We set a camper trailer record getting up dressed, breakfast, packed and on the road by 7am!! And arrived at the Mornington Wilderness Camp gate, 50km from Charnley, by 745am and we got the okay to travel the 88km into the camp. (Thanks to Emma) Mornington is part of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy which is a non for profit organisation working to try and save wildlife habitats and help Australia’s endangered species.
The drive into Mornington is beautiful with views of the lower Leopold Ranges stretched across the horizon and lots of beautiful boab trees. I have fallen in love with these trees and can’t stop photographing them! The boabs are a special tree only found in the Kimberley region of Australia and they are really cool. Mornington is like a resort they have great facilities…including a restaurant /café, bar facility with cold drinks and real coffee! After camp set up and a quick lunch we all headed off to the Sir John Gorge for to explore and swim. The Gorge is a vast wide open rocky expanse within the Hann River. We climbed around and went for a swim but it was a bit slimey entry and exit so we went around to the ‘Blue Bushes’ swimming hole also on the Hann River the kids all enjoyed jumping in and splashing about.
That night we all enjoyed a fabulous meal at the restaurant the children and parents on separate tables. Another great day and night with the Young Family! So often travelling is not only where you go and what you see but the people you meet that make it a great experience. Our second day at Mornington we picked up the paddles and life jackets and headed for Dimond Gorge. Each family hired a three man canoes a bit of a squeeze but the children shared the larger centre seat with Andrew and I paddling. It was magnificent to be right in the large gorge with rock walls towering overhead and views up the gorge (part of the Fitzroy River) framed with the rock walls. We had a picnic lunch on a ‘beach’ that had more mud than sand but the kids had a ball. We went to another less muddy landing for another swim before paddling back to the end of the gorge and walking back to our cars. We all had a great day and managed to avoid the canoe tipping over.
That night after dinner we went to an AWC presentation about their activities and the impact they are having on protecting endangered species in the area. The sun sets at 515pm and walking with head torches on we spotted a snake…luckily we were all wearing our thongs! He slithered away without a care for us we think it was a young Olive Green Python. At the presentation we learned the biggest threat to the endangered birds and mammals was loss of habitat from ‘ferral herbivores’ being cattle and horses. It makes sense the birds feed on grass seeds and with the previously heavily stocked land across the Kimberley for the last 100 years this is impacting our birds and small mammals. In addition AWC are worried about the coming invasion of the Cane Toad, predicted to be on the way to the Kimberley as early as 2017. It was a bit frightening to think that so many animals are under threat. We also learned about Eco Burn research that the AWC staff were conducting over the vast areas of conservation land under their management whereby program burning reduces the intensity and impact of a wild fire in the area. Very interesting but this meant that across their land there was quite a lot of land with recent fire scar.
We loved Mornington and decided to stay and learn more the next day as they have a large information about the Termite Mounds that we have been seeing across the Kimberley coast. We said farewell to the Young’s who headed off to Mt Barnett (Manning Gorge) ahead of us.
We spent the day on some walks around Mornington and learned all we could about Termites and the birds in the area. Whilst out walking we saw this huge snake…we think it was a harmless olive python – we were in the car but Aaron jumped out to get a photo…as we drove by he hissed and lurched at us.
Aaron was hoping to spot a Gouldian Finch – a beautifully coloured finch that is currently one of Australia’s endangered bird species which usually around mornington.