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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Kalumburu
Mitchell Plateau and Kalumburu June 2008 – a side trip from the Gibb River Road.  We continue north to Kalumburu.

Next we headed north to Kalumburu.  The road was more stony than corrugated, and taking it slowly it was a pleasant drive. 

  

Some spinifex fires were being lit by station personnel.  This is a common practice as the fresh shoots of the spinifex are cattle fodder, and burning small areas at a time was practiced by Aboriginals prior to European occupancy in the region. They too needed grasslands for the animals they hunted to graze.  

Heading into Kalumburu, we stopped first to purchase our permit, then drove to McGowan Island Beach which was our chosen campsite.  Parking past the other campers we stopped on the sand above the tide line. 

 

The view from our caravan across the bay was always lovely.  Sunsets each night gave us a colourful display that lasted for over an hour with changing shades in the sky and on the water.

 

We chose not to swim in the bay because crocodiles can be present.  Read more about crocodiles in Australia here

At Kalumburu you can only take enough fish to eat during your stay.  You cannot come and fill a freezer to take away.  So many of the excellent eating fish were thrown back to live for another day – particularly the big ones that would be breeders. 

Alex walks across slippery rock with ease.  I fell as I stepped onto the slimy tidal level rocks whilst taking photos of Alex casting the net over small fish for bait. 

We passed three Brolgas feeding in a swamp. 

We organised to go out fishing with the camp operators, so got up early next morning.  Alex was the appointed skipper. The small dinghy was listing as we arrived, so Alex took it for a run to empty out.  Nothing happened until he discovered the drainage outlet was blocked by his sunglasses – lost last year!

The red coloured ‘Saddleback Perch’ was the nicest eating fish of all.

I caught a number of black fin reef sharks which put up quite a fight so I needed Alex to help me land them. 

After a lot of fun and throwing back big fish, we moved to a patch abundant in Dhufish.  

  

I hooked this beauty, but my husband needed to pull it in for me.  I went to the back of the boat but still never got it all in the picture.  It too went back to breed for future fishing. 

After half a day of full on fishing fun, Alex helped us all clean and fillet our catches.  We enjoyed fresh fish for the rest of our stay at McGowan Island

Beach. 

After three glorious nights at the beach, we started the day early to get packed up and into Kalumburu for the Mission Tour. A must when visiting Kalumburu is to go on a mission tour with Father Anscar McPhee, who had been at the mission for 25 years at the time of our visit.  As he is going to retire soon we were privileged to have him give an entertaining account of the mission from its early history to the present time.  As usual, Father Anscar's enthusiasm took the talk well over the set time and visitors who had flown in specially for this tour missed out seeing the amazing collection of international artifacts. 

Kalumburu was first settled as a mission in 1908 at Pago, further north along the coast.  In 1927 the mission was relocated to what is now Kalumburu. 

A new museum building had been constructed for the centenary of the mission in August 2008.  In this one room, packed in display cabinets are ancient and historical artifacts which Father Anscar has collected from around the world. 

 

The collection of artifacts of world significance is amazing. 

In the church, Catholic tradition is blended with Aboriginal art. 

We then headed south, going back to the King Edward River camp just to enjoy another night by the river. 

 

Although only 100 kilometres further south, we spent another night at Drysdale River Station and re-fuelled there before we returned to the Gibb River Road to continue our journey through the spectacular Kimberley. 

 

These roads need to be taken slowly with ful attention, and a hundred kilometres or half a day's driving is enough.

Father Anscar uses these collections to show that our Aborigines can proudly take their place alongside better known cultures such as the Aztecs and ancient Egyptians. 

 

There isn’t enough time in the tour to really look at them all, and each piece has a story of how it came to be in the collection.  
 

We were privileged to meet this dynamic, entertaining and knowledgeable man as he was due to retire, finally doing so in 2011. 

 

 

 
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