We decided that we should give the car a good run to try to test it before we left Kununurra and as we wanted to see Wyndham this seemed to be the perfect “test run” as Wyndham is about 110 kilometres from Kununurra. We also decided that we would have the air conditioning on in the car. This was to load the engine to help with the test or so we told ourselves, absolutely nothing to do with the 40C+ heat!
Good sealed road all the way as Wyndham has a busy port with four trailer iron ore roadtrains constantly on the road. You first reach New Wyndham or 3 mile Wyndham which is where almost all residents now live, around 800 people. A couple of kilometres further on is Old Wyndham, this is now almost derelict. Past this is the wharf and wharf precincts which seem to be undergoing rejuvenation. Unfortunately the whole wharf precinct is closed to the public so even the crocodile viewing area where crocodiles congregate where the old meat works used to discharge into the river is no longer accessible. There is a sizeable fuel storage area as a lot of the fuel for the Kimberleys comes ashore here. Cattle and some minerals are the main exports from the wharf. Iron Ore is loaded into barges and taken out to ships anchored in the river as the iron oar carriers have too much draft to berth at the wharf. There is a museum in the old town run by volunteers but it shut last month and won’t open until after the wet season finishes.
Wyndham seems to have been involved with both World Wars. In WW1 the Wyndham Coast Radio Station, which is now only ruins, played a key role in plotting the position of the German Raider Emdem which lead to its sinking near Cocos Kealing Island. In WW2 a cargo ship was bombed by the Japanese in Cambridge Gulf and just made it to the Wyndham Wharf before sinking. The town was subsequently bombed several times.
Back into town we saw a sign for local fish. Talking to the guy who sold us some barra, threadfine salmon and green prawns he told us they net in the gulf during the dry season and sell almost all the catch locally. He answered a lot of queries I had about the town and said that there were not many people around. Because of the heat and the approaching wet they had either left or taken to staying indoors with the air conditioning on full. We then went up to what is called the Five Rivers Lookout. Unfortunately the heat haze was bad but there was a terrific view of the port area and the southern tidal waters of the Cambridge Gulf where the King, Pentecost, Durack, Forrest and Ord Rivers meet. The car took the 2 klm climb to this lookout without overheating so I think the problem may be resolved.
On the way back to Kununurra we called into Parrys Lagoon a large wetland that is home to a huge number of birds, which we saw, and some saltwater crocodiles, which we didn’t see.
Back at Kununurra we went to swim beach. A few locals were in the water but staying close to shore in shallow water. The Ord River has plenty of freshwater crocodiles but no resident saltwater crocodiles, however the odd saltie has made its way into the river so caution is advised. We decided there were definitely no salties in the caravan park swimming pool so went back there to cool off!
What with driving all day with the air conditioner on and then turning the air conditioner on in the van I think it’s time we moved on. We are in danger of getting soft.
Kununurra – Thursday 13 October 2011