Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 151. Derby to Ellendale Rest Area (150km west of F.C)

In the footsteps of a Malcolm Douglas Documentary…

This morning we were up by 6am; as we had to have the van packed up and left ready to go by 8am. Today we were off to see the Horizontal Waterfalls, located north of Derby in the Buccaneer Archipelago – deep in the Kimberley.

Yesterday, I approached the caravan park reception about getting a late check-out; as we wouldn’t get back from today’s tour until around 3pm. It turned out that they were very accommodating, and as long as the Pajero was hooked up to the van and ready to roll out, we could keep our van on site. Best part of the deal was that I could stay connected to power all day long…

It turned out that there were 10 people booked in on today’s tour; and they were all from the same caravan park that we are staying at. We all met at the front gate; and were picked up by a maxi-taxi and taken to Derby airport. Here is where we met our sea plane, that would take us on our adventure into the Kimberley.

Boarding our sea plane

30 minutes flying time later, and we were circling the spectacular horizontal water falls. From the air we could see that the falls were in full flow, the tide was on its way in. It looked like it was going to be a great day full of adventure.
Circling the Horizontal Waterfalls

After our safety briefing; followed by a bit of morning tea, we boarded the twin 300hp boat that would be taking us through the narrow gap known as the Horizontal Waterfalls. It was flowing at greater than 30 knots, and I couldn’t wait to give it a go! Scarlett and I sat up front to start off with, but after some high speed turns and tackling the less dangerous first falls; it was decided that Scarlett and I should move to the back of the boat, as for one she couldn’t touch the floor of the boat for stability, and two she wasn’t very impressed, with the QUOTE: ‘the dangerous mans driving – it scared me!” UNQUOTE.

Ready to hit the water!
As it turned out, I’m glad we were moved to the back as it got a lot more dangerous, and it really did frighten Scarlett. She hung on like her life depended on it (and I guess in a way it did), but the thrill of ‘gunning’ the boat through that narrow passageway and doing about 45knots at the same time was purely exhilarating. It was a real rush that had everyone buzzing; but Scarlett wasn’t the least impressed! After a little coaxing, she settled down and started to enjoy the experience, but still she hung on. We were through the second set of falls and ‘playing’ in the whirlpools and eddies. It certainly was a ‘by the seat of your pants’ experience; and I’m so glad we had it on our ‘to do’ list. It was expensive; but I would highly recommend it to anyone who was thinking of travelling in this part of Australia. It’s a must!

Hang on for the ride of your life!
We returned to the houseboat where we then had the chance to ‘swim with the sharks’. It turned out that the sharks were Lemon Sharks; or as they are known up here; Tawny Nurse Sharks or Sleepy Sharks. They ranged up to about 3.5 metres in length, and the swim was actually quite safe. We swam in an enclosed cage, while the sharks were fed outside the cage. It really was a very cool experience that Scarlett really enjoyed. No need to say that Bec was in her element, and even more so when a 4 metre Bull Shark turned up.

The first of two horizontal waterfalls! (the easy one)

How good is this?
The lunch that was put on for us was fantastic! Freshly caught Barramundi on the BBQ, served with a crisp salad and fresh bread rolls. I must admit that it was the yummiest fish I have eaten in ages; so much so that I went back for seconds and had a 2nd Barramundi Burger. Mmmm. Unfortunately, Scarlett wasn’t feeling so adventurous, so the staff made her up a bowl of 2 minute noodles and a peanut butter roll. Oh well, you can’t please everyone all the time, but at least she ate it. Bec also loved the Barramundi, and now can’t wait to catch our very own! (groan..)

During lunch we also spied a Giant QLD Groper, some huge Batfish, Trevally, Dart and Suckerfish – not to mention the Bull Shark that lurked deeper down and under the Lemon Sharks. We also saw flying fish and huge Tuna in the distance jumping erratically out of the water. It was certainly a sight to see.

Swimming with the sharks!
No sooner had we finished lunch and we were back on the high speed boat to do a tour up “Cyclone Creek”. Here we were shown the living quarters of our boat driver; and his pet Batfish that he has trained to be lifted out of the water. It was an amazing sight that everyone enjoyed. We then went deeper up the creek (without a paddle) to do a little sightseeing and we noticed that the tide had changed and was now running out.

Saying G'day to some Tawny Nurse Sharks
We decided to have another look at the falls, as they have now started to flow in the opposite direction to what we saw this morning. As the tide had only just turned, they weren’t in full flow yet so the experience was much more sedate than this morning’s jaw dropping encounter. Scarlett certainly felt much more relaxed this time.

We throw back the small ones up here!

Unfortunately it was then back to Derby on our sea plane via a slight sightseeing detour over the Buccaneer Archipelago. The weather was brilliant, and the view breathtaking. It was a great way to finish off our day!

Catching fish 'by hand'

On returning to Derby, we climbed into the Pajero and by 3:30pm we were hitting the road again – this time heading towards Fitzroy Crossing.

On the way out of Derby we stopped at Woolworths to stock up on water, and during our stopover I was approached by a couple of aboriginal men who asked if I was interested in buying a huge Boab nut that one of them had carved. It had beautiful images of emu’s and the outback on it, it really was a work of art. One of the boys said to me; “I feel it in my bones that you are my brother and have aborigine in you”. Well I was very astonished to hear this, as yes I do have aboriginal blood in me – on my father’s, mother’s side. I responded that yes I do, and we then got on like a house on fire. Unfortunately they asked me what tribe I was from; and although I gave them the location (being Moree, NSW) I embarrassingly couldn’t name the tribe, as this part of my heritage has never been explained to me. Well the boys were ‘most sad’ that I knew nothing about my aboriginal ancestry, and they expressed very sincere feelings on how it saddened their hearts. Well I promised to track down this part of my past family and find out more about the tribe that I belong to.
Contemplating the trip back through the Horizontal Waterfalls

I must admit that our travelling around Australia has made me think more about my aboriginal background. Although I have had little to do with this in the past, I think it’s time I discovered this forgotten part of my lineage.

Leaving the Horizontal Waterfalls for the last time...

What an amazing experience!
We ended up driving for just over two hours and stopped at Ellendale Rest Area, which is about 150km from Fitzroy Crossing. We arrived just after the sun had set, and were amazed at seeing over 60 vans and motor homes already camped in this roadside rest area.

Anyways, we squeezed into what was probably the last spot and set up camp. It was then time for dinner and a movie, before hitting the pillow.

What a day! It was a long one, but it has been one of the best experiences of our trip!
Looking back through the mountain ranges surroundingg the falls....

Tomorrow we want to tackle the Gieke Gorge, before continuing our journey closer towards the Bungle Bungles.

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