I had been looking forward to this part of the trip for the longest time – after the Bungle Bungles, we were heading for the Gibb River Road, at last. I must say that I was a bit nervous – I’ve heard that the Kimberley region is rather tough and unforgiving. I’m glad to say it’s not that bad at all!
Emma Gorge & El Questro
Our first stop on the Gibb River Road was Emma Gorge – after a short walk (about 2Kms I think) you arrive at an icy cold plunge pool at the bottom of a waterfall. Off to the right hand side of the plunge pool there are hot springs coming out of the cliff face. It was absolutely amazing – I didn’t want to leave.
After Emma Gorge, we travelled onto El Questro Gorge – it is a reasonably tough hike up to the half way mark where there is a nice rock pool. Mike and I stayed only went half way up the gorge – Dave disappeared for a few hours. When he eventually came back, he was raving about the climb up to the top of the gorge. So we decided to that we would come back and run up the gorge (yes, I said run).
The following day, we had a nice start to the day. We made our way to Zebedee springs – a hot spring that flows down a creek. The creek has loads of pools along the way. We stayed in the pools for a few hours. It was the perfect way to relax after another uncomfortable nights camping – lying in a hot pool in the shade of some palm trees – amazing!
After a lazy morning, we followed through on our plan to run up El Questro Gorge. I was pretty wrecked – it was a 40 minute run/climb each way.
Click here to see:
The Pentecost river crossing on the way into the homestead.
Mike & myself at Emma Gorge plunge pool
Most of the group at Zebedee Springs
Home Valley Homestead
We only camped here, but it is worth a mention because it is a really nice place and it has minimalist “Out houses” – or “a tin shit house” as another guest said to me… also a Hogan as it happens (long story, but that’s how Mike got me talking to this guy). We took it easy, cooked dinner, played cards – nice!
We left Home Valley at 8am and made our way up the Kalumburu road to Drysdale River Homestead. At this point I was thinking that both the Gibb River Road and Kalumburu Road were better than most Irish roads (even though they are unsealed).
At lunch we met a few Australians who thought it was hilarious to see three Irish lads all the way out in the Kimberley (especially so far north). After been given the “Fuckin’ Crazy Irish” treatment (again), we were given loads of advice and tips. Then we got all of the horror stories about the road ahead. But the general concensus was that if we took it easy, we would be fine.
About 1Km north of Drysdale , the road became so corrugated that it was sore to drive on. I tried going a little faster, a little slower, but the road was just brutal. By the time we made it to our campsite, it was nearly dark & I could hear a few new rattles from under the Pajero.
The following morning I got up pretty early, got out the tools and got in under the car to try and cure a few of the new rattles. At home, when I go looking for a problem in a car, I usually spend ages trying to find it (if it presents itself at all). I have never looked at a car and found so many problems so quickly as that morning.
The Rattles were:
-Broken Rear Drivers Side Shock & Mount
-Broken Rear Anti-roll bar Mounts
-Broken Front Drivers Side Shock
-Loose Front Anti-roll bar
-Broken Exhaust hanger
I couldn’t believe it – we took it very easy, but the road was just too rough.
We were only about 50 Kms from Mitchel Falls, so we decided to head on slowly and then start the limp back to civilization. About 10 Kms up the road, it was clear to see that the Pajero was not drivable on this road. So I turned back towards the Gibb River Road – I was so disapointed. : (
Later that day, we came across a crashed Pajero the owner agreed to sell us some parts. With this stop we ended up on driving on into the night looking for a place to stay.
Wallabies are stupid!
Wallabies will stand at the side of the road and watch a car coming towards them. They wait for the car to get close and then leap out in front of it. Unfortunately this is a story about the one that didn’t get away. The poor wallaby met with the sump guard of the Pajero. The outcome? Ireland 1 – Wallabies Nil.
Later that same night the car cut out after a shallow creek crossing – bugger! Thirty minutes later (after everything had dried) we were off again. Later again, the car cut out again – this time for good. We slept on the side of the road in the car, waiting for first light to have a look under the bonnet.
The luck of the Oirish
I was up by 5 a.m., after looking for the possible cause of our troubles for a few hours, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
A couple from Queensland stopped to see if we were alright. I couldn’t believe our luck – he was a mechanic! It turns our that a previous owner had put in an electric fuel pump (which was hidden out of sight under a mess of pipes and wires. It looks like the vibrations from the road didn’t agree with a relay that was powering the pump. It also explains all of the troubles with the river crossings – the fan was spraying the relay with water!
Why the relay was there, nobody knows (Mike even got an auto electrician to look at it – he too was baffled). About two minutes later, we were on our way again. Once we got to Derby, we found a few more parts for the car. The scrappie (the guy in the scrap yard!) told me that the Kalumburu Road hasn’t been maintained for years.
So with our Kimberly adventure cut short, we headed to Broome to find work and carry out repairs!
We will have to go back to the Kimberley – it was so amazing and we didn’t even see half of the area!
Click here to see:
A range running along the Gibb River Road
Another range running along the Gibb River Road
The Pentecost River crossing just before sunset – it was pretty difficult to see where I was going.