Dreamtime by Air 2005 – Part 4

(Click on photographs to see a larger version. Note: Some file sizes are quite large; not recommended for people using a dial-up connection.)

Previous installment is here.

A map of the trip is here.

Saturday 13 August 2005 (continued)

The Kimberley area consists of low, rugged hill blocks cut by gorges, covering about 420,000 sq km (162,000 sq miles) in the far north of Western Australia. Monsoon rains fall from November to April, turning the Fitzroy and Ord River into ranging torrents. The rains are followed by dry, hot months. The Kimberley is the traditional home of several thousand Aborigines.

Airstrip at Charnley River Station When we landed at the dirt strip at Beverley Springs (Charnley River Station), we found a couple of beer cans burst when pulled out of the storage compartments. Apparently all that flying around, plus the long hot day in the sun at Cape Leveque had weakened them. (Photo left: Airstrip at Beverley Springs.)

Cattle at Charnley River StationHarry collected us at the air field, and we piled into the Land Rover. As someone was getting out of the Land Rover to open yet another cattle gate, one more beer can sprang a leak. Harry leapt to the rescue, popping the top and draining it before the contents could escape! Well done, as the beer didn’t go to waste like the airfield pair. (Photo right: Cattle at Charnley River Station.)

Before dinner, Eric went off for some secret men’s (drinking) business around the campfire. Barbara, the cook, provided wonderful beef potlatch for dinner. Being a cattle property, beef featured heavily at all meals. When it tastes that good, we don’t mind one bit.

Sunday 14 August 2005 – Beverley Springs

At Beverley Springs (Charnley River Station) (S16 44.0 E125 26.0)

Homestead at Charnley River StationWe spent the day at Charnley River (formerly Beverley Springs), working cattle station, 2000 feet above sea level, gateway to the Walcott Inlet. There are two rondaval tent cabins with ensuites, only a few minutes’ walk from the homestead. The homestead had space for a half dozen or so people. There is also space for tents, which is fine in that climate at that time of year. It has breakfasts, and three course dinners. As we were staying two nights, we also got lunch and morning and afternoon tea. It is BYO alcohol. (Photo left: Homestead at Charnley River Station.)

The Charnley is one of the most spectacular but least accessible rivers in the Kimberley. The lower section flows through about 30 km of continuous gorge. There is a wealth of Aboriginal art in a variety of styles, showing that this has been a special place for thousands of years. Great Charnley River photos here.

14 km to Dillilinga Gorge (-16 44S 125 22E), for swimming and fishing. I think this may be the area shown on maps as Dillie Gorge. We had a couple of Land Rovers, with Harry driving one.

Dillie GorgeAt the edge of the gorge were some impressive old boab trees, and a sign saying Dillie Gorge. The walking track was moderately steep, but no real problem. There were several spots with a good view of the water in this small but attractive gorge. (Photo left: Dillie Gorge.)

We dropped our packs and water supplies in the shade of an overhang, where some of us rested out of the sun. None of us attempted to use the plastic canoe that was there, although Peter later went swimming. New Zealanders are tough. I thought the water at Cable Beach was cold enough.

Further along the stream, we found some worn cave drawings that you could reach fairly easily. Later David went further on and spotted a large drawing of a figure across the stream.

Snake in crevace (visible in large photo)We had been relaxing in the shade for some time when one of our party suddenly leapt up yelling snake. A very large and healthy looking King Brown snake emerged from a crevice near where two of the women had been resting. The women departed with great haste, so much haste that we thought both would leap straight off the ledge into the water. When they recovered a little they sent Eric back to collect their belongings. The snake in the meanwhile had gone looking for a spot with less activity. (Photo right: Snake in crevice; visible in full-size photo.)

We told the others about the snake when some of them returned, but I’m not sure they believed us. When the snake emerged slightly later 20 or so metres further along the overhang it pretty much established it was alive and awake.

Junction HoleBack to the homestead, delayed somewhat by cattle on the road, for lunch. This was another great meal. We really enjoyed Charnley River Station, as it gradually gets more into the whole tourist home stay idea. (Photos left and right: Junction Hole.)

Junction HoleThe homestead accommodation is essentially an area under the tin roof defined off into rooms by insect screen and cloth hangings. It is fine in that sort of climate. It is obviously used by owners or staff when tourists are not there.

After lunch we bumped off in the 4WD on a different track for the 24 km to Junction Hole. The ten minute walk seemed to take a half hour through sand to a swimming spot. We liked the surf board labelled Surf Rescue at Junction Hole. Several people went swimming at this pretty spot before we headed back.

Old Station WaterholeWe drove back past the previous station location and diverted to Old Station Waterhole, with its great reflections of the red cliff. This was a really impressive little area, with some great rock areas. The tranquil pool showed the reflections of the sunlit cliff very well in the late afternoon. That was a nice spot. (Photo left: Old Station Waterhole.)

Donkey HoleCloser to the homestead we again diverted, this time to Donkey Holes, and saw wallabies on the road in the late afternoon.

We viewed the sunset at Donkey Hole, declining to take the longer walk to other waterholes further along the river. By sunset there was a lot of bird life audible near Donkey Hole. (Photo right: Donkey Hole.)

Overnight once again at Charnley River Station. We had the usual great dinner, featuring beef.

Continued in part 5…

Page last updated 23 January 2007