The highlight of my own long trip around the state was driving the Gibb River Road with my sister, Rachel. Concerned that I might be lonely or exhausted travelling so much alone with Bryn, she reshuffled her other commitments and flew up to Derby and back from Kununnurra to join me on this little adventure. It’s nice to have a friend who shares my passion for adventure and the outdoors, has a similar outlook on life, and has known me for forty years. We drove, camped, explored the beautiful gorges for which this stretch of country is famous, and set the world to rights with our constant chatter.
The Gibb River Road is a popular tourist destination in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, running some 700km from Derby to Kununnurra. Although we were warned of often poor road conditions and bad corrugations, the road does get graded now and then and at the time of our passage was in pretty reasonable nick. Traffic was a lot less frequent than I had anticipated and I found myself making mental notes about what a great cycle touring destination it would be in future – perhaps with a toddler in his Chariot, and lots of time factored in for exploration and swimming.
Windjana gorge. Beautiful cliffs… (Photo: Rachel Hall)
…beautiful trees…. (Photo: Rachel Hall)
…and LOTS of crocodiles!
Rachel chills in my camp chair while Brynie chills in the tent. The Hilleberg tent and bikes that you can just make out through the tree belong to an Australian/German couple who are cycling the Gibb River Road as the final stage in an 18-month long trip that started in Germany. We enjoy chatting with them, and they give us lots of tips for good camping options along the way.
Bryn, grizzling at the restrictiveness of the sling, gets carried in Auntie Rach’s arms for a while – an arrangement he is pretty happy with
Tunnel creek. Given that we are exploring with a small baby and without a decent torch between us, this actually does feel quite adventurous. (Photo: Rachel Hall)
Now there’s a swimming hole! The side trip to Bell Gorge….
…in our opinion…
… is well worth the effort. It must be admitted, though, that side trips this long would be one of the drawbacks of travelling by bicycle – the temptation would be to not bother, and one would miss out on spots like this one.
What better gift to give someone who has been solo parenting for a while, than a free 20min to swim undisturbed in a place like this. I revel in the luxury that adult company affords.
Bryn, on the other hand, looks a bit less than impressed that his first swims are in freezing cold gorge water…
…but forgives me pretty quickly. (Photos: Rachel Hall)
The walk in to Manning Gorge provides still more challenge and adventure. Those who are not carrying small children simply swim across. (Photo: Rachel Hall)
We share this particular campsite with Pete and Maggie, from Perth, who are riding the Gibb River Road on dual sus mountain bikes with a bob trailer. Mountaineers, mountain guides, a helicopter pilot and a paramedic, their lives seem adventure and action packed. We share a lovely evening of swapping stories around the campfire but unfortunately I take neither their photo nor their contact details.
Rachel chooses to doss down in her swag rather than sharing the tent with us. I’m not sure whether it’s my company or Bryn’s that she is less than keen on.
The aptly named “Turquoise Lake” on El Questro (Photo: Rachel Hall)
This part of the country does a very fine line indeed in boab trees (Photo: Rachel Hall)
Thanks Rach, for coming, for doing the bulk of driving so that I could concentrate on Bryn duty, for the great photos and for being such a fabulous friend and adventure/travel partner as well as my awesome sis.