Fitzroy Crossing to Kununurra

River has settled into our new mobile lifestyle really well so far. Sometimes when we are just relaxing in the afternoon, we sit back and watch him explore the caravan park or camp site when free camping. We can see him, or at least hear him and we never let him go too far. He has this ability to sniff out any other children and he'll say "Hi, I'm River. Do you want to play?" If he can't find any children he will ask the adults "Where's your kids?" To which we often hear a huge chuckle as they explain "oh our kids are all grown up". Then he'll respond "Well... OK then, but do you have any ice cream?" And usually they do. People we really don't know, but have seen around camps, pass us in the streets of town or at the latest tourist attraction and stop to say hi. 
"Hi River, how's our little ninja going?"
Or in the pool "Hi River, you're a great little swimmer" or on a nature walk "Hi River, having a good explore today" to which River will stand and pose while announcing "HIKING POSE"!! It seems as though everyone knows his name. One man misheard and called River 'Trevor'  (oldies can be a tad hard of hearing) River corrected him... "Nooooooooo. Ri-V-er!" And pointed to the water. I guess its not a common name. Olive occasionally follows on behind him and River will introduce her. "This is my sister. Her name is Olive. For eating" His words exactly. The kids are thriving. They are dirty, but happy. So long as they are fed they will usually find something to do. They do drive us nuts occasionally, mainly at dinner time, but we are laughing with or at them everyday.

No visit to Fitzroy Crossing is complete without a day trip into Geikie Gorge which is exactly what we do as well as plenty of relaxing and a trip to the bar as you cannot buy alcohol in town. From Fitzroy Crossing we park up and spent 1 night at Mary Pool camp. It's a quiet and relaxing spot under big gum trees beside a dried up river. Together with a few old grey nomads, we make a big fire. That night, after putting the children to bed we stayed up late talking about where we were all coming from and going to. We are heading in opposite directions but it was a lovely night giving each other tips on which places to stay and making jokes about parenting, grand parenting, getting old and how young WE are!

We decide only to pass through Halls Creek for morning tea and unfortunately we are going to give Wolfe Creek Crater a miss too. Honestly it scares the hell out of me after the movie "Wolf Creek" but I would defiantly not let that stop us. Reece said he couldn't be bothered doing the drive and just wanted to get to the Bungle Bungles so really that was it. 
Halls Creek is somewhat sad and slow, and the people there seem lost compared to other vibrant communities we have visited so far. This is just an observation of mine but it makes me quite upset. We listen to the local aboriginal radio station as we drive out of town and they explained in a report how the people lose their place in the public housing system when they become employed. Not much incentive to get a job I guess. There have been huge fights between groups of up to 100 people in the community of Balgo which is south of Halls Creek. Up to 250 charges have been laid so far and now a permanent police presence is required as well as government intervention to bring the community back together. How can it be this bad in Australia? It's not that I haven't known about these things before but passing through these areas really highlights to me the help these towns need! I'll leave it at that.

Spring Creek is located right on the Ord River and just near the turn off into the Bungle Bungles. Therefore it appeals to us as a stop we could make for two nights so that we can venture out to the Purnululu National Park on the day in between. It seems everyone else we meet at the camp have the exact same plan. This is where we meet new friends Tim, Ferny, and their son Kolby. Like I've said before, there are so many families on the road. Its WONDERFUL.

We leave our campervan, like so many people here do and just take the car into
'The land of dreaming'. It's 53km off the Great Northern HWY into the visitors centre and then within the park itself we drive another 95km visiting sites. It was a big day driving on winding undulating corrugated roads with dust you can't avoid breathing in and a few simple river crossings to tackle. This place is a sight to behold. A must do! The sheer size and colour of the landscapes is just breathtaking. To the northern end we visit Echidna Chasm and on the southern end we visit Piccaninny Gorge. The Domes are exactly what you think about when you think of the Bungle Bungles and they don't disappoint, but Cathedral Gorge undeniably takes the prize. It opens out into a kind of flattened dome shape with water in the centre surrounded by a mini beach. My photos cannot do this place any justice. 
River tells people now "I've been Bungle Bungle" and shows off the rock in his collection.

Mountain ranges rise up in front of us dominating the horizon line ahead as we head towards Kununurra. They conquer both sides of the seemingly insignificant road that winds between them until we finally reach the Victoria HWY. Altitude 340m but it doesn't feel that way. This is a HWY we've never been on before. 'Into the unknown we go'.

When we finally reach Kununurra and settle into our spot we meet our wonderful new friends from Victoria, Bob and Maureen. How lucky are we to meet such lovely people to be neighbours with for the next seven nights? Bobs a laid back gentle old fella and Maureen is a very kind, happy, talkative person who's always on hand with an ice cream for the kids. Maureen is a natural caring mothering type and the kids just adored her. We are sure Maureen and Bob had a few early mornings but luckily I think they could sneak in an afternoon rest.

In Kununurra firstly we decide to do a few simple tourist things. A visit to Kelly's Knob make us think of Nanna Kelly, we take a hike into the, not so hidden, Hidden Valley and a quick drive to Ivanhoe Crossing. To get a better understanding of this area and the huge body of water we are camping right along side a 'Lake Kununurra BBQ sunset cruise' seem as though it will do the trick. Bob and Maureen join us and are mistaken as the children's grandparents. Mum wouldn't be happy! Haha. The cruise was excellent and informative. Again River is so popular. Its becoming a problem. At the end of the cruise everyone clapped and cheered to Captain River who had the opportunity to steer the boat which of course he loved. The sights of the Kununurra River were great. We travelled out onto the main part of the lake past our caravan park and the pump house, learning all about the damming of the river and the connections to Lake Argyle. After sun set we drifted through a dark lagoon which felt like a scene out of a scary movie, watching for crocs and bats.

Time to tackle another gorge and El Questro is calling. The walk, or shall I say climb, up through Emma Gorge until you reach the beautiful swimming hole is not easy.  Climbing over large rocks, between small crevasse and bouncing over little river crossings. When you reach the water hole you need a swim and we certainly did. The water is cold, but clear and I took the opportunity to float on my back with the waterfall droplets sprinkling down onto my face and body, looking up through the ferns growing on the gorge walls into the clear blue sky. It truly is a magical experience. Olive bathed in the hot pools, River wouldn't get out of the water and Reece and I loved every minute. I guess this is another must do and has me saying to myself "the north west is incredible" 
 
For dinner one night we try the Pump House Restaurant and we ordered a whole 600g salt water barramundi stuffed with cous cous. This restaurant is up there, if not better, than any of the fine dining you will find in Perth. I actually can't express enough how terrific, delicious and sophisticated the food was. The BEST steamed vegetables I have ever had, a few cocktails, a perfect view and our night was complete. Five Stars!

There's a Rodeo in town folks!! Although it's not really our thing we kind of figure it might be something to check out once in our lives. Checked shirts and cowboy hats, red dust, the smell of cow poo and a thumping load speaker introducing the cowboys as they barge out of the chute. AND cowgirls who give the boys a run for their money. I managed a great photo of the bulldogger at work with his hands on the steer and River is excited by the whole thing.

It was open mic night at the Kununurra Hotel and we stop for a couple of pints and share a chicken parma with veg and chips between the four of us. I had a feeling and I was right that it would be more than enough for us all. How can 1 person eat so much food? Sometimes random unplanned nights can turn out to be the best and this was one of those for me. Reece isn't much of a dancer but after a couple of drinks and buttering him up I can sometimes get him up for one or two songs. Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' is the next song that starts and I give Reece my puppy dog eyes. Up he gets to my amazement and 'takes me into his loving arms' (haha) We have a beautiful romantic dance in our own world but in front of all the adoring pub goes having their dinner. I love my husband who's going to kill me for including this into this blog but the rest of the story cannot be told without including the dance. So.....Olive was asleep in the pram and River had been dancing with me before hand. When the song ended we turn around and look at River who's standing there, still, looking at us both as if to say 'what about me?'. I will never forget that look on his face as we both realized he was 'left out' and picked him up into our arms. It felt like 'WE' were the nights entertainment and people in the pub clapped and awed.

We did so much while in Kununurra and I highly recommend other people visit this country town centrally located for many amazing adventures. Next stop, Lake Argyle