All very excited we left Derby for the famous Gibb River Road. If you haven’t heard of it, it is an old drovers track 647 km long and runs between Derby in the west to Wyndum in the east. It is mostly unsealed, has river crossings, jump ups and lots of gorges and waterfalls. It gets cut off in the wet, and is usually open from May to November each year, weather and water dependent.
Just out of Derby we stopped at Mowanjum Art Centre, it is a community made up of three tribes – the Worrorra, Ngarinyin, and Wunumbal. In these cultures the Wandjina is the supreme spirit being and the true creators of the land. Many other Aboriginal tribes believe that the Dreamtime snake or Rainbow Serpent was the main creative force. The three tribes came together early last century at a the Kunmunya Presbyterian mission and the government settlement at Munja. The images of the Wanjina are well known because of them being used in the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony. The building is amazing from the air it is in the shape of a Wanjina. Sorry no photo, even Tom couldn’t manage one but here is something we bought.
Having been on the Gibb for a whole 124km we turned off it onto the Fairfield Leopold Downs Road to Fitzroy Crossing. Along this road we stopped at the ruins of Lillimilura Police Station, originally a homestead built in 1884. It is the site of the start of Jandamarra’s war, an Aboriginal who tried to drive the white settlers out of the area. The war lasted a few years but didn’t succeed and he died around this area along with lots of other Aborigines.
Next stop Tunnel Creek. The Tunnel Creek Cave is about 750 metres long, varies between 3-12 metres high and goes from one side of the Napier Range to the other.
The walk passes through some pitch black parts so required torches, parts required wading through water up to my thigh high. Patrick opted for a piggyback through these bits, especially when we spied some eyes looking at us. These belonged to freshwater crocodiles the longest one we saw was about 2 metres.
Freshies are ok if you leave them alone, I am not looking forward to the salties, or more accurately Esturine Crocodiles. On the way through we also saw staligmites and staligitites, and some bats. At the far end of the tunnel there were some Aboriginal rock art.
Back in the car we continued onto Fitzroy Crossing imaginatively named as it is the site of the crossing of the Fitzroy River. The original crossing was replaced by a bridge in 1974 and the town moved a few kilometres because of the flooding of the Fitzroy River. In the wet it can rise to 13 metres above the crossing and at it’s peak flows at a rate of ~27,300 cubic metres per second, enough to fill Sydney Harbour in about 5 hours. We have discovered that Syd Harbs are a common measurement of water volumes in the Kimberley. There are some amazing photos around of the floods of 2002 and 2011 which completely cut the town off and the water was over many buildings.
Music today was brought to us by Lemonheads, Neil Barker, Neil Young and Xavier Rudd