From Kings Canyon we crossed the Tanami to Kunanara for a Gibb River Road adventure. When we were researching the Gibb on the forums, people kept saying ” In Kunanarra you must do the sunset tour” We booked the Sunset Magic tour with Lake Argle Cruises, having been recommended them by our campsite. Their season extends into September and beyond. Our driver and guide Phil picked us up from outside the campsite and we headed off to the lake. As we turned off the highway the vegetation became more sparse as we drove through the Carr Boyd Ranges made up of quartz and sandstone. We crossed Spill Way creek, an overflow for the Dam. It wasn’t flowing as we passed in early September, but back in March, 720 thousand liters an hour were passing under the bridge.
As part of the tour we got to visit the old Argle Down’s Homestead of the Durrak family who came to this region from Queensland in the 1880’s. It’s been relocated since the Dam was build and the land flooded. It took the family over 2 years to get here to find grazing land, a trip they thought it would take only 6-months. The homestead is really interesting and beautifully restored.
As we reached the lake we started to get an impression of just how massive this body of water is. It’s 21 times the size of Sydney harbour when its at 100% capacity, as it was on our trip and it can get higher! It took them three dry season to create the lake by damming the Ord river with a earth-fill only dam wall.
Australia’s second largest reservoir was officially opened on the 30th June 1972 and allows this whole region to be powered by hydro electricity as well as creating a storage reservoir for crops. The region has changed a lot since cattle farming, with Indian Sandalwood and 20 thousand ha. of agricultural land producing the likes of paw paws, melons, chai seeds and mangos. Then there are the famous Argle pink diamonds and the local 600 million year old mystery zebra rock.
We toured around just a fraction of the lake with our skipper Matt. who was so knowledgeable about the areas ecology and history. We stopped for swims and got up close to the local wildlife. The Small Eared-rock Wallabies were so cute, we saw wallaroos, freshwater crocodiles as well as the first magpie goose of the season. We fed the spitting fish too, who shoot water out their mouths to catch pray, but who also perform for tourists with food.
As the sun started setting the colours came to life turning from dusty pink to dark orange. We anchored up and all jumped in the water and were served beer or bubbles as we floated around on our noodles. Once back onboard there were more drinks and some chip and dips passed around.
By the time we got back to the jetty it was pitch black and we were met by Phil again who drove us home, being careful to watch out for stray brumbies and roos.
There is camping at the Lake Argyle Resort & Caravan Park which has an amazing 35m infinity pool. We didn’t stay here, but if we came again we definitely would. The pictures look incredible.
Don’t miss heading out to see this beautiful and vast landscape……Its an incredible tour.