Tunnelling our way to Windjana
We set out for Tunnel Creek after a very restful night at “the lodge”. Between the Boab trees and the almost liquid rock formations, it was easy to forget that we were in Australia.
Tunnel Creek is, as the name implies, a tunnel, cut through one section of the reef, by a small creek, about 750m long, with a collapsed roof in the middle. You have to wade through long waterholes as deep as your waist to say it is creepy, is to put it mildly.
- it’s pitch black you’ve a torch in one hand;
- a camera in your other hand;
- you’re up to your chest in chilly ink black water;
- there are bats in the air around, and god only knows what’s swimming in the water below you
- You know you’re in Croc country, but everyone you’ve spoken to has told you it’s OK and you believed them!!!!!Needless to say, we made it through in one piece and were very very glad that we had overcome our initial fears. The tunnel was extraordinarily beautiful, it had all the features you’d expect to see in a good cave, flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, cave coral, bats, etc. You are able to explore to your hearts content not roped off from any part of the formation. It had the real feeling of still being a wild place.
The gorge on gorges continues……this time the famed WINDJANA GORGE. After tramping around in chilly water at tunnel creek, the exposed campground at Windjana didn’t bug us. If you’ve ever wanted that total feeling of sleeping IN a Gorge, then Windjana is the place for you! The campground is literally backed by the massive walls of the Gorge. Towering around the campground they are an impressive backdrop….in fact the main attraction.
Surely a ravaging body of water in the wet, Windjana surprised us by being bone dry. Only one smallish pool of water lived on, in which could be found the total crocodile population of the Gorge……60 at last count.
The LARGEST collection of freshwater crocs (we counted 14 when taking the photo above) we’ve encountered so far on the trip, they surrounded us on all sides. Proclaimed harmless to people, in such a confined space with very little food to go around and an obvious lack of fear, to us, they seemed somewhat menacing, large in appearance, and with very sharp teeth. Never before had we felt so uneasy around freshies.
“Come on in its cool!” the German tourists giggled at us as they frolicked amongst the crocs in the water. We smiled back nervously and sweated in the 40-degree heat by the bank. With the water hole barely the size of a 25 metre swimming pool, and reptilian heads with sharp teeth popping up everywhere, we decided against a swim…we value our toes, not to mention arms legs and other appendages We reached into our water-proof camera bag and took out our camera to get a few close-ups before heading back to camp.
After a blissful nights bush camp, we woke up to tackle the Gorge walk. Normally undertaken in some kind of inflatable or other watercraft. This late in the dry you WALK the gorge, dry creek bed and all. This proved to be lots of fun. What appeared to be parched red earth was, in fact, deep, dark, dirty, sloshy, and slippery mud. We wore crushed clothes and tattered shorts, took off our shoes and made the trek straight up the belly of the creek.
Three mud-encrusted kilometres later, we had indeed traversed the bulk of the Gorge. Quite a novelty. Our first “dry gorge” on the trip made it quite unique. It definitely affords you a different perspective. Idyllic even without H20!
Two Croc-infested gorges and a bat-infested tunnel later we headed on to the Western Coast……..YIPPEE!!! Some real coast with a swimmable ocean. We did have a pit stop at Derby to check out the infamous Derby Prison Tree and the longest cattle trough in the southern hemisphere. We approached the prison tree with lip-smacking enthusiasm. This tree is over 1500 years old! Imagine being locked up in a tree for the night as a temporary cell. Wowsers! As far as the trough was concerned well what can you say, it’s a big trough!!!
The people were cheerful and friendly- the town rather dry and empty. With the massive muddy tidal waters swirling around the Derby jetty we bypassed the van park and headed straight on to Broome.
We did stay in Broome for a few days. We didn’t write. We sipped drinks with umbrellas. We relaxed. Stayed in a hotel, unwrapped the soaps, gobbled melon and exotic fruits, watched Asian MTV, and smelling the flowers. We’re about to head on to Cape Leveque for a few days and will write about Broome and its many attractions when we return
More later… Over and out
NB. When we came out of Tunnel creek we noticed on the reverse side of the sign at the entrance a warning about the resident ‘Freshies’. Wouldn’t you know its full of Crocs and we were wandering around in it!!! C’est La Vie