Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Gibb River – Week 2 0f 3

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on July 21, 2010

Hi Everyone,

Joel and I have been a bit laid up with the flu the last few days but on the mend now so i’ll continue our adventures.

Adcock Gorge

We left Mornington Wilderness Camp and headed off towards Manning Gorge.  We stopped at Adcock Gorge for a walk and the kids went under the small falls but we did not swim here.  It looked just a little too still so the boys were happy to frolic under the falls.  It was a nice little gorge and we saw another Mertens water monitor on the rocks on the way in – read almost put my hand on it as i didn’t see it till the last minute.  Adcock Gorge is owned by Mount House Station and you used to be able to camp there but no longer can.  It was closed the last few years to visitors so it must have only recently re-opened to the public.  We left and headed off to Mt Barnett Roadhouse to pay for 2 nights (unpowered) at Manning Gorge. There are roadworks for 15kms into the roadhouse, but diversion road was  pretty good. The staff were very friendly and helpful there.  We set up camp under a heap of Jiggal trees as that was the only shade left – a very popular camping spot.  They have showers and flushing toilets but the best swimming hole we’ve found so far near the camp.  We finished setting up and went out to Galvan’s Gorge.  It was a beautiful gorge and to the boys delight (both old and young) there was a rope swing which got a fair workout.  As we got there about 3pm there were no other people there at all so had the place to ourselves for awhile.  It’s really nice to be in a place like that all on your own!  We met up with Callum and his parents again, whom we had met at Sir John Gorge at MWC.  He is only 6-7 and he loved climbing up onto the trees to swing off the rope with boys!  On the walk on the way into the gorge i spotted these red flowers and upon closer inspection i recognised them, even without the champagne!  They were native hibiscus flowers but i’d only ever seen them in syrup in a jar, that i put into my glasss of champagne.  Very red in colour so they must go purple with the preserving syrup.  There were hundreds of them just growing wild – if only i knew how to preserve them…hmmmm.  We stayed here for a few hours just swimming and jumping off the rope swing.  We stopped in at the Mt Barnett Roadhouse for an icecream before dinner for a change as they closed at 6pm. Dinner was bangers, mash and peas – so very australian!  We met up with and camped next to our new-found-friends, Merri, David, Marge and Greg.  Also Callum and his parents camped up near us for the night as well.  Wade jumped out of the car to show them where we were camped, which is where we think he lost his thong out of the car.  We got back a bit late to start a fire for cooking so just used the gas tonight. The roadhouse didn’t have any bread for a few days so i made up a bread mix and kindly asked the neighbours if i could steal some coals to cook my bread in the camp oven.  David had spent the afternoon making a fireplace with stones and a flue – very impressive!  We sat chatting around the fire but all very tired so early bed.

Native Hibiscus

Galvan's Gorge

Boys on rope swing at Galvan's Gorge

Camping at Manning Gorge

The next day we packed snacks, water and towels and headed off to the Upper Manning Gorge.  It was pegged as a roughly 2km walk but there was no shade and most people we spoke to all thought it was one of the longest and hottest walks so far.  To get to the walk you either walk arond the swimming hole or you can wade through the swimming hole and use styrofaom containers to put your stuff into so they keep dry.  Joel wasn’t up to the swim so he and Daniel walked around whilst Wade and I swam across.  By the time you dry off and redress it takes about the same amount of time as the boys took walking around but we were much cooler for the walk.  The Manning Gorge and falls were magnificent.  There was a really deep pool at the base of the falls and rocks all round the gorge that the boys jumped off into the pool.  The boys were slowly getting braver and more daring and climbing higher onto the rocks near the falls to jump off.  Daniel got to the second top tier but hesitated a few times as it was just so bloody high.  David, Marge and Greg made their way to the gorge also and David swam over to the falls as well.  He was egging Daniel on as well, who replied “Why don’t you come up here and try it!”  Not one to back down from a dare, up David climbed, stood next to Daniel instructing him how to do a safety jump from considerable heights!  Then off he plumetted!  Not wanting to be shown up as a woose, (and the fact that David is in his 60’s) Daniel steeled himself and after awhile stopped his knees from knocking long enough to finally jump off. It was met with resounding applause from all spectators!  We stayed there for hours just swimming, jumping and basking the sunshine.  What a magnificent place.  I still think it’s one of my favourite places on the Gibb.  We finally packed up to head back to camp as we hadn’t brought down lunch and it was getting on to 2:30pm and we were a bit peckish by now.  We stopped to say hi to Greg and Marge and were on our way to back to camp to have lunch and back track our paths from yesterday as Wade had lost one of his thongs out of the car (it had to happen eventually!).  There was another couple sitting next to Greg who were listening and mentioned that they had seen one, same colour as Wade’s, back at the campground, near the toilet block.  We couldn’t be that lucky i thought, but sure enough after the great long trek back to camp, we found it. After lunch we went firewood hunting as we wanted to cook on the fire tonight.  Still no bread at the roadhouse and i am out of the bread mix so looks like i will have to make one from scratch.  I did think to bring some dried yeast but only had SR flour.  Long story short, loaf looked and smelt ok but was a bit heavy and Daniel thought it tasted more like a scone than a sandwich the next day!!  At least it was nice with some jam!!  Greg and Marge came and joined us for a fireside chat after dinner and it wasn’t long before we realised that Wade had fallen asleep in his chair around the fire – God bless him.  The boys had gone hard all day and Wade is already like the energizer bunny so he was absoluttely knackered! This would be our last evening with our friends as we were heading up to the Mitchell Falls and they were heading along the Gibb to Homevalley Station.

Beautiful Manning Gorge

Daniel on highest ledge

Dan's big jump

Swimming hole at Manning Campground

We bid a fond farewell to our new friends David, Merri, Greg and Marge, we loved camping with you guys and promised to visit when we go through Wollongong.  We packed up camp and headed off to Barnett River Gorge for ann early morning gorge walk and a swim.  It was a lovely little walk in anf the boys found another rope swing.  Not quite as good as Galvans but we still had a lot of fun.  Back in the car we headed off and up the road to Drysdale River Station. We stopped at a creek crossing for lunch, eating the bread that tasted more like scones, but it was fresh and nice just the same. Drysdale Station is 60kms north of the actual Gibb River Rd and the road is quite corrugated but if you drive to the conditions is not too bad.  The Drysdale River Station is a million acres of working cattle farm. We stayed at the Homestead Camp as we wanted/needed to have showers and do some laundry.   They have a small store but they have a beer garden and bar and they sold cider so i was a very happy chappy! (And the shop sold red cordial – manna from heaven!) We showered, laundered and headed off to the bar for a drink and a chat with the neighbors.  The weather to date had been excellent but it was getting very overcast now and looked like raining soon.  The shower amenties are arranged with 3 ensuite-styled shower rooms (shower, toilet and basin) and one separate toilet on each side and the laundry at the end.  It’s a great place to meet others who have either already done the Mitchell Falls or are about to head up that way as well. I did wake up in the middle of the night and cover our chairs and tables and bring in some towels as it started to rain.  The next day we went to Miner’s Pool where the boys found yet another rope swing but it hung very low and the water was only knee deep underneath it.  That didn’t worry them as they still managed to enjoy themselves.  A group of people came down to swim and thought we were so brave to have put our stuff so close to the lizard – god damn another Perente, which we didn’t see as we had walked around the log to the left and he was on the right side. Rest of the day was spent getting their travel diaries up-to-date and we dined at the bar tonight. We had a roast beef dinner with all vegies and sticky date pudding for dessert.  Yummo. Heard there had been a bit of rain further north but we decided to keep to our plans and leave the next day.  Not too much rain overnight so off to the Mitchell Falls we go.

Barnett River Gorge

Miner's Pool

Beer garden and bar at Drysdale

Biggest Perente we'd seen to date

Pack up was a bit slower as rain had dampened a few things but a quick wipe down and off we went.  I have to say that this is the part of the trip i was looking forward to the most.  I really wanted to go and see if it was as beautiful as all the pictures I’d seen. The road from Drysdale onward had been graded for about 20kms but after that the road was badly corrugated again.  The most striking thing about the drive up here is that there are so many palms. At times they outnumbered the gumtrees and it was like driving through a rainforrest.   We stopped at the King Edward Campgrounds for a quick bite to eat and a look around.  It is a very nice and spacious campground but we felt it was too far from the falls for us.  The first 30kms of the next 86km had been graded and the road was quite good.  When we passed the grader and got back onto the un-graded road you could see just what a great job the grader guy was doing.  It took 2 hours to drive from the King Edward Campground to the Mitchell Falls.  We found a nice quiet campsite so stopped for lunch and set up.  It doesn’t matter where you camp you will hear the helicopters coming and going with trips to the falls and back but they only run from 8am till 4pm and you really don’t notice them after a while.  We tried to book a taxi ride back from the falls for one of the days we were there but they were all around lunchtime, with nothing later as the tour operators book out all the early flights up to the falls and the late flights back.  We decided to do a longer trip, way more expensive, but we could go and see up to Port Warrender and come back down along the falls as well.  Went for a quick splash in the creek near the camp, then set up the fire as wanted to have a roast tonight as i know I will be too tired tomorrow and we’ll be back too late to cook it tomorrow as well.  The kids are very good at cutting the logs to fit for the fire and collecting enough kindling to get it going with a match or two. The Boy Scouts would be proud! The wood we find up around here is not as good as the first lot we found outside Fitzroy Crossing as it doesn’t form very good coals. Not too worry we used up all we had and we’ll get some more in a couple of days.  Good night’s sleep ‘cos big day tomorrow-we’re going to the falls!

King Edward River Crossing

Camp at Mitchell Falls Campground

Big Mertens Falls

Wade was up early with the birds, literally, this morning.  I woke up and he was already up with the binocculars and bird book at hand watching the birds. Big brekky, packed lunches, drinks and towels and off to the falls we go.  We had decided to do the long walk to the Mitchell Falls first then stop in at the other falls on the way back.  The track is a class 4 then goes to a class 5 but we didn’t really find it that difficult and it was in the shade for most of the trip, which was a bonus.  The clouds of the last few days were gone and it was  beautiful, clear and sunny sky overhead. We had to cross the river to get to the falls so shoes and sox off and wade across with all our gear then put it all on again.  The falls were breathtaking!  I couldn’t believe they were so beautiful and loud!  You could actually walk on top of the falls but the view wouldn’t have been as amazing as it was from the sides.  I walked on a bit further and edged out onto a cliff edge to try and get some better photos, more front on. Those heights were amazingly high and scary but the photos were great.  We walked back to the top of the falls where we swam and body surfed down some deep rapids. Stopped for a lunch of wraps, cold roast beef and cheese, sultanas and muesli bars.  Joel and Wade found a great falls area just past where we had crossed the river to the falls.  The rocks underneath were so smooth and there was a rock above the falls where you could jump off into the turbulence and the current would take you downstream and then it swirled at the bottom to take you into the bank. It was fantastic and the kids and us stayed there for a few hours.  Daniel and Wade met another boy who, surprisingly was from Karratha also, but he went to Tambrey school.  Even though they didn’t go to school with him they sort of recognised him and he might even be in Chris’ class.  I’ll get the kids to try and remember his name and let you know on fb. (Think his name was Jake?)  We finally left the Mitchell Falls at 3pm and stopped at Big and Little Mertens Falls and saw some amazing aboriginal artwork as well.  Joel and Wade went for a wander on a path that leads underneath the waterfall at Little Mertens Falls.  We stopped for a quick dip then back to camp as we were all a bit sunburnt and tired.  Made a bread mix that i had bought at Drysdale but it was gluten free and smelt gross while i was making it and it was like a batter instead of a dough. Ah well, just have to see how it goes. Spag bol for tea ‘cos it was quick and easy and we were lights out by 8.30pm – That is unheard of for me usually not in bed till 11pm or so but was absolutely shattered. What a glorious day we had.

Magnificent Mitchell Falls

Top of the Mitchell Falls whrilpool

Daniel, Wade and Joel in whirlpool falls

Daniel sitting in the falls

Next day was our helicopter ride at 1000am.  We’d already decided that Daniel would sit in the back between Joel and myself and Wade could sit in the front, which is enclosed.  The seat in the middle of the back is a bit smaller and has less head room but don’t think Daniel minded as he’s a bit freaked at heights.  I was a bit freaked as well as the rear of the chopper does not have any doors.  Nothing to hold onto just the harness holding us in. Joel was on one side with the video camera and i was on the other with the digital camera.  Took heaps of photos but when the pilot decided to go and have a few extra looks at some crocs and put the chopper sideways with me looking out thinking holy shit i hope these harnesses are good, i just held on to the outside of the chopper and took in the views.  They were spectacular.  The water was so blue/green and there were beautiful sandy beaches but no swimming ‘cos of the crocs and we saw a few!  Nathan, our pilot, took us up to Port Warrender and Crystal Creek and then back along the Mitchelle River, showing us the lower Mitchell Falls which you can only see by helicopter.  We felt pretty special seeing all this beautiful part of the country.  I took some more photos of the Mitchell Falls as we flew over them a few times.  They like to make sure you get lots of good views so they go back and around a couple of times to make sure everyone gets good shots!  The kids thought it was AWESOME and so did we.  We landed back and off went the chopper again to do more runs. They certainly work their butts off there!  We packed some lunch and headed off in the car then to Surveyor’s Pool.  The road took us back to the Kalumbaru Rd for about 19kms the turn off west for another 15 or so kms.  Joel loved the rrack ‘cos it wasn’t corrugated like the rest of the roads but more like a 4WD track should be! We stopped for lunch at the lookout then on to the pool.  Surveyor’s Pool is quite beautiful but not for swimming.  There are supposed to have been sightings of a salt water croc there but i think it’s more out of deference to the Aboriginals and their beliefs that people don’t swim there.  Shame, it looked like a beautiful place to swim.  We walked to the falls area and cooled off under the waterfall instead.  After the hot walks, it’s always refreshing to have a cool dip or splash in some nice, cool water.  Back to camp for a quick wash in the creek.  Made some more bread, from scratch this time and i had managed to get some plain flour too so it should turn out a bit better than last time.  We had some yummy marinated steak, with potatoes, peas and corn.  There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread when it’s cooking in a camp oven on the coals. I had  the guy next to us come and ask me what i was doing as i prove the bread in a staineless steel bowl, in a plastic shopping bag, under the bonnet of the car.  Works a treat as the engine stays quite warm for quite some time, well enough for me to prove the dough twice anyway.  He was quite impressed with my makeshift “bakery” and thought he might suggest it to his wife – good luck!  Early to bed again tonight, think we are still getting over all the walks we have done. We’re off to Drysdale River Station again tomorrow.

Chopper ride

Port Warrender by chopper

Crystal Creek by chopper

Lower Mitchell Falls

Mitchell Falls by chopper

Mitchell Falls top and bottom

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