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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Australia: The Kimberley

A boab tree
The wonderful boab tree, pictured here by the remote Gibb River Road

Everything you've heard about the Kimberley area of northern Western Australia is true (unless you're thinking, 'The Kimberley, what the hell's that?', in which case bear with me). It's generally very inaccessible, unless you have a four-wheel-drive, tons of spare fuel, spare tyres coming out of your ears and a lot of balls, and as the only one I have of that lot comes in a pair, I haven't seen the half of it. However, what I have seen of the area has been spectacular; it's another place I'd definitely visit again.

Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge
The huge 'reef' of Windjana Gorge

The drive along the Gibb River Road and down through the gorges is stunning, when the view stops shaking. To add to the surreal flavour of the Kimberley, this is the home of the boab tree (known as the baobab in Africa), and it's a tree like no other. It has a huge, thick trunk, strange tentacle-like branches, and a totally unique aura of science fiction meets mind-bending drug about it. It's a strangely apt inhabitant for this stranger-than-fiction part of the world.

Tunnel Creek

The Lennard River, Windjana Gorge
The Lennard River as it flows peacefully through Windjana Gorge

After a quick lunch and the 8km hike down the gorge and back, I was raring to keep going. Some days it feels like someone's sprinkled speed on my Coco Pops and the energy's boundless – I'd got up at 6.30am, for goodness sake, and was totally hyper until I set up camp for the night – so I hopped back in the car and rattled down to Tunnel Creek National Park. Tunnel Creek used to be a normal creek that ran over the top of the Devonian Reef, but with water seepage and erosion it eventually started flowing into the range, and nowadays it flows through a big tunnel of caves underneath the mountains. In the wet season the creek is huge, but in the dry it effectively stops flowing, just leaving a bunch of permanent rock pools in its wake.

The entrance to Tunnel Creek
The murky entrance to eerie Tunnel Creek

1 I'd always assumed that corrugation on dirt roads was intentional, put there to provide added grip in the wet. However, it turns out it's a totally natural phenomenon that occurs when cars drive along dirt roads, and nobody knows how to prevent it happening. I found myself wishing that they did.

2 'Whizz-bang' was how an old couple I met in Karijini referred to campervans. I'd assumed they called them whizz-bangs because their engines sounded like that, but there's a better reason. Remember those sliding doors that campervans have down the side? And the noise it makes when you slide it shut? That's right: whizz-bang. It's a name that makes sense after you've camped next to a few of them.