Lake Argyle – The Jewel of the Kimberley

Lake Argyle

Katherine – preparation before heading to WA

We are in Katherine again.  We are planning to stay here for two days and then drive to Lake Argyle. The day started with a nervous race around all caravan parks because all powered sites were taken. We finally managed to find the last place in a small, but nice Red Gum Caravan Park.

Then we started washing, cleaning and shopping. We also had to clean the trailer and the car, because everything was brick coloured. We did serious shopping to last us for another 2-3 weeks.

We vacuum packed meat to extend storage time. We also bought many canned food, nuts and bars that would be good as snacks on walking trails.

After shopping in Katherine
After shopping in Katherine

Katherine Hot Springs

We finished all preparation on the third day, and finally had time to visit the hot springs. The water was warm and very refreshing. We did not want to leave it. Nell made some progress with her swimming skills and we could see that she gets a lot of fun from it.

Hema’s HX-2 Navigator

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Hema HX-2 Navigator

Katherine Botanical Gardens

Later on, we visited Katherine Botanical Gardens and walked along the alleys. Some plants were very interesting. It was the dry season so lots of them were dormant and we could not fully see the beauty of the garden.

Katherine - Botanical Gardens
Katherine – Botanical Gardens

Before heading off we also decided to buy some beer. We had to show the driving license to enter the shop, and I felt like it was a war zone and this was just a liquor store. We are leaving Katherine tomorrow and heading to Western Australia.

On the way to Gregory National Park

The road between Katherine and Gregory National Park is full of beautiful panoramas and old mountain formations. The contrast between the green colour of the trees and the brick-maroon rocks is stunning.

We stopped at the Victoria River Roadhouse for lunch, and we loved the lazy atmosphere of this place. We ate fries and a meat pie and soon were ready to go.

Turning off to Gregory National Park
Turning off to Gregory National Park

Yesterday I read on the Internet that we will be driving the dirt road to our next destination. Marius insisted that I’m wrong and it will be asphalt road. Later on, he was a bit surprised that he had to drive almost 50 km on the dirt road.

I was not happy about it, because I didn’t pack my kitchen stuff for the off-road conditions. Probably, all the jars in the fridge will open. It happened before, and it was quite a mess when the jam was mixed up with mustard.

After a few kilometres, we decided to lower the pressure on all wheels and that helped a lot. We did not feel corrugations that much and the tires were taking the surface more smoothly.

Lowering tire pressure to head to Gregory NP
Lowering tire pressure to head to Gregory NP

Gregory National Park

The campsite in Gregory National Park was very picturesque. We had some trees that provided us with some shade. And what made my day – Baobabs are everywhere!

Baobab Trees

Yes, bottle-shaped trees that I dreamed of. I love them, they are so characteristic that it is impossible to ignore them. The Australians call them baob.

These amazing trees can grow up to 15-20 meters and live up to 1000 years! Australian boab and its African relatives have common ancestors that grew somewhere in Asia.

They are so large that in the past police officers used hollow trunks to keep prisoners in them overnight.

Driving through Gregory National Park
Driving through Gregory National Park

In the evening, we lit a campfire. The night was very bright because it was a full moon. The trees cast shadows and birds screamed dramatically from time to time. It was warm, windless, and exceptionally beautiful.

Marius got up at 8 am for the first time since we started our trip and prepared everything for the departure. After a quick breakfast, we drove to the river to see the designated trail for crossing it.

Bullita Stock Route – a missed chance (maybe next time)

The river crossing looked amazing and only the arrow posts showed how to drive across! We wanted to cross the river and go for a one-way Bullita Stock Route.

However, there was no living soul in the park except us. We were afraid to risk a river crossing of an unknown depth probably inhabited by salties. We just added this trail to our bucket list and moved on.

Gregory National Park - Bullita Stock Route
Gregory National Park – Bullita Stock Route

Bullita Homestead

After a few hundred meters, we discovered Bullita Homestead. It is a historic farm with an exhibition of old tools, and recollection of everyday life. We could feel the atmosphere of old times. There was a huge baobab growing in front of the house.

There were a few more 4WD tracks that were going south, but we decided to skip them and do it next time. The weather was really dry and hot. Gregory National Park has no waterholes and we were unhappy because of that.

Baob Tree at Bullita Homestead
Baob Tree at Bullita Homestead

In Gregory National Park we noticed for the first time that driving with somebody else would be really helpful. We had a recovery kit but we did not have a winch so in case we were stuck nobody would be around to help us get out.

On the way to the Western Australia border, we drove through lots of dust and crossed several streams. Nell was delighted as crossing the creeks was one of her favourite activities.

Crossing WA border
Crossing WA border

Western Australia border

While driving further the scenery was getting better and better. The mountains around us were getting bigger and very red. Finally, we arrived at the state border. Here we were waiting for another search, knowing how it works.

We immediately surrendered the potatoes and onions. I confessed, we also had mushrooms and the customs officer looked at us strangely and then said that he wanted to see them. Once he found out that they were only harmless cooking mushrooms, he left us alone.

Fortunately, the officer did not want to see the refrigerator in the trailer. We didn’t like the idea of taking everything out to get to the fridge and its content.

So we were again left with no vegetables, honey, rice, and nuts. What was important, we were already travelling in Western Australia. That was the third state that we entered after we left Victoria.

Lake Argyle
Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle – infinity swimming pool

A few kilometres abroad we turned into the dam to see the largest lake in Australia – Lake Argyle. And I must admit it made a phenomenal impression on us.

A huge body of water, dramatic mountains, and the blue sky hanging over the lake – it was amazing. We stayed at a campsite with a beautiful lake view.

After 250 km of driving, we all dreamed of a refreshing swim, but unfortunately, we had to wash our camper trailer first. After driving in Gregory National Park, it had a 2 cm layer of dust, and we didn’t like the idea of having dust in our beds.

Lake Argyle - infinite pool
Lake Argyle – infinite pool

Once this was done we headed for the pool.

That was it! It was another great infinity pool on our trip!

The water was cold, but we all got into the pool anyway (even me), because the view was breathtaking. At sunset, we went on a short trail. Someone was playing a bagpipe and people were sitting on chairs on the edge of the cliff. They were staring at the red rocks on the other side of the lake.

And that’s how we ended this eventful day.

Lake Argyle sunset
Lake Argyle sunset

The sun woke us up early today. Curious about the new place, we went to see the dam. We visited two viewpoints. Our heads were spinning around. What a great view!

At first glance, the dam looked small, but when we went closer and stood on it, we could appreciate the height of it.

I felt like a tiny ant looking at the vastness of water and the size of the rocks around us. The lake contains 54 times as much water as Sydney bay!

Lake Argyle
Lake Argyle

Later on, we went to a historic farm that had once been in lower Argyle. It had to be relocated stone by stone to a higher spot. The same happened with the historic tombstones of people who once inhabited this area.

Lake Argyle
Lake Argyle

We visited the pool in the afternoon. Although, I could not be persuaded to take a swim for the second time as the water was too cold for me.

Yet these views were breathtaking. At that moment I thought it was late afternoon but other campers corrected us.

In Western Australia, it is 1.5 hours earlier than in NT. This way we got extra time to ‘do nothing’, just admire the views.

Looking down from Lake Argyle Dam Wall
Looking down from Lake Argyle Dam Wall

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are there crocodiles in Lake Argyle?

Lake Argyle has the world’s largest population of Johnston River Freshwater Crocodiles. However, these reptiles are timid and considered not dangerous to humans. Actually, there is a Lake Argyle Swim event that happens annually. If you are unsure about crocodile presence always confirm it upon your arrival.

Is Lake Argyle man-made?

Lake Argyle was created artificially by damming the Ord River. This has created a special marine environment that offers now a lot of different activities for tourists like cruising, fishing canoeing, and walking.

Are there any Lake Argyle walks?

There are numerous walks around Lake Argyle village. Local staff constantly work on putting more bushland trails to explore the rugged landscape of Lake Argyle. It is best to check for the current walking map with the village staff upon your arrival.

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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

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