G’day from Broome,
I’m only quoting Midnight Oil here, not offering a weather report. As Dan remarked yesterday as we approached Derby and the radio announcer crossed to the weather forecast, it would be a fairly easy job up this way to predict the weather. As Kerry O’Keeffe said in his inimical style, just sit in the bar in Bali and ring in twice a day with a prediction that the weather is bound to be the same as yesterday.
Yesterday we ventured east and made it all the way to Fitzroy Crossing but were there in the dark so we didn’t get a chance to see Geiki Gorge or the extent of the crossing.
Some of the stops on the Gibb River Road make it worth the trip. The Windjana Gorge was a pleasant surprise: an abrupt uprising of limestone cut down the middle with a languid desert oasis creek. Some (fellow visitors) carried towels in anticipation of a refreshing dip but there was no swimming in amongst the hundreds of freshwater crocodiles. The crocodiles were quite uninterested in the people which was a good thing as many were prepared to walk to within a few metres and of course they were in their natural setting. The gorge itself is quite spectacular. A swim would have been great but we can’t always expect to enjoy nature by such indulgences can we? It was a great sight in itself. There is reputed to be a walk seven kilometres from end to end but we turned back after perhaps half that distance in the interests of seeing a few more sights before the light disappeared.
Next stop was Tunnel Creek, a magnificent fresh water creek – with a lot of water – running through an easily traversible cave/tunnel which went for perhaps 1000 metres. It was necessary to cross the creek many times, which meant wet feet and it was necessary to take a torch. (Dan’s phone sufficed for the light travellers.) Some of the rock formations were quite arresting and it was easy to conceive of the Aborigines using the spot as a base, especially in the dry season.
On the way we stopped at the prison tree near Derby. I don’t know the full story behind it but knew of it before being in this area. There is a huge baobab (apparently Australians call it ‘boab’ so I will switch to that) with a hollow ‘room’ inside with a single natural entrance. It could possibly accommodate a dozen adults. It was used as a prison in the days when the pearling industry needed labour and the Aborigines were rounded up and marched in chains to the pearling luggers. It’s another sordid chapter of our shocking history, I’m afraid. Today the tree is possibly dead but still stands as a monument to these misdeeds.
Cheerio for now,