Off my rocker safari…Berkeley in the ‘Wet’

In a few days, I am off my rocker, going on a strange safari. In the middle of the wet season. Cyclone Season. Broome to Kununurra, in a Brazilian jet, quite comfortable for an hour and a half over the Fitzroy River Valley, the King Leopold Ranges, the Durack Ranges, over the Teronis Gorge, which is a separate future post, and a number of mountains around Kununurra. A couple of nights at the Kununurra Hotel, courtesy of my hosts, then an early morning flight in a seaplane, to land at the mouth of the Berkeley River.

Boat with wings

Jump from the floats onto the beach, keeping an eye out for crocodiles and up the beach and to my accommodation at a new beach resort, nearly finished, and facing the NEast toward Revelle Island.

Berkeley River Dawn

The sun rises at 4.00am, the sea is rough from storms and passing lows. Lightning crashes trees, mostly on top of a giant sand dune, towering off to the West of the River, nearly 200 metres high with, amazingly, Woollybutt trees growing all over it.

A small boat journey 19 km up river to the various waterfalls, maybe too much, after all, it’s wet season.

Berkeley River, dry season waterfall

Climbing up valleys to look at trees, collect specimens, sow seeds for replanting around villas when the last tradesman flies out. Dinner at the pool overlooking the beach and watch the sun set over the steep cliffs on Reveille Island and the cliffs along the East side of the Berkeley River. With fish caught just off the beachfront an hour ago, if it wasn’t too rough. It is cyclone season.

Woken at 4.00 am by the Northern Butcherbird, truly the most beautiful melodious, and loud, wake-up call. Unless it’s raining.

Two hours in the Polaris 4WD with

Polaris on the beach

camera in hand, down the track and across a dense forest of an array of beautiful flowers, amazing fruits, wetlands and creeks searching for suitable plant material,

Riverside forest

wetlands of paperbarks, rocky sandstone ranges and dense areas of jungle. It will probably be pouring with rain. I must be mad.

Flower in the forest

Back to the resort for breakfast, dripping wet, but a warm 28C is really fantastic at this time of year. The minimum average is usually about 27C too. Freshly baked bread, with scrambled eggs, filtered coffee or tea. Off down the beach in the Polaris, checking out the superb Pandanus Palms

Beachside Pandanus Palms

growing at the high tide mark, a walk down a side creek with a tidal entrance past a rocky beach, unless its become a raging torrent. Back in time for slices of cold meat and salad or vegetarian Lasagne and exchange stories with those who ‘had’ to work there.

Mangroves below cliffs on the Berkeley River

Great cooking, every trip has been fabulous, this is my third. Back down to the banks near the river mouth, behind the mangroves, look for tracks left after the tide is out, and check out the wet season flowering herbs, unless the river is in full flood like last year.

Sundews in ephemeral wetlands

Back for dinner after drying off…showering happens all day outside this time of year. Chicken curry with jasmine rice, a bottle from one of  my hosts’ other hospitality businesses in Broome,  Matso’s Brewery and Restaurant. Matso’s Ginger Beer, made by his own boutique brewery in Broome is my only alcoholic indulgence once or twice a year. Beside the pool too, unless its raining. Take photos of the lightning coming across the bay, reflected across the watery pools around the sandbars with the tide out. Though it might be flooded.

Views while selecting plant species...

Always looking out for lizards, big ones, 15 or 18 foot long, females with hidden nests in the paperbark forest, or on the sandbar behind the mangroves. Snakes too, Glistening bronze King Browns, hiding in the corner of the workshed, or staff kitchen, waiting for a nightly snack when the frogs get amorous each night.

Accomodation, first trip to Berkeley River

Walk back to accommodation under the blackest starriest sky or a silvery moon if it’s not still raining, and watch more lightning coming across the sea from Revelle Island, then dry off, lie down and think, what the hell am I doing here this is work?

And 5 more days of hiking, dining and photographing and…I could go on, but one thing is certain, it will be raining. All this thanks to the fabulous hospitality from the resort’s owners. I will probably go fishing too,

catch of the day

and there will be nobody else within 200 km. I might even get a flight on the new helicopter if it has arrived. No, it will be too wet and stormy. Never mind.

I still don’t remember how to spell Revele Island

Grumpy old man

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
This entry was posted in Environment, photography, Pindan Post article, weather and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Off my rocker safari…Berkeley in the ‘Wet’

  1. Robbie Hendrickx says:

    Good write up Tom! Catch you out there again next time. One thing, where’s the pictures of all the fish?

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