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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Gibb River Road West
The Gibb River Road and the West Kimberley 2008 - we continue along the Gibb River Road and visiting various features and waterfalls.

A number of stations provide accommodation and camping facilities, and allow access to selected gorges on their pastoral leases. We chose to visit Charnley River Station (previously known as Beverley Springs).  To get there we travelled forty kilometres through Mount House Station before reaching the Charnley River homestead which is near the southern edge of this vast station which covers three quarters of a million acres.  Several gorges are open to the public. 

 

Since our visit the Charnely River Station has been purchased by the CEO of  Australian Wildlife Conservancy which owns Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary.  Camping and bunkhouse accommodation remains, but prices have risen.  Pastoral activities are being scaled down. 

There are numerous river and creek crossings along the Gibb River Road and side tracks.   On the road to Charnley River Station we crossed the Isadell River which was flowing rapidly due to recent rain, although flow was much reduced compared to when we first crossed a few days prior.   

The native deciduous Kurrajong trees were covered in bright red flowers known locally as Kimberley Rose.

Dillie Gorge has a lovely big pool for swimming, fed by small cascades.  It is quite a drive there on station tracks, so you may have the beauty of this wide pool all to yourself.

Some way further along station tracks is Grevillea Gorge, where a slippery waterfall tumbles down large steps into a green pool framed by orange brick like walls.  To get down into the gorge at the top of the waterfall involves a climb down a ladder.  We did not attempt to climb down the large and slippery steps that comprise the waterfall. 

Lovely Galvans Gorge features a boab tree right on the top.  

This pretty pool on the way has water lilies and reflections of wildflowers. 

It was well into the afternoon when we reached Galvans Gorge, which is a short and easy walk from the roadside car park. 

Climbing into the gorge itself is a bit tricky, and involves crossing the top of a small waterfall past prickly leaved spiral pandanus. Not so many people come to Adcock Gorge, so it is nice to enjoy a swim in such lovely seclusion.

Adcock Gorge is a lovely cool pool where you can swim across and sit under a waterfall against a ferny backdrop.  The way in is through a narrow track, with access being allowed courtesy of the station proprietors.  Sometimes the track is closed due to weather damage.  It is narrow, so be alert for oncoming vehicles to have time to get off the track where there is a safe opportunity.  Using a UHF radio is an advantage.

 

Visiting just these these two gorges was a 98 kilometre round trip on the station tracks which involved three hours driving; even slower when wildlife such as this Bustard take their time on the tracks.    

 

One hundred kilometres from the Gibb River Road is the Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, where there are some spectacular Gorges.  With so much to see close by, we did not take this diversion. 

Cattle on Charnely River Station were mainly Brahman, but some shorthorn in their breeding is evident. 
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Looking onto the pool from the top of the falls with water rushing down. 

 

Looking back at the falls, with the access ladder visible in the background.
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Looking into the late afternoon light, it was difficult to photograph the gorge and show the boab; morning light would be much better.
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When we reached the Manning Gorge camp area (access after paying an entrance fee at Mount Barnett Roadhouse) we were very surprised to find over a hundred campers, including from several tourist buses.  With a large camping area spread amongst the bush, there was plenty of room.  Other places we had been had only a few campers as it was not yet peak season.

 

At dusk, I checked out where we were going to cross the Manning River next morning.  There were eight poly foam boxes to take across clothing and cameras. With so many people in the camp, I opted for an early start next morning.  The nights were quite cool and early mornings rather chilly. 

Near the falls, is a face with Aboriginal rock painting.  This was the first time we saw ancient Bradshaw paintings, with later paintings over the top of them.  We saw this combination many more times in the Kimberley region. 

However when we arrived at the crossing point in the morning, the boxes were all on the other side, as one of the tour groups had made an even earlier start. 

 

It was a rather cool and cloudy in the morning when I swam across to bring back as many boxes as I could for ourselves and others waiting.

The two kilometre walk across a ridge to the Upper Manning Gorge was very pleasant, particularly in the mild weather.  We looked across a vista of vast Kimberley plains and a range in the distance.  The yellow flowering shrub is known locally as wild kapok, and grows throughout the Kimberley region. 

Looking downstream as the river came into view again.

Even though the weather was cool, another lady and I swam to the falls, but not being strong swimmers, found the force of the falling water pushed us away, and we could not approach the cascade. 

On our return to river crossing, people were still heading in both directions across the river.  There is a small rocky island in the centre of the river, and the following day, as swimmers made their way across on the return from the Falls, a Johnston (freshwater) crocodile was basking on the rock, giving way to no-one. 

Soon after this, we left the Gibb River Road to go to the Mitchell Plateau and Kalumburu.

This patch on the Gibb River Road shows what damage can be done by driving on clay roads when wet.  There had been recent rains following which the roads had been closed for a few days.  The wet in this patch had persisted for longer and wheel damage was evident.  There was plenty of room for us to avoid the sticky patch. 

The track into Barnett River Gorge was not an easy one, and the gorge not a spectacular as others, so if pushed for time, this would be the one to miss. 

We climbed down to the edge of the pool formed by these roaring falls.  They would be a grand sight after rains. 
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We started out walking with others, following little stone cairns, and soon we could see members of a group from a tour bus swimming in a nice pool way below, but could not see any way down.  Other walkers said just keep following the cairns, which we did, as gradually all the others gave up and went back. 

We continued along the top of the gorge, heading upstream for quite some time and distance, before finding a path that finally led us down to the river way below, at a point where the gorge cutting was ending and the river valley was becoming wider and shallower.

 

Cooling down in the fast flowing shallow cascades, tiny red finned fish nibbled our knees.  After all that walking, the cool waters were refreshing, even if not dep enough for swimming.  We returned, without finding out how to get to the big pool where the tour group had been. 

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Australian Wildlife Conservancy manages a very large area of land in the Kimberley. 

 

Tableland Wildlife Sanctuary, covering 308,000 hectares of the remote central Kimberley, became an AWC sanctuary in 2012.  Adjacent to Mornington-Marion Downs, the three properties combined represent a contiguous protected area of more than 870,000 hectares (over 2.1 million acres).

 

Charnley River-Artesian Range has a vital role to play in protecting and restoring the endangered wildlife of northern Australia. The Artesian Range is located adjacent to the Kimberley coast, in the heart of one of Australia’s most rugged and inaccessible regions.  Covering 173,000 hectares,

 

The Yampi Sound Training Area is an area of outstanding conservation value. In a remote corner of the west Kimberley lies a vast property that has been virtually untouched for almost 50 years.  Covering 568,000 hectares, including over 700 kilometres of coastline, Yampi is a hotspot for endangered and endemic wildlife.  AWC has been contracted by Defence to deliver science-based land management at Yampi. Our ground-breaking partnership with the military will deliver effective conservation for one of Australia’s great natural treasures.