We have left the Kimberley and slipped into the vast region south known as the Pilbara. The desert plains here are vast, the heat is arriving, climbing each day. The humidity is on the wind that sweeps across the plains and you can feel it heavy on your skin. We are headed south towards the cooler temperatures like thousands of other travellers and locals, this to escape the climbing heat and humidity in the air now blowing on our tails.
Leaving the Kimberley was a wrench. We wish we could have stayed longer and we will return to explore this region again in time. It is just simply a beautiful country, wild and open yet its secrets sit quietly in the shadow of gorges and hidden valleys within reach of the now climbing heat of the day.
The most enjoyable thing was finding those places of promise. We are plotting future trips into those regions that we couldn’t reach this time around. Unforgettable, is witnessing some of the delights you find in seeing nature in action. The region of the Kimberley is rich in the history that can be found within the layered ages of the earth. Simply displayed all around you is the majesty of nature in all her might. She is timeless. It is a landscape without measure and wilderness personified.
To name just one of our special treats and discoveries, we were in searching out the crocodile slides along the banks of the Geikie Gorge, or to use its ancient name Darngku. It’s nesting season and the freshwater croc’s are looking for the right temperatures in the sand to lay their eggs and guard them into their maturity before the Big Wet arrives. Each night the croc’s will climb the banks of the moving sand and test the temperatures looking for the best nest for their young. Temperature of the sand has a unique bearing on the outcome in the sex of the clutch and they need to find just the place in which to dig into the sand and lay their eggs.
When and where they lay they lay is a good indicator to the Rangers who watch and guard their activities. This will often gauge the strength of the coming flooding rains and is a faithful precursor to just when they are expected to arrive.
Plans can be made for moving equipment on the instincts of the freshwater croc’. It is an amazing thing to see how well these animals can judge the coming season, something man is quite bad at judging for himself.
The vast Kimberley plains are also full of other threads that are the flow of nature. The emerging spread of spring colour throughout the land is growing and the charred touch where wildfires have scorched the earth still scars the land. You see the new green life all around you as the air grows moist with the weight of heat just before the rains begin to creep across these magnificent blue skies. In places it looks almost lush and there are newer generations being born everywhere. This in the birds that wake you at dawn, or in the young dingo now out on his own seeking a pack in the making.
It is also natures record of ages past that draws my attention. In the rock and corals of the vast Kimberley shorelines can be found ancient things. You can find fossils of the vast rainforest plants that once made up the forests of Gondwana, now bedding in rocks and pounded by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
The sea holds and hides a magnificent bounty, a promise of ancient stories yet to be told. In the tides you can see the pages of time laid out in the layers of rocks and land and it is a wonderous thing.
We looked for evidence of stromatolites, those ancient beds of prehistoric coral like rock that can be found in the lowest of tides and are the foundation of our world. They can be easily viewed at Shark Bay when the tide is at its lowest. It was these creatures that breathed oxygen into a life starved planet billions of years ago and in rare pockets around the world these can still be found. Pockets such as on the Kimberley and Pilbara coast, some of the oldest land still above water on Earth. I fancy we found a small colony on the low tide of the shores. The promise is of an ancient bounty is delightful and exploring is a real adventure in this wilderness region.
You can also see the footsteps where dinosaurs once roamed the tidal flats. This is one of the few places on earth where you can trace the footprints of these prehistoric creatures over a large path, one now swallowed daily by the tides. It is evidence of these ancient creatures who ranged up and down the mud flats looking for dinner in a Dreamtime endeavour.
This region offers so much in the stories of time that it can tell. From the ancient art of the tribes, which can be found scattered throughout the gorges and groves to the layers of history pushed to the surface of the Earth, so easily seen here. It is simply a region that calls to us still, a region to further explore and secrets to yet be uncovered. We will return and I can’t wait for the time when I can feel the sand and rock of the Kimberley under my feet again.
Jan is an Author and Traveller, you can check-out her travelogues and tales of contemporary Aboriginal Lore at Amazon.com. Available in ebook and print.