Map of Trip-2006.
Map of Trip-2008.
Map of Trip-2009.
Map of Trip-2010.
Welcome to June. That means we are only 30 days off the half
way point for 2010. That also means that for most of you, the winter
woollies are out of the cupboard and most likely on your backs.
Let me tell you that there is a very good reason for half of the
population of the southern states being up in the Kimberleys this time
of the year. The weather is amazing. Clear blue skies and absolutely no
need for anything but shorts, a tee shirt and thongs. The nights do
cool slightly but still no need for the jumpers, unless you are off the
coast of course.
The increase in the number of tourists on the roads now is hard to
imagine. From the back of our house in Warmun we can see the Great
Northern Highway, the only tar road from the East to the West, other
than the Nullabor. Before June we saw the odd van or camper going by,
but they were very few and far between. Boy, what a difference a month
makes. The road now is a constant procession, the Turkey Creek
Roadhouse campground is full to overflowing, as is the the van storage
area for those wanting to visit the Bungles. Most afternoons I walk to
the roadhouse and walk around, checking out vans and campers and
chatting to the tourists. I do miss the van, miss the convenience but
don't miss the fact they are harder to tow and more restricting as to
you can take them.
The first weekend in June and we were off again to Kununurra for the
'Kimberly Moon' festival, which had John Farnham as the lead act. The
festival actually went for about 2 weeks with all sorts of concerts and
activities, culminating in the big concert on the last weekend. This
festival has now been running for a number of years and is certainly
growing year by year. The final concert was very well attended and
extremely well organised and run. It actually looked to me to be
'professionally' run by a company that does these gigs all the time but
I could stand corrected.
Gates were open at 3-00pm with a constant free shuttle
service to ferry
people to the venue, which was an outside event on the banks of Lake
near the golf course. We stayed in the caravan park almost next door,
the Discovery Holiday Park- Lake Kununurra (The old Kona C/P) so we
were able to just walk the 200 metres there and
back. All your gear was searched and confiscated on entry to the
concert if it did not meet the
entry criteria. By the time we arrived at around 4-00pm it was very
busy but luckily found a small area very near the front to lay our
picnic blanket and all our gear. This year the Kimberleys has had some
very unseasonal weather that has caused all sorts of problems for our
tourist season. Unfortunately the two weeks of the festival had been
dealt some very nasty weather with plenty of rain being delivered and
unfortunately some cancellations of events. As we lay on the blanket
watching the passing parade of people the sky grew darker and darker
with some very threatening storm clouds. In fact at one stage we were
completely surrounded complete with lightning and thunder except for
one clear patch straight overhead. As this venue was completely
a storm now would have been most inconvenient. I imagine there was a
number of very worried organisers, as only the afternoon before,
cancelling the event was very much on the cards.
The entertainment started early with a number of back to back singers
coming to the stage to keep the ever growing numbers amused. We lay
on the blanket, glass of red in hand, watching the sky threaten us
being serenaded by the entertainers. Big John came out at a respectable
8-00pm and gave us a nearly one hour non-stop, energy packed trip down
memory lane, complete with Sadie. He might be getting older, he might
getting fatter, but boy, oh boy, he can still sing and entertain. A
great night was had, without one drop of rain - who would have believed
that, with a sky so menacing. The next hurdle to overcome was to keep
the rain at bay so we could pack the camper up dry the next day. Having
to get home
and set it all up again to dry would be a real pain. Again lady luck
down on us and the night remained dry and the morning sunny. It was
then off to the shops to restock again before heading back to Warmun.
On the way home we visited a few water holes that we had planned to see
in the past but
to date have not seen. On the way we passed the beginning (or end,
depending on which way you are going) of the Gibb River Road. As you
can see from the photo some of the roads were closed which is very
for this time of the year.
We only had 4 weeks left in Warmun before heading off
to One Arm Point
on the peninsular north of Broome. In that time I had to go to Halls
Creek for a 3 day course, which had a ton of prereading and the
boys had to continue to catch up on
school work, doing 9 week's work in 4 weeks. While both the boys (and
the home tutor!) worked hard, in fact 7 days a week hard, Alex in
particular put in an amazing effort and completed all his term's work
the deadline for his mid-year report. It is amazing what they can do
when they really have to. To be so self-directed at his age is a skill
that he will carry for the rest of his life. Then on top of that we had
to pack up (again)
and clean (again) before moving on.
Then, just to make that task even
more difficult we arranged a trip through Argyle Diamond Mine for the
day we were leaving Warmun. Argyle has a health centre that I had a lot
do with, as we share clients. There are two staff in the clinic that do
one week on, one week off, back to back. These guys get a free flight
to Perth and back on a chartered flight each week. Halina (one of the
offered months earlier to show us through the mine if we were
interested. It was certainly something we really wanted to see and
certainly something we should have done earlier than our last day.
While the public are able to do tours (only flying in, then with a very
limited ground tour - cost around $600-00pp), we saw everything. It
Halina a week or so to get our security stuff arranged and to arrange
some people to show us around. Unfortunately the boys could not come as
you had to be over 18 yrs old to visit the places we were going to
visit, so we left them at home. We arranged to meet Halina at the
security gate at 9-30am. She picked us up in the ambulance and our
private tour began. She first took us to the residential camp.
Seriously, this place is like a resort. The accommodation is real brick
buildings (not demountable dongers) with private facilities,
mountain range in the distance. They have a huge restaurant (all meals
provided free) that is as nice as any island resort we have seen, a
a shop, two gyms, tennis courts and a huge pool. The entire area around
is landscaped with a huge pond surrounding most of the communal area
with connecting walkways. This is seriously flash, and nothing like I
Then we went through the security section where we were told the 'do's
and 'dont's', and received our security passes. As you could imagine
security here is very high. Staff are searched, x-rayed and watched
very closely. After security went went to the clinic for a look and a
cuppa. The clinic, while on the smallish size, is extremely well
as you would expect from a mining clinic. We were then met by Steve who
is the safety officer. We jumped in his car and he told us some of the
rules of the area. 1) You must be escorted everywhere. I could not even
walk to the car to get my water bottle to refill without someone with
me. 2) You are not allowed to pick anything up from the ground. (Not
sure what you do if you drop something!!) 3) You must have safety
on at all times when outside. 4) Windows in the car must be up at all
times.(due to the silica in the air) 5) Soles of your boots have to be
checked prior to leaving the secure area in case a diamond is stuck in
the tread. The mine has it's own security staff as well as a Police
station with two WA Police officers.
Our first stop was up to the open cut pit for a look. This is a very
big hole in the ground that is coming close to the end of its life as
they can't go any deeper. The next stage now is to go underground to
the diamonds that they can't get by open cut mining. They
building the tunnels a few years ago and will be in full production by
2012 when they plan to cease open cut mining. I
found it interesting that a lot of the big trucks at the mine are
remotely driven as the area is too unstable to risk a life by having
driver in the truck. This will not mean loss of jobs as each truck
still needs someone to drive it, whether they are in the truck or in an
office. That is one serious computer game.
We then went to have a
look at the processing, washing and separating plant where the rock is
crushed to 12mm size. I asked why they crush the rock so small and what
happens if there is a diamond bigger than 12mm, that will get crushed.
I am sure you are all wondering the same thing!!! The
reason is that they know from this type of volcanic rock that the
diamonds will be no bigger than the 12mm. The area being mined is an
old volcano core. After the crushing process they use a chemical
mixture that separates the rock
and diamonds by making one of them (can't remember what Steve told us
now) heavier, therefore sinking to the bottom. Who ever comes up with
Argyle Diamond Mine
We then went for a walk to the Argyle Showroom and on the way met one
of the Emergency Response guys. We chatted to him for a while and he
very kindly gave me two Argyle Emergency Response caps and
a stubby cooler. This was rather exciting for me as I have for a
few years now been collecting stubby coolers from all over Australia
about 60 or so) and Emergency Services caps, i.e. Police, Fire and
and Ambulance. I am doing pretty well with the cap collection but am in
need of a few more from
the Southern States. If any readers have access to any and are willing
to part with them please drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It would be very much appreciated.
Then it was into the showroom that does not actually sell the diamonds
(that is done from the shop at the residential village) but rather
explains about diamonds and the mine. All very interesting. After the
GFC the diamond industry did suffer a little but the majority (like
95%) of the diamonds from this mine are for industrial use, so things
did keep ticking over. They are slowly getting back to their full
quota of staff.
So that was it for our personal tour, again an opportunity and
experience that money
can't buy. Yes, you can do a fly-in tour, but would not see half of
we were lucky enough to see. Thanks Halina for a great morning and a
great opportunity. I did offer her a tour of the Warmun Clinic, which
she laughed at. Why did she do that?????????
Beautiful Cable Beach - Broome
It was then back to Warmun, hook on the camper, collect the
head off. It was getting on for 2-00pm so we were not going to get far.
First stop, Halls Creek and then Broome the next day for a week's
before heading up to the Peninsular. Back to our favourite Cable Beach
Caravan Park, Palm Grove, where we scored a good site in the overflow
area. We had a great but busy week, being tourists, doing shopping and
catching up with people. We went out for drinks at Matso's with Geoff
Di who were volunteers at the Kalumburu Mission and then Brin and Sarah
who I worked with and who were our neighbours at Wadeye, Port Keats in
2008. We have kept in contact but have not seen them since we left
Wadeye. Regular readers may remember that it was these guys who owned
the boat and motor bikes that we used when we lived up there. We had a
great night out, had a great meal and really hope we get to catch up
with them again, sooner rather than later. (Ed forgot her camera!)
So while we had a great time in Broome, the weather was a bit average,
windy and wet and even a bit vaguely cool. Once again lady luck was on
our side and it cleared up the day before we had to pack up and head
up. So again, by the skin of our teeth our canvas stayed dry at that
crucial pack up time.
So that is pretty much it. Until next Month.
'I would be unstoppable, if
only I could just get started'