Tunnel Creek National Park, Derby and Broome
It was our last day to be all together as we finished adventuring both Northern Territory and Kimberley in Western Australia. I can’t believed that we were already in our Day 9, the last day for the people who only booked 9 Days Overland Adventure Tour from Darwin to Broome. Before we reached the last destination which was Broome, we had few stops along the way, Tunnel Creek National Park and Derby.
Tunnel Creek National Park
We had a beautiful morning in Windjana Gorge National Park camping ground as I woke up around 6:00 AM in the morning. My actions seemed automatic. Some woke-up earlier than me. After washing my face, I prepare all my stuff back to my luggage. And we had breakfast as we used to do every morning. As I observed everyone, we were more relaxed. Everyone took our time to eat our brekkie (breakfast in Australian Slang) and we did it quietly. There was a different feeling that I had that day which a bit of blankness. Yes, it was our last day to be all together but it did not feel very sad like I felt when I joined 3 days adventure tour in Red Centre in Northern Territory. Maybe because it was a different situation. I still have next adventures in Broome, Perth and Southern part of Western Australia after the 9 days adventure, which excites me. And some from the group will move forward and continue the adventure in other parts of Western Australia as they took 21 Days Overland Adventure from Darwin to Perth.
Entrance of the cave which capture during the end of the cave adventure
Before 8:00 AM in the morning, we were already at the park entrance of Tunnel Creek National Park. The main attractions of the park is the ancient cave where Tunnel Creek flows itself and cuts through it. We prepared our head lamp and just brought a bottled water. Then, from the parking we walked straight towards the cave. We saw information board, then, there were boulders in the ground where it formed like an arch which we passed through. Then we reached the entrance of the cave.
Inside the Tunnel Creek Cave
Like other caves that I had been through, the cave’s entrance are almost covered with huge boulders that we had to climb a bit to follow the trail. One by one we tried to steps on huge rocks to be able to walked inside the cave. When we were inside the cave, a shallow pool greeted us immediately. We waited for everyone in the group until we were completely assembled again. Our guide started to show us something in different parts of the cave, where I was able to capture some of the Aboriginal arts. Next, we saw mostly of stalactites on the roof. Then, we walked again and stopped a bit as our guide showed us one of the important aboriginal remnants by flashing his torch towards the roofs of the cave, but unfortunately he strictly told the group that it is not allowed to take photos of it, as a respect, we never took one.
We continued our exploration inside the cave. As we were following the walking trail, we saw a freshwater crocodile where half of its body lying in the dry sand while the half still submerged in the water. Therefore, our guide calmly instructed us to silently walk farther from it, to avoid unnecessary encounter with the crocodile. That was the closest natural encounter that I had experienced with crocodile which outside the zoo. The freshwater crocodiles was just around 1-2 meters distance, so wrong move we made may result to a dangerous defense attack from it.
When we reached the huge open space of the cave, we rested and then some of us climbed another part of the cave to see the crystals. Our guide told us, that the area of the cave are narrow and only few people can accommodate to be inside of it. That’s why few from the group went to see the crystals. I climbed and tried to see the crystals and I was amazed to see it, but because it’s too dark in that area of the cave, I was not able to capture photos of it with my DSLR. I had a challenge at first, when I go through myself in the narrow and small space of the cave, but, with the help from the group, I was able to avoid to bump my head to some of the stalactites and I was able to pull off myself from it.
We reached the first large openings of the cave where we had a chance to see the bats in broad daylight hanging in the branches of trees and some in the walls of the cave. Some were flying just around the area of the cave. Then, we looked into a portion of the cave’s roof and we found bats comfortably hanging in their hide-outs.
Bats we found while exploring Tunnel Creek
After watching the bats, we walked again towards the end of the cave. At the end of the cave, we rested and our tour guide started to tell the story of the Aboriginal hero named Jandamarra from Bunuba Tribe. He was banished from his tribe for some reason and he got a chance to worked with the white when he met and be friended with Bill Richardson where his works were mostly tracking aboriginal people and hold them in police outpost. Because of what he did, Bunuba tribe pressured Jandamarra to honor his tribe cultural responsibilities and caught in between. Then, he decided to favor his tribe and killed Richardson, released prisoners and distributed weapons. That’s how the story started and made him led the tribe’s resistance from the white colonization. The Tunnel Creek’s cave was his last stand. After listening to the story, we took time to appreciate the end of the cave and took some photos of it, the group decided to return and we took the same trail to go back.
The end of the cave
When we walked back to the parking, I saw again the information board. Since we were waiting to complete our group, I grabbed my chance read some information and able to capture it. The details about the living things that hides in the cave and the historical information of Jandamarra and Bunuba Tribe Resistance towards the white colonization were described in the information board.
We left Tunnel Creek National Park and we returned to Gibb River Road towards the next destination of the group which was Derby, a small town within Kimberley Region with over 2000 people live. We spent few hours taking the famous dirt, unsealed and rough road Gibb River Road. But, when we reached the sealed road, I missed the feeling of taking a smooth road, honestly I almost forgot that feeling temporarily as I got used to Gibb River Road for almost a week. I missed the feeling of no bumping or no swinging like we were dancing while on the road.
We passed the town before we reached Derby Wharf where the group had last lunch all together. We stayed in Centenary Pavilion located at the park where we cooked and prepared our food. The pavilion that we stayed used to commemorate the Centennial Celebrations where we witnessed the Community Mosaic Tile Floor which symbolizes the town’s celebration of its achievements both the state and nation in 100 years since its Federation.
Before we started the lunch time, I did a bit of walk near the wharf where it is said that its port receives the highest tides in any port of Australia, that’s explains why the jetty of Derby Wharf stands so high. But the port is not the usual ports that we see aside from having high jetty as its shores and its surrounding mangroves covered with mud came from water flow that flows in Fitzroy River that starts from King Leopold and Mueller Ranges towards King Sound, the large gulf where Derby Wharf can be found.
We enjoyed our lunch and when we got full, we were back in cleaning our mess before leaving the pavilion we used. Few minutes after we left Derby Wharf, we stopped again to see and witness a unique and historical prison. It is called as Prison Boab Tree. It is a unique tree because it is only the type of tree found in Western Australia where the rest of its different types of tree can only be found in Africa. This type of tree is said to be washed away towards Australia from Africa. The said Prison Boab Tree had been used by white people to hold the Aboriginals that were captives while waiting for their boat to arrive in Derby. These captives were forced to work in pearling industry. And one thing to note, this contradicting acts from white people is totally different from religious significance of the Aboriginals towards Boab Tree.
Information of Boab Prison Tree in Derby
Prison Boab Tree
The last two stops we did before we continued driving to Broome were Willare Bridge Roadhouse to refill our tanks and to have immediate chance to eat ice creams and Willare Bridge to see one channel of Fitzroy River to towards King Sound, one of the largest river in Australia.
Fitzroy River At Willare Bridge
I felt both excited and sadness all at once. I was excited because after nine days in outback and wilderness, we returned to civilization as Broome has around 14000 population which increase to almost 50k during peak season. I felt sadness because it means that was the last day that I will be with my adventure group that I had been with for more than a week. Though we came from different countries and strangers at first but, we felt at home when we were all together exploring outbacks of Northern Territory and wilderness of Kimberley Region. I made some close friends along the adventure, learned things of other cultures and even shares mine to them.
When we reached the first hotel in Broome, that was time we started saying goodbyes to our group mates, until it was my turned to do it with few people left in the truck. I took all my stuff and I requested Scotty for a souvenir photo with him.
And to finished this travel adventure post, I still wanted to thank him for being such a wonderful and cool guide of our group. Thank you Scotty !!!