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Lifestyle : Discover the Kimberley Special report
1HERSA1 0007 AUSTRALIAN AIR HOLIDAYS TAL 32076 Fares available from all capital cities. Phone now to book or order your free brochure Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 1800 815 906 12 days Departs: Broome to Darwin June 19. July 14. Departs: Darwin to Broome June 8. July 3. SPECIAL OFFER SAVE $500 on June 19 departure Book by Feb 16 Kimberley & Top End Air Nostalgia DC3 -VH-TMQ Superb viewing as our private 28 passenger DC3 aircraft flies "low and slow" over this ancient Australian landscape. Highlights include: Bathurst Island, Darwin Sunset Cruise, Kakadu Yellow Waters Cruise, Katherine Gorge Cruise, lunch at Bullo River Station, fly low over Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle, Ord River Cruise, Durak Homestead, Fitzroy Crossing, Geikie Gorge Cruise. Fly from Derby and enjoy superb aerial views of Bucaneer Archipelago including the tidal Horizontal Falls. You'll be amazed at the stunning coastal views as our plane flies low around Broome. WOW! Full details www.australianairholidays.com Book early! limited numbers - Trip notes Getting there Kununurra is 800 kilometres south- west of Darwin and 1040 kilometres north-east of Broome. Qantas, Skywest and Airnorth fly to Kununurra from Darwin, Broome and Perth. Staying there Rooms at the Kununurra Country Club Resort, 47 Coolibah Drive, Kununurra, start from $210 a night. kununurracountryclub.com.au. While there River cruises to Lake Argyle run from June to August; the reverse tour runs from April to October, $165 adult, $155 seniors, $125 child. triplejtours.com.au. Mirima (Hidden Valley) National Park is two kilometres north of Kununurra, and contains rock-art sites and striking rock formations. Entry $11. dec.wa.gov.au. Dining there The PumpHouse Restaurant, built in a disused pump station, overlooks Lake Kununurra and features Wyndham saltwater barramundi on the menu. ordpumphouse.com.au. More information Visitkununurra.com. Everything seems bigger, brighter and bolder. Extraordinary . . . from far left, rock art near Kununurra; cruising on Lark Argyle; chia growing in the Ord Valley; relaxing at Lake Argyle Resort. Photos: Katrina Lobley; Rick Stevens; Sue Bennett wildlife sightings. Under the brilliant sunshine that characterises the dry season, we see a couple of rock wallabies hiding in cliff crevices and disturb a euro (a kind of kangaroo) resting in the shade before it hops away. Plovers stalk the sand banks, Australian darters dive for morning tea and a jacana -- also known as the Jesus bird -- shows its chicks how to walk on water, lightly tripping across the lily pads. Above us, cockatoos and a white- bellied sea eagle wheel and turn, while along the riverbanks tortoises sun themselves on logs. Below the surface is a proliferation of fish that's turned the locals fussy: a police sergeant tells me residents turn up their noses at freshwater barramundi and shovel-nosed catfish -- known as "silver cobbler" around here -- because they're bottom-feeders. Grant promised we'd "stop for a feed", so he ties up at a picnic area near a waterhole to lay out chicken, ham, egg and salads as we hover like hungry crocodiles. In the queue for the pit toilets, I chat to a couple from Gympie who are circumnavigating Australia, and give a bit of cheek to the bloke from Victoria who left home six weeks earlier but is refusing to change the east-coast time on his wristwatch. Back in the boat, the water flow becomes noticeably faster the closer we get to the dam. We wave at passing kayakers helped along by the current. I make a mental note to add "kayak the Ord" to my bucket list. No visit to the area would be complete without talking agriculture -- the reason this landscape was so radically reshaped, with a lake spreading over 1000 square kilometres. Over the decades, hopes were pinned on broad-acre crops such as sugar cane, cotton and rice -- then dashed as the plantings fell victim to pests, price collapses, disease, unseasonal weather or other cruelties. Today, Indian sandalwood is the Ord's biggest single crop -- covering 5000 hectares, it's the world's largest plantation of the species. The first commercial harvesting of the trees, which take about 14 years to mature, is due next year. The biggest food crop is chia seeds. Mangoes, melons, pumpkins and more fill the fields. Some of this locally grown bounty -- yellow squash, oranges, snake beans, Asian greens and herbs -- is on sale at Kununurra's Saturday morning markets, which are nothing like east-coast markets. There's much interest in the live cane toads that members of the Kimberley Toadbusters have brought along to motivate others to join their eradication patrols. One stall sells rough diamonds for those who can't afford the polished ones in rare hues at Kimberley Fine Diamonds on Konkerberry Drive (the town's botanically themed street names include Spinifex Street and Woollybutt Place). Near the diamond store is another way to seriously dent the plastic: Artlandish's maze of rooms is filled with striking indigenous paintings, overseen by the resident dog lying across the manager's desk. Everything up here seems bigger, brighter and bolder, including the views across Lake Argyle we get when the bus ambles across the dam wall and reverses -- yes, reverses -- uphill to the lookout. We stop in at the Argyle Downs Homestead Museum, the 1894 home of the Durack family, which was rebuilt, stone by stone, on higher ground when the lake flooded its original site on the Argyle Downs Station. Before returning to Kununurra, we pull into Lake Argyle Resort for refreshments. Perched atop the rugged Carr Boyd Ranges, the place has an infinity pool with deckchairs from which you can watch houseboats far below doing not much at all. Someone on our bus gets on the phone to text her boyfriend to tell him she's just found their next holiday accommodation. The writer travelled courtesy of Triple J Tours, Kununurra Country Club and Tourism Western Australia. 7 The Kimberley SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2013 THE SUN-HERALD TRAVEL
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