20130731_RCH_0128 20130731_RCH_0125One of the problems of arriving at a campsite in darkness is you don’t get to see what it looks like. Sometimes this is a problem, like when you park next to decayed remains of animals, other times it’s a shame because you don’t get a sense of the beauty of the area. Last night was one of those other times. I could see that we were parked next to a boab tree (the name of the campground, RAAF Boab Quarry, kind of made me expect to see some) and could see the silhouette of rocks (again, quarry, expected rocks). It was a pleasant surprise when the sun came up (which is still too early) and we could get a full sense of the area – very pretty.

20130731_RCH_0130A little north of where we spent the night (on the unsealed tourist road between Fitzroy Crossing and the Gibb River Road) are two of the Devonian reef national parks – Tunnel Creek, and Windjana Gorge.

Funny enough, the first that I’d heard of Tunnel Creek was in a children’s book, Are We There Yet, given to us by a friend before we left. It looked/sounded interesting, so it was added to the itinerary, and here we are today. Risa has had enough of the dust/unsealed roads and is feeling a little over gorges, so it was a tough sell to come here, especially since I didn’t share what it made it so special with her (very, very sneaky). So when she found out that it’s basically a cave with a small creek flowing through it, she was happy.

It was really unusual (in my mind) that we were given free reign to explore the tunnel/cave – no guides, no barriers, just the suggestion to wear study shoes and to bring a torch!

20130731_RCH_0136Actually, the first challenge for us was finding the entrance to the cave (no trail markers). We had to explore around some rather large rocks to find the cave entrance.

20130731_RCH_0142 20130731_RCH_0189 20130731_RCH_0192 20130731_RCH_0201 20130731_RCH_0204 20130731_RCH_0208 20130731_RCH_0220The tunnel is about 800m long, with an opening about half way along. There was (icy cold) water in most of the tunnel, but we only had to wade across it a few times, the rest of the time we were walking on sand/rocks.

The reflections off the still water were beautiful – Risa was incredibly patient waiting for me to take photos (and being my lighting assistant when required).

20130731_RCH_0214Risa actually found (I’m sure she wasn’t the first to find it, but there were no signs to help her) the source of the water in the creek. The biggest surprise was the warmth of that water! It was warmer than Mataranka/Katherine. There was a bit of a pool above where the source was flowing from which I’m sure would have made an awesome bath. I’m sure the outlaw Jandamarra (who was hiding here for three years after killing a policeman and some others back in the 19th century) would have made good use of it!

20130731_RCH_0173 20130731_RCH_0174 20130731_RCH_0180At the end of the tunnel there was some more rock art, and other little things that took our interest.

Further north was Windjana Gorge National Park – also a part of the same Devonian-era (360,000,000 BC) reef system. We were a bit surprised about the $11 day use fee for this park – we’re noticing it’s a bit of a trend in W.A. (Purnululu also charged this fee). We’ll have to try and get a four-week visitor pass to try and save some money.

20130731_RCH_0244 20130731_RCH_0246The gorge is (unsurprisingly) the same rock as Tunnel Creek, but here the cliffs soar up to 100m above the ground. The gorge is only a few kilometres long, but it’s surprisingly wide, up to 150m in some places. It was nice, and worth a visit (even with the $11 entry fee), but it was rather hot and not really the best time of day for a long hike. We walked half of the gorge, then returned to the car. I think gorges have lost their lustre for a little while. Maybe after we get bored of WA’s beaches…

20130731_RCH_0257Also surprising was the abundance of fresh water crocodiles – you might not be able to see it in this photo, but I counted 32 crocodiles before taking the photo! And that’s just in this one little section!

20130731_RCH_0259Dinner: Risa wanted dahl and back when we were at Uluru (Yulara, to be precise) she bought a spice kit to make some. Changed her mind tonight, and just made it from scratch with lentils, beans, ginger, butter, garlic and spices (probably other things, too, but I’m no cook). I know the food photos don’t really do justice to it (I’m more interested in eating dinner, and keeping insects out), but it was delicious.

79日目 7月31日 (水)       洞窟探検とワニ


デリちゃんの隣には、大きなバオバブの木に小鳥がいっぱいとまっていて、目の前は大きな岩が壁の様にならんでいました。 ここは、昔はオーストラリアの空軍が採石場として使用していた場所で、掘り出していた穴には水が溜まっていて小さな沼のようになっていました。

今日の最初の探検場所は、Tunnel Creek (トンネル  クリーク)  トンネル渓谷の名前のとおり、完全に開いた渓谷ではなくて、内部は洞窟になっているらしい!



外側からは、巨大な渓谷(岩の壁)ですが、すぐに洞窟になり、中はひんやり。 外が激暑なだけに、最高に気持ちがいい〜

入り口付近はかなり天井が高くおよそ18m以上。 天井からは、鍾乳石がぶら下がっていて、巨大なシャンデリアがエントランスでお出迎え〜みたい。



大抵の洞窟内の泉は頭がキーンとするほど冷たいので、そんな冷たーい水を覚悟で足をつけてみると。。。 あれ、他の場所よりぬるい。

おそらく外気温が高いので、今までのマタランカやキャサリンのHot Springのように太陽で暖められた岩の間を通ってきてるからかな。

さらに進むとさらに真っ暗に。 所々とても天井が低くなり、幅も狭くなったり、逆に突然天井がまた高くなり、巨大なシャンデリア状の鍾乳石があらわれたり。






ランチを食べて、次の目的地Windjana Gorge (ウィンジャラ渓谷)へ。


わお。この国立公園の入場料は、車1台につき$11 さらにキャンプ代は、一人$11。  WA州は、国立公園は、だいたい何処もお金がかかるみたいなので、$40で数週間期限のチケットを買った方がいいみたい。


渓谷の岩壁はかなり高く、てっぺんはギザギザと尖っていてちょっとかっこいい。 今までいった渓谷の岩壁はたいてい赤かったけど、ここの岩は、大半がグレーで部分的に赤色。

今は、乾期なので川の水は、かなり少なく、深い部分のみ残っているのだけど、そこになんと小さなフレッシュウォーター クロコダイルがうじゃうじゃいる!!!!

最初は、流木が浮かんでいるだけだと思ったら、動いた! そしてその流木だと思っていた全てが実はクロさんでした。。。

なんかクロコダイル ファーム状態。 体長は、すべて1m程かちょっと大きい位だとはいえ、噛まれたら病院行き。



川沿いでなかなかの景色。 でもハエが多くてうざい!!!!

晩ご飯は、インドのお豆のカレー。 昨日から豆いっぱい食べて健康的だね笑

今日も虫がうるさいほど賑やかです。  明日は、いよいよインド洋とご対面できるかなー??