The river is wide, the barge is slow, plus one must land at a place where it is possible to easily disembark the barge and find the road. However, the crossing was wonderful, so we didn’t mind that it took a while.
On the far side of the river, we continued on, rocking and pounding down the track. After a nasty jouncing, we left station property and joined the Victoria Highway not far west of Timber Creek. The highway is sealed, which is not as romantic as crashing through the wilderness, but it is more relaxing.
We were heading now for Keep River National Park, which is about 40 kilometers east of the Western Australia border. The pleasure of driving on a sealed road was short lived, but this time, it was because of construction, rather than wilderness.
Phenomenal beauty continued to surround us: massive formations of weirdly broken red rock covered with kapok flowers and boabs; huge stretches of shattered, red-rock walls that look like the ruined fortifications of some ancient civilization; tumbles of boulders; golden grass and even more, larger boabs. It is absolutely wonderful.
Suddenly, the terrain was again flat, gum tree-dotted savannah. Then hills again, but this time low and rolling, worn rather than shattered. And then flat again, an endless sea of brown and golden grass and eucalypts, with only occasional scatterings of kapok, boab, and melaleuka. Then, in the distance, mountains.
Among the trees, red-tailed black cockatoos were conspicuous both because of their large size and their noisy calls. It was late enough in the day that they were returning to their roosts from feeding, so we saw a fair number. Wonderfully impressive birds.
Finally, we pulled into camp at Keep River National Park. I set up my tent and then dashed off to take photos before the light was gone. I’m happy to report that the flies are not nearly as bad here. It is, in fact, a really lovely location, surrounded by screw palms, gum trees, and high, red cliffs.
Excellent evening again with my charming traveling companions. Another great meal (thanks, Kate). John came around to sign us up for helicopter rides at two sites still ahead of us (areas remote enough that helicopters wouldn’t just be there without someone ordering them). The rides are a bit pricy, but I’ve spent enough money just getting here, it seemed a bit foolish to miss this opportunity in the name of frugality. These two flights are, after all, considered to be among the highlights of the trip.
Conversation, star gazing, and listening to bird calls, and then off to our tents by 10pm. (I should probably have tried for an earlier hour. I’m still fairly shattered from the trip over—plus I’ve read that it takes about one day per time zone crossed to completely recover from a really long flight, even without the added problems. However, it is sometimes hard to end so pleasant an evening.)