Kununurra is the gateway to the eastern end of the Kimberley’s and a host of national parks, rivers and dams. We camp beside the Kununurra lake, which is part of the Ord river system. The land is lush and fertile. Many farms grow paw paws, bananas, sandalwood and loads of other fruit and veg. The town only became Kununurra in around 1960, before they had a vision for creating a huge hydro dam and flooding the area and giving life to Lake Argyle. It is an amazing place that we visited and we’re all impressed with the lake and the rivers that run into it.
The assortment of termite mounds continue to entertain us along the roads, some short and stumpy and new varieties that are slim, not unlike obelisks, or cathedrals.
The next day we leave to drive 509kms to Katherine in the Northern Territory and say our goodbyes to Western Australia. We all take turns in driving, except Bet, who is quite happy reading books on her iPad or doing her crosswords. From time to time we listen to audio books which provides us all with some entertainment. We have enjoyed “Danny Dunn” by Bryce Courtney, another about a Jillaroo, and from time to time Elton or the Bee Gees have kept us company – with Bet screaming out, “turn it down”. 😜
The mountains and landscape heading towards Katherine is breath taking and beautiful. The scenery continues to change dramatically and the red and orange cliffs start to appear on both sides. Katherine is a city of 11,000 and many indigenous people (First Nation) are living within the city confines. The caravan park sits five minutes from a natural hot spring, so we explore the crystal clear waters after setting up camp. We realise that to see Kakadu National Park, which is 300 kms further up near Darwin, it may have to be on our next road trip in 2017! Having Gypsy, the dog, travelling with us has limited our ability to visit many National parks. We have not minded, as Julz and I have decided to come back to the Kimberley’s, Kakadu and Arnhem Land next year for a month or two.
We book in to do a visit and boat cruise around the Nitmiluk National Park, or Katherine Gorge, as it use to be named. We board a small flat bottomed boat with about 30 others and get a guided tour deep into the gorges of the Nitmiluk river. Our guide is a local indigenous man from the local Jawoyn mob. He gives us an extensive history into the land rights struggles, and successes, for the tribes around the Northern Territory and beyond. The history, stories and botanical knowledge he shares is inspiring and enlightening, for many, the truth about the colonialists and pastoral past, which is a constant reminder about our future role as Australians for ongoing reconciliation with our First Nation people’s, who have lived here for over 60,00 years, maintaining this beautiful country.
There is a great spirit felt in this part of the land. We have so much respect for the traditional owners and custodians of the land. We have learnt so much about the horrific way they have been treated by the explorers, pastoralists and colonialists. This history is being shared openly now, as part of the reconciliation process, and in our limited experience we see a healing taking place, slowly, with our First Nation indigenous people of Australia.