Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Darwin to Broome 14.05.2014 - 24.05.2014

Leaving Darwin I first went into the Kakadu National Park.

That park is massive, so it took most of the day to get to Ubirr at the other end of the park. I setup camp and went to the sights to have a look at the rock art and watch the sunset.

Amazing stop and you are for once not alone like nearly everywhere else in Australia! I must admit I could have gone without the mossies :)

The next morning I went to have a look at all the other sights of the park, which weren't many. Nearly everything was still closed because of a long wet season.

As an résumé I must say I liked the Litchfield National Park a lot more then Kakadu.
From Kakadu I went back to Katherine where I stoped for a quick relaxing swim in the hot springs and then going on via the main road to Western Australia.

The following day I continued the ride to Kununurra the first city in Western Australia after crossing the border and the start of the Kimberley region.

And yes there is a real border between the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is just a quarantine check but you have to stop and open your luggage.

I stayed just for one night in Kununurra and went on for a short visited of the Purnululu National Park with its Bungle Bungle Ranges.

There I first went hiking in the Echidna Chasm and later I helped hunting Cane Toads at the campsite.

These toads are an introduced species in Australia and are now spreading over the whole country. I caught over 250 Cane Toads that evening.

The next morning I went to visit the Cathedral Gorge the absolute highlight of the park.

After that I had a boring ride going back most of the way I did the day before to get to Wyndham.

At the campground in town they have one of the biggest Boab trees which you can see everywhere in the western tropics. This one was advertised as the biggest one hold in captivity :) Even the seeds of these trees are massive.

I filled up my supplies the next morning to be prepared for one of the remotest areas of the Kimberleys: the Gibb River Road and the Mitchell Plateau.

The Gibb River Road is known for its large number of river crossings but because I waited long enough into the dry season it wasn't bad.

The pushbike rally was a lot worth because every bike rider had at least one car following them – a lot of dust!

But even that was no big problem and so I arrived early afternoon at Drysdale River Station where I stayed for the night.
But the Gibb River Road had already taken its first toll: my GoPro broke of somewhere along the road and I could not find it by going a few kilometres back :(

Because some other campers told me the way up to the Mitchell Plateau would be really rough and it took them up to six hours to get there I left early the next morning.

I guess rode a little bit harder – I was at the Mitchell Falls after just two and a half hours. But I had an "oh shit" moment just after I arrived when I discovered my bikes rear subframe had cracked  - just 600 km away from the next town.

To get a clear mind and to think about what to do about the frame I immediately stated the walking track to the falls. The Mitchell Falls are really spectacular and were the perfect distraction from the frame problem.

On the way back to my bike I asked at the local helicopter base if they might have a workshop – no, but they suggested I should get help from the National Park ranger. I walked over to the ranger to see if he would have anything to help me. He was a really helpful bloke and said my problem should be able to be solved. He said he had a welder in his workshop he just had to find it because he just had to weeks off work. Turned out the welder was nowhere to find in the workshop. So while he got on the phone to figure out where the welder could be I setup my camp. Later the ranger told me he had located the welder – 200 km away at another camp. He said he would try and find another camper to bring it up to the Mitchell Falls but he could guaranty nothing.
Early the next morning the welder arrived – cool the work could start. Because the spot at the frame was hard to reach and I was afraid to fry the electrics of the bike I had to take it all apart. The ranger allowed me to use his workshop to do all my work.

With some improvising I was even able to work around some missing tools, because who thinks about disconnecting the fuel pump when putting together a tool kit – so a Torx T10 bit was missing. When I had apart I had the problem that don't know much about welding and the ranger wasn't allowed to do it for me because of reliability issues, but guy from the campsite by a fortunate coincidence a boilermaker offered to weld it for me. He was happy with the result and so was I. You won't believe how many cable ties it takes to put the bike back together, but the patient survived the five-hour operation.

Because I wanted to take it careful with the fresh welded frame I start early in the morning just after sunrise. Even with going slower I still finished the 550 km of dirt road to the Windjana Gorge National Park way before sunset.

So I still had enough time to explore the Gorge and see the fresh water crocodiles.

The new day started with the last kilometres of the Gibb River Road and brought me to Derby. Quick look around and I went on to Broome.

The city is very touristy so it isn't cheap. Because of that I decided to camp for free at the beach at Willie Creek.