Friday 7th September

Broome is a long way from Darwin on the route we are travelling. We are to get there in 9 days. Another interesting fact is that Broome is closer to Bali than Perth. I can’t quite get my head around that !

We set off at about 7.00 to move deeper into the Kimberley region (Broome marks its west edge). We crossed the Fitzroy river

which runs deep into the outback and our first stop was 175 Km’s at the Willare Road House where there was another of those indicator boards telling us how far we were from everywhere. Seen he with Jodie…… the Wonder Woman!

It was not far from there that we turned off the road by a windmill and visited the Prisoner Tree.

This was a large Boab Tree, reckoned to be 1500 years old.

The Boab is a naturally occurring tree and thought by the Bunuba people, who inhabited the area to hold the spirits of their ancestors. However the first explorers came and started to destroy the trees by carving into the bark. They also set up cattle stations on the Bunuba land, utilising their water holes and destroying the Aboriginal food sources. The Bunuba people were effectively ousted and retaliated by spearing the white man’s cattle. This led to arrests and the Aboriginal prisoners were shackled together and collected at the Prisoner Tree before being marched off to prison at the coast.

The Boab tree has a large seed pod and looks as though it has been planted upside down with its roots in the place of leaves and branches. It is an odd looking affair but we became very fond of them!

It is thought that the indigenous people inhabited the land for at least 65,000 years and evidence has been found to this effect. When Captain Cook arrived in Australia there were 250 Aboriginal countries within it. All spoke different languages, had different elders and laws. Each country could communicate with other countries around it. All of the countries had an oral culture and nomadic existence. They moved around to reflect the seasons, respectfully crossing borders. The white man came and took the land and did not respect their culture, indeed viewed them as nomadic savages. There are now only 25 of the Aboriginal languages left that are deemed to be healthy, ie being passed on to young people. The Aboriginals had no written language, but passed on information by drawings, songs or stories. These told of food sources and water holes, but also how to behave. Aboriginal children were also taught that it was rude to ask questions! A world with no ‘why’!?!

On the way to the Prison Tree we were introduced to the little red Crab Eye Seeds, said to be 12 times more poisonous than arsenic…… we also came across the wonderful Ghost Gum.

Leaving the Prison Tree behind, we set off up the Gibb River Road. We are now in a different world. The roads are unsurfaced, there is no reception, we are in Kimberley country. We drove for perhaps another 1.5 hours, heading for the Windjana Gorge, stopping first at Tunnel Creek.

We pulled off the road and made lunch. It was then time to don the water shoes, we were off to walk the tunnel under the cliff behind.

First we heard the tale of Jandamarra. To cut a very long story short, Jandamarra was born unto the Bunuba people but lived very close to the white man during his early life. . However, when he came of age he was initiated into the rites of the Bunuba and reverted to his origins. Eventually being arrested for cattle spearing with his Bunuba people, his early time with the white man as recognised and he became a tracker for them. He was well thought of and nicknamed ‘Pigeon’.

However, when the situation arose when he had to choose he chose his own people, murdered his white colleague and be became a renegade, leading the Bunuba in raids on the whiteman. He was hunted down once and escaped, but the second time he was tracked down and his head was chopped off. (His Head was subsequently shipped back to England to show Victoria that he was dead. I can’t believe it travelled well…..). This was a significant point in the relationship between the native Australians and those who came after and to a large extent reparations are still being made……Jandamarra was beheaded at the end of the tunnel.

It was time for the Tunnel. The rocks at the entrance once formed the edge of a coral reef when water covered the area. An enormous upheaval in the earth’s surface caused a fissure in the earth’s crust and the sea receded leaving the reef exposed. Over time the coral died and the limestone rocks were formed. Now the great boulders stand proud, sometimes grey, sometimes white, sometimes red.

The Bunuba people lived here.

After scrambling over these early boulders, we will entered the initially shaded but then dark interior. Headlights turned on we walked over the sandy cave floor and through water thigh high to me. It was cool but not freezing. Careful of submerged stones we came out onto damp sand and came to an area where daylight came through a hole in the rock ceiling.

Further on we could clearly see flying foxes looking bat like suspended from the ceiling.

White stalagtites thrust down from the ceiling and I was fascinated by the root of a fig tree above the tunnel whose roots had battled their way down through the ground to the rock ceiling of the cave, continued down through the space that was the the tunnel and was busily channeling its way into the damp floor. Determined or what!?!

We continued. Around a corner the ceiling had disappeared allowing sunlight in and the rocks showed their colour again in the brilliant light. It was beautiful. Further along and more water wading brought us to more water and the dark shadow of a fresh water crocodile on the opposite bank. An eye picked up the headlights we were wearing. More sand and shallow water followed and we were at the end. Trees lined the route from the cave.

This was apparently the point where Jandamarra met his end. Today it Is a peaceful spot. The sound of trickling water and the occasional bird call. No sign of the violence of his passing or of the water torrent that must pass this way when the water forces its way through during the winter.

We returned the way we came. Picking our way back through the water and sandy tunnel floor.

Back on the truck we headed back on the unmetalled Gibb River Road, to the site of our overnight stop Windjana Gorge. On the way we stopped at the Mount Barnet Road Station where wonderful cold drinks and ice creams were purchased. Phew! It gets very warm on those long sessions on the road.

Arriving at the campsite we unloaded the truck and went off to see the sunset Ver the Gorge. We first went through ahold through the rock and then along a tree lined gorge bottom by the waters edge. The water then billowed out to become a large pool where herons and spoonbills stood statue like staring at the water. There was a wide beach area. Keith and I sat be the river watching the crocodiles in the water and the reflection of the sun on the Gorge steep sides.

It was another night under the stars, but this time in swags. No tents. Jodie gave us a quick ‘how to use and roll a swag’ lesson, before she ran through the next day’s activity, as we sat round the camp fire. It was also an early night when we learnt that breakfast was to be at 5.00 the following day, ie a 4.30 start.

I think it might be a good time to talk about the weather, one of the main reasons for the early starts. The weather is getting noticeably hotter. By 9.00 am the temperature is well into the 30’s. By setting off on a walk or activity by 6.00am we are able to get going before the real heat sets in. The other reason is, of course, the number of miles we are having to cover each day. The majority of road in the Kimberley are unmetalked and often adversely affected by the water which gushes along them in the winter season. It is a rough ride.

Thursday, 6th September

Jodie arrives. She is our new driver/guide/cook and a real bundle of energy. To be honest our mood had been lagging a bit over our prolonged stay in Broome with its associated ups and downs and we were aware that the next section was likely to be more challenging than the first so I guess we were a little anxious. Jodie’s arrival changed all that!

She took us on a brief tour of the town (a little bit odd given that we have been here 3 days but it proved to be a delight!). Other personnel issues to note is that 6 people left our troop – Alison (English), Kevin and Fleur (Dutch), Sarah (Japanese) Ella (English) and Jess (German). However we gained 4, including a German astronomer who has just left his job to travel and write a book on the universe! So handy to have an astronomer on board when we have such wonderful starry skies!

From Jodie, who proved to be not only interested but knowledgeable about Australia’s indigenous people, we learnt that the area was originally inhabited by the Yawuru people. They are believed to go back 30,000 years. Then came the Dutch in the 1600’s and later the French. Then the English. The town developed initially was a place called Derby, further along the coast, based on the the pearl industry. At first harvesting pearls was achieved by deep diving. The Japanese were found to be best at this. However the pearl beds were nearer to the coast at Broome in Roebuck Bay which we went to see

and therefore, rather than commute, the town of Broome was established in 1883 and marks the westerly edge of the Kimberley. It is now a multicultural society, originally based on the different races of the first pearl fishermen. I say ‘fishermen’ but there was a view that the best pearl divers were pregnant women at one stage. This theory was totally flawed but a number of women and unborn babies perished before it was accepted as incorrect. Overall the Japanese continued to be the best divers, but there was a high mortality rate among them and there is a graveyard dedicated solely to these early Japanese fishermen. We had, in fact, unwittingly come across this on our protracted perambulation of the day before.

A family called Brown were the first English people to get involved in the industry in the mid 1900’s. A son of the family was sent by his father to work with the pearl divers to learn their trade. 2 years later the family firm was established and became the first company not to use Japanese divers. Broome claims to have the largest pearl producing oysters in the world. In the early days the aborigines traded them.

From these beginnings the town as it is now was born. To clarify, the three parts are in fact Town Beach, Cable Beach and China Town, not exactly the names I had been initially led to believe. Apologies for the previous misinformation!

Back on the truck, we drove to the lighthouse, so elusive the day before! 135 million years before the aboriginals, dinosaurs inhabited the the are as it was a key migration path for them along the coast. There is evidence of the footprints of three and five toed dinosaurs visible at low tide (as the tide did not permit, we saw a cast of their prints as we wandered down to the lighthouse).

Another highlight of this excursion was seeing the ospreys nesting in the metal work of the lighthouse, that I had been so dismissive of when we saw it from the seaward side two days previously.

Three little heads peeked over the top of the nest and screeching for food could be heard as the parent birds approached.

We had our lunch near the lighthouse and were to see our first example of what a difference a more organised tour guide can make. Jodie had a very different style, straight speaking, with highly colourful badinage, her expectations were clearly set out with defined guidelines as to how things would work. We were in a different league!

As part of our Broome tour we visited a pearl shop and rather wonderfully, I picked an imperfect pearl to add to my Birthday Booty of the trip, with the approval of and assisted by a hefty donation of the lovely Keith. It is beautiful and will be set for me and despatched to Wightman Towers to await our arrival in Sydney! A treasured reminder of the trip.

Next stop was a bit of a thirst quenching visit to Matso’s.

Returning to the Kimberley Hostel, we went via the bottle shop to obtained renewed beer supplies (we we were told that the road was too bumpy for bottles, cans only but bottles of wine were acceptable!?!). I don’t cease to be amazed at the enthusiasm with which these bottle shop visits are approached!!

We were re installed in our double room and spent the rest of the day preparing for the next section of the journey which, by all accounts will be more rufty-tufty than the first!! Water shoes had to be purchased and additional cosy wear for cold nights in the desert. We are to be out of touch of civilisation, by all accounts, for some time. Having said this there has been precious little communication up until now and nowhere near enough umpires to launch my blog missives.

Wednesday 5th September

A free day in Broome. Although we had no deadline, we were up by 8 and finding some of the group planning to set off for the Zoo Keepers upmarket restaurant recommended for breakfast, we abandoned our humble toast and made haste to join them.

Apparently Broome used to have a zoo, now abandoned, and the area is covered with rather grand housing where yummy mummies can be found parading the pavement with designer pushchairs. The Zoo Keepers House now hosts the restaurant as its name implies. It was quite a walk, but we arrived there about 9.00 and were well rewarded with muesli and fruit for Keith and smoked salmon mouse, beetroot purée (the Australians seem very fond of beetroot – a trait rear I really approve), Rosti and poached eggs. Washed down with fresh orange juice – it was good and a long way from our camp pre dawn starts to the day!

Having started the day so well, we left the others and headed off to the beach which had been the location of our boat trip the previous day. It was huge and quite empty apart from the occasional sun worshipper. Descending from the walkway, we decided to turn left along the sand towards the lighthouse we had seen before. It did seem a long way off. And so it proved. Crossing the line of jelly fish which, presumably, marked the tide turning,

we strolled happily along looking at the marks in the sand made by anonymous creatures and generally celebrating our good fortune.

An hour and a half later and somewhat closer to the lighthouse,

but still having not reached it, we decided we needed to turn inland and started to look for places where we could cross the bar of sand dunes to take us back to civilisation. We eventually came to a marker indicating a route over the dunes and set out over the hot sand and scrubby grassed dunes that marked the divide between road and beach. This proved easier said than done. First, because it was hard to get over the rise on the fine sand. It proved to be really hard work. Then when we reached the brow of the dune – we saw nothing but more dunes! Luckily the way marks we had first seen when we turned off the beach, continued up and down the contours of the sandy landscape. We eventually saw that we were coming to the end of the sand and a red coloured track came into view and at last we saw houses. Descending yet another sandy trough we found ourselves on more the red coloured ground and following a clear path we eventually reached the road. The route we had been following was an aboriginal route to the sea.

We now found ourselves confronted by a dual carriageway and the start of the single story houses that make up the everyday urban landscape of the Cable Beach area of Broome and we were at the opposite end of town to where we were staying. Some fancy footwork later we had negotiated a route that enabled Keith to buy a new bag to replace his red one which was beginning to tear (I think it looks like a small coffin and Is certainly big enough to lose me inside!!), find a source of water (our supplies had been fast running out following our lengthy exertions) and eventually a bus to get us back to base.

We calculated that we had walked about 8 miles. Good for Keith’s thousand mile challenge but not necessarily for my equilibrium and it is to be remembered that we did this in over 32 degree heat.

Back at the ranch, it was by now after 3.00 pm, we found that what we hadn’t been told was that our double occupancy accommodation did not cover Wednesday night. 😳 We we’re informed that we could return to it on Thursday night……. Hmmmmmmm.

There was in fact some confusion In the camp about our ongoing plan. Young Brenton had departed on Monday night (although he had joined us the next day in Matso’s for a beer which was nice) and a new factotum was due to join us on Thursday but we did not know where we were staying Thursday night. We had assumed in paying for three nights accommodation we were in our room until departure. Apparently this was not the case. We were to stay at the hostel on Thursday night (hence three days charge) but not on Wednesday. To say that Mr Gregory was not very gruntled was an understatement of some magnitude. 😖😡😤 However, it was not to be changed, so we packed up our belongings and descended to a six person dormitory……for the night. We were offered a free drink at the bar to make amends – we did not take up the offer.

Meanwhile, two of our party had been fishing. And they had caught fish. Loads of it !! So Keith made a Thai coconut curry – an excellent meal for about 10 of our part who were around in the hostel kitchen. It was very yummy!

Tuesday 4th September

After a luxurious lie in, we joined a few of our party for breakfast and later joined more of them at the local brewery Matso’s for an early lunch. I chose an excellent burger. Keith was delighted to find barramundi on the menu. It was great to have a meal without the chopping and chipping to prepare it! The beer was good too!

Keith and I left as we had arranged to spend the afternoon on a whale watching cruise which proved to be amazing. More about Broome later but two notable issues can be found skyward. One is aeroplanes and helicopters. The airport is in the middle of the town! From 5.30 in the morning ‘planes start landing and leaving. Most of the travellers are mining people being ‘shipped’ in and out. Interestingly the street lights in Broome are really short so as not to interfere with landing and take off…..

The other aerial attraction is the constant swooping of black kites. Wherever you are in the town they are circling overhead.

Anyway, back to the marine. We were collected by a very lively little lady in a mini bus and joined the whaling party. En route we saw a chain of camels, with their delicate gate, strolling along the road to carry off other would be tourists for a sandy camel safari at sundown. They looked very smart!

After collecting all the would be participants – who were frankly much more like our age group than our Overland chums but did not look half as much fun! – she drove us over the sand dunes and on to Cable Beach. A very exciting small craft came racing over the waves to collect us and rather surprised us by putting down wheels as it emerged from the water and drove up the beach to stop at our feet, where it promptly put its tyres away and settled down on the sand. Fascinating!

In no time we were whisked off to our vessel, a small boat with a very much appreciated roof given the strong sunshine, but no sides to mar our view of the sparkling ocean. And then came the whales. We had been travelling no more than five minutes it seemed before we came across a whale mother and her calf. The whales are hump backs on their way down to the Antarctic. They can grow up to up to 45 tons and are the 5th largest whale. After watching them for a bit we continued on out to sea, passing the rather flimsy looking lighthouse. Apparently it is built in its Meccano looking fashion to allow the typhoon type winds that batter the area in the winter to pass through the structure without demolishing it. Seems sensible but it did not look very robust to me……

Back to the water. We saw lots of whales. Their shiny bodies arching above the water

They were huge. Further off flumes of spray showed white above the waters surface in all directions. There were a lot of whales out there. It was a wonderful afternoon. The highlight was when one young calf whales flung itself totally out of the water several times. It was another magical moment.

As the sun began to slip down in the sky we turned to home and were able to watch the sun set with a beer and nibbles.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon…….

It was dark before reached ‘home’. It was with some sadness that we learned that the excursion we had booked to fly over the horizontal waterfalls in the Kimberley had not materialised for Wednesday. It was really disappointing as they are said to be an amazing sight…. on the other hand it gives us a free day. Not a bad thing.

Having eaten at lunch plus nibbling our way through the afternoon while watching Whales, no more food was required. An early night to enjoy our room and comfortable bed..

Monday 3rd September

After a great nights sleep – it was much warmer – we packed up our room and then the camp. It was time to set off to Broome.

It was a lovely sunny day with a clear blue sky. We set off at a leisurely 8.30 and were soon back on the Great North Coastal Highway and crossing the Great Sandy Desert. Our first stop was 80 Mile Beach.

As you cut through the sand dunes, the ocean, particularly its colour, is an amazing sight. The tide was out and the colour tone moved from sandy white through to an amazing turquoise. Once on the beach itself, it was almost too big to contemplate. It just stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions. Occasionally cars could be seen driving just south of the dunes along the beach itself. The shells were translucent, many with a starfish motif etched on their upper side.

We eventually reached Broome just before 5.00. It had been a long drive.

Along the way we had called at a truck stop, where the collection of caps suspended from the ceiling created something of an optical conundrum…..

Broome would seem to be a town of separate parts – an area around the beach (Cable Beach), a Chinatown and a suburban area of smart housing. Through the middle runs the airport. It was quite warm when we arrived at the Kimberley Travellers Lodge a busy backpackers paradise. Keith and had opted for an upgrade and wimpiishly relished the thought of a room to ourselves rather than spending the three nights here in a dormitory – as much as we have come to know and love our fellow travellers!!! It was to be our last supper with the enigmatic Brenton (apologies for misspelling his name thus far), our driver, guide and general factotum. I am not sure what I make of him, but he has certainly proved himself with the driving. We have travelled around 2,000 miles since we left Perth.

Broome was established in the 1860’s when the establishment of pearling brought an influx of people from all over the world. It still claims to be the supplier of the best pearls in the world. It is also an important and sacred Aboriginal site. In common with so many places we have visited, the Aboriginals we see (and there are remarkably few) seem aliens in their own land. I find it very difficult to reconcile.

After scrambling to do the washing (of clothes and my person) immediately after we arrived (absolutely everything is covered in red dust and I have not been so dirty for a long time) we gathered with the rest for our really last supper with the group as it was then configured. I bought some bubbles to share to celebrate kicking off my birthday celebrations and we had some surprisingly good pizzas brought in. A jolly time was had by all. I have to confess having to raid a shirt hidden in the recesses of my luggage for the bright lights of Sydney, which was rather nattily (I thought) teamed with the pyjama bottoms that I haven’t yet worn as literally everything else had gone into the gaping mouth of the washing machine!!

I adjourned early in my inimitable style and then had to resurrect myself as they had all signed a card to acknowledge my celebrations. I was very touched and also very thankful I had not reached the final stages of going to bed…….. they are very sweet

Sunday 2nd September

It was our last morning to wake up in the Karijini National Park. Despite the chilly nights and red dust it has been a magical place. We had our breakfast as the sun rose and the day began to warm up. The little Spiniflex pigeons that have been our regular breakfast companions during our stay pecked around us, moving with incredible speed whenever I tried to photograph them – hence my rather poor offerings by way of photographic evidence!

It was eventually time to go. We made our way out of the eco centre in the inevitable cloud of red dust. Passing the Welcome sign that had meant so little when we arrived.

Definitely a memorable place.

The drive through the Pilbara Range was stunning. Great red cliffs lining our route.

Once we hit the Great Northiam Highway there was more traffic. It is the main freight road north from Perth and forms part of the sealed road network around Australia that was not completed until 1979. The long road trains carrying the out turn of the mining activity constantly move along the road. We stopped for fuel sat the Munijina Road stop and there was w stream of them coming and going in clouds of red dust. The whole place had a red covering.

A driver past me as I was photographing his truck and I asked him how he controlled the five trucks trailing behind his cab. He said very nonchalantly (and a bit caverlierly I thought) ‘ Oh it just follows on behind’. Hmmm. As a person who can find a supermarket car park challenging in my Nissan Duke, I found this rather crushing. Mental note – I must do better!

Our route then took us past through the Manijina Range. Dark hills proudly flanking the Highway. The term ‘there is gold in them there hills’ definitely applied to the area through which we were travelling. Metaphorically if not literary. As well as the iron ore, lithium is currently really taking off and making a lot of money.

Eventually we lost our our hills and the landscape became very flat – true flatlands with little vegetation. We drove on for another three hours before we reached Port Hedland. We could see it in the distance as we approached it – the cranes, antennae and buildings silhouetted on the horizon. As we got up close the immediate area looked like wasteland but beyond it was the industrial architecture and detritus of the mega money making mining conglomerates.

To our left were huge tanker berths cranes, pipes and conveyor belts which skirted the docks – to our right an enormous scrap iron dump. A mountain of salt came into view.

If the town of Tom Price was the heart of the mining industry, Port Hedland is definitely the head!

What is interesting is that the individual mining companies do not share their infrastructure. Competition means that independence is king. This adds to the cluttering of the shoreline for what seemed like miles…….. we had lunch looking out over the entrance to the berths and watched as a large vessel closely escorted by tugs slunk swiftly and stealthily into the port – it looked like a sinister animal going in for the kill, low bodied and lethal. Minerals of all sorts are being mined in the area and more recently there is fracking for natural gas which is also in abundance. All make rich pickings for Australia but some of the activities are pretty contentious.

Lunch over, we packed up and headed out of the town, passing the race course and cricket pitch. A lot of the people working in anything associated with mining fly in and fly out, living elsewhere, but for some Port Hedland is home. I am glad it does not have to be mine.

We were heading for Pardoo Station. This is a 10 year project with the long term objective of rearing cattle to sell as wagyu beef. To do this access is required to the water beneath the ground. Hundreds of dollars are being invested in accessing the water and bringing in fertiliser to make the soil sufficiently rich to grow crops. At the moment they are growing oversized sweet corn and shipping it to the UAE.

The station is a farm on a grand scale. Driving in we saw large sheds and costly machinery. As another money making enterprise the station runs a caravan site and, for the likes of us, container like buildings converted into bedrooms. It was not exotic but after several days camping we had a twin bedded room with a pillow and duvet. Bliss!

The shower block was good and it felt great to lose some of the red sand we had accumulated. I fear some things will just have to be abandoned as ‘too fa r gone for pickling’ as my Mum would say…….

It was our last night on the road before reaching Broome where Brenton leaves us and another guide takes us. up to Darwin, so our meal took on something of “the last supper’. There was a lot of lively chat, although Keith was a bit disappointed to learn that the Wagyu beef was not yet available and we feasted on sausages

It was something of a games night for those who wanted to get involved, but I headed for bed, which was so comfortable that I did not want to go to sleep – I just wanted to enjoy the comfort!!

I adjourned to bed while Keith joined a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity…..

Saturday 1st September

Following a much more comfortable might, the group divided. More than half set off to go ‘canyoning’. I am not quite sure what this entails but understand it involves rock climbing, absailing, jumping in and out of pools, scaling waterfalls and other such joys that I would rather not contemplate.

Those of us with a rather less adventurous disposition (or with out the wish to spend $ 300 Australian on a higher than normal risk of injurious activity) set off on more walking excursions.

Our first walk was to Joffrey Gorge which could be reached on foot from our camp. We soon reached the lookout and could see the waterfall carving its way down the cliff ahead of us.

After posing for a team photo, subsequently lost due to camera failure (not mine) we started down the Gorge. Sadly it was not long before the grade 4 start of the walk evolved into a tricky level 5 scramble downwards, once again too challenging to my short pegs. Not too disheartened we climbed back to the surface and found our way back to the Resorts rather smart Centre. and restaurant – where normal people sip martinis, eat meals prepared for them and sleep in normal beds with no fear of frostbite. Here we sipped a cool drink. While waiting for the others to return. It was very pleasant. In fact it felt quite holiday like!

For our next walk we headed by truck to the Weano Gorge area. The others set off for the Level 5 walk while Keith and I took the Level 4 route to the Upper Weano Gorge. It was great. We walked along the Gorge floor navigating the rocky obstacles and shallow pools along the way.

The red rock walls of the Gorge reared up on either side, but our route was skirted by small trees and grasses where the rock allowed it to flourish. We had one area of scramble where the path became very narrow and the water almost blocked our path…….

But we eventually came to a larger pool where a young couple sunbathed with their feet in the water

Shortly after this we came to a pool completely blocking the path. A number of people were gathered there. The only route forward was through waist high water. People were wading across and we could see our compatriots on the other side

Once again we decided we would not go further, but would instead climb the steep path to reach the surface. Having achieved car park level we sat on a bench soaking up the sun and admiring the flowers and silver barked trees around us.

We lunched in the car park when said compatriots returned and then most of them (not all) took off for another challenging clime. We started this, the Hancock Gorge, but abandoned it to the more adventurous fairly shortly after the start. Instead we took the opportunity to wander to the Oxley lookout point to look down heart stopping drops to the rocks below where the various gorges carve their determined way through their rocky channels to meet. A truly awesome sight.

It was too hot to walk much further so we returned to a shady spot near the truck to join two others who had decided against the afternoon excursion, a young Dutch couple. Not long afterwards two more joined us, having found the extreme walk too strong for their taste too. We are not always alone in our wimpishness! I think perhaps fear with its associated caution does come with age.

It was then back to camp for our last night of in Karijini.

One of the best things about the Karijini camp site was the stars they were truly amazing and the sky was full of them. With no light pollution they could all be seen perfectly – the frontrunners clear and sparkling, the supporting cast showing as clouds behind. The Milky Way was a large smudge across the black world roof landscape. Truly very special.