9th June, 2015
Erich’s birthday today so we will have a little celebration once we reach today’s destination of Carawine Gorge which also marks the end of this dirt road adventure from the West Macdonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory to the start of the bitumen at the western end of the Telfer Mine Road in Western Australia, a distance of some 1500kms.
We got off to a fairly early start, hoping to pick up phone signal once we were close to the Telfer Mine Site so that we could sort through emails and messages before we went back into a communications black hole. Sure enough we picked up a strong signal on the road above the mine and we all pulled over in various places and got to work. Unfortunately, Erich’s new laptop got itself into a tizzy and was trying to download some 1300 emails that it didn’t recognise as already being downloaded. To say he was very frustrated would be severely understating things. While we were still mucking about, our companions had finished what they needed to do and probably had morning tea as well, so we told them to go on and we would catch up later. So neither of us was much in the mood for taking photos hence nothing to post here of this part of the journey.
Once we got onto the Telfer Mine Road itself, we had a stretch of some 20kms of bitumen and then back onto the dirt again. The driver of the Mine’s water cart called us up on the UHF to tell us the others were about 10 minutes ahead of us. They waited for us at the junction of the Ripon Hills Road which leads west to Marble Bar and we all turned south for the 9km run to the Carawine Gorge turnoff.
It was a 13km dirt road to the gorge itself and we had been warned that vans will get bogged in the deep river pebbles near the river and to take the track across the airstrip to the river. Unfortunately, the airstrip wasn’t obvious as we drove along and we eventually ended up at the dreaded river pebbles. We all parked and decided to walk in to find the track that we had missed. There was no way we could have taken our heavy vans any further here. So we followed the river and came to firmer ground. We also found a Jeep bogged at the river’s edge. Its owner had decided to give it a wash with river water and went a little too far at the water’s edge. Leaving Bruce chatting to him, Erich and I walked up a track that we spotted leading away from the river and sure enough, this was the track we needed to take. Once back at the vans, we all turned around and headed back the way we had come till we found the intersection we needed. It was just a short drive in and we all found suitable level spots along the water’s edge. We had thought we would be unhitching the Landcruiser to pull the Jeep out of the bog but the owner had managed to extricate himself before we got there with the vehicles.
The water was running well when we arrived but it dropped noticeably during our 6 night stay.
The gorge is on privately owned land although there are no signs and few fences. We had daily visits from the local residents who looked in wonderful condition. They were obviously well used to people and I only once felt a little nervous when we got between one bull and his buddies on the track. His snorting and stamping gave us the hint to give him his space and he happily moved on to join his mates.
At Happy Hour, Val produced a bottle of bubbly to celebrate Erich’s birthday and we had some yummy homemade sausage rolls and I made Chuchipastetli, Erich’s childhood favourite birthday food. For the nonSwiss among you, they are similar to a savoury mince pasty.
Birthday or not, Erich could not resist wielding his camera so here are some of his impressions of our first day at Carawine Gorge.
The birdlife is prolific at this gorgeous spot. There will be plenty more bird photos in the posts to come.