Everyone we met talked about Mornington Wilderness Camp being difficult to get into, they have limited camp numbers and they have a radio at the gate to call. We had heard that you need to be at the gat at 7am to get a spot and this is a big ask to pack up camp and drive to the gate by then.
We didn’t hit the road until 10.30am after our hand washing marathon. We passed the closed Imintji Roadhouse, the roadhouse has only closed this season due to an issue between the indigenous community and the roadhouse managers. We arrived at Mornington gate at 11am we thought it was unlikely we would get in but we tried our luck. No luck so we drove the 4km further to the Charnley River Station gates and the 32km driveway into Charnley River.
Charnely River is a cattle station that was previously part of Mt Elizabeth Station and has recently been provided to Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to manage although the huge property still has portions of land with cattle.
The property has wonderful geographical features that have protected the area from wild fires and land features preventing cattle accessing areas therefore has portions dense untouched bush habitat.
When we arrived the camp host advised we had a camp reserved next to our friends Emma and Dave and their family. We had lunch and the kids hung out playing games and running under the sprinklers. The camp grounds are set amongst the beautiful homestead gardens lots of shade and plenty of room. There were huge mango trees in full blossom and the smell was intoxicating and sweet.
It was cold at night and the AWC do not allow camp fires due to the removal of wood and mammal or reptile habitat being lost and the bush fire risk. It was a cool night and we all elected for an early night this was lucky as we were woken before dawn to the most amazing chorus of dingos howling in the not like anything we have ever heard before. That morning when we drove out to the gorges we saw a dingo too.
There a number gorges to visit at Charnley River but they are all a fairly long drive from the homestead. We went to Lillie Pool which was a short walk down through large block steps into a really pretty gorge with lots of water lilly’s. We had the gorge all to ourselves for an hour before a couple arrived.
After lunch we headed to Grevillea Gorge which required a short walk before a ladder into the rocky gorge and then easy climbing into a large open pool with rocky terraces. The water was cool but lovely as it was a hot afternoon. We scrambled around and after some looking found some rock art of a large crocodile looking animal which was exciting.
On the way back to camp we drove up to a lookout which had views over the surrounding forests. So far along our journey into the Kimberley we have been overwhelmed by the beauty and the vastness of the area, the water and the obviously abundant wildlife. It is obvious to see why this area was home to so many indigenous communities.
After a few days waiting it was great to hear that both families were able to get into Mornington Wilderness Camp the next day but we still had to get there by 7.30am meaning we would to be packed and on the road by 7am. We prepacked as much as possible and again early to bed.