We received advice that, when we crossed into Western Australia from the Northern Territory, we should visit Lake Argyle and do the boat cruise. As every other piece of advice from Wendy and Tony had proved worthwhile, we turned off the Victoria Highway and onto the Lake Argyle Road.
After so many thousands of kilometers of desert and red dirt, the sight that met us is unforgettable. At first, little glimpses of blue through a gap or around a bend, and then the massive oasis of the village.
It is the second largest human-made reservoir of fresh water in Australia and was first realised as a solution to the problem of finding fresh water on cattle droves from the east. As time went on, the potential of providing water to vast areas of WA during summer droughts made it a reality and the Ord River was dammed.
The area is the beginning of the Kimberley region, thought to be settled 40 – 60 000 years ago. You can see signs of the ocean that once was, in ripples deeply ingrained in rock surfaces and the layers of sediment.
The river cruise is a must, so that you can view wildlife (cormorant, pelican and dingo below), the vast success of this reservoir and go for a swim when the crocs aren’t around. Noodles are provided, as fresh water doesn’t allow us to be as bouyant and the crew will hand you a glass of refreshment as you bob in the water and then set afloat a table with cheese, dip and biscuits. It is one of the most extraordinary things I have experienced.
But all was not smooth sailing…
If you are old enough to remember the tv series Gilligan’s Island, the opening song came to mind, as the dark clouds blew in and the still waters turned choppy (see pictures below). The crew stayed calm but you could see tension in their glances as the waves rocked the boat and sent sprays through the open sides. We were steered to calm waters within half an hour, but I had my eyes on the life jackets and mentally prepared myself for a long swim, hopefully well-ahead of any crocodiles. I have to add that I usually get sea sick, but didn’t on this occasion, so you shouldn’t be deterred from going out. I would do it again.
It IS a long way between water in central Australia and the ambience of the village was very calming. It was our first stop over the border and we hadn’t intended to stay long, but another time I would. There is a restaurant, visitor centre and an excellent campground with modern facilities. The Infinity pool is a must.
Of course, the time zones in Australia are a bit weird in Summer and we had put our clocks back two and a half hours to account for the difference. That doesn’t mean your body knows what time it is, so we breakfasted at 5.30 in the morning and then took off for Kununurra. Luckily WA is such a large state, so that after a week our bodies were in the right time zone.
A beautiful place to visit. Safe travels. Take water and a hat and don’t forget your bathers/togs/swimmers.