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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Lake Kununurra
Touring the East Kimberley 2008 – we explore Lake Kununurra, on the south side of the Diversion Dam which creates this long freshwater lake on the Ord River.  This page also features a fishing trip to the Pentecost River.

On the south side of the Highway along Lake Kununurra is the Packsaddle irrigation area.  Some plantations run right to the water’s edge, like that belonging to our friends where we stayed for the next two weeks after replacing our solar panels.  Unbeknown to us at the time we took the Triple J boat tour along the Ord River the day after we arrived in Kununurra, both our friend and his partner captained Triple J boats at that time. 

The house with lush green lawns and gardens, with exotic palms.

Each morning we woke to this view across the lake. 

What a place to spend a couple of weeks!  The only drawback was that the mangoes weren’t ripe, however the spare rooms are not available come mango season, as he has plenty of family keen to be slave labour for the taste of those delicious mangoes. 

One evening I sat on our friend’s private jetty watching the tour boats returning to Kununurra.  As the last rays of the afternoon sun lit up the elephant across the other side of the lake the Triple J tour boats swept past returning from Lake Argyle.

One day our hostess and I took a dinghy across the lake to Emu Creek, which joins Lake Kununurra near Elephant Rock.  The creek is partially submerged at this point from the waters of Lake Kununurra.  Near the base of the rock there is a small Aboriginal rock painting site which is rarely seen, as it can only be reached by dinghy and is a fair walk through the scrub with no defined trail to reach it.    

 

Paper wasp nests hung like Chinese lanterns from the overhang where the rock paintings were. 

This snake skin shed at the base of Elephant Rock was huge, and probably came from and Olive Python.   It was broken into many pieces.  The Olive Python is one of Australia's largest snakes and can reach four metres in length and weigh up to 25 kilograms. 

At dusk we paddled a little way further into Emu Creek but the impending darkness prevented us from going any further.  Submerged trees needed to be dodged.

We waited until the last Triple J tour boat had returned to avoid wash from the wakes of the fast moving boats before returning across the lake. 

Zebra Rock Gallery is on the shores of Lake Kununurra along Packsaddle Road and has sales and displays of the rock and items made from carving zebra rock. 

The picture on the left shows as display of jewellery made from traditional banded rock, while the table leg shows a range of colours and patterns.   

This piece of pink rock has circular patterns, believed to have been formed by bubbles of gas. 

The formation of the bands this rock which is unique to the Lake Argyle area is controversial and unresolved.  It is believed to have been formed almost 600 million years ago.  As the clay is of uniform texture regardless of the banding, iron oxide is thought to have seeped into the rock after its formation causing bands or patterns of colour. 

Continuing out along Packsaddle Road, we turned off to find Packsaddle Gorge.  On the way we took a track to a pinnacle from where we had views all around us, including along the creek line which we were to follow, and across the creek to a two small Aboriginal communities.   Aboriginal communities such as these are frequent around Kununurra, and appear to consist of three or four dwellings only, with shining new corrugated iron roofs.

From the lookout point, in the distant centre is the trio of rocks known as Sleeping Buddha along the Lake Kununurra on the Ord River. It has this name when viewed from this angle, as it is like a pot-bellied man lying on his back, with the head being Elephant Rock.   

Soon the valley became more open, and we found ourselves walking in the heat of the middle of day along rough and stony scree. We continued on, thinking the head of the gorge must be just around the next corner, and after a while we could hear the laughter of people swimming at the head of the gorge, but the stones went on and on as the creek line turned, but still no sight of the head of the gorge.   We turned back before reaching our intended destination due to the heat.

We walked along the creek line towards the head of the gorge, welcoming the shade and the cool running water as we crossed the creek several times. 

Our host together with a friend took my husband on an overnight fishing trip to the Pentecost River.  Barramundi are considered to be better eating if caught in salt water, which means also crocodile country. 

While alongside the tidal estuary, they kept a keen eye on the crocodiles, watching three pairs of eyes showing up in the torchlight as they fished.  Their tents were placed on the backs of the utes for safe sleeping.

 

The fishermen were very proud of their catch of Mulloway, Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon, all were choice eating fish.  We enjoyed these over the next few days. 

The Pentecost River with the tide rushing in to the estuary

They say that one you have tasted the water from Lake Kununurra, you will never leave.  After five weeks, some of which was due to solar panel replacement issues and the long wait for our requirements to arrive, we were beginning to think the saying was true.  During these delays, we were able to see a lot more of the area than we had originally planned, enjoyed the company of friends and relaxed in a glorious location.   We also travelled to Purnululu from Kununurra and this has been reviewed separately on the following pages.  The water straight from the Lake was beautiful, clear and fresh.  We filled our tanks before setting out on the next part of our adventure. 

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Zebra Rock is a soft and smooth banded shale rock, generally with reddish-brown or black bands in white, but can also be found in a variety of different colours.  Its softness together with its smooth finish, makes it an ideal rock to carve.
 
Unique to the Ord River area, much of the known deposits were covered when the Ord Valley was flooded by the formation of Lake Argyle.  When we were there in 2008, the location of the remaining known accessible deposits were kept secret, however a mine is now open to the public, and there is a campground on site at Zebra Rock Mine, which is accessed from the northern end of the Duncan Road