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29/07/2013 Home Valley Station (Gibb River Road)

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 29 July 2013 | Views [445]

Yvonne woke us up at 5am in time for the scenic flight. Freda's car had a flat battery so we all piled into the front of mine to go to the station airstrip (all the stations have their own air strip). The plane was an 8 seater single engine built in Gippsland Victoria (where I grew up) and the pilot was a quiet confident young man called Tom. After a quick run through the safety procedure we climbed aboard, each passenger with their own window seat and headset, and we headed out along the dirt runway for a very gentle take off.  Soon we were flying over the 1million acre station, passing over the Drysdale River, Mount Hann and Deep Gorge. The flight was smooth at about 1500 feet as we followed the Regent River, King Cascades, St George Basin, mounts Waterloo and Trafalgar, Prince Frederick Harbour, the Hunter River, Donkins Hill Falls and the spectacular Mitchell Falls. The scenery was breathtaking and Tom gave a running commentary along the way and ensured that both sides of the plane got good views and photos opportunities. Sometimes we were as low as 500 feet which meant we could see crocodiles in the water below.

It was great to see the land from a different perspective and some of the areas were only accessible by air. It was back to camp for breakfast where we discovered that the crows had been through the rubbish and also eaten the remaining Scotch Finger biscuits we'd left on the table. We jump started Freda's car, topped up on fuel at $2.40 litre, ran through the sprinklers to cool off then headed off on the dirt and corrugations once again, heading for Ellenbrae Station.  At the Kalumburu Rest area we saw 2 bicycle tourers riding the GRR!  Apparently they had just started and the guy had told his girlfriend that the road condition was good! 
Ellenbrae Station had a lovely shady and rustic homestead with tropical plants, birds and Devonshire tea, just the thing to break the journey. The larger stations supplement their income with tourism activities as the meat export price is not good. 
We'd made good time to Ellenbrae Station as there was a good section of road so decided to drive the 100km to stay at Home Valley Station (HV8) and stop for a few days. We were relying on the road being just as good which was the case as the grader had been working on it, and it allowed us to travel the maximum recommended speed of 80kph. It was still very dusty with every oncoming and vehicles passing from  behind and we had to slow down to let the dust settle and leave a wide gap between vehicles, travelling with lights on, something we'd done all the way. 
We hit a very rough patch about 10km before Home Valley Station and by the time we  stopped at the stunning Cockburn Range Lookout at 5.15pm the light was fading and we could see smoke from a nearby bushfire. My trip meter ticked over the 1,000 km on dirt roads since leaving Derby. 
We hurried on, reaching Home Valley Station just before dark and quickly set up camp near the homestead, exhausted. 250 odd kms today, our biggest driving day so far! Home Valley Station is quite resort like with a pool and live music every night in Dusty's Bar. Met Lindsay from the Mornington Peninsula (Victoria) who had just finished 2000 kms on dirt roads and corrugations. I loaned Yvonne my tent as hers needed repairing and I set up my car bed, then we went to listen to the guitarist and have a nice cold glass of wine.

Tags: gibb river road, kimberley, western australia

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