Part 6 – Kununurra to Katherine

Day 15 Parry Creek Farm to Kununurra

From our overnight stop to the regional centre of Kununurra it is only 90 kilometres – a short distance in this part of the world. Kununurra is the service town for the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. It has a population of around 7000 that rises to over 10,000 during the ‘dry’ season.

The Diversion Dam was built at Kununurra to divert and regulate the flow of water from the Ord River into the Ord River Irrigation Area. It holds back Lake Kununurra which in reality is the old (pre-damming) Ord River between the Diversion Dam and Argyle Dam, 55 kilometres further upriver.

Day 16 In Kununurra

Today was one of the highlights of the trip –  flight across Lake Argyle to the Bungle Bungles.

The flight from Kununurra followed the Ord River to Lake Argyle – the largest man made lake in Australia.

The Bungle Bungles are about 190 kilometres south of Kununurra. We overflew the Ord River, Lake Argyle and Lissadell Station.

The orange and grey banding of the domes in the Bungle Bungle Range is due to differences in clay content, porosity of the sandstone layers and bacteria growing on the surface of sandstone.

All too soon it was time to head back to Kununurra. We overflew the Argyle Diamond Mine.

Back to our home by the water. People around the world pay millions for this glorious aspect.

We joined the ‘BBQ Boat Cruise’. A good excuse for a pissup although, in the Kimberley, an excuse is rarely needed. We weren’t quite prepared but enjoyed the trip nonetheless.

Tammy’s eye for what makes an unusual and beautiful photograph is remarkable.

Day 17 Kununurra to  Katherine

We left Kununurra (and Western Australia) heading to the Northern Territory. The ‘Territory’ – quintessential, iconic outback Australia. At 1421 million square kilometres it is more twice the size of Texas, more than three times the size of California and only a bit smaller than Alaska.

The first settlement in the NT, 190 kilometres from the border along the Victoria Highway, is Timber Creek. After explorer A.C. Gregory opened up the Victoria River area in the mid-nineteenth century it become an important pastoral region. Timber Creek developed as the river port for the surrounding cattle stations, including Victoria River Downs – at that time the largest pastoral enterprise in Australia. The river was used until the 1930s when road transport superseded it. Today, Timber Creek survives on tourism and as a service centre for surrounding stations.

A few kilometres out of Timber Creek, Gregory National Park honours one of Australia’s greatest explorers – Augustus Charles Gregory. His eight month 1855-56 Northern Australian Expedition finally proved that there was no ‘Inland Sea’.

In crossing the continent to the east coast (largely following the ill fated Ludwig Leichhardt’s route) the expedition explored 8,000 kilometres of country, including the Elsey, Roper, Macarthur and Leichhardt Rivers. Gregory’s management of the expedition was considered excellent.

A large boab tree (Adansonia gregorii) at Gregory’s camp on the bank on the Victoria River was inscribed with the arrival date and departure date of the expedition.

We continued east across the savannah. Fire is very much a part of the Top End environment. Fire management practices create a mosaic of burnt and unburnt land. This practice of ‘controlled burns’ mimics traditional aboriginal ‘fire stick farming’ wisdom that established patterns to help provide food and manage the land.

We stayed the night at Katherine, the ‘Crossroads of the North’. With a population in excess of 10,000 it is the fourth largest town in the Territory. Located on the Stuart Highway it is an important transport centre, a service town for surrounding pastoral and mining enterprises, and a flourishing tourism hub.

Go to Part 7 – Kakadu