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Kimberley News: Latest roads and parks updates, tidbits from last wet season, reader feedback.
May 13, 2017

13 May 2017, Issue #055

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In this issue:
  • Email Problems Resolved
  • Roads and Parks Updates
  • Tidbits from Last Wet Season
  • Safety Update from Monica
  • Reader Feedback

Hi ,

Happy May 13!

I am not superstitious, so here is newsletter issue no. 55 for you.

Email Problems Resolved

First of all, I am happy to report that all email problems have been resolved, at least for now.

(New here? Just ignore this part and scroll down for the updates!
Curious? See the last newsletter issue.)

In situations like this it is really awesome to have over 50000 newsletter subscribers.
It was one of my subscribers who managed to bring my problem to the attention of some people higher up in the Bigpond hierarchy, and apparently they were equally appalled by my experience with their customer support as I was.

My issue was then swiftly resolved and everything that had happened and what they had done about it was clearly communicated to me.

Apparently this incident also prompted Bigpond to now have a very close look at their customer communication and the call centre procedures to see what can be improved.
So who knows, maybe something good for everyone will come out of this? Wouldn't that be nice?

I have not been able to recover any emails that were sent to me during that three week period, but the main thing is that everything is working again.
I have also caught up on the work that had piled up in the meantime, so we can return to our usual scheduled program. :)

Roads and Parks Updates

Well, isn't this season highly unusual?

Yes, it has been a very, very big wet season, and things are opening late. Not THAT unusual after all, right?

But the Mitchell River National Park opening before everything else??

As of May 4 the Kalumburu Road, the King Edward campsite and the Mitchell River National Park have been open, while the national parks along the Gibb and the Fairfield Leopold road were still closed!

In detail: Windjana Gorge and campground, Tunnel Creek, Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge and Silent Grove campground are still closed. I would, however, expect most of them to open any day now, so keep an eye on the usual reports (see appendix of Destination Kimberley and previous newsletter issues) or contact the relevant authorities (contact details again in the appendix of Destination Kimberley).

The road into Mt. Hart is open.

Mornington Wilderness Camp is open.
(Remember their new requirement to book ahead for the campground! As you can see here, it's filling up fast, many dates are full already.)

These have been the main changes since last newsletter.

For more information do see the last issue, it also had links to check all the NT national parks.

A little reminder:
Last year Kakadu National Park introduced a new fee structure with higher prices during the dry season. That means mid May Kakadu entry prices increase to $40 for adults!

Tidbits from Last Wet Season

Because of my trip to Kamchatka and the email mayhem that followed it, several items that I had earmarked for inclusion in the newsletter got left out until now.

They would have been better suited for an earlier issue, but I think they are still relevant.

For one, here is a nice article that describes the height of the wet season as experienced by the staff at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary. It's over 5 weeks old, but still good reading.

A big wet season like the last one also causes animals that depend on water to move around more than usual. That can have downsides.

The cane toads have now reached Mt. Barnett, and apparently they are in abundance.

If you are travelling with dogs, do make sure they don't accidentally chew on one. Or affectionately lick it!
(This of course also applies to everywhere east of Barnett.)
And remember, cane toads are active at night!

Crocodiles have also been on the move much more than usual. There have been many sightings (not recently but late March/early April), at the beaches of Broome, near residential areas in Derby, near properties on the lower Ord in Kunurra...

Two crocodiles even needed to be shot when trapping repeatedly failed, because they were posing a serious hazard to people. One had to be shot at Cable Beach!

So what I am trying to tell you is this: You should still be particularly careful in the next weeks, until the weather cools down. Always act crocodile wise, especially in areas that, while in the past were known to be crocodile free, are adjacent to areas where crocodiles live or that would make good crocodile habitat. (There is a whole chapter in the first part of Destination Kimberley and also Destination Top End, about crocodile safety.)

And don't be upset if swimming holes, say in Litchfield or Kakadu, are still closed, even if the road is dry and everything looks good. The rangers will not let you in until they are confident that no saltwater crocodile has moved in over the wet season.

Safety Update from Monica

As recent purchasers have already seen, Monica has included the following information in the communication chapter of Destination Red Centre:

"The next generation of satellite technology

As you may be aware, I always travel with a satellite phone just in case we have an emergency. Now there's something new to consider. We've just sold our sat phone and replaced it with a Thuraya SatSleeve Hotspot. You connect to the SatSleeve hotspot via an app on your smart phone and then make calls in the normal way. 

You need to buy a monthly plan - ours costs $15. This doesn't include any calls though. Calling out is expensive at $1 a minute so it's definitely only useful for emergencies. However, the real advantage of this technology is that you receive a normal mobile phone number and your friends and relatives can call that number for the cost of a normal call (or free if they are on an unlimited plan with a company such as Telstra). So I plan on sending a text if I want to chat to someone and ask them to call me back. That only costs 50 cents on our plan.

How expensive is the SatSleeve hotspot? Very. Ours cost around $900. However, consider this. We broke down last year in the Red Centre in an area that doesn't have mobile reception. I used the old sat phone to contact the roadside assistance company and was kept on hold over and over again. They refused to call me back because my number had an international dialling code. That call cost us about $200! With the SatSleeve hotspot they would have happily called me back!"

So if for some reason (medical condition for example) you need reliable phone communication, even in the remotest areas, this might be a good option for you!

Reader Feedback

Susan from the UK sent in this report about her 2016 trip:

Kimberley for Pensionable Roadtrippers

Susan also has two articles on her blog (they are linked from her trip report) and many more photos.

Thanks, Susan!

For years I have been telling people that if they plan to visit the Kimberley, they should do so sooner rather than later. The Kimberley has been and still is changing rapidly. This is also reflected in the emails I receive from readers. Here is one:

Dear Birgit,

I very much appreciated your excellent service and news! We had the privilege to enjoy a great Kimberely trip last year. (One of several over the years!) Once again the real thing in a 4WD Camper! I am soooo homesick already (have always been since my first travel up there in 1975 in a VW-beetle!). However I'm 70 years old now and not in very good health anymore, so chances are slim to get there once more. I sometimes cannot bear to confront myself with that fact - so that's the main reason for my unsubscribing: to eliminate that upsurge of tantalizing yearning that inevitably gets triggered by your newsletter!

I must say though, apart from all the incredible wonders of landscape and vegetation there I agree with your frequent warning: things have changed drastically compared to earlier years! What frustrated me most was the way in which some of the many tourists behaved in the awe-inspiring sacred areas and gorges. They carried on (noisy, disrespectful and littering) as if they were in a public city "hilarious fun-area". We had to get up every day at 5am at least to have a chance to have some peace experiencing the archaic beauty and the unique magic of this landscape.

I have invaluable memories of the Oz-wilderness especially up in the North West. I was moved, enriched and empowered there more than in any other area on this planet.
Thanks for all you have been contributing (and still are) in terms of info and guidance for people planning their trips up there!
Maria from Switzerland

Thanks for the kind words, Maria.

And that's it for today!

As I said, I do expect the last roads and gorges in the Kimberley to open very soon and will not be sending another newsletter issue just to confirm they did.

Your next issue will therefore arrive if and when something major and unexpected happens, otherwise in about a month.

Talk to you then!

Those of you planning on leaving for their trips soon, please always also refer to the appendix of Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre or to the links in this and in previous newsletters to keep yourself up to date about the conditions.

Happy travels,

Feedback? Found some out of date info in one of my guides? Let me know via

(c) 2005-2017, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
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