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Kimberley and NT News: Not much to report! Guide book update, recent accidents, and a cold snap.
August 16, 2018

16 August 2018, Issue #070

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In this issue:
  • Recent Updates and News
  • Reader Feedback

Hi ,

I hope this finds you well!

As I announced in the last issue, I am sending newsletters less frequently now, as always during the later half of the season.

We are nearing the end of the peak season, and unlike during the first half, there just isn't much to report.

Except for the current cold snap, with morning temperatures between 5 and 10°C. Don't get that very often...
Enjoy it while it lasts, the days will be in the 40s soon enough!

Recent Updates and News

Just after I had sent the last newsletter, two more little items came in. I knew I wasn't going to send out another newsletter for several weeks so I put them on the "What's New?" page on the website, as I usually do when info comes in immediately after a newsletter has gone out.

So a reminder for those planning a Kimberley trip: Bookmark that page and check it before you leave. It may contain useful info that was not in the newsletter.

I had sent that last newsletter over a month ago, yet in that time I made only one small addition to Destination Kimberley. (The addition of a station stay on the Duncan Road, Halls Creek. The station has only just opened for visitors. See page 134. Thank you Michelle for alerting me to it.)

As I hope you are aware, if you want to download the latest version of your guide book with all updates included, you can do so here.

I generally recommend anyone travelling to the Kimberley does so a week or two before leaving. It is not so important for Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre because not as much changes there over the years.

People still contact me asking about the current conditions on the Gibb River Road.

You as regular readers already know the answer, of course: It changes all the time. The road is reasonable, gets horribly corrugated, gets graded again, gets corrugated again, and so on.

Just take it as it comes, don't overload your vehicle, adjust your tyre pressures and drive to the conditions, which mostly means reduce your speed.

Talking about speed, let me emphasize once more that reducing your speed is the single most important thing you can do to avoid problems. (Something I repeat if not on every single page then probably at least in every single chapter of Destination Kimberley.)

There have been three accidents in only two weeks:

Sadly, on the night of August 3 a car with six locals from Kununurra crashed on the Gibb, killing two of the passengers.

On August 7 a tour bus tipped on its side on the road to Windjana when its trailer started fish-tailing after hitting a soft patch. All passengers got away with minor injuries.

And on August 10 a car hit a cow on the Great Northern Highway, 80km east of Broome. No people were injured.

So please, it's not a race. Don't rush, take it easy, enjoy your surrounds, be safe out there.

Reader Feedback

My recent newsletters talked a lot about the insane number of visitors that we saw early this season, and correspondingly I published a lot of reader mail I had received about the topic.
Those emails have died down and so have the complaints I saw on social media.

Now that doesn't mean we now have fewer people around than early in the season.
The difference is that this time of the year everybody expects things to be packed, whereas people travelling early in the season expected things to be nice and quiet.

Here is a message from John who had not expected things to be quite so busy:

"Firstly let me thank you for your Top End and Kimberley ebooks, we found them very helpful in our planning of our trip. Very helpful and worthwhile.
We have just returned, earlier than planned. Whilst there were some very memorable areas that we visited (I won't list them all but the Horizontal Falls, the Bungles, Tunnel Creek etc) overall we found the trip a bit disappointing.
Why, too many people. The roads, caravan parks, free camping areas were jammed packed by early pm. Not an outback experience. Unfortunately with so many people we came across too much inconsiderate to badly behaving people. Speeding on dirt roads (not just overseas visitors but off roaders who are out to damage their own vehicle and others it would seem).  Walking through camp sites, speeding in camping areas creating dust and I could go on."

John also has two tips for you:

"BTW we stayed at The Lodge at Old Halls Creek. Not everyone's cup of tea but once you got over the less than salubrious ablution facilities it was a very good stay. Very few people and what once used to be a very good lotion for vans. I am a prospector so we spent time there both on the way to Broome (we enjoyed Broome very much) and on the way back. We loved it."

(If you own Destination Kimberley then you know I quite like The Lodge, too. It's covered on page 134.)


"One lesson we did learn on this trip was unless you are into high density camping don't use the non-generator areas. The non-generator areas are much more crowded than the generator areas. The people using the generator areas tend to be more experienced campers and have better camp site etiquette. The gentle purr of a generator gives me a sense of self-reliance and a real country feel. That's just me. Most people using the generator areas tend to use the generators responsibly and I find a lot less of a distraction than the noise associated with high density camping. The ablutions are less crowed and more likely to have hot water at the end of the day."

Ed writes:

"We are traveling from Derby to Broome as I type. We have just done Broome to Mitchell Falls and back and absolutely loved it. 
Windjana campground was great when we were there but did hear it was pretty packed a few days later. We found Manning Gorge beautiful but the campground was packed and not enough facilities. Mitchell Falls was stunning and campground ok. King Edward campground was really good and not too packed. I found the facilities at Imintji were outstanding.
A brilliant trip apart from a few boofhead drivers. Some drivers were painfully slow and doing more damage to  their car than by going a little faster and “skipping” over the bumps.
Some  drivers were too fast and didn't slow as we passed.
Being a country person I like me to wave to oncoming traffic. It was occasionally reciprocated!
I really enjoyed meeting fellow travellers and exchanging stories.
All in all, brilliant."

And Dave says:

"We did the GRR last month and generally the drivers were fine, the odd person was going, in my opinion, a bit quick but almost without exception this was in a hire vehicle, better education needed for overseas tourists???
The purpose of my note is to give a huge rap for Clyde and Lynette at the Gibb River Rd Station, a pair of more friendly or welcoming people could not be found, not just on the Gibb, but anywhere in our travels. Fuel, food and accommodation prices also probably the best on the Gibb.
Keep up the great work, we did the trip absolutely hassle free and this was largely due to the information and advice that you have provided."

So there you have it, a quick impression of how people experienced the Gibb River Road during peak season.

I'd like to add something to Dave's comment about overseas tourists needing more education.

From what I have seen inexperienced tourists from overseas are usually cautious and nervous drivers.
Australians hire cars, too.
Both Australians and overseas tourists may be more inclined to abuse a vehicle that isn't their own.
Both Australians and overseas tourists may be on a very tight schedule that encourages speeding.
Many locals or people working locally use these roads too, and like all of us in our usual daily lives, don't waste time getting from A to B.

Another thing I noticed with Australian travellers this year is the attitude and desire to "have done" or "knocked over" the Gibb in as little time as possible. It's become like a badge of honour.

And then consider this Facebook comment:
"We saw many examples of poor and dangerous driving, but they were seldom hired vehicles."

Don't blame any particular segment of the population, please.
There are idiots everywhere.

Just don't be one of them!

And that's it for today already.

If you are about to leave for your trip soon then I think you picked a good time and year.
Tourist numbers will be dropping soon, so the only thing that might get in the way of your enjoyment are bush fires which can at times lead to closures of tracks and parks.

On the other hand you will be happy to hear that there is still plenty of water around at most falls and gorges. (Though not in the south-eastern regions which never had much rain during the wet season.)
You may even encounter some exciting creek crossings, for example on the way into Mt. Hart or into El Questro Gorge.

Let us know how it went when you get back! :)

Safe travels and talk again soon!

Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre have all the information you need to put together your dream trip.

To sign up for this newsletter and receive the free Kimberley Pocket Guide go here.

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