Day 11: Wyndham - Katherine to Perth 2022 - CycleBlaze

July 29, 2022

Day 11: Wyndham

It was cold enough last night that I was glad I bought my jumper for a pillow, and I could stay in my tent until the luxurious hour of 7:30. 

There were two brolgas in the campground to welcome me when I finally got up
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I had a long chat to Ralph, who has driven up from Melbourne with his bike and attempted to ride the Gibb but turned back. He said he regrets it now but he was very hot and someone told him Ellenbrae was closed and he couldn’t face going that long without a proper campground. He also acknowledged he hadn’t done enough touring beforehand. He’s now been riding around Wyndham and Parry Creek and is heading out to the Bungle Bungles today.  

I think my main advantage over Ralph is that I don’t have anything to turn around and come back to. 

After my bakery breakfast, I cruised down to the port, which was the original settlement. 

This is what a frontier town looks like after the frontier has been and gone
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The port is on the Gulf of Cambridge so I guess it makes sense that the water is so big. 

Looking inland from the jetty
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I also went down the smaller jetty at the boat ramp and saw heaps of red crabs and some weird looking lizard/fish combo with two front legs. 

I went into the museum which had lots of information on:

  1. How recently Aboriginal people were treated horrifically and kept it chains, partly because the policemen got money for arresting people 
  2. Two German aviators who crash landed, thought they were in the Tiwi islands, made a canoe from their seaplane float and were finally found by Aboriginal men (whose relatives had already been charged with their murder -see above) and a totally nuts guy who recreated their journey recently. They only talk about the one guy who wrote the book about it later, the other guy went mad
  3. The fairly bonkers history of Wyndham, from being named after the son of the wife of the WA Governor to set out as a town with lots sold sight unseen further north than the port, which no one actually built on cause it was a terrible location to the seasonal Meatworks where enterprising locals would bring down trucks of beer of an evening 

And lots more. I reckon I read about 20% of the things in there in about an hour. It’s in the old courthouse building. Then I went to Pixie’s shop, which appeared to be a cross between an op shop and a two dollar shop. The main attraction was Pixie who was lamenting her arthritis and the fact that Wyndham has gone to shit recently to two women who may have had some connection or maybe have just been random tourists. Luckily they were there so I didn’t have to carry the conversation. 

Things got even weirder out past the port, with ruins of what was going to be the magistrate’s residence but was never finished, towering piles of scrap metal and logs, and a decaying house on a truck. 

These old train engines that were used at the Meatworks though were at least supposed to be there
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I went down a street with one side of houses tucked into the side of the hill and the other opening onto mudflats. The sign proclaimed it won Tidy Street in 2006. I’m unclear how wide that competition was, but it did seem to be the nicest street in Wyndham. The new cemetery is there too. 

The old cemetery was fairly desolate on a small hill that is vulnerable to flooding and full of graves of workers who died of heat exhaustion building the meat works
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This probably sounds more critical than I mean to be. It’s an interesting and spectacular place, just harsh and isolated. 

I called the freight company and got told my wheel should arrive in Kununurra Monday so spent some time re planning my route across the Gibb. Or at least having a vague idea, pending road conditions. 

Just before 4, I headed up to the five rivers lookout. I wanted to buy a ginger beer to drink up there but the bottle shop would only sell me Great Northern individually. It’s only 4.5k from town but 330m high so it was fairly consistently steep and took me about 45 minutes to get up! But I had timed it right as I beat all the people driving up for sunset. And the views were incredible. 

Somewhere up there is the Ord, it comes into the gulf north of Wyndham
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The big river is the combined Pentecost and Durack and the King is coming in on the left
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The Forrest river is over that side
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Wyndham port in its best light
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As soon as the sun went down, I took off, hoping to get down before the cars. I did, but two cars were still coming up, against the natural order of things. I reckon it took about 10 minutes of screaming descent to get down. 

Some lovely campers who I talked to last night gave me some ice cream as they’re heading west on the Gibb tomorrow with only a fridge. I’m glad I got to Wyndham and had time to look around. I’m heading back down the road about 20k to Parry Creek Farm tomorrow.

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