A Travellerspoint blog

August 2012

Day 93 - Monday 6 August 2012

Lake Argyle

It stayed quite warm overnight and was still 23.9 degrees when we went to bed, with the air conditioner struggling to cool the van. Today it is another clear blue sky with an expected maximum over 30 degrees.

After breakfast we went for a drive around some of the local sights. We backtracked towards the highway looking for the “Great Wall of China” without success. The Great Wall is a fault line that runs all the way from Darwin in the north to Halls Creek in the west and it passes near to the Ord River Dam. The dam was built using a clay core that is designed to be wet, covered with a rock facing on both sides, so that it would withstand earthquakes. It is hard to believe that such a small dam wall, only 300 metres wide, holds back so much water.

We stopped for some photos at the Spillway Bridge over Spillway Creek. A small “plug” was built across Spillway Creek that is designed to spill floodwaters from Lake Argyle long before the water level gets anywhere near the top of the Ord River Dam, as it has no spillway of its own.
On the way back to the caravan park we stopped at Dead Horse Springs for another photo. Back at the park we drove up to the Water Tank Lookout, then across the Dam Wall for more photos.

Di at Spillway Creek

Di at Spillway Creek

Single lane bridge over Spillway Creek

Single lane bridge over Spillway Creek

View looking down stream from the Spillway Creek Bridge

View looking down stream from the Spillway Creek Bridge

A glimpse of Lake Argyle in the distance

A glimpse of Lake Argyle in the distance

Dead Horse Springs

Dead Horse Springs

Ord River Dam from the Lookout

Ord River Dam from the Lookout

Lake Argyle from the Lookout

Lake Argyle from the Lookout

The quarry that provided the rock for the Dam wall

The quarry that provided the rock for the Dam wall

The Power Station from the dam wall

The Power Station from the dam wall

Back at the park the temperature was in the low 30s so it was time for another swim. Back at the van the temperature in the shade is 33.4 degrees, and the air conditioner is struggling to get it down below 30 degrees inside the van.

David and Di in the pool

David and Di in the pool

A pool with a view

A pool with a view

At 4:30 pm we decided that the coolest place in the Park would be the Sundowner’s Bar at the Resort. While we had a couple of drinks and chatted with some West Australians we watched Sally Pearson qualify fastest for the 100 metres hurdles – Go Sally!

Posted by TwoAces 19:22 Comments (0)

Day 92 - Sunday 5 August 2012

Lake Argyle

At 7:00 am the temperature was 21.9 degrees, and expected to get to 30 again. By 10:00am it was 26.4 degrees in the shade with 28% humidity so we decided it was time for a swim in the Infinity Pool.

After lunch we were picked up by the Triple J Cruises bus for the short trip to their jetty to board the Kimberly Durack, our cruise vessel for the afternoon. The Kimberly Durack is a 15 metre catamaran purpose built for Lake Argyle and capable of carrying 50 passengers. The vessel is powered by twin Cummins diesels rated at 250 HP each, and has a top speed of 24 knots. Our cruise started at 2:30 pm and ended at sunset, which was about 5:45 pm.

The cruise took us past the dam wall with the intake structure for the power station, then on to the quarry blast site that provided the rock for the dam wall. Our cruise took us south through “The Heads” and out of the northern part of the Lake and east across the Bay of Islands to take in the vastness of Australia’s largest body of fresh water. We completed our cruise with drinks and nibbles while we watched the sun set over the Carr Boyd Ranges.

Power station water intake

Power station water intake

The Dam Wall

The Dam Wall

View across Lake behind the Dam

View across Lake behind the Dam

Quarry the supplied rock for the Dam wall facing

Quarry the supplied rock for the Dam wall facing

View across Lake

View across Lake

Eagle guarding its nest

Eagle guarding its nest

21.8 Knots

21.8 Knots

Another view across the Lake

Another view across the Lake

View from the back of the boat

View from the back of the boat

A pair of Fresh Water Crocodiles - both about 2 metres long

A pair of Fresh Water Crocodiles - both about 2 metres long

A Wallaroo

A Wallaroo

Folded rock formations

Folded rock formations

Large boulders at the lake edge

Large boulders at the lake edge

Reflections

Reflections

Late afternoon sun on the rocks

Late afternoon sun on the rocks

More reflections

More reflections

Di and David waiting for sunset

Di and David waiting for sunset

Sun going down

Sun going down

Sunset

Sunset

A few swimmers - not empty handed!

A few swimmers - not empty handed!

A later view of the sunset

A later view of the sunset

Back at the caravan park we joined other travellers in a Sunday Roast – Di had Roast Lamb while David had Roast Beef. This was followed by Sticky Date Pudding with ice cream. With hindsight we probably should not have had so much of the drinks and nibbles at sunset – however it was all so nice!

Posted by TwoAces 19:19 Comments (0)

Day 91 - Saturday 4 August 2012

Kununurra to Lake Argyle

We packed up and were on our way by 9:30 am for our very short rip of only 70 kms to the Lake Argyle Caravan Park, where we arrived at about 10:00 am and were allocated a grassy site at the top end of the park. Down near the Infinity Pool we noticed a couple of Boab Trees with leaves – in the wild all the Boab trees are without leaves at this time of year. Boab Trees in leaf indicate nearby water, and in the case of the caravan park they are watered every day.

Camp site

Camp site

View from the camp site

View from the camp site

Another view from the camp site

Another view from the camp site

Boab Tree in leaf

Boab Tree in leaf

The Infinity Pool

The Infinity Pool

View from the Pool

View from the Pool

View across the pool

View across the pool

View from near the pool

View from near the pool

Another view from near the pool

Another view from near the pool

There is no Next G telephone signal at Lake Argyle, so no mobile phone or Internet access, and not much of a TV signal, so it was out with the satellite dish again. As we have moved north the angle of the dish or its Azimuth has increased from about 40 degrees to near 60 degrees. The Optus C1 satellite used for the Vast free to air television system is in stationary orbit over New Guinea.

At 4:30 pm we went to Sundowners’ on the Deck at the Resort Motel. We met some fellow travellers – Andre and Rosita from Queensland who have been travelling for about 12 months with another 12 months to go, and Ian and Kerry from Shepparton in Victoria who are on holiday and are yet to retire. Andre and Kerry were long time sailors who have circumnavigated the globe a couple of times, as well as circumnavigating Australia in a steel Boden 38.

Posted by TwoAces 05:39 Comments (0)

Day 90 - Friday 3 August 2012

Kununurra to Wyndham and return

It was another beautiful day in paradise with a clear blue sky and a forecast maximum of 30 degrees, so we packed up some lunch and headed off to Wyndham for the day – about 100 kms each way.

View from our camp site

View from our camp site

Our site

Our site



First stop was a side trip to the Grotto which was a couple of kms off the main highway with a sealed road. The Grotto is a natural amphitheatre with 140 steps down to the water that is estimated to be 300 metres deep. We did not walk down to the water as it was too hot for the return climb out – 30 degrees.

Di at the Grotto

Di at the Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

We continued on to Wyndham, which is showing the effects of a decline in population to about 800 people, while nearby Kununurra has grown to a city of 15,000 people, and only established 50 years ago for the Ord River scheme. Wyndham Port is still an important sea port for export of live cattle and iron ore. Kimberly Metals Group transports iron ore by road train from the mine near Lake Argyle to a holding stockpile at Wyndham Port prior to being transferred by barge to waiting ships in deeper water.

Public Jetty at Wyndham

Public Jetty at Wyndham

Ship loading iron ore from barges

Ship loading iron ore from barges

The Bastion towers above Wyndham

The Bastion towers above Wyndham

Private yacht in the bay

Private yacht in the bay

Kimberly Metals Group iron ore stockpile

Kimberly Metals Group iron ore stockpile

KMG conveyer belt

KMG conveyer belt

Digger working the stockpile

Digger working the stockpile

After a drive around the historic port we stopped at the Residency, a house built in 1888 for the local Magistrate but never occupied. Wyndham was established in the 1880s and saw about 4,000 people pass through on their way to the Halls Creek gold rush. At the residency we found a Kimberly Rose that allowed us to see the red flower up close. We also got to see a yellow native kapok flower up close. If it wasn’t for the flowers you would think that both these trees were dead.

The Residency - built for the magistrate

The Residency - built for the magistrate

Native Kapok flower

Native Kapok flower

The Kimberly Rose - the dead looking tree, you idiot - not Di!

The Kimberly Rose - the dead looking tree, you idiot - not Di!

Kimberley Rose flower

Kimberley Rose flower

On the way to the lookout we stopped at the Dreamtime Statues that are a group of large bronze statues showing an aboriginal family group with some of the local native animals.

Dreamtime statues

Dreamtime statues

Dreamtime family and animals

Dreamtime family and animals

Dreamtime Lizard

Dreamtime Lizard

Wyndham from the Lookout

Wyndham from the Lookout

We drove up to the Five Rivers Lookout on top of the Bastion, which is about 350 m above sea level and provides a panoramic view of the five rivers that flow into Cambridge Gulf - the Forest River, the Durack River, the Pentecost River, the King River and the Ord River. The lookout also gives a panoramic view of the Wyndham Port facilities.

KMG ore loading facility

KMG ore loading facility

Wyndham Port

Wyndham Port

Barge and tug leaving conveyer belt loader

Barge and tug leaving conveyer belt loader

Bulk ore carrier loading from 2 barges

Bulk ore carrier loading from 2 barges

View from 5 rivers Lookout - looking West

View from 5 rivers Lookout - looking West

View from the 5 rivers Lookout - looking East

View from the 5 rivers Lookout - looking East

Posted by TwoAces 05:25 Comments (0)

Day 89 - Thursday 2 August 2012

Kununurra - Ord River Cruise

It was a 9:00 am start today for our Triple J Cruise on Lake Kununurra and the Ord River. Because of a breakdown the back-up bus had been pressed into service to do the rounds of the caravan parks and hotels and transport us to the boat. Our boat for the cruise was Triple J’s newest boat the “Peregrine” which was about 15 metres long with 3 V8 350 HP outboard motors, capable of speeds of 30 knots (55 kph).

Triple J Bus

Triple J Bus

Triple J Base

Triple J Base

Seaplane

Seaplane

The Perigrine

The Perigrine

3 x 350HP V8 outboards

3 x 350HP V8 outboards

Our skipper for the day explained how Lake Kununurra was formed by the construction of the Diversion Dam in the 60s that held back the waters of the Ord River for diversion into the down river irrigation canals. The Diversion Dam is built in a way that allows the gates to be lifted clear of the flood waters in the wet season.

Lake Kununurra Diversion Dam

Lake Kununurra Diversion Dam

Canal Outlet

Canal Outlet

The Pumphouse - now an upmarket restaurant

The Pumphouse - now an upmarket restaurant

Pump Station

Pump Station

The Ord River Dam completed in 1971 created Lake Argyle, which holds more than 20 Sydney Harbours of water, is used to maintain Lake Kununurra at a steady level for irrigation purposes. Since the completion of the Ord River Dam a small hydro-electric scheme producing 30 MW of power has been added to supply power for Kununurra, Wyndham and the Argyle Diamond Mine.

Our cruise took us the full length of Lake Kununurra before continuing up the Ord River to the base of the Ord River Dam, a total distance of 55 kms. On the way we explored a few side creeks for the opportunity to see the local wildlife, including fresh water crocodiles, birds, wallabies and a wild bull. Just before entering the river we stopped at a landing for an excellent smorgasbord lunch.

View from Lake Kununurra

View from Lake Kununurra

Brolga perched on a rock

Brolga perched on a rock

Lake Kununurra

Lake Kununurra

More Lake Kununurra

More Lake Kununurra

Birdlife on Lake Kununurra

Birdlife on Lake Kununurra

Fresh water crocodile

Fresh water crocodile

Spillway Creek

Spillway Creek

Crocodile

Crocodile

Spillway Creek

Spillway Creek

Further up the creek

Further up the creek

Old wild bull

Old wild bull

Lake-side cliffs

Lake-side cliffs

Sea Eagles nest in a Boab Tree

Sea Eagles nest in a Boab Tree

Lake edge

Lake edge

Pelican

Pelican

Jesus bird

Jesus bird

Ibis on the bank

Ibis on the bank

Crocodile waiting for lunch

Crocodile waiting for lunch

Black Cormorants

Black Cormorants

Head of Lake Kununurra

Head of Lake Kununurra

View at our Lunch Spot

View at our Lunch Spot

Unloading the boat for lunch

Unloading the boat for lunch

Our lunch spot

Our lunch spot

Di on boat

Di on boat

Ord River running into the Lake

Ord River running into the Lake

Canoists on the Ord River

Canoists on the Ord River

Our Skipper

Our Skipper

Ord River bank

Ord River bank

Burnt hills

Burnt hills

30 mph (56 kph)

30 mph (56 kph)

Power Station at base of the dam

Power Station at base of the dam

After arriving at the base of the Dam we were transferred to a coach for the trip across the Dam wall to the Lake Argyle Tourist Village for ice-creams and souvenirs, before a visit to the nearby Durack Homestead Museum. The Argyle Station Homestead was moved to its present location before it was inundated by water as Lake Argyle filled. We continued back to Kununurra on the coach arriving about 3:30 pm, and the passengers who had come by road on the coach took our place on the boat to go back to Kununurra.

View from the top of the Dam

View from the top of the Dam

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Argyle Dam Wall

Argyle Dam Wall

Triple J Tour Bus

Triple J Tour Bus

Di at the Dam Wall

Di at the Dam Wall

Perigrine heading down river

Perigrine heading down river

Durack Homestead

Durack Homestead

Durack Cemetery

Durack Cemetery

Posted by TwoAces 04:47 Comments (0)

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