Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lake Arglye WA

We left Timber Creek on 24th May (highest price for diesel I have yet paid - $2.05 ltr) and headed for the Western Australia border and Kununarra. We saw literally thousands of bottles trees from the road as we travelled to the border (if the one at Timber Creek Caravan Park is 250 yrs old - questionable) the photo I took of the one beside the road must be almost twice as old, and we saw heaps like this one some had twin and triple trunks and very funny shapes.

Old bottle tree beside the road.
 We arrived at the border where our car and van were searched for contraband by the border police - as are all cars, vans etc that cross the border into W.A. They are very conscious that no plant disease is brought into the state, so all fruit, vegetables, walnuts in shell and honey not heat treated are taken, they check for cane toads that may have hitchhiked with you and if your car is too dusty it has to be washed off. 

We had already been warned by people and signs along the road (and we checked it out on the internet), so we made sure that all of our fruit was eaten, veggies like potatoes and onions were pre-cooked - but we did have a small jar of honey that we weren't sure if it had been heat treated or not, so we had honey on toast for several morning before we crossed the border, but there was still a little bit left in the jar, which we declared and it was confiscated together with half of a coconut shell in which we were keeping our sink plug. 

Then onward to Kununarra. We arrived at Kununarra and found the Visitor's Centre at about 12:30 pm, but when I looked at their wall clock it was only 11:00 - by crossing the border we had gained one and a half hours - however we will have to give it back when we come home via the Nullabour. Kununarra is having its Ord River Muster and annual Rodeo Show and Concerts (tonight Guy Sebastian will be there) at the moment, so the place is quite busy, so we opted out of Kununarra and headed back on the Victoria Hwy 35 Kms to the turn off for another 35 Kms to Lake Argyle Caravan Park where we decided we would have a good break and booked in for three nights. 

The weather here is much better than the top end of N.T. - its gone from Hot and Sticky to Cool and Windy (that's strong air movement, not twisty roads). So last night was the first night in many we slept without the AC going all night. A pleasant weather change and also there don't seem to be any sand flies here - they have been giving us a lot of discomfort, my ankles have swollen up I have so many bites there (and other unmentionable places). The only thing that is now bothering us are the fruit bats, at night, in the trees above and beside our caravan - they were on the roof and were dropping stuff onto the roof as well. When I got up in the middle of the night to take a walk I scared them and as they flew off they must have done what I was going to do, as I felt a little splash on my face and the smell was really musky. 

We were woken up this morning by helicopters buzzing the park at low level (at least that what it sounded like), but actually it was the helicopters coming to take people on flights across Lake Argyle - Ruth says it was the people from the bus that came in last night having sight-seeing flights. Lake Argyle is the largest expanse of fresh water in the Southern Hemisphere. It was formed by the damming up of the Ord River back in the sixty's so as it could be used for irrigating crops and was called, funnily enough, the ORIA (Ord River Irrigation Area). It also provides hydro-electricity for all of the surrounding towns and the Argyle Diamond Mine. 

We went to have a gander at it this morning - and yes it is BIG - as far as the eye can see and further it goes, holding 10.765 Gigalitres of water. We took some photos, but they only really get a small part of the whole area of the lake, but it was still beautiful to see. One of the photos shows where they got the rock for the dam - you can see the scar of the quarry just to the right of the dam.

Windswept Ruth and Lake Argyle
Part of Lake Argyle
The dame wall at Lake Argyle, quarry on the right.
Ord River Outlet from the dam.
 There is a really nice swimming pool here looking over the lake, called the Infinity Pool and should be really pleasant swimming, except the water is so cold - a complete reversal to what we have experienced over the past couple of weeks in Caravan Pools as well as Plunge Pools at the base of waterfalls. But, we did take the plunge and got some good photos and a lady there was kind enough to take a couple of us together.

The Infinity Pool at Lake Argyle
On our last day at Lake Argyle we were being lazy. It was a Sunday, and after lunch we decided we should do something. There was a 5 Km walk from the caravan park to the next bluff, across the inlet, from the park that looked doable. So we took off with a water bottle down the edge of the caravan park bluff and headed inland so as we could go to the end of the inlet and around it to the bluff where we could get another view of the dam. It quickly became a bit of an ordeal, as the heat of the day and the difficult track (at times we lost it until we saw further on a painted arrow on the bare rock). 

We made it to the end, where there was a stone cairn - the view was quite spectacular. To get an idea of where we were, if you go back and look at the photo of Ruth and I in the Infinity Pool, you'll see the bluff behind us to your left. What we didn't bank on was that the walk was 5 Km one way, so that meant, yes you guessed, it was another 5 Km back and by this time we had used up all of our water, so it was a hard slog back, however we did get water half way back from a water pipe that went to the Homestead Museum, that had a tap attached to it on top of a hill - except water was quite warm and not very refreshing because the pipe ran on top of the ground and was being heated by the solar power.

Dam wall from the bluff
Cairn at the end of the Bluff Walk
Scenic Rest Stop on the Bluff Walk
Looking back at the Caravan Park from the Bluff

We both slept well that night, although the pesky bats (flying foxes, I think) came back and did their business everywhere. The next morning before we left we gave the car, caravan and awning a good wash down and got rid of most of the muck. The lady in the next caravan said she would sue the park if she got one of those bat diseases!