After a great night’s sleep, we went to the homestead to find out if they knew anything about the condition of the road particularly if Drysdale River Station on the Kalumburu Rd was open. This was the planned destination today, but as we were discovering on the Gibb plans often change. Drysdale River Station was open but there was no news on the status off the road up to Mitchell Falls, our ultimate destination. An added bonus of going to the homestead was the joey Auntie Pat was looking after.
When we first saw this sign one of the boys thought it said “Beware of stock shooting” So this led to the singing of ‘Cows with Guns’, a song that would be sung many times while on the Gibb especially when we saw any stock on the side of the road.
Heading back onto the Gibb River Road, within the space of 5 minutes we saw five cars. All this traffic!!! One was ours and one was the Fox’s car, but apart from at Mt Barnet Roadhouse that is more cars than we have seen in days. No rain last night but the road was still very wet.
We arrived at the Kalumburu Rd turn off and happily saw no closed road signs so turned onto it and headed north the 59km to Drysdale River Station. This road was a bit more as we expected the Gibb to be – corrugated and dusty, and less mud. We had a couple of river crossings: Gibb River and Plain Creek. The Gibb River crossing was pretty big and a couple of cars were parked having a cuppa on the other side so we decided to walk it to see how deep it was. No worries!
We got to Drysdale River Station by lunchtime and were rather concerned when there was a Road Closed sign blocking the Kalumburu Rd north of here. We went to what loosely is called the store – a few loaves of bread, UHT milk, some tins and souvenirs, including stubby holders made from cow scrotums (classy) to check into the camp grounds and find out about the road status. We were informed by Otto, at the store that we could apply for a permit to drive on the closed road to Mitchell Falls; the road further north was really closed. These permits might take half an hour or they may take “who knows how long”. We are getting used to this lack of definitive timeframes, first it was Broome time now it is Kimberley time, I suspect we may encounter more of these timeframes as we travel through other remote areas.
We submitted our application, which Otto faxed off to the Shire of Wyndham, set up camp and then headed out to Miners Pool, five kilometres away. Miners Pool is on the Drysdale River where you can swim. The current was strong probably because of the recent rain. Tom found a rope swing in the middle of the river, which we all had a go on. Returning to camp to see if our permits had arrived, not yet. Maybe we were in need of a new plan, hopefully not yet. If the permits do not come through the only other way to see Mitchell Falls is on a flight – not a cheap option and definitely a second choice. We chatted to Otto about the road and timeframes of driving. He stated two hours to the turn off and then two hours to Mitchell Falls. According to him, everything on the Gibb is two hours. He seems to be channelling Auntie Pat in his big statements.
The campgrounds at Drysdale are great, massive and not that busy. At the peak times these grounds can be packed. There are only six powered sites all around one power pole. All these cars were sparkly and clean; we could not work out why they were so clean, and were told they had visited the Drysdale car wash. Initially confused we too would discover this car wash in a few days. We set up near the back, and I thought we looked like the rusty old cars in the junk yard out the back, and the clean cars were in the premium showroom. I would like to note that I did an injury today; I broke a toenail kicking the mud flaps of the van to knock some of the mud off. I might as well as kicked concrete.
Music by The Church.