The turn off for Manning Gorge campground was at the Mount Barnet Roadhouse. I stopped in to see if they had any dust caps, and to ask about the camping.

“$20 per night for the camping, and no dust caps I’m afraid.
Try ‘Over the Range’ about 20k’s down the road. They might be able to help you out.”

OK, cool. But for now, it’s an 8k dirt road down to another dust bowl where we set up, and sat out the remainder of the extremely hot day. Early dinner, kids to bed and we didn’t last much longer ourselves. We were up early the next morning, ready for the walk to Manning Gorge.

The river was about 50 metres wide, and you had to cross it to get started. The kids had been looking forward to a wee boat that you pulled yourself over in, but it was gone. Somebody had pulled it onto the rocks apparently, and put a hole in it.

So you had to wade, walk and swim across, carrying all your gear above your head, or work your way down the river and find an easier spot. We’d been advised to take the second option, but we should have just crossed and gotten wet.

It took about 20 minutes to cross further down, over little streams and rocks, and by the time we reached the other side we were hot, as opposed to refreshed after a nice wee dip. Anyhoo. We’re across, so we begin.

Down by the river side a couple were just setting off, so we followed on. An hour later we were back where we started, having taken the wrong route and come to a virtually impassable cliff at the side of the river. Pft.

Katie had a swim to cool off, and we headed off in the right direction this time. What idiots.

It was a long, and exposed walk along the top of the plain, and by the time we got there we had hardly any water left. What remained was for the kids, who spent a reasonable amount of time on our shoulders.

The waterfall and swimming hole was lovely though. We spent a good few hours just relaxing, and then hiked home. By the time we got back we were all almost hallucinating about water, and between us we split the most delicious apple I’ve ever tasted 😀

Phwoof. Enough. Done, thank goodness. A lovely swim across the river this time, back to the campground, dinner and another early night. Ahhhh…

Over the Range

A tyre at the side of the road said ‘Over the Range’. I slowed down, turned in and pulled over beside what I could only describe as a tyre graveyard.

Across from this was a couple of shipping containers. Some shade cloth stretched between to create a roof. Inside was a fella taking a tyre off a wheel with a pneumatic device that looked freackin’ awesome.

It smelled of grease, and heat. The shelves were heavy with metallic bits and bobs, and adorned with old Castrol GTX posters. Parts of cars were lying around all over the place. Engines were turned into tables.

Johnny Cash was playing in the background.

I fuckin’ LOVED it!

“How you doin’ mate?
What can I help you with?”

“Hi, I’m looking for a dust cap for my trailer wheel.”

“Sure, have a look over there in that box, see if you can find something, I’ll be with you in a minute.” 

“OK, thanks.”

There’s about 15 second hand, or perhaps even third hand, dust caps in the box, with a $30 price scribbled onto them. I have a route around to see if there’s anything that looks about the right size.

He wanders over.

“Let’s have a look at your trailer then…

… Jesus that’s a work of art mate!”

I laughed, although I was, what I think only a Glaswegian could say, chuffed as fuck.

“Ah well it’s doing the job so far.”

“Great, well let’s get the other one off, see if we can find you a match.” 

We found the match, I handed over the cash and shoved it in my tool box. I figured as along as the cup was hanging in there, I would just leave it ‘till we got off the Gibb.

“Thanks mate, see ya.”

And we were off, bouncing down the road until we reached our new cruising speed of about 70kmph. Despite that fact that we’d had a few mishaps, no tyres had exploded, so I felt comfortable speeding it up a wee bit, which made for a smoother ride anyway. Yea hah!

Silent Grove

It wasn’t far to our next stop, Silent Grove campground, located in the King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park. We set up and headed off to the Gorge straight away, so we could pack up and leave first thing.

Thankfully it was only a 500m walk this time, and the watering hole at the end, Bell Gorge, was beautiful!

We were still a bit bloody knackered from the Manning Gorge wrong turn, 7K hike with no water debacle.

And the camping in red dust was wearing a wee bit thin by now too. Only one more stop however, and a pretty cool one too by all accounts. Windjana Gorge here we come…