The Great Northern Highway follows a bend south of the Gibb River Road, for those who by Need or Want, must travel on bitumen roads. This path takes you through the communities of Fitzroy Crossing & Halls Creek, on the way towards Kununurra, but when towing it is over a day’s drive. Unless of course you leave at dawn from Derby and drive till dusk to Kununurra!
The latter being ill-advised for fatigue management and avoidance of wildlife purposes, we pulled up halfway between Fitzroy Crossing & Halls Creek, at an overnight rest area known as Mary Pool. Thankfully we arrived when we did, for there were over 50 vans and campers there already! More arrived after us, the convenient waypoint and very civilized hybrid toilets being a drawcard. Whilst the Mary River was pretty much dry, it must be a magnificent sight when in flood!
Paul took some aerial shots from the Phantom 4 Pro, and Kirstine practised flying the Mavic Pro, till fading light meant it was time to put away our flying photographic tools and start thinking about tea. It was a peaceful night, with the couple of generators which had been running in the grounds, falling silent before bedtime. Personally, we prefer the nice quiet solar power options!
Not being in a rush the next morning, we enjoyed a lie in while we listened to the early birds pack up and leave Mary Pool in droves. It was such a lovely surprise to step outside the van and see a gorgeous handwritten note and gift from another traveller, who happens to be one of the daughters of the Director of our sponsor, Videocraft. Fiona and her family were headed to Broome, and though we didn’t get a chance to meet, we were mind blown at how small the world is, even in the massive Kimberley region!
We arrived at Kununurra after lunch and were welcomed by Lee at the Ivanhoe Village Caravan Resort as soon as we stepped out of the Legend. She was glad we’d been able to make it after all the schedule changes we’ve had to make recently and LOVED meeting Luna! Lee had made two stunning grassy sites into a drive-thru for us, so we had ample space for the Jayco, Legend and the kids’ swags, plus some to spare!
We took time to admire the iconic Diversion Dam, built to contain the flow of water from Lake Argyle. You actually drive across it as you come into town, and on one side is Lake Kununurra with its “croc-controlled swimming beach” and gorgeous picnic areas. Below the dam wall the Ord River continues, and the system is important to maintain irrigation to surrounding lands.
Kelly’s Knob is a lookout atop a massive outcrop overlooking the Ord River valley. The rock formations themselves are inspiring, and the views over and around Kununurra, just wonderful. We were so high that we could see the haze from prescribed burns sitting in the air over town. There is a sheer drop from one point at the lookout where a single handrail is in place, so Kirstine was more than a bit panicked about the kids’ curiosity for the views!
The family went to a nearby sports oval to fly drones. The kids got to put their toys into the air after several months of carrying them around. Black kites swirled around on thermals over our heads and paid little heed to the toy drones. Kirstine was too nervous to put the Mavic Pro too high in the air, as once or twice a kite came too close for comfort, but it was good to be able to practise the basics! Boy did the Icom Airband radio come in handy during our stay though! As an uncontrolled airfield, all air traffic around Kununurra was reporting their locations and intentions. Without the radio, it would have been difficult to fly the drones safely.
Our last afternoon in Kununurra was spent with the kids in their swimmers washing the Legend on our site at the caravan park. It was a rare event for them, with water restrictions in most places being such that it is impossible to use a hose to wash a car anymore. Of course, Paul & Kirstine were careless with rinsing off the Legend, and the kids accidentally ended up soaked, and loving every single bit of it!
The next morning, we packed up and it was the parents turn to wash the Jayco. Oh, it felt good to make her nice and shiny again! We could even see the green again on the wheel rims, and we’d watered the grassy site to keep it green. Winner all round we reckon!
Kununurra has given us another reason to return to the Kimberley, and Ivanhoe Village Caravan Resort is a brilliant base to explore the East Kimberley. We know where we’ll be coming back to, and we hope that Lee will still be there, so we can say hello again one day.