Next overnight camp was to be at Mt Barnett roadhouse, with a couple of smaller gorges en route. The first was Adcock Gorge, and was the first time I needed to actually use 4WD …the track in was rough, rutted and rocky, with a creek crossing just below door sill depth just before the waterhole. A short walk and rock scramble brought me to a small but nice pool surrounded by ferns and pandanus trees.
The surrounding countryside is dry and arid, but in these gorges you will find a different, tropical microclimate, with palms and water lilies.
The next stop was Galvans gorge, which was similar to the previous one so just a few photos and on to camp for the night.
Mt Barnett roadhouse is about halfway along the road, and the only petrol supply along the road before El Questro so if you have a petrol vehicle you pretty well have to fill up here (Iminji store only sells diesel) so they have a captive market, and it show in their prices. $2.40/litre for fuel, and $20 for a dusty campsite where the advertised hot shower was more like a cold trickle ….
A quick dip in the waterhole was a better alternative ! The next morning I got up early, trying to beat the masses to the waterfall at Manning gorge, but one of the bus groups had the same idea.
Never mind … To get to the start of the path you need to cross the waterhole, you can either swim/wade or use a boat attached to a rope and pulley system. Many hands make like work, so I am told, so I helped pull the bus group over and then came over with the last 2 women of their group.
The rest of them , including their driver, had decided enough was enough and walked off leaving us to pull ourselves over …thanks for nothing folks!
I caught up and overtook the bus mob when the guide was telling them about edible flowers on the Kapok bush, I don’t know if he knew that 2 of his group were still missing ?
So I ended being the first person to the gorge, and managed to get a few photos before the usual backpacker crowd arrived to spoil the serenity.
Not long after they did turn up the quiet serenity was banished with macho “Tarzan” yells as they tried to out-do each other, jumping off ever higher rock ledges. Oh well, the peace and quiet was good while it lasted.
Back at the campground by midday, and the showers were still a cold trickle. A grey nomad in the next shower told me that because the owners only ran the generator for a few hours morning and evening once all the hot water had been used up in the morning, no more water was pumped into the solar heating system until they started the generator again in the late afternoon, which did not give it enough time to warm up. With well over 150 people staying there at $20/head I would think they could afford to run the generator and pumps a bit longer ?
Camp that night was a freecamp at Barnett River Gorge, before a long drive the next day to Home Valley Station. This central part of the road is relatively boring with not much to see as by now most people would be slightly blasé about the red cliffs, boabs, and blue skies.
Apparently this is where most vehicle damage and accidents occur as people speed up, only to hit a pothole or creek crossing too fast.
At Home Valley Station for $17.50 I got a nice grassy campsite, with drinking water on tap, HOT showers with plenty of pressure …quite a contrast to Mt Barnett !
Just down the road from Home Valley is the Pentecost River crossing, which is usually the widest, deepest, rockiest crossing on the main road, and just to make it a bit more interesting man-eating salt water crocodiles live in the area ! It’s the last major river if you are heading eastward, so if you have ignored all the advice and driven this far in an ordinary car only to find it’s a bit too deep and rocky, then you have a long drive back ! Most of the crossing was just above axle deep when I went through but one hole was a bit deeper, up to the bullbar.
Then it’s a short drive to El Questro station. For those that don’t know of El Questro, it has long been marketed as a slightly exclusive “glamping” resort but it is actually quite affordable, at $20/night for a campsite. Of course, their villas and homestead rooms are rather dearer, and those with a bigger budget than me could go helifishing for Barramundi at around $800/head/day, but for us mere mortals purchasing a $20 permit gives you access to all their 4Wd trails and private gorges. El Questro and Emma Gorges are the two best to see, Emma Gorge had a warm pool just above it, trickling down into the main pool so you could acclimatise gradually before swimming out into the cold water in the centre. A nice ending to the trip, as from there it is a short drive on bitumen to the end of the Gibb River Road, after nearly 1000kms of dust and corrugations.
And where to next ? Purnululu National Park, better known as the Bungle Bungles: