The Kimberley – Geikie Gorge and Broome

Geikie GorgeWhat is wonderful about the Kimberley is the things that are hidden. The landscape is amazing, from ancient scraggy rock karst in beautiful ombré red tones to the flat sandy grasslands, now golden and baked under the sun. I have written about the magnificent boab tree, which sits following flows of water, ancient and new but I haven’t yet mentioned the gorges, those cracks hidden in the vast planes which cut deep into the earth.

One such crack, or gorge is Geikie Gorge. Known for a millennia as Darngku it is now reclaiming its ancient name. Scoured out of the sandstone rock by the Fitzroy River it is at the head where the Fitzroy meets the Margaret. Each year after the wet season rains it is reborn as the sand bank across the head of the gorge blocks the escape of the last of the waters from the summer monsoons. Capturing the waters of the mighty Fitzroy these waters once more give birth to the beautiful gorge, a sanctuary for birds, freshwater crocodiles and many other animals and wildlife. It becomes a permanent water hole in a land that begins again to dry-out under the baking skies of the Kimberley.

Freshwater Croc's

Freshwater Croc’s

We explored the gorge by boat, one driven by the Park Ranger in the last weeks of the Gorge when it is open to exploring. Within weeks, the gorge will flood again, the Rangers will have packed up their camp and any movable equipment, taking it to much higher ground. Then the monsoons will come and flood the land, scouring a vast area with life giving rains and the landscape will change in its eternal cycle.

It autumn it all will be renewed when the gorge once more becomes accessible, the paths will be cleared of metres of silt, the equipment will be bought down from its safe hide and re-sited and the tourist season will begin again. It is a cycle heavy in time, ancient in its life and it will go on long after man has left. This is the Kimberley … eternal.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 5.18.43 amThis area was once a coral reef over 1,000 klm in length and this is what makes up the landscape. This ancient reef is the bed of limestone upon which the Kimberley’s is built. It is the basis of the many beautiful gorges that lay hidden in the landscape and this is what makes it a special place, a place of the Dreamtime.

The Kimberley is part of this ancient landscape, some of the oldest still remaining above water on Earth today and it breathes its age at every turn. From those vast open savannah plains now golden, awaiting the rains to turn them into beautiful meadows of lush green with a myriad of wildflowers, some you can see straining their heads above the sea of burnt grass even now … on to its beautiful gorges hidden in the landscape. We have been planning and plotting our return and we haven’t even yet left. There is simply so much to see and do, the promise of the land is like a dream.

Having crossed the dry savannah we camped up on the edge of the Indian Ocean north of Broome, where the breezes were consistent and cool. Here we found another world, one as ancient as the gorges. It is this world we are exploring, the ancient broken beds of stone, which sit over what was once a coral reef and is now a hide for urchins and crabs.

Qondong pointThe fishing is good though the lava flow of another age continues to catch our lines. What is fascinating though is the geology of this region, it is like reading a book as you follow the layers of life and land each telling its own story.

We had thought to camp up for a few days in Broome but found the caravan park tariffs in this shoulder season to be so expensive that it was an idea quickly discarded. Broome largely caters for the high-end in tourists and has little for the budget traveller, this right down to the high tariffs in the caravan parks. Instead we headed north and found ourselves a freecamp on a beautiful headland and here we have settled well away from the demands of the commercial interests.

The freecamps have far fewer travellers looking for a nights rest in this shoulder season. There has been something of a kafoffle again about freecamps mostly in Broome, which is one of the places in the country, which doesn’t welcome freecampers or illegal campers as they term them.

camp signThat term always amuses me and makes we consider the meaning of the phrase. I wrote a blog on the subject in relationship to the historical right of the freecamper. Law and bureaucracy may govern our country Australia overall, yet it seems to certainly becoming less democratic and our freedoms more restricted. This land though ultimately belongs to the people who are its citizens so should be tolerate such blatant lack of hospitality in our towns and cities.

So just what is an illegal camper? I dare to hazard it is one who camps contrary to signage, but then signage is not always within the bounds of legality either and often more presumptive than anything else when it comes to free camping. I wrote to the Broome Council asking for a definition, not wanting to end up with a fine. They have to date refrained from defining the meaning of the signage however does anyone really have the right to debase a public privilege and right on public land, often for no other reason than a local private commercial interests of one sector within the community?

A sign tht Broome badly needs

A sign tht Broome badly needs

It’s a sound argument as they advertise in signage that the lack of tolerance of freecampers is for the ‘safety and amenity of Broome’. What presumptive and inhospitable twaddle. It should read ‘for the amenity of commercial interests at the expense of others’. I can’t imagine anyone thinking freecampers, let alone the ‘grey nomads’ being really dangerous criminals so much so that the community of Broome has to be protected from them by local legislation.

To me the question comes down to hospitality and this, which is extended to the traveller. There is the public demographic of travellers in Aus. known as the Grey Nomads mostly who are retired or semi-retired members of the public who travel across the country as a lifestyle. They have done the hard yards, pay taxes like most or survive on a very limited income and It is a growing and powerful demographic who can’t often afford to pay the tariffs 24/7 which the camping and holiday parks levy. Besides, who would electively chose to live in a caravan park all the time?

I have a hard time getting a sound nights sleep in caravan parks, where often you are packed in like sardines. Besides … as Grey Nomads ourselves we are not on a holiday here and those places cater for the holidaymaker. This for us is a lifestyle, one from which we will occasionally take a holiday.

Australia has a wonderful reputation as a hospitable host to the international traveller and this reputation is also supported by an industry that is commonly termed as the ‘Back Packer’ industry. Not all backpackers carry backpacks anymore. I have noticed this travelling around as more often than not they have a vehicle and they frequent freecamps, backpacker motels and they travel widely. It is a million dollar industry and a fine reputation for hospitality that we have that places like Broome, Coffs Harbour and others are threatening this wonderful reputation.

The ‘backpacker’ also supports our rural industry in that Australian Stations, those vast holdings that can be found in the Kimberley and elsewhere need workers and unfortunately they are becoming harder to obtain. Currently our Country is largely supported by seasonal workers within the rural communities by the backpacker fraternity.  We can ill afford to pare these numbers of young healthy kids by supporting the predatory practices and influences of the holiday park industry in their want to force travellers into using their facilities, particularly when they are overpriced and have used their influence in local councils to quash freecamps, often at the expense of other businesses.

Broome I have heard is suffering a downturn in its tourist numbers and it is of no surprise as their lack of welcome hospitality is obvious. They cater only to the high end of the travelling demographic or tourist market. We will be avoiding spending anything other than the barely necessary time in Broome due to their embargo on freecampers and lack of public welcome. While the information centre in Broome is large and welcoming, it is clear some sectors or travellers are not welcome in the town.

We don’t wish to stay in a caravan park, having just had a lovely holiday in one by choice. I am very much enjoying once more the freedoms of the bush and the privilege of being able to freecamp. It is my chosen lifestyle and we will spend our time on the smaller towns and settlements up and down the west coast. Broome will not be on the visiting list.

Sorry guys… perhaps in time you will find the spirit of hospitality for which Australia is internationally renown somewhere in your Council chambers. It certainly seems to us that you deserve your reputation for being inhospitable as there is nothing here for other than the cashed-up for accommodation. It is the greatest pity as the town has a lot to offer in what is a remote corner of Aus.

Travel well.

Join the Freecamping community on Facebook and become part of a vibrant community

A comment from the Facebook group – made by some of our International Travellers:

“We love Australia and we are road tripping already for the second time. But we are a bit worried about free camping… 
Australia is a great country for camping! It’s the camping nation of the planet and camping is part of the culture. Free camp spots are provided and the infrastructure for freedom camping is just amazing. But is this slowly changing? In some places camping is already a major crime and needs to be targeted by rangers. How will the future of camping look like in Australia?”

 

CoversYou can explore the Lore and Legends of ancient worlds in her stories.
The Spirit Children series, ‘Lands Edge’ Book 1, will take you into the heart of Sydney on an adventure into legend and time. ‘Through other Eyes’ Book 2, will take you deep into the histories of the Jenolan Caves. It has been newly released and is available now at Amazon.com

Explore contemporary tales of the ancient Kadaitcha, or the Featherfoot of a truly unique Lore in ‘The Dreaming Series’.
Or enjoy some of her lively travelogues and tales of past true life travel adventures, published in both e-book and print under Around the Campfires and Oldies at Large.

You will find her on Facebook where you too can become part of the adventure. You never know… you might just catch up with her and The Man around the ridges somewhere.

My Love Affair – The Kimberley’s

Jan an NaumWhen I first met The Man at quite a tender age, I fell in love. I knew that this was the man I wanted to marry, the one I wanted to spend my life with. I think part of you, perhaps the part that lives beyond life, knows when you encounter a soul mate and immediately some part of you recognizes them even if you decide not to acknowledge it. Even if they are difficult, demanding or secretive … not that The Man is any of these things … Yet somehow you know you have met a destiny of one kind or another.

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The Lore of the Featherfoot : Lands Edge – The Beginning

Free download is available for five days only from 20th Oct (US) introducing:

Lands Edge, the first book of the New Spirit Children Series.

A novel about a young mans journey into the Australian Lore of the Featherfoot, or Kadaitcha Men. Men of Legend and History.

Explore the world of ancient Australian Legend and Lore in the stories of The Spirit Children. Australian downloads can be made HERE

Follow the journey of the Shaman as they peel back the mysteries of time in an ancient land. It is a world unseen by many, one that lives hidden within our own. Discover the secrets beneath an ancient land and those surviving in a modern world.

From the Author:

“I value your opinion and would love to hear if you have enjoyed the tales. Please consider leaving feedback at the Amazon or Goodreads. I hope you enjoy the journey.”

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Don’t have a Kindle?

Download your free e-reader where you see this sign on Amazon. You will find it on the download site.

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Oldies at Large – Old Man Boab

Land of the BoabThe most striking thing about entering the North West corner of the continent, the top end of Western Australia from the remote NW Northern Territory, is the magnificent old man boab (also the baobab of Africa & Egypt). These wonderful trees, which have captured the rains of the monsoon dot the landscape and are found from the coast of WA east into the Northern Territory, bloated in their push to survive an ancient red and harsh country.

They were a valuable food source for the Aboriginal tribes not only in their abundant fruit but also for providing water trapped in hollows in their twisted trunks. The tribal people chose the slightly immature (greenish rather than brown) fruit and found them best roasted. The pulp is similar to stewed fruit in texture and taste. If however the fire is too hot they will explode, so take care. The seeds in the fleshy fruit can also be collected and roasted and eaten like peanuts. Even the sap can be added to water to make a drink. The pith will dry to a fibrous sherbet with the seeds mixed in but this, though pleasant tasting will drive on a considerable thirst.   Continue reading

When it’s Time to Take a Holiday – From Freecamping

Wuruma DamWe have been freecamping across two states for several weeks now. The camps have been a delight from Cairns to the Western Australian Border. Those who understand the Outback, who understand the Aussie perchance to tour and explore along the needs travellers have for simple comfort and survival, have ensured that there are rest areas, often well appointed.

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Devils Marbles NT – A Place of Meeting and Legend

Main marblesIn a landscape that sits quiet and still within the vastness of a singular horizon, when you come across such a striking natural feature as the Devils Marbles it is no wonder that the old Aboriginal tribal people as well as Aussies today, found much to be amazed with. In the Central desert and vast savannah country of the Northern Territory in the red heart of Australia, you find a truly wonderful landscape. The photo is deceptive… there a hundreds if not thousands of these clusters of marbles scattered within the bowl of their creation.

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Oldies at Large – Icons of the Northern Territory

Dawn camoowealThe vast region of the Northern Territory, which is by no means the largest sector of Australia, but certainly one of the countries foremost frontiers and it has within its boundaries iconic destinations. There are many, indeed everyone has an opinion but there are some that should be on every traveller’s list of ‘Musts’. Some of these icons have faded, others have grown to become gems and so many are truly very much still a magnificent wilderness.

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