Gregory National Park and Zebra Rock Mine
Our Trivia game: We had a gut feeling that the caravan and motorhome crowd outnumbered the road trains by 2 to 1. So to test this theory, we started counting vehicles coming towards us as we travelled from Katherine to Timber Creek (300 km). And we counted 63 caravans and motorhomes versus only 23 road trains, so the grey nomads and tourists won!
The stretch from Katherine to Kununurra was a bit too much, so we decided to break it up by visiting Gregory National Park and an interesting mine area. So on our first night we camped at Big Horse Creek in Gregory National Park ($3.30pp) where the creek joins the huge Victoria River (outside Timber Creek). We timed it so we can attend the slide show by the local ranger on the National Park, hoping for interesting insights from the Aboriginal ranger. Unfortunately he forgot the USB at home, so he ended up showing us his own slides of his previous years at Mary River in the northern part of the Territory. Because we had already visited the area a few weeks ago, we found it interesting anyway to watch and listen.
What was amazing about this area, was how quickly the vegetation and landscape could change. We were excited to see our first Boab tree of the trip, and within 10 kilometres we saw literally hundreds. The boab is a relation to the boabab of Africa and Madagascar. They are fast growers and live for over 1000 years. We learned to suck the fruit’s white pith (see the photos below) of the seed for lots of vitamin C.
A highlight for us was to discover a bower, built by a Great Bower Bird (see photo of the bower and the pair of birds below). This is built by the male to impress the female. When he stands in front of it, she can appreciate how talented he is as a builder, collector, and decorator. Then she goes off and builds the flimsiest of nests some distance away and they start a family.
On we went to Zebra Rock Mine Camping Site next to Lake Argyle. We took two days to relax and plan our next stage through the Kimberley towards Broome and further. It was also our opportunity to eat up all our fruit and veggies before passing through the quarantine inspection at the border with WA. We donated our left over honey to campers going in the opposite direction.
The three people (and their little girl, Opal, running around with her pet python – as you do) who are running this mine are a unique and enterprising bunch. They secured the lease and now run tours in their mine and on Lake Argyle and operate the caravan park to fund their Zebra rock mine. It makes for beautiful jewellery and table tops. We really enjoyed the abundant bird life and amazing jam and cream scones. We were very excited to see so many Double Barred Finches, Red-backed Fairy-Wrens, and White-throated Honey-eaters. We camped next to a rocky creek, and my patience next to the water hole paid off.
Trivia on Lake Argyle: Biggest man made fresh water lake in the Southern Hemisphere (depending on water levels). The dam wall in the Ord River was completed in 1963. It covers 2000 sq km and holds up to 54 times the volume of Sydney Harbour. 12 000 ha (80 farms) are under irrigation, producing sunflowers, pumpkins, melons, mangoes, bananas, sugar cane, cotton and more. There are around 25 000 fresh water crocs and birds species (in 1986 they recorded 180 000 birds of 59 species) in the man-made lake.
And so it was time to say Bo Bo (goodbye in the local Aboriginal language) to the Territory. Now we enter Western Australia (into the Kimberley) and turn our clocks back 90 minutes.
Zebra rocks are special
Where Big horse Creek meets Victoria River
Victoria River is huge
Tour entering Victoria River
Sunset in the Kimberly over the border
Scereny changing every 15 minutes
Quarintine bewteen the states
Opening gates to the mining area where we camped
Double Barred Finches and female red backed fairy wren
Camping under the Boabs
Camping east of Lake Argyle then Kununurra
Bower bird impressing his girlfriend
Bower bird bower
Boab seeds fallen off
Boab seed is edible
A bit off dirt road to Zebra Rock Mine