On Tuesday Sally, Claire and I set off to Derby, where we took a look at the Prison Boab Tree, a tree large enough to hold people inside. In Derby we got the latest road conditions and got on Gibb River Road. This is almost 700km of unsealed road straight through the Kimberley. However, I decided to only go to some of the natural attractions on either end of the road, mainly because I did not want to break down in the middle of nowhere. On Tuesday we reached Bell Gorge, 220km along Gibb River Road, where we camped overnight at the Silent Grove campsite. The unsealed road was better than expected, but the last 20km to the campsite was a 4WD-only road and I wondered why until we got to the first creek crossing. Creek crossings are fairly normal in this part of Australia, and at this time of the year (the ‘Dry’-season) there are only a few of them. Nevertheless, it is still scary to drive through a creek that is 40cm deep, even with a 4WD. It also took some trail-and-error to figure out the best way to tackle them. I think I made all the beginner mistakes by now: using high-gear 4WD, using too high entry speeds (it does clean the windshield nicely though), stalling the engine (luckily it was not deep there). FYI: second gear in low-gear 4WD is the best way to handle the deeper creek crossings.
Wednesday morning we went into Bell Gorge, definitely one of the most picturesque gorges in the West Kimberley. I went as far into the gorge as possible and had a quick swim before joining Sally and Claire who had been sunbathing. We drove back on Gibb River Road and took the 4WD-only road along Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. After setting up the tent at the Windjana Gorge campsite, we spent the afternoon in Windjana Gorge, where freshwater crocodiles were sunbathing on the banks of the river.
Thursday morning we visited Tunnel Creek, basically a 750m natural tunnel where you have to wade through a knee-deep creek to get to the end. Coming from the broad daylight, the tunnel was pitch black and the girls were too scared to continue. I went on and met up with an Adventure Tours group, one that we seemed to be following, since I had met some of them in Bell Gorge and Windjana Gorge. After a quick look around at the end of the tunnel I went back and we drove on to Fitzroy Crossing. That turned out to be a fairly rough road with another creek crossing (I have photos of this one). We drove straight through town into Geikie Gorge, where we had a few hours to spare before the boat cruise started. I used the time for a nice walk along the gorge and the river. The boat cruise was very informative, and we saw lots of crocs in the water and on the banks of the river.