By Hugh McInnes
Many moons ago I met a couple from Kununurra who promised to show me the best of the area if I ever made it that way, possibly doubting I would, but true to their word they ensured that our Kununurra experience was one of the highlights of our trip so far.
We spent our first day out in a tinnie fishing for “Barra” on the lower Ord River. Barra is Barramundi by the way, not Barracuda. I caught two 50cm ‘babies’, which were released, and a slightly bigger legal one which we took home. Apparently one isn’t supposed to crow about a catch unless it’s nearer 80cm+ and you certainly don’t mention all the cat fish we caught if you’re to retain any credibility as a fisherman, so I won’t.
We then experienced the famous Bungle Bungles in style with a full day tour by fixed wing flight, 4 wheel drive, and helicopter! It’s the only official tour I’ve been on since coming to Australia, because usually you can DIY, but the Bungles are so inaccessible they only became renowned in the 1980’s when a Channel 9 cameraman went on a heli-joyride with a musterer. A 4WD campervan could have made the journey but ours wasn’t up to the task. We flew over Lake Argyle (technically an inland sea) and the Argyle Diamond Mine (largest in the world by production volume apparently). A truly memorable couple of days!
We then headed west along the tail end of the Gibb River Road to El Questro, where we enjoyed hot springs, and Emma Gorge, where we also swam, this time accompanied by a waterfall. We ended the day in Wyndham where I caught up with an old friend from London and enjoyed yet more Aussie hospitality.
Heading east again we camped at Victoria River Roadhouse before reaching Katherine and its Gorge. We had 3 options here; walk, canoe or cruise the gorge. Goodness knows why I didn’t do the latter but instead we hired a couple of canoes, two in each. We paddled up river until the rapids where we dragged the canoe over rocks before more paddling. Not having seen any crocs (again) we enjoyed a swim at the next set of rapids before heading back downstream. My canoe rode the rapids first, fending off the rocks with our paddles while steering the best course we could, no worries. Then came our mates; on the first section of rapids they grounded the boat so we belly laughed while taking photos. They then decided that their paddles were surplus to requirements and threw them overboard. The rapids then released them, minus paddles for steering, only for them to hit the very next boulder and roll the boat. The timing of it all couldn’t have been any better for the dozens of cruise takers who all seemed to have video cameras, so watch out for the girls on You’ve Been Framed or the like.
A most enjoyable day was then spent in Litchfield National Park where we visited three more gorges and their waterfalls, all spectacular in their own way, before arriving in Darwin. Here we rest and recuperate before beginning the prep work for the trip south to Alice Springs.
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