was closed. They had some heavy thunderstorms in the park itself. When we arrived the weather was still great at the entrance and so we decided to book a helicopter flight which was amazing! A shame we could not drive into the stunning park but this simply means we have to come back here :)
The next challenge was the GRR. It was indeed a challenge, especially the first half until Mt. Barnett Station. We actually just made it through somehow. We were one of the last ones able to cross the river there. Is this river usually never a problem to cross? Since we haven't read anything about this one in your book. Quite many cars got stuck on both sides and some people couldn't get out of Manning Gorge in time.
We were happy to just made it through and stayed the for two nights and visited Galvan Gorge. It was beautiful though and I don't want to imagine what the other, closed Gorges must have looked like!
Due to all this unexpected rainfall, we had more time in Broome and drove up to Cape Leveque which was stunningly beautiful - white beaches and no people. And the sunny weather was just back in time.
Actually we cannot complain, since we rarely had rain, we somehow managed to escape the bad weather all the time. Some people we have met, who came all along from Broome were rather unlucky... Since it was pouring down in Broome and Cape Leveque and they had to drive all the way back from Mt. Barnett to Derby to make it to Kununurra on time.
However, I want to mention that the Victoria River Roadhouse was absolutely worth a stop. And you also mentioned some hikes around there, we did and we really liked it a lot! Thanks for that!!!
We also stopped at Ellenbrae, lovely campground, so beautiful. The only downside were the mosquitos. For some reason they liked me too much, even using mosquito spray did not help. I guess, I have never had so many bites in my life all together than one night in Ellenbrae.
And the advantage of travelling early in the season: it was not necessary to book anything in advance. Even in Cape Leveque we could book a beach shelter only on the same day. BTW, that was also a great advice of you to book one of those beach shelters. It was a lot more beautiful at the beach than up in the caravan park.
So, that was it. Both guides are just great and were very helpful! We definitely have to return to GRR to visit all the gorges. We really enjoyed our trip and made the best out of it :)"
Thanks, Ladina! I am glad to hear you did.
(If you are a new subscriber and not familiar with my websites, the two guides Ladina is referring to are Destination Kimberley and Destination Top End.)
Ladina mentions a crossing on the way to Mt. Barnett where people got stuck and that is not mentioned in Destination Kimberley.
Here's the thing: there are a million little creek and small river crossings across the Kimberley that are just not an issue during tourist season. Usually. Just not worth mentioning.
They have small catchment areas. When it rains (which it should not do during tourist season) they can rise very quickly. And just as quickly they fall again. They will not cause roads to be closed for days or weeks on end. (Unless, of course, it rains for days or weeks on end.)
What happened to Ladina and others at Manning Gorge can happen to you just about anywhere when you get caught in heavy rains. Creeks and rivers swell and even appear out of nowhere where you would not have expected any to be!
The only thing to do is often to pull up, have a cuppa (possibly also dinner and a camp), and wait for the water to drop again. Don't take risks.
Colin kindly sent me some first hand info from Imintji as well as from the wettest part of the Gibb between Mt. Barnett and the Kalumburu turn off.
(Where, by the way, the 15T restriction has just been lifted.)
"We were at Imintji this morning. Yes they are open limited food, diesel 2.00. Toilettes not flushing so still early days.
They said the campground opens at end of the month. But will have nice toilets and hot water showers!"
"The Gibb is fine for most part between Mt Barnett and Kalumburu road turn off.
Some sections there are muddy areas but all had room for one car.
So just need to slow down and give way to oncoming traffic."
Michel travelled the Gibb River Road last year and produced a video that I really liked and wanted to share with you.
It's here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gg79npTSDw, 3:49 minutes long, it starts in Sydney but from 0:46 on it's all Kimberley. Enjoy!
Ok, I have one last little update:
The manager of Birdwood Downs had asked me to let you know that unfortunately this year they will not be able to provide meals for their guests.
I had updated that bit in Destination Kimberley straight away but forgot to mention it in the last newsletter.
And that's it for today.
Those of you planning on leaving for their trips soon, please do 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.
As always, next newsletter will be out if and when there is something important to report!
Until then, happy travels :-)
Feedback? Found some out of date info in one of my guides? Let me know via https://www.kimberleyaustralia.com/contact.html
(c) 2005-2016, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
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