Oh no it rained a lot last night! This was a pain but this would be the start of, and reason for many of the adventures to come on the Gibb River Road.
We headed north to return to the Gibb aiming for Bell Gorge for the night. The Leopold Downs Road was extremely muddy and slippery, and we could see tyre tracks weaving all over the road so we took it fairly slowly. At one point though I was very nervous as the van started to fish tail in the mud. We had a few small water crossings and then arrived at a deeper dip in the road to discover a big truck bogged at the bottom. The driver had been winching the truck to the side and had made a serious mess of the road. However he did inform us a few cars and camper trailers had made it through. While discussing it with him another car pulled up and this is where we met the Foxes: Craig, Leah, Jayden, Kyle and Teagan. These guys would be our traveling companions on our Gibb River adventure. A deal made we would help them and they us if required. Fortunately it wasn’t required and we made it through the bog easily. Both families were obviously nervous about this crossing and no one took photos. We did make up for it in days to come with both families giving all cameras a work out.
Safely back on the Gibb, we were thinking how quiet it was as we hardly saw another car all morning. We stopped at Imintji store for a coffee and may have been told that the Gibb was closed up until Mt Barnett Roadhouse. Since we hadn’t passed any road closed signs we chose not to see the notice on the shop window and kept going. Anyway as it is an Aboriginal community there free camping isn’t allowed. It was here we properly met the Foxes and made a plan, the first of many, to go to Manning Gorge for the night.
It was unfortunate that Bell Gorge and Mornington Wilderness Camp were closed because of the rain of last night. Bell we had planned on going to, Mornington we were contemplating but that would have meant missing out on something else. I guess we will have to come back sometime in the future.
We took a side track to Adcock Gorge which was fabulous. A short walk to a beautiful lily covered pool and then a bit further on opened up to a great freshwater swimming hole and waterfall. Ben did an impression of walking on water.
We also stopped at Galvans Gorge this one is literally right on the road. Another swimming hole, another waterfall however this one we didn’t have to ourselves.
Arriving at Mt Barnett Roadhouse we officially found out that the road we had travelled on that morning was closed. It was quite funny as everyone was staring at us and our dirty cars wondering where we had come from. Really the road wasn’t that bad, wet and muddy yes, but they probably don’t want lots of cars going through as it chops up the road a fair bit. It would explain why the guys that we had passed doing road works were giving us dirty looks.
Rumour going around was that the other half of the Gibb – Mt Barnett to the east would be closed tomorrow. Manning Gorge the planned destination was also closed and there were about a dozen cars ‘stuck up’ there. As a result everyone was setting up camp in the car park, or psuedo car park of the roadhouse and had completely bought out the shop, as most had thought they would be stuck there for a few days. The shop only get stocked when the supply truck makes it through. Together with the Foxes we decided to keep going while the road was opened, figuring once we were on it no one could actually tell us it was closed. There was no way we wanted to get stuck at the roadhouse and everyone said Manning Gorge wouldn’t open for at least a few days. So after filling up for $2.40 a litre we went about 30km down the road and turned off to Barnett River Gorge. The road down to it was pretty dodgy and made a little more disconcerting with the Atco hut that greeted us near the camp spot. See the photo below. Since we could still see it at the first camp spot we decided to continue on till it was at least out of view.
It was Schnitzel night for all and discussions of Mick Taylor and Wolf Creek (a movie which I am glad I have never seen) made the situation even more creepy. We were also rather concerned that any rain may make the return trip to the main road even dodgier if not impassable.