Drysdale River Station

Wednesday six weeks ago I continued my trip on the Gibb River Road. Nowadays it’s really a road and not complicated to drive. The “only” drawback is, that’s pretty corrugated. And as my suspension is not the best, the only solution is to slow down, once each piece in the car is shaking apart due to the corrugations. Around noon I stopped at the Ellenbrae Station. It’s only 5km away from the road, which is not considered as detour here in the Kimberlys…it’s basically on the road. They’ve really yummy scons with cream and strawberry jam, a local delicacy. The Ellenbrae Station has about 4,000 heads of cattle, which live basically at their own somewhere on the stations area (about 60 km x 60 km). The only permanent residents are the couple and their son in the homestead. The cattle mustering and transport is only done once in a while, when prices are high, as markets and thus, transport is far away. So the main income of this station is nowadays the tourism sector during the dry season. The drinking water comes from a bore and is not deep, only about 25 m, whereas irrigation water is pumped from a nearby dam. Due to the remoteness the electricity during the dry season is generated by one of the diesel engines (15 kVA/30 kVA), while in the wet season, without visitors the 4 kVA solar battery system is sufficient. They told me that the last two wet seasons were pretty bad, as there was only half of the typical rainfall. So they hope that the bore will deliver enough water. Typically they are isolated from Christmas for about 3 months due to the flooding around. That means you can’t even go to your neighbours, as this would be several hours of driving. There’s only the mail plane once in a week which might supply limited fresh groceries. Apart from that you rely on your own, and your partner. Sounds like an island in the middle of nowhere. After my break I had a short talk with another driver, and we exchanged some of our experiences so far. He already had a puncture in his tyre at the beginning of the Gibb, and fixed it here. During our talk I looked at my car and realised that the right light bulb hangs outside of the frame, just on the two wires. So instead of continuing my drive I asked for a M5 bolt at the station (luckily they had one, and they even didn’t charge me for that) and fixed my spotlight. Additionally, I replaced all the old tape around for both spotlight, just to make sure it won’t happen again in the near future. After a while driving I came to the turn off to the Kalumburu Road. So I started my detour for heading north. This road is typically more corrugated than the Gibb, as the grader doesn’t come that often, but still a lot of cars using it. As it was already late I camped in between the crossing of the Gibb River (yes, that’s the name of the river after which the road was named) and about 30 kms before Drysdale River Station.

Looking back…
…and forward along the Gibb. There’re always savannah trees and grass along the road.
Now almost all creeks are dry, but during the wet season the strong water is digging itself deep into soil and takes everything with it, which’s not fixed.
The Kalumburu Road is even more corrugated than the Gibb, so the driving is definitely slowing down, as long as you don’t want that everything is vibrating apart in the car.
There’s only a billabong left of the Gibb River, just enough for some surprised cattle

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