After a restful night in Halls Creek we set off early to explore a few of the local sites including China Wall; a strip of Quartzite which emerges from the ground as a natural wall at various heights and intervals all the way back to the Bungle Bungles.Our only other stop to look at the remains of Old Halls Creek. Sadly, there isn’t a great deal left to see, although it is a bit eerie driving around all the road signs to nowhere. The mud brick building of the Post Office has been very well preserved and the information boards make it easy to imagine it during its operative days. That morning in Halls Creek was the only time that we have been let down by a Visitor Centre. After seeing the local sights, we wanted to find out if there were any road or park closures ahead, but the centre failed to open as advertised. We loitered for a little while but in the end, we bit the bullet and carried on ill-informed. To ease our worries, we bought Connoisseur ice creams, which are out of this world good.
There is not a lot between Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing, where we stopped in at the Visitor Centre and picked up all the information we needed. There was a quick trip to small Geike Gorge, which was pretty but only kept us engaged for about half an hour, before we made our way back to the town and the attractions that it held. There isn’t much to see in Fitzroy Crossing. We were directed to the old river crossing and, having seen it, neither of us can understand for the life us why we were sent there. It is comprised of rundown buildings, no water, and was generally a real mess… it made us miss Wyndham. One of the first poor pieces of advice that we have received. We fuelled up and left town as quickly as Heidi could carry us.
It gets better from here folks, stick with us!
We’d decided to camp for the night in Windjana Gorge National Park and stopped in at Tunnel Creek on the way. The creek has carved a cave through the Napier Range and in the dry season you can take the self-guided walk. The walk is about 1km return, conducted entirely by torchlight and involves wading knee-deep through slightly stagnant water, stumbling over rocks and avoiding the bats and the freshwater crocs. Self-guided means self-guided and includes bringing your own equipment, which is how we know that our head torches are not that powerful and flip flops are not appropriate footwear for caving. Not for the first time, we observed that health and safety regulations in Australia seem to be slightly more lax than we Brits are used to. Short of erecting a boardwalk and fences, adding lighting and providing an hour-long compulsory course on how to walk, we don’t see how this particular attraction would ever be accessible to the average tourist in the UK. It was excellent. We both agreed afterwards that it had all been wonderful fun. We were perhaps not quite so certain during the experience. We did see 4 small crocs as we waded through but it was not seeing them that was troubling, when you lost the red reflection of the eyes whilst stranded in the water between sandbanks with no clue where the bugger had gone. We were both massive wimps at the beginning of the walk, before we even saw any crocs, but grew significantly braver as we progressed. We don’t have any photos from inside the cave (because it was dark) but we do have a humorous GoPro video, where James’s voice has gone up an octave, and some lovely pictures of the far end:So, we would definitely recommend it, just don’t expect any hand-holding; you just pull off the road, read the short bit of info which says “watch out for crocs and take a torch” and start scrabbling over the rocks into the cave mouth. Feeling invincible, we made our way to our campsite in Windjana and were instantly waylaid by small but very sharp burrs that stuck in our feet as we exited the car… so much for invincible. The setting was absolutely beautiful and the campsite had showers which was an added bonus.
We awoke the next morning to a noise that sounded very much like swarming bees, and exited the camper nervously to find that all of the trees in the campsite were covered in bees collecting pollen from tiny flowers. It really was quite beautiful once we knew we were not going to be attacked. We left Heidi to the bees and set off on the gorge walk, which was supposed to be a 5km round trip but somehow, we managed to turn in to a good 10km. There was supposed to be a sign telling you where the end of the walk is but, if there was, we never found it. The fence of barbed wire running the width of the gorge did the trick nicely and we turned around. To be honest, we would say the first 1.5km of the walk is probably all that you need to do anyway; it gives the best views of the gorge and the opportunity to spot some crocs.We’d advise that you go early if you want to have the place to yourself but go regardless, because it is beautiful.After our walk, we showered up and headed back on the road ready to finish the Savannah Way. We had just emerged from road works and where on a pristine new road when there was a bang and a yelp from Caro as our rear tyre blew out a 110kmph. By the time we had stopped on the edge of the road there was very little of the tyre left.45 very hot, sweaty, and dusty minutes later the spare was in place and we were back on the road. Luckily, we had asked how to get the spare tyre out from under the car, having had a similar experience in Saudi Arabia and not wishing to repeat it in.We pulled in to Derby (not pronounced as you English folk would expect) in search of a new tyre and wondering whether to stop for the night. After getting the lowdown from the Visitor Centre we quickly decided that Derby was not the place for us, a visit to the jetty and the view of mudflats and a particularly brown sea confirmed that this was the right call. So, we picked up a fresh spare tyre and left Derby in search of beach and sea. But Derby was not done with us yet; on the way out we stopped in at the longest water trough in the southern hemisphere. Which is about as exciting as it sounds.At this point Caro put her foot down about terrible farming tourist attractions and we made our way unimpeded to Broome and the beautiful, breath taking, Cable beach.We celebrated the completion our coast to coast epic drive along the Savannah Way with a couple of cans and a cracking sunset.