Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Charnley River Station

I chanced upon a brochure in the Barnett River Roadhouse which espoused the wonders of Charnley River Station, a place of hot showers, home cooked meals and secret gorges off the main tourist route. Once I'd cross referenced  a few different maps, (Lonely Planet and Camps7), we realised it was the sister site to Mornington, a conservation park off the Gibb River Road which was a bit of a mission to get to, but apparently amazing. Fiela and I had discussed taking the 2+ hours to drive the 100kms down to the ritzy campgound, even thought about getting up at crackers to see whether we could get a spot (you have to radio down to Mornington Wilderness Camp and see whether they have any availability from 7.30am. Some people we know got there at 8.30am, and nothing, others sauntered up hours later and got a spot), but that lasted a few seconds and we both put it in the too hard basket. Going up to Charnley, also a conservation area, would be the next best option.

Lillie Pool, one of the lovely spots at Charnley.
Westward bound, we turned off the Gibb and up the private road to Charnley River Station, about 50kms. The road was OK, just more dust and corrugations and suddenly I had a bit of a moment. What if  this was just another dust bowl with limited facilities, packed to the brim with fellow campers like a few of our previous GRR forays. Fiela echoed my thoughts seconds later- we really needed this to be lovely and peaceful.

And there out of our gloom shone Lorrie and Chicko, caretakers of Charnley and the most hospitable people I think I've ever met. Lorrie gave us an informative talk on the facilities,  the nearby gorges and the role of the conservation park. The sites were grassy, the hot water powered by gas (heavenly!) and the water lovely. I had washing? Sure bring it up, you can do it in my washing machine. Need some milk? I've got a bit I can lend you. Electrical problems with your fridge? We can have a look for you. No time to hang out that washing? No probs, I'll hang it out  on my line if you want.

The amazing Lorrie and Marguerite.

I actually feared for these people, and mentioned to Lorrie she'd burn herself out with these 15 minute info sessions for every incoming camper and the rest. But she assured me that she'd only be talking nonstop for the next 9 weeks or so, and then she'd only have Chicko to talk to for a few months while they were stranded in the Wet Season! And of course, I hung out my own washing.

So we found a spot amongst the trees, set up and for the first time in ages had a beer with our sandwiches over lunch. There is a peacefulness here that we hadn't had since the Mango Farm, and it was like a salve on our weary and dusty traveller bones.

More Lillie Pool.

We spent one day looking at the nearby gorges and another full day of doing nothing but haircuts and a few repairs, surrounded by corellas, goannas and little else. I came to the conclusion that I was indeed gorge-fatigued. We only had three gorge walks to go before we exited the Gibb and headed on bitumen (biggest sigh ever) to Derby and then Broome. I suggested to my driver that we just give the rest of the GRR a miss and head for the cafes and electricity of Broome, but he said no. The next three were supposedly the most spectacular and we would not just be "giving it a miss" because the lady of the camper was tired of the dust and things continuously falling apart or off. Thus I enjoyed our last day at Charnley completely uninterested in our next leg of the Gibb (Schmibb), but with less hair to wash. There's always a silver lining isn't there?

Grevillea Gorge.

At the bottom of Grevillea.

About to have a swim, followed very quickly by an intense icecream headache.

Looking down into Grevillea.

Kimberley sunsets, a great place for a poo according to our children. Worst. Timing. Ever.

Home Haircuts.

That's not a grimace, turns out Marguerite LOVES getting her hair cut.

Stoked with her haircut (which also means all the dreadlocks are gone).

Can you believe people trust this man with a surgical knife?

The mop.

Looking attractive. Oh yes, the Gibb has been working its charms on me in spade fulls.

Movie, icecream, toys... 

And Caesar still cracked it- not a fan of haircuts. Take note of the end result on Fiela's Home Haircut Head.

A typical travel scene- red open roads.

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