On Wednesday, we packed up the bus and were on the road by 8.00 am to drive to Kununurra. It was a day of continuous travel for a little over 500 kms, but with a few breaks it was quite a comfortable trip.
On leaving Katherine, the scenery was quite varied and on reaching the area around the Victoria River, it became spectacular. The broad valley of the Victoria is dominated by high bluffs that are a deep red in colour and are very striking. It was a very interesting and scenic area for the 30 or 40 kilometres through this valley. We stopped at the Victoria River Road House for a rest and a cup of tea. A number of us walked back 200 metres down the road to take photos of the river from the bridge. Lunch was at Timber Creek. The rest of the journey wasn’t as spectacular but was interesting enough with the landscape changing gradually from plains to hills and with a variety of foliage. WE could see a lot of grey cattle grazing near the road. We reached Kununurra at 5.00 pm after passing through the Quarantine Station on the NT / WA border.
Yesterday (Thursday), we had Debbie (a friend of Jane Lamont) take us on a guided tour of the town and surrounding area. We visited Mirimar National Park for a walk up Hidden Valley. This area is a mini version of the Bungle Bungle range with weathered gorges, rock domes and the same red and black colored rocks as in the Bungles. We also climbed Kerry’s Knob – a rugged hill on the very edge of town for a look across the irrigated area of the Ord River Valley.
There is a great variety of crops grown here – all irrigated from the Ord River. Melons, sugar cane and (most interesting of all) the Sandalwood plantations. There is a world shortage of Sandalwood and it sells for over $100,00 per tonne. Most of the trees will take another 10 years to mature, but they will be a far more profitable crop than sugar.
Later in the day, we visited the Zebra Rock gallery, a mango farm and saw Ivanhoe Crossing – the original crossing over the Ord River on the old Wyndam Road.
Yesterday, Bill & Dorothy Roberts were celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary. John Down was also celebrating his birthday. We had arranged with the motel to provide us with the ingredients for a BBQ which we cooked in the BBQ area of the motel. We had a couple of challenges getting this to work, – the biggest one of which was just as we were about to start, the automatic sprinklers came on and soaked the whole area. Fortunately, we were able to get them turned off before everyone arrived for dinner.
Today is rest day so many people are taking tour options to different places – more on that later. We have also taken the opportunity to take the bus to the local Thrifty dealer to see if we can get a few little problems fixed – a broken window, the radio won’t work and we are getting strange squeals from the air conditioning belt in the engine.