The town was established in 1960 to service the Ord River Scheme which provides irrigation and power. We checked out the local lookout with glorious views of the river plain encompassing the agricultural industry and the town.There were acres and acres of mango trees, fruit and vegetables and Sandalwood trees. Naturally I had to check out the local shops and of course the most interesting are the diamond merchants featuring the locally mined Argyle diamonds. The Argyle Mine is the third largest diamond producing mine in the world and the variety of colours range from champagne, yellow, amber, pink (the most well known and the only place where they are found), blue and even red. According to the retail assistant 60 red diamonds have been found at Argyle and they are not found anywhere else either. Also on display were beautiful pearls found in the waters around the north west. I had my eye on a black one to have as a pendant - just a little drooling and dreaming!
An easy day trip of 100 kilometres took us north on Tuesday to Wyndham to see the meeting of the five rivers on the Cambridge Gulf . Very scenic drive with beautiful mountain ranges of the east Kimberleys and lots of Boab trees. Passed the Gibb River Road turn off which is a shortcut and dirt road all the way to Derby through National Parks and mountains, gorges and waterfalls. We are not into bone rattling, teeth grinding driving so will give this a miss and travel on the black tar on our way across.
On the way back we stopped at the Zebra Rock Gallery which has a fascinating display of this striped and marked rock (like Zebras) which is 600 million years old and found near Lake Argyle.
Wednesday time to move on again and our direction was west on the Victoria Highway before journeying south west on the Great Northern Highway and our destination a free camp at Mary Pool on the Mary River. We travelled through the Kimberleys with fantastic mountain ranges continuing all the way to Warmun or Turkey Creek as it is known. Nothing boring about this drive, around every bend another wonderful view. Sadly we bypassed the Bungle Bungles - Purnululu National Park. The formation of black and orange beehive domes and gorges and chasms will have to wait until another trip. Saw the western end of the Tanami Road which is a dirt road through the Tanami and Central Deserts to north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. We didn't realise we would see the other end of the road when we saw the turn off on the Stuart Highway. 905 kilometres I worked out; that's one long unsealed road in my book.
We drove through Halls Creek which has a history dating back to 1885 with the discovery of gold starting Western Australia's first gold rush and 90 kilometres further and a little under 500 kilometres for the day, we arrived at our free camp at Mary Pool mid afternoon. The trick is obviously to get in early for the good spots as there were already about fifty vans set up for the night. A very pretty place with shady trees and the river is a haven for native birds and the grounds a very popular place with "moos". We needed to step lightly.
Thursday morning continued on through rich pasture country and flat plains and then around a bend another magical picture of mesas and stand alone mountains in the distance. We saw a wild dingo roaming along the road side, a first in a remote area. Saw one at Yulara campgrounds but he didn't look too underfed. Diesel stop at Fitzroy Crossing on the beautiful Fitzroy River which is centered in some of our best pastoral country.
Forty kilometres to the turn off north to Derby on King Sound for a couple of days visit. The sides of the road are thick with flowering wattle; a sea of yellow and a sunny welcome to this part.