Derby, onto the Gibb and to Fitzroy Crossing
To balance out the budget after marginally over spending in Broome the next few nights we are staying out of the caravan parks on route to Derby.
I have an overwhelming admiration for my husband just watching what he can do sometimes. The day we arrive at the Nillibubbica Rest Area is a great example where I know we would all be completely lost without him. When we were poping up the camper all I hear is 'CRACK!' It was a spring that had popped out of one of the roof support legs. My heart sinks and I start to imagine the massive repair costs and how long we might have to wait to get someone out from Broome to fix it. Reece gets straight to work, covered in grease under the camper and figures out how to repair it. One of the springs that runs into the shaft of the leg and holds the tension has come out of the track. Already we have met so many great people on this adventure and new friends of ours Adrian and Anne give us a hand and lend Reece a few tools that we would never have thought we needed. Its the code of the road - To help others out. All fixed. Phew! I had better cook him a special dinner tonight.
That afternoon was a tad crazy. The kids weren't allowed in the campervan until it was properly popped up and so the whinging set in. Usually we set up in 10 to 15 minutes but it took 45 this time. To add to the dramas of this stop in the morning River breaks the curtain rail, (Reece gets on and fixes that too) Olive cracks her lip open and Reece runs out of coke. That's bad. I make pancakes for breakfast to naturalize the situation.
Never the less the show must go on and we make it to Fitzroy River Small Cliff Face Camp Area on a very corrugated road. We take it slow and it was worth it. This is a GREAT SPOT! We have several long walks along the river banks spotting the crocodiles galore that are sunbaking accross from us. We build a fire, a swing for River, attempt some fishing and get creative making our own lures. The kids just entertain themselves really, playing in the dirt and collecting rocks and twigs. Its quite calming out here with hardly anyone around.
When we are free camping we need to be fairly conservative with water. We've worked out that our water usage only last us about 4 days. We are not sure how many liters our main tank holds but I think its about 60 or 70. Our back up supply holds 33 and now we have a 15lt bottle inside too. But this is our water for everything; Drinking, cooking, washing, bathing. On the fourth day we are almost out and so we must get to a water supply. Power is not an issue and we are finding our battery and inverter will last us easily 4 days. I would love to test it for longer if we can get more water aboard.
We take a break with two nights booked into the Derby Kimberly Entrance Caravan Park and actually the park is probably the best one so far. Nice big clean toilets, shady camp spots and TV reception!!!
GED and Trudy are playing their country music show at the camp kitchen on the second night. They don't get paid to play but they sell CDs and take donations to continue traveling about. Just imagine Ged... He wore a tassled swead vest over a checkered shirt, tight demin jeans and an Acobera hat. He sung with a deep croaky country voice and parts of the lyrics we spoken like a rhyme. Then Trudy... She's a hipy lovely looking lady wearing a flowing dress and she uses her soft voice to sing the chorus and brings the whole song together. When we entered the camp kitchen with our two kids in their onesies and damp freshly combed hair looking both as cute as buttons the crowd of old timers awed and our kids momentarily stole the show.
Derby has more to offer than you might think. It's the 'gate way to the gorges' as they so advertise, but actually there are so many lovely walk trails and lots of history. Some highlights for us were sitting in a massive boab tree on the Joonjoo Botanical Trail, visiting the friendly people of the Mowanjum Community, The prison Boab Tree and just relaxing in another beautiful sunset at the jetty.
We are taking a bit if a risk heading out onto the Gibb River Road because we dont have a 4WD or an off road campervan. We know we can't drive the entire length of the road as it would just be too rough but after speaking with people who've just come from that direction we decide we can go for a part of the way. The plan is to drive east along the road about 120km until we reach Fairfield Leapold Downs Road. Then we can stop at Windjana National Park and Tunnel Creek and be back out onto the HWY after another 120k. This part of the Gibb River Road is about one third sealed and the corrugations aren't too bad. Fairfield Leapold Downs Road is BAD, they tell us, and has a couple of river crossings but if we go slow and can put up with the bouncing around everyone agrees we can make it. If we took the main HWY we would miss Windjana and we would still have to pass over the river crossing to see Tunnel Creek. So that's it, we've decided to go!
We stop at Birdwood Downs Station for an easy night before things get REAL and then we are out onto the unsealed road. Its nothing worse than what we have already driven to get out to the Fitzroy River at Telegraph Pole but its just longer. The kids amazingly both fall asleep from all the bouncing. I'm actually just thinking about our eggs in the fridge and what it will be like when I open the door. Might have to be scrambled.
The turn off down Fairfield Leapold Road is BAD but we just drive at 40kms p/h until we reach Windjana National park and make it home for the next few nights. The eggs survived.
Rivers little personality always makes us laugh. As we are trecking out from a 7km adventure deep into Windjana Gorge River decides to counsel the incoming visitors.
"Guess! What!" He says to a group of well prepared looking grey noman treckers.
"What?" Replied one man, surprised but pleased that this little cute boy is engaging in some conversation with him.
"We saw a b-i-i-i-g crocodile and it has b-i-i-i-i-g teeth" demonstrating with his arms stretched as wide as they can go.
"Did you?" The man replies "and did you see it's scary eyes?
Thinking "Um... Nope, but if you go in there it will EAT YOU"!!
Gosh we love him!
Olive also decided take a nap on daddy's head. Yes. Check the pics.
There's potable water here so we can stay awhile and just take in the sights for a few nights. Secretly I'm just putting off the next part of our drive but it's time to go. We make it to Tunnel Creek and take the long walk over huge boulders into the cave and wade through the cool fresh shallow water. It was worth it!
On Leapold-fairfeild downs road we approach the river crossing at Fairfield's Downs Station and I gulp just thinking of the car and knowing that we are towing our only home for the next 12 months!!! Reece walks the river bed. I get in and walk it too. Some parts were sludgy mud and other parts were big rocks.We watched two 4WDs go through first and then a family in a Mazder BT50 pulls up.
"We've got rope, If we give this a go would you stay to watch and if we get trapped just try to pull us through?"
The family agree but also they instill some confidence in us by adding that they think our car is very capable and will do it easy. So I get out one more time and walk Olive through the muddy water signalling a pathway to Reece with my thumbs up.
Here we go!!!!
Reece steadily powered the car at a through the water and the van follows with detemination. No worries at all. And everyone in the watching family cheers!
Reece gets out of the car and says
"This car seriously surprises me every single day" quite proud of himself.
Im so proud of Reece and our car. We've taken a risk and we've explored.....and we have conquered!
Now let's get back onto the HWY.