Distance covered: 490 km
A new day begins!In the morning I leave The Bungles: there’s still plenty to see outside this undoubtedly phenomenal place. On my way out I meet another 5 or 10 cars going in: poor people are driving straight into the morning sun and dust. It’s so much more rewarding to travel this road eastwards a bit later in the day, like I did.
Such an iconic look.It’s almost 11 when I reach The Grotto, a small gorge right next to the highway. Its layered walls, trees and a pool look very cool and inviting. Next to me I see a guy with 5 or 6 thousand dollars worth of photo gear with no bags or pouches whatsoever. Just a camera in one hand, a very expensive lens in another, and a whole lot of big sharp rocks scattered around. Must be either a very rich or a very carefree individual. On top of The Grotto there's a couple more photographers in hi-vis jackets; someone from the mines is probably taking a creative break.
At The Grotto.
On top of The Grotto.At noon I finally reach Wyndham, which has the distinction of being the northernmost town in Western Australia. The town itself looks dusty and a bit depressed, but the Five Rivers Lookout, which is the most famous tourist destination here, is really beautiful and rewarding. Many of the rivers of the Kimberley end their run here, and the wide estuary is all shiny and sparkly under the hot tropical sun, carrying its muddy waters towards the sea. Very cool. And probably much more violent during the Wet!
At the Five Rivers Lookout.After a quick lunch, I resume my journey and turn east this time, towards Kununurra. My third proper shower awaits me here at the local caravan park for just $5, and the town itself looks as nice and quiet as it did two years ago. This isn’t my final destination for today, though, and it’s almost 3 p.m. when I finally reach the Keep River National Park.
Crossing the border.Even if it’s only a few kilometres outside the state border, I’m back in the Northern Territory for all intents and purposes, and my phone jumps 1.5 hours forward, as it should. Still, the surrounding scenery is pretty much Kimberley’s, with boabs and everything.
Entering the Keep River park.The park is quite small, and it takes me no time at all to arrive at the Goorrandalng campground, so I use it to my advantage and take a stroll down the adjacent hiking trail. It is surprisingly beautiful and scenic, especially in the last rays of the setting sun. Striped and layered sandstone, fragrant grass, sandy walks – almost like Purnululu, but much smaller. I'm definitely going back here next time I'm in this area!
Starting the hike.
More stripey sandstone!
There are some palms here, too.
Love these rocks.
And I love this hiking trail, too.
Some sandstone up closer.
The shadows are getting longer.
The ghost gums say goodbye to the day.The campground is quite lovely, too, and extraordinarily cheap: only $3.30 per person. The sites are neat and spacious, and the toilet is spotless — even though a few local ants have already crowded the seat. Together with the very scenic walk I just did, it makes the Keep River park one of the most underrated gems in the Northern Territory. Tomorrow I'll try and see if the other hike, at the northern end of the park, will be just as good.