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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Keep River to Halls Creek
To the Northern Territory and back to Western Australia– several times.   We visit the Keep River National Park, travel along the Duncan Road towards Halls Creek.

Keep River National Park

Soon after entering the Keep River National Park, we stopped at a small lagoon known as Cockatoo Lagoon near the Ranger Station. There was not much water in the lagoon, and very few of the 200 species that visit the lagoon were evident.

The Duncan Road from the Victoria Highway to Halls Creek

Heading north through the park, Ginger Hill is the next signed stopping point, where an Aboriginal bird hide has been re-constructed. A hunter would light a small fire near the hide, as smoke attracts the birds of prey who find animals and insects escaping from fire an easy source of food.   Crouching inside the small enclosure he would hold a stick with a few feathers on it protruding through the roof of the hide.   If a hawk came to catch the ‘bird’, the man would reach through and catch the hawk. 

The Keep River National Park encompasses part of the Keep River Valley with Aboriginal rock paintings, cultural sites and landforms including domes similar to those at Purnululu.  Much of the park is not accessible by vehicle.  

 

We chose Jarnem, the northernmost of the two park campsites, and found a shady spot to wait until it cooled down in the afternoon before taking the Jarrnam walks, which can be combined into the one circuit walk of eight kilometres.  To get to the circuit involves a walk across a grassy plain.  After then walking around a hill, a side track took us to the top and a lookout giving views all around us. 

We were very disappointed that the Nganalam rock painting and petroglyph site had been closed to the public, as this site is known for its spectacular etchings, paintings and hand stencils.   The closure of this and other sacred sites to the public within the park is permanent. 

This panorama shows a semi circle from north-east, the Keep River flood plain to the east and the ridge to the south.

We left Keep River National Park without taking the Gurrandalng walk around the nearby rock formations at the Gurrandalng campground. 

It was our original intention to visit the Keep River National Park, continue along the Victoria Highway to the Duncan Road, travel south then head west to Halls Creek.  We changed this plan and returned to Kununurra from the Keep River National Park, and returned to the Northern Territory later to continue our journey along the Duncan Road.  For continuity I have included the touring around Kununurra within the Kununurra travelogues. 

A little way further east along the Victoria Highway we turned south onto the Duncan Road, which was at first wide and in good condition as it traversed through stations with Brahman cattle.  Even in the daylight, kangaroos were foraging alongside the road. The road soon became narrower and stony, but still easy driving.  Before long we crossed back into Western Australia again as this road runs roughly north south and crosses the state border several times.

Towards the south, a ridge had eroded and striped sandstone similar in appearance and origin to the domes of Purnululu

To the east we looked across the Keep River flood plain and hills beyond, and to the west to a small outcrop of eroded sandstone with chimney like formations.   

Walking towards the sandstone ridge from the chimney formation.

 

Tall livistona palms and clusters of ferns abound in and around the cracks in the striped rocks

We reached the ridge near a small Aboriginal rock painting site at Nilgi Gap.

To the left, a more recent long straight crack can be seen.  erodions of such cracks over a very long time creates the dome shaped rocks.

Back to the access path through the grassy plain, there were a number of species of cockatoos; red tailed blacks and white tailed blacks, as well as large white corellas in the small trees and on the grassland. 

The walk along the edge of the ridge took us through semi shady forest with livistona palms and pandanus as we passed the various eroded rock formations of the ridge. 

Next morning we took the Keep River Gorge walk following the river where it has cut a wide passage through the sandstone rocks. Aboriginal paintings can be found along the edge of the gorge, but as these are not signed. They can be found if you watch carefully for them where there are overhangs.  This display includes reptiles and outlines of hands. 

The overseer of a nearby Aboriginal owned station visited us, to warn of a dangerous feral sow which had been seen in the area, had killed a dog in an Aboriginal settlement and attacked a person there.  He manages over 25,000 head of cattle.  Over the past four years, he has shot over 14,000 feral donkeys.

Next morning we spoke to a lady who is a currently cook at the station.   She was spending her day off relaxing and fishing at the river pool. 

We stopped at the Negri River crossing, and camped high above a large river pool.  Other campers on a lower level also had a nice private spot.  Here we were in the Northern Territory again. 

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We took a walk along the river bed to the concrete causeway where the road crosses and looked upstream.  There was not much water flowing through.  The Negri River joins the Ord River further to the west. 

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These sandstone chimneys are in a cluster of rocks with a 'lost city' appearance.

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