Our first stop after leaving Keep River National Park was the quarantine station on the NT/WA border where we had to hand over all of our fresh fruit and vegetables and containers of honey. Fortunately we knew about this well ahead of time (there were lots of signs along the highway from Katherine) and, after having an early lunch before we got there, we only had a few items to hand over before the quarantine officers inspected the contents of the fridges in our car and camper and also checked the types of cardboard boxes we had (boxes that have been used for storing and/or transporting fruit and vegetables must also be surrendered).
We spent our first two nights in WA in Kununurra and on the first night we caught up with our motorcycling friend Willy who normally resides in Bairnsdale, Vic. Willy and his mate Mike were staying with Mike’s friend Jim (aka The Rock Doctor of Hidden Valley).
In addition to being an avid bird-watcher Jim is also a passionate prospector, mineralogist, paleontologist and agate enthusiast. Jim runs a museum at his home and he showed us his amazing and extensive private collection of fossils, Zebra Rock (which is only found around Kununurra) and lots of beautiful pieces of agate. Jim also very kindly gave me a couple of pieces of agate which he had cut and polished to bring out their beautiful colours. After leaving Jim’s place Willy took us out for a lovely dinner at a nearby hotel – what a lovely start to our visit to WA!
The following day we went for a drive around Kununurra and visited the Five Rivers Lookout just outside of Wyndham (the lookout is 335m above sea level and provides an excellent panoramic view of the point where the Durack, Kink, Pentecost, Forrest and Ord Rivers meet), Marlgu Billabong in Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve (a great place for bird watching towards the end of the dry season), Black Rock Falls (where a group of people were abseiling down the rock face) and Middle Springs before crossing the long causeway of the Ivanhoe River. We stopped at The Sandalwood Factory for lunch before sampling a few varieties of rum at the nearby Rum Hoochery and on our return journey to Kununurra we took a side trip to the very impressive Lake Argyle.
Just after we left Kununurra the following morning we stopped at the Zebra Rock Gallery and although they had some nice pieces of Zebra Rock on display they all paled into insignificance when compared to the pieces we had seen in The Rock Doctor’s collection!
Unfortunately we were not able to visit Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) National Park because it had been closed since the previous week due to bushfires. As we continued on towards Halls Creek we not only saw smoke in the distance from fires that were still burning but also drove through some sections where fires were still burning along the side of the road.
After setting up camp in Halls Creek we drove a short distance out of town to see a rock formation known as China Wall which is a sub-vertical quartz vein protruding up to 6 metres from the surrounding surface. Just near the viewing area I also came across some slabs of rock that had been cut to reveal their beautiful bands of colours!
The next day we continued our journey west towards Broome as we wanted to arrive in time to see the “Staircase to the Moon” which can only be seen for a few nights each month around the time of a full moon. We stopped at a free roadside camping area at Nillibubbica for the night before heading into Broome the following morning.
Ron and I had visited Broome once before and that was in 2012 when I had taken part in my second Postie Bike Challenge (from Perth to Broome) and Ron had flown to Broome to meet me at the finish.
We spent a lovely couple of days here during we wandered around the town centre, visited Matso’s Brewery and went to the Staircase Markets where I noticed a postie bike from the 2012 Postie Bike Challenge (it still had the stickers for its entry number on the headlight). We also got to see the “Staircase to the Moon” although it wasn’t as good as what I have seen in photos from previous showings due to cloud on the horizon just as the moon was rising.
As we were staying in Broome for two of the three nights of the “Staircase to the Moon” I also went to see it a second time as I knew that Trish, another motorcycling friend, was arriving in Broome that day and was also planning to visit the Staircase Markets and see “Staircase to the Moon”. Trish had called me when she arrived in Broome and we agreed to try and meet up at the markets and, as luck would have it, I literally bumped into her just as I walked into the markets! Unbeknownst to me another chance meeting was only a few minutes away when Trish joined her friends who were sitting at one of two tables. As we approached the table where her friends were sitting I heard a woman’s voice I thought I recognised and sure enough Graeme & Pat, two friends from Canberra, were sitting at the next table – what a small world!