After the highlight of the Munja Track, we left Mount Elizabeth feeling pretty good. We headed out back to the Gibb River Road and on to the Gibb River Station to re-fuel and re-stock. This little community was lovely and the guy at the store was really friendly and chatty. We both thought we were glad we stopped here to spend our money. The initial plan was to stop at the free camp at Gibb River, however it had been set-aside for a local community ‘Back to Country’ event. So like all plans…they change, so we had lunch and a little swim before heading on to Drysdale River Station up the Kalumbaru Road. Drysdale is another station turned tourist park, although it was better set up than others. Best thing was the bar and the lunchtime burgers, of which we participated with enthusiasm.
Two days of relaxing at Drysdale River was enough to prepare us for the road up to King Edward River (Munurru) Campground and Mitchell Falls (Punamii-Uunpuu).We had heard that the track was pretty bad and we were considering whether we take the camper all the way to the Mitchell Falls campground. Well after travelling from Drysdale to King Edward campground, the decision was easy…no way! The road was very corrugated, rocky and had areas of deep bulldust. If we didn’t have to take the camper further then we wouldn’t. It just meant that we would be doing the Mitchell Falls experience as a day trip…a very long day trip. Nevertheless, we settled into the campground and relaxed around a campfire.
The morning of the Mitchell Falls trip had us awake and in the car by 5:15am and driving down a stupidly bad road in the dark. Luckily it was under the spotlights that we were able to see the worst of the boulders and corrugations on the road.
We made it to the Mitchell Falls Helicopter site by 7:25am, by all accounts it was a pretty good time for that section of the road. We found Dom, Kate and Jackson and together we paid our fare for the 6min helicopter flight over the Falls and landing at the other end of the walk. And to be honest, despite the flight being 6 or so minutes long, it was pretty cool. There is nothing like hanging on to your second born while trying to take pictures out the space where there should be a door! Lily on the other hand was having a whale of a time in the front seat next to the pilot. Her only instructions from us all were to NOT press any of the buttons!
The views in this part of the world are stunning and we got to see a bit in the flight. However it was the walk and explore that we got to see a bit more. It was too early for a swim up at the top part of the track, so we got walking. On the way we saw rock art, an appropriately named Lily Pool, Big Mertens and Little Mertens Falls and swimming at Little Mertens pool.
We also saw heaps of hot and tired people who were either walking both ways or catching a helicopter out. All of us were very glad to see the car park and the cool drinks that were inside.
Back on the worst road ever, we bounced, rattled and shock our way back to Munurru and our camper. That evening was pretty quiet and I think we deserved the early night because the next day we were going to explore the two art sites in the area.
When I got up the fire was going again, so this was a perfect opportunity to make a big damper. I knocked up a cinnamon and fruit damper that was going to be morning tea and breakfast the next morning. Love it when a plan comes together.
The two rock art sites around Munurru are a sight to behold. This was where we were going to be able to see the Wandjinas, the spirit people with big eyes, rounded heads and ornate headdresses. Craig was pretty excited to see them and they did not disappoint! There were also hand paintings (one with only 4 fingers), animals, stick figures and even a Tassie Tiger. So impressive and accessible to the average person. One tip we have is if you are really interested in rock art, there is a book available at Drysdale Station ($25 only) which gives you both context and a description of each of the sites. It definitely helped us to identify and understand the paintings. This was a great experience to finish off this part of our journey.
The next day we packed up to head back to Drysdale Station. The car was making some funky noises as we headed back down the road. Just after a small water crossing I thought that we had traded the Ranger in for a tricked up Skyline. For those who are not rev heads, these cars make that funny sound when accelerating. After a bit we decided that this was not normal and pulled over. Craig shimmed under the car to find that the expensive aftermarket exhaust had broken off the back of the turbo past the flange and the weld. Bugger! Luckily we had a Sat phone and a good and clever friend (thanks Dom!) and we were able the wire the exhaust up to not damage the engine further and limp back to Drysdale. Interesting that many people just sped past without stopping to check if everything was OK.
The next few days were a little tense, which was an understatement, as Craig had to deal with NRMA, the exhaust company, the tow truck and me. Two days later the tow truck turned up and we had a replacement car to get all of us and the camper back to Kununurra. The only issue with this arrangement was that the tow driver told us that the air conditioning unit had been ripped out due to a blown tire. Ok so we could deal with no air con, we’re tough we thought. What he neglected to say was that there was no air con or fan of any kind and that some of the body plugs had been broken. This meant that we had to drive the dusty Gibb River Road for over 4.5 hours with the windows down…