We left Mt Elizabeth and headed to Mt Hart but we decided to refuel at Barnett Roadhouse. Coffee. So hard to get on the Gibb River Road!
While there we got chatting to some travellers – so easy to do on these travels. It’s like everyone bonds over their shared experiences on this amazing Road running through remote areas.
We decided to follow their advice and buy a $10 permit to visit the Manning River Gorge and swim in the river.
It was only a 10km drive to the river and what a surprise. It was just lovely.
The campground is right at the river and the banks are sandy not all rocky like others. To do the gorge walk to the waterfall you cross the river. It’s quite deep so to help walkers get across dry they provide a boat and a line. You put your gear or yourself in the boat and pull yourself across the river. Simple.
We spend a good hour swimming around this beautiful river, chatting to people crossing it.
We pull ourselves out , change and head back to the roadhouse for lunch.
The turn off to Mt Hart is further down the Gibb River.
We continue on looking forward to a night under canvas.
Sleeping under canvas is a great experience especially when it’s glamping and everything is set up.
Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge is an hour off the GRR. Lots of creeks to cross as we bump along. Chris prefers to drive as it helps his back to be holding onto the string wheel. At least that’s what he tells us!
Steve sits as co driver and sometimes in the afternoon sleeps on the job.
Breakfast was in the screened dinner area. Very rustic. Cereals and toast. No big fry up!
The chef had prepared a picnic lunch for us to take to Bells Gorge.
Back along the bumpy one hour drive turn back toward Mt Leopold Range. Half an hour later we turn left and head towards Bells Gorge. We pass Silent Grove and keep going.
The car park at Bells is full of dusty 4 wheel drives, vans, small tour buses. One caught our attention yesterday Manning River. It’s a big duel cab full of gear, a motorbike , a generator, various bits of equipment & it’s decorated with finger drawings in the dust. Very carefully done. Today the van is missing. Must be in the caravan park.
We start the track and it didn’t take long to get rocky. We’ve talked to other travelers about Bells. It sounds wonderful but it is described as tricky to get into.
We walked for about 2km into the gorge over rocks with about three water crossings. Little stepping stones across small creeks. We arrive at a series of ponds all swirling towards a ledge which becomes the waterfall. Stunning.
We walk across the sloping rock shelf up the side towards the top to look down on the water fall.
Decision time. Continue on over the pond up a steep set of rocks then over the top and down down down to the sloping rocks leading to the water.
I decided I would risk a slip and damage my arm – recovering from a bad break last Dec. I couldn’t go back to an arm in a sling.
So the others pressed on and I got into the pool closest to the edge if the waterfall. Careful not to go over the edge!
They took it slowly and arrived safely and we waved and took photos and I watched as they swam in the big pool of water towards the waterfall.
I know they were having fun. But so was I, pottering in the pools and watching people crossing over, slipping, helping each other and those returning from the bottom of the falls.
A satisfying afternoon. The others arrived back full of smiles and we walked back through the rocks to the top.
We sat under the trees eating our picnic lunch before heading back to the lodge two hours away.
Washing on, showers, bed rest and finally the bar opened. We were very dry and ready for a game of cards before dinner.
The gong called us and tonight the dinner was chicken and sticky date pudding. Beautifully presented and so tasty. We met the chef. He used to cook for miners but has been here at Mt Hart for seven years. It’s a feature for this place. I hope he stays on.
Our canvas tent called and we headed to bed. It’s slightly cooler tonight so sleeping will be easy.
The morning was still and quiet. The horse riders had left for their jog through the countryside as we were having tea and planning our day.
Today we continue along the road everyone talks about. We’ve heard about the corrugations, the dust, the river crossing.
I think the our drivers Leyland Brothers are excited to get going
We leave and immediately get stuck behind a bus. Oh no more dust. But at the end of the 16 km into El Questro he turned right towards Kunanurra and we turned left towards Derby.
Todays drive us about 5 hours. Not that the distance is great. It’s the dusty bumpy road!
We planned a stop at Ellenbrae Station. The people here have cleverly put on a Devonshire Tea. Yes …….scones, jam and cream on the Gibb River Rd.
The turn off to their property is 5km. Yes 5km of anticipation along a very rough rough road. But then. There it is.
A green oasis is surrounded by red dusty grassy scrub.
The sign welcomes us and we make our way to the shed / cafe open to the lush green gardens scattered with tables and chairs under the trees.
There is plenty to look at as we wait for our Devonshire tea.
We’d love our grandsons here with us on this trip. So many things to do. Crocodile huntings, swimming in gorges, fishing, sandpits, rocks, machinery! Boy heaven.
We bumped along the GRR for another hour or two. Dust, mud holes, river crossings.
The Pentecost River was rocky and the tide was down. The Durack River was small and rocky.
The road into our overnight stay at Mt Elizabeth was both surprising and fun.
Our ensuite cabin was actually old miners donga’s now fitted with air con! Small and stuffy when we entered the aircon went in so we headed to the lush garden to enjoy the last of the afternoon We stayed there while drama unfolded. Jill wanted wifi internet. Not possible unless you pay. That still didn’t work so as Jill claimed she had something she needed to do had been so nice to the hostess Chantelle she whispered’ you can use the owner’s internet but don’t tell anyone and only for a few minutes!’
As it turned out it was lucky. We had an urgent email from our travel agent. Our Horizontal Falls trip and overnight stay on the houseboat is cancelled! There was a bad jet boat accident about a week ago. All trips were cancelled until 10. We were to go on the 11th but now it’s been put off until further We have been offered an extra night in Broome and flight up to Cape Leveque with a visit to the Pearl farm for lunch and a flight over the falls. We’ve taken that but we’re sad as we miss the night on the boat. We didn’t really mind missing the jet boat.
With drama over it’s time for a drink. Lucky we brought some as there is no alcohol on sale here. Time for dinner. It’s a shared table which gave us a chance to meet other travellers. Always a good idea as you meet some interesting people and get some great tips.
Next to us were two men marine engineers from Perth. They had worked in many interesting places overseas. They were on a big trip from aperture across the Nullarbor and then straight up the centre of Australia
Dinner was prepared by Patrice. Home style cooking. A big rissole with a green pepper sauce and a bowl of veggies. Delicious. First night I haven’t had fish. Dessert as well. Cream caramel. Needless to say the new managers of Mt Elizabeth Station are former restaurant owners. They are busy preparing the rooms. There are 8 with ensuite and the same with shared bathrooms. The rest is camping.
We went back to our donga to find a frog in the toilet, and the aircon didn’t work. Lucky there was a large window with screens as it would have been too cold with air con on in this small bedroom!
We were initially disappointed but it was clean, friendly with a good meal provided. A fine overnight stay on the Gibb RR. But not a place with waterholes and great walks.