Tunnel Creek

Tunnel Creek flows through a natural cave system located in the Tunnel Creek National Park.  This is part of the 350 million year old Devonian Reef system.This was another thing we were really looking forward to doing. Tunnel Creek is off the Gibb River Road between Windjana Gorge and the Fitzroy Crossing turnoff. The walk through the tunnel started with a climb over some rocks. We then waded through water and small pools and along sandbanks until we reached the other side of the Napier Range. In the middle of the cave the roof of the tunnel has collapsed and this allowed in some light to enable us to view the amazing stalactites that drop down from the roof. As the cave is pitch black it was filled with bats. It is also home to freshwater crocodiles! It is a bit strange walking through water in pitch black darkness, with only the light of your torch, knowing that crocodiles could be watching you from the water or sand! We kept shining the torch around to see their beady red eyes, but couldn’t see any on the morning we were there.IMG_6753Tunnel Creek cave is famous as it was used as a hideout for Jandamarra, who was subsuquently killed outside the tunnel in 1897.It was when we arrived at Tunnel Creek that we realised that the Anderson plug had fallen out (this is the plug that runs power from the car to the camper trailer, so we really needed that to keep our freezer in the camper running!).  It was a very corrugated road and at some point between Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek the plug jumped out and dragged along the ground for the rest of the way and we were greeted with two bare wires dangling on the ground!

George did a quick rewiring job to ensure that we had power and we could get a new Anderson plug in Fitzroy Crossing or Derby (as it turned out, George ended up doing this himself anyway). After our walk we also spent a while trying to break into a car after a French tourist had managed to lock their keys in the car!

After an eventful morning we headed off to Fitzroy Crossing.IMG_6791


We spent a night at Fitzroy Crossing before heading to Derby for 2 nights. We stayed in a great park at Fitzroy Crossing, but there really isn’t that much else there!  At dinner we happened to run into some people we knew from back home so spent a bit of time with them catching up!  The one thing we did do in Fitzroy Crossing was to take a drive out to The Crossing Inn. This is the oldest hotel in the Kimberley which is still standing on its original site. This hotel was established in 1897. As always, we had to go in and have a beer! Strange little pub and it’s obviously still very popular with the local aboriginals as it was quite busy when we called in.

After our overnight stay we headed to Derby. Just happened to go past this sign and look what we found again!!Arriving in Derby we went to see the Boab prison tree.  This Boab is huge and has a girth of 14.7 meters and is believed to be about 1500 years old.  It was originally used as a staging point for prisoners being walked in to Derby.  It’s now a registered Aborignal site and has cultural significance to the Aboriginal community.The picture below is of a cattle trough built in 1917, which is 120 meters long and can handle up to 500 bullocks at any time.  This trough also has the claim of being the longest in the Southern Hemisphere.Frosty’s Pool (below) was built in 1944 as a bathing area for the troops stationed in the area during the Second World War.   It was named Frosty’s pool after platoon member, Charles LV Frost.  Surprise, surprise, Shelly wanted to visit the jetty to take more sunset photos …. because we really need more!IMG_6821IMG_6823IMG_6824The Derby jetty experiences some of the highest tides in the world, with tides in excess of 11 meters. It’s amazing to see how quickly these tides turn around and just how much difference there is between the high and low tides. The current is so strong as well, for water that is so flat you can see it moving so quickly.IMG_6836On our second day we went to visit the Old Derby Gaol. Some of the stories of how prisoners, and Aboriginies in particular, were treated is astonishing, it’s hard to believe that we could have treated our fellow men this way.IMG_6851IMG_6853We also went to visit the Derby Pioneer and Aboriginal Cemetery (yes Shelly loves visiting  cemeteries!).Unfortunately this also told of the way Aborigines were treated back in the day, really made you wonder how we could have thought it was ok to treat another human that way.  IMG_6854There were stories of how Aboriginals were never given a coffin to be buried in, only a blanket. How they were never listed on any registers so relatives had, and will never have, any way of finding their loved ones.The Pioneer cemetery contains graves dating from back to the 1890’s including Constable William Richardson who was killed by the aboriginal outlaw, Jandamarra. The story of Jandamarra is one that we knew a little about, but have since found out a lot more and it’s quite interesting, we might write a seperate blog about that at some point.IMG_6855Quite a few people mentioned to us that there wasn’t any reason to visit Derby and that we shouldn’t bother. Well we are both glad we did. It’s not a huge town, but we both enjoyed our two days there. Everyone was friendly and we wouldn’t hesitate visiting again if we were in the area.