Early last week Karen and I called into Tunnel Creek National Park after spending a week driving across the Gibb River Road. This really interesting location is in the southern part of the Napier Range, a line of prominent limestone peaks that create a natural barrier across the otherwise flat plains. A creek has created a fantastic cave which burrows 750m through the range. You are allowed to walk through the cave but you will need a headtorch and do a bit of wading. We spotted loads of bats inside as well as native fish and a two freshwater crocodiles. Definitely a place to put on your must see list. There would be some good short walks in the area but there is nothing official as yet. Tunnel Creek National Park is part of the Devonian Reef Conservation Park on the Leopold Downs Road in the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. No problems accessing the park in a 2WD.
Called into Keep River National Park today. This small park is in the Northern Territory and lies against the Western Australian border. Keep River National Park is geographically the start of the Kimberley which stretches off to the west. The spectacular rock formations in this park are made up of a fairly weird sandstone quartzite pebble-dash mix which means that longer multi-pitch routes are pretty unappealing. There are some good sections of shorter overhanging stuff which provides for a bit of good bouldering if you are in the area. All the problems I did were just a few minutes walk from the scenic Gurrandalng camping area. There are also some short red walls (under 20m-high) that would offer some good climbing if you can be bothered.
Karen and I walked into the Sweetwater Pool at Edith Falls after spending five superb days walking the Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory. This enjoyable walk links Katherine Gorge / Nitmiluk (and the Katherine River) with Leliyn / Edith Falls and is about 58km long. It really does showcase some of the best off-the-beaten track views of the amazing Arnhem escarpment and of the Nitmiluk National Park. Every day the walk ends at an idyllic campsite, usually on the banks of some crystal clear creek plunging over the escarpment. Apparently the walk follows a traditional Aboriginal walking trail and you can easily imagine generations of indigenous peoples walking this way. What really blew us away was just how incredible 17 Mile Falls were. These falls really do give Jim Jim and Twin Falls (in Kakadu) a run for their money.
Still in Kakadu National Park, Karen and I spent yesterday on the 12km-long (actually it is about 10.5km) Barrk Walk which starts at the popular Anbangbang Art Site at Nourlangie. The paintings are pretty amazing and are well worth checking out. What we weren’t prepared for however was all the various paintings that could be found along the walk. Interestingly these art sites are not advertised as part of the walks attraction. The Barrk Walk climbs to the top of the escarpment past a small seasonal waterfall and then traverses across the escarpment tops, weaving among hundreds of weathered rock formations. Its a walk full of surprises and the views of the Kakadu wetlands seemingly stretch forever. About halfway along the walk, at the base of the escarpment, we reached Nanguluwur, another wonderful art site. This one is a little off the beaten path for most tourists and is a tranquil place. All in all an excellent walk.
Download this walk to view on your GPS (.gpx) [dm]1[/dm]
Tracey and I wandered up to South Jawbones the other day to check out some of the routes for the new Rockclimbs Around Melbourne guidebook that we are all working on at Open Spaces at the present. Joining us was Michael Hampton who really knows this crag well. I haven’t climbed on South Jawbone since when I freed Saknussum (17) back in 1975, so it was really interested in seeing the place. Tracey has never visited the crag and as the Victorian Climbing Club (VCC) Access Officer she felt it was her responsibility to check out the access to the base of the routes (and of course do a bit of climbing!). The fires have completely transformed this place. All of the trees have now vanished from around its base to be replaced with lush green grass (and fast growing prickle bushes). The cliff is now very clean with very little moss on the slabs (it was all burned away). It really is a great cliff and easily compares with nearby North Jawbone for long good-quality routes. I checked out the start of the each climb for the new guide and took some photos. We also repeated one of Michael’s old creations, Pulp Friction. We straightened out the first 25m pitch (placing a single bolt) at grade 17 and placed an important bolt anchor on first belay. The second 37m pitch was then also straightened out at grade 17 and a better belay ledge sorted out. The whole three pitch, 107m-long route is now worth two stars and climbs really well. In fact it is easily one of the best long routes in the valley. Anyway, all the details will appear in the guide which is due out this spring