Page 68


First Impressions Of Kununurra

For the first few days we couldn't get used to seeing almost every car with the distinctive West Australian blue on white registration plates. Remember, we have been out of the state for almost three and a half years during which time a W.A. number plate was unusual enough to warrant a comment.

The daily temperature reached around thirty six degrees - a little hotter than Katherine - but so far the humidity has been low. Because of the ninety minute time change it is now light much earlier in the morning and dusk by around five thirty. We're both feeling the effects of mini-jetlag.

There are many more Aborigines around the town centre than we found in either Alice or Katherine but they seem happier and healthier than in those two places, and noticeably better dressed. Some still haven't found the shower, though.

A rock called Kelly's Knob Lookout offered a view over the town so we climbed up there (in the car, naturally) and took some pictures.

View from Kelly's Knob

The view over Kununurra from Kelly's Knob. The town is largely obscured by trees but the roofs of the
shopping centre can be seen at the right. Beyond is the aptly named Lily Creek Lagoon - its surface is
almost entirely covered in lily leaves.

Boab Tree

As always, a visit to the Tourist Information Office was high on our list of priorities. We came away loaded with leaflets and pretty over faced by all the 'must do' attractions that there are in the Kununurra area of the Kimberley Region. Because of the terrain and distances involved, travel by light aircraft and/or helicopter is inevitable if you wish to see everything, and helicopter flights in particular are horrifically expensive.

A particularly nice specimen of a
Boab Tree that we saw in Wyndham.

Anyway, we'll have to see how we go. It's tempting to justify the expense with statements like, “It would be silly to come all this way and not see everything.” And, “We'll probably never come here again and we'll always regret not seeing it all.” And while both arguments are impossible to refute, they don't do a thing to boost the bank balance, do they? Anyway, I don't want to think about nasty things like money at the moment so I'll show you (below) another picture that I took on Kelly's Knob. The rock formations look like crumbly wafer and some are in cylindrical shapes. There was a healthy tree growing out of the side of one of these 'crumbly wafers' and I wonder where it found its nutrients.

Tree on Rock, Kelly's Knob

Strange rock formations and a tree growing out of the side of a rock.


Wyndham is just over a hundred kilometres north west of Kununurra and the Tour Director had prepared an excellent itinerary for a day's exploring for us. And some day it turned out to be. Of course, I had to annoy her before we even set off by wanting to photograph one of many little lizards that abound in the caravan park. They sat on the concrete paths, sunning themselves in the morning sun. When the concrete later became hot they would lift alternate front feet off the ground. This one was on the grass.


Hey, look how long my tail is!

But back to our trip to Wyndham. Our first stop along the way was at The Grotto, a gorge with sheer rock sides and a pool at the bottom. At it's upper end the gorge ends abruptly in a rock face down which, in the wet season, a waterfall gushes. We were too late in the season to see that but there was still plenty of water in the pool. The descent was rather hairy, concrete steps had been constructed down the face of the cliff but there was no safety rail. Still, women and kids were climbing up and down so there was nothing else for it . . .


The icy cold pool at the bottom of The Grotto. There's always a dare devil.
Occasionally there's a hungry crocodile just below that dare devil. Rather him than me.

Leaving The Grotto we drove on towards Wyndham. Our next stop was at the Parry's Lagoon Nature Reserve where there's a boardwalk over the Marlgu Billabong. For our reader in the U.K., this billabong is a large, shallow lake with surrounding wetlands, rich in flowering water lilies and supporting a vast amount of bird life. To access it we drove a long way down a bumpy dirt road without seeing another soul. We expected to have the place to ourselves but when we arrived we found a prison work detail clearing the paths and generally tidying up. All the prisoners were black and they were supervised by a white guard.


There were about a dozen prisoners working. They were pleasant and polite. If it were not for alcohol
most would not have been there, we were told. Some even prefer the life. They have everything
provided and are better off than on the 'outside'.

The Billabong was indeed rich in bird life and we were warned there would be crocs around too. If we saw none it was not for the want of looking. The prolific water lilies were extraordinarily beautiful in pinks, white, lilac and yellow. But hey, one picture is worth a thousand words.


Leaf and Flower

Big Lilly


What were these pretty Great Egrets up to? Courting . . . fighting . . . or just having fun?

Leaving the birds and the prisoners to their own devices we proceeded to the Afghan Cemetery which is noteworthy because of the size of the graves. When an Afghan cameleer died, his lead camel is said to have been buried with him. Even though these graves were quite large, it seemed unlikely that a complete camel would fit in.

Afghan Graves

And that's it. An Afghan grave. Large, but would it hold a camel too?

One of Wyndham's best tourist attractions is Five Rivers Lookout. As you would expect, the lookout is on the top of a hill with a 360° outlook over the town, the port and . . . five rivers.

Port of Wyndham

Ever wonder what the Port of Wyndham looked like? No, nor me but here it is in all its glory, on the Pentecost
River. Just a few kilometres downstream the Pentecost and Ord Rivers merge and enter the Timor Sea.

In Wyndham there are some giant statues of Aborigines plus a kangaroo, a wombat and a snake which were made by the local high school students. The sign invited us to go and look at them and to meet the local Aborigine people. So we did.

Statues of Aborigines

Pam and some of the amazing sculptures. I thought somebody had bent the man's spear but it's a throwing stick - that's how it should be. Unfortunately somebody has painted graffiti on the woman's chest. The big fella was too tall to fit in the picture.

Now those cynics amongst you will already have realised that in being invited to meet the local Aborigines there would be a catch and the catch would involve money leaving our pockets and entering theirs. Well, you are, of course, perfectly correct.

Boab trees produce seed pods about the size and shape of a tennis ball. The Aboriginal artists have found a way of darkening the exterior of the pod so that, when scratched with a knife, the colour below shows through. The deeper the scratch, the lighter the colour. Using this property they engrave designs onto the pod and then sell them. We watched a man called Clinton engrave a pod for us. He was remarkably good and we enjoyed both watching him work and the company of his family enormously. When he'd finished we looked at the pod and asked the price, which of course was inflated. However, given the quality of the work and the memory that went with it, we paid the asking price gladly.


Clinton with his just-completed Boab pod on which he engraved a turtle and a bush hen.

Before closing this page - for it is full to overflowing with our day in Wyndham - I must tell you one last story.

As we explored the town and (apparently deserted) port of Wyndham, we realised what a small and relatively insignificant place it now is. We were, therefore, amazed when we saw the size and magnificence of the police station. We later stopped at the Wyndham Hotel for a little liquid refreshment and mentioned the police station to the licensee. She laughed and told us that the building had been destined for Wyndham in southern New South Wales, but due to what can only be described as a 'stuff up', it was delivered to this Wyndham where it remained, perhaps the grandest building in town.

And that's it for our (first) visit to Wyndham. We're taking a deep breath and preparing for our next exploration sortie.

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