Kimberley. Final Frontier. Captain’s log, stardate 8975.1. We received a distress call from bloody tourists lost in the wild and have been sent to investigate. We are not at warp speed 9 but bumping along on a corrugated washboard-like dirt road that threatens to dislocate every bone in our body. Scotty is keeping the engine alive with a never ending supply of Scottish swear words. Our phasers are useless in this setting and have been replaced by cans of mossie repellant. First officer Flemming has clearly lost it, keeps repeating ‘Into the Wild’.
The Gibb River Road and the Kimberley area of Australia is often described as the ‘final frontier’. Well, Space is the final frontier, but the Kimberley is still a wild, remote, rough and reasonably untouched wilderness part of Australia. Three times the size of England, home to only 35,000 people but you will be surprised by the amount of people you meet since there is only one main road. But you can at least pretend you’re charting uncharted territory as you bump along on corrugated dirt roads into the wild:
Driving the Gibb River Road is as much about the journey as the destination. Photographic opportunities are there but can be few and far between. I have a knack for attracting extraordinary light and clouds but used up most of this year’s supply in Namibia. Light was bland, but the journey was amazing, had a brilliant time with a brilliant group, got the shots I wanted and the shots I promised my mate at All Terrain Safaris. A brilliant journey! A few highlights:
Windjana Gorge at dawn
If you are a regular reader, you know I love Windjana gorge as described in this post. The power of this place is awesome. This time I walked in the gorge at 5am in the darkness, the eyes of freshwater crocodiles reflected in torch light. Many people do not think much of Windjana Gorge, but it is my favourite gorge in The Kimberley. You can feel the Bunuba people’s spirit here as you stand in between the mighty towering walls of what was once a coral reef under water in the Devonian period, some 350 million years ago! You can also feel the pain of Bunuba’s massacred by the police.
Composition is hard here and it helps to re-visit this gorge a few times. The view is so wide you need to stitch a lot of shots to capture the grandscape here, this is just a quick cropped jpeg preview of a wide angle shot at sunrise:
The Mitchell Plateau and mighty Mitchell Falls was new for me, was my main mission and what an awe inspiring experience it was. And I am not easily impressed by waterfalls. A waterfall itself is boring, but string 4 of them together, have them roaring down a massive plateau shaking the ground you walk on ending with an 80 meter fall into a massive pool surrounded by towering walls – and I am mighty impressed!
To find a vantage point without trees or grass in your shot takes courage, dedication and a love of spinifix grass cutting up your legs! I scouted the very rocky bushy area and without falling into the abyss, found a good spot someway down a cliff face. I had my tripod right on the edge of a 200 meter drop, holding on to a tree with one hand, cable release in the other. I had the 4 tiered Mitchell Falls roaring in front of me drowning all sounds and the abyss threatening to swallow me. A sensational and humbling experience of power, Mother Nature showing off!
As you can see I used a bit of my powers to attract beautiful clouds on this special day, was the one day with nice light!
The Gibb River Road is a bumpy corrugated dirt road but having just been grated it was in very good condition. Now the Gibb is a six lane tar highway compared to parts of the Kalumburu Road leading up to the Mitchell Falls. Rocky, bumpy, treachery with river crossings, it is 6-8 hours of bone and car breaking track! Day before we got there, two 4wds rolled over on the track. We only broke off both back shock absorbers (shockies) on the truck. Not that it made much difference, track is so rough you hardly feel the difference, shockies or no shockies!
King Brown Snake
I like snakes and I have finally seen a King Brown Snake in the wild! They are highly venomous and have a bit of a reputation of being aggressive but I reckon you are fine with snakes as long as you do not step on them or do anything stupid like pick them up! This King Brown Snake was spotted at night, 10 meters from our camp. About 1,6 meters long it was obviously cold and shy, moving very slowly through the grass just trying to get to cover. So beautiful. Peaceful. Potentially lethal. I slept fine outside under the stars in my swag, no worries, happy to have met and share camp with a King Brown.
- 4 weeks of walking in bare feet or thongs (flip-flops) have almost cured my toes. And made me hate socks and shoes, back to nature, into the wild in bare feet! My feet will never get clean again, a little warning to Rod and Casey who I will soon be going on road trips with!
- My little portfolio photo book is a huge success and I really recommend bringing something like this with you as a travelling photographer. Had I brought 50 copies I would have sold them all (and had to pay for a bit of overweight on the plane with the earnings!). I have been taking orders from everyone interested, a photo book from me is definitely coming up later this year so stay tuned.
- What the hell is going on with me and mossies on this trip? I continue to donate blood, I continue my love/hate relationship (they love me, I hate them) but this is getting ridiculous. I tempt fate by sleeping outside of course but even on Cable Beach they track me down and have a feast. Fresh Scandinavian blood is obviously a delicacy for mossies!