Morning dawned cloudy, thick cloud obscuring the sun. We rose early in the crowded camp, where all kinds of 4WD vehicles and their fancy or plain camping arrangements had spent the night. Some people had obviously spent hundreds of thousands on their rig, while others made do with something simple and practical. Little tents and expensive off-road campers shared the space. We drank our tea, rooibos for me and earl grey for him … and set out to walk the 7km return track up the Gorge.
The huge ramparts of Windjana Gorge are almost surreal, craggy tops reminiscent of Mordor or some other spooky fantasy place. The entry is through a narrow rock crevice, but then the gorge opens out into a wide pool with expansive sandy shore.
The first few pics were taken the afternoon before, while the sun was still shining. We went in then to see the freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves! Although we had glimpsed these mysterious creatures in other gorges it was only ever one small one, and a rare sighting. In Windjana Gorge there were Lots …. and there were really large crocodiles too. Despite the heat the lagoon never did look tempting for a swim!
This morning the Johnston Freshwater crocodiles were invisible, but we found some wonderful birds. Australia's only stork, the Jabiru, was patiently fishing along the creek, and despite the gloom his colours show up quite well here.
A Pacific Heron watched us warily as we slogged through the deep sand, relaxing to swallow his catch once or twice.
A pelican floated on a deeper pool, tiny dotterels ran along foraging and being harassed by a Willie Wagtail who seemed intent on stealing the goodies disturbed by the smaller birds.
On the return walk we found a colony of Black Fruit bats had settled in for the day, sleeping/squabbling in trees along the water's edge.
We packed up and drove west, planning an overnight stop near Derby …. but the rain had set in, so we opted for staying on the bitumen where we were unlikely to get stuck. Roads north of Broome were closed by several days of heavy rain, so we have changed our plans, and will go east again, but along the Northern Highway, a sealed road. Meanwhile I have enjoyed internet access, posting some of my pre-prepared blogs.
Derby was the first town in the Kimberley, a port for the shipment of cattle, and more lately ore. There are 11 metre tides here, hence the huge wharf and loading facilities. We have had heavy rain since midday, but it seems to be easing now, amazing since it is only the second time it has rained in June in the last 40 years! Thanks for your great comments on the blog, sorry I cannot visit you yet, or even take time to reply …. we are halfway through the trip, so I know I will soon be home again 🙂