Long Range Excursion: Kimberley Camp-Out at Kingston Rest, 11 – 18 July 2001

Seventy five members of the WA Naturalists Club, Kimberley Society, Birds Australia and the WA Wildflower Society had a combined campout at Kingston Rest – a farming property about 70km south of Kununurra in the East Kimberley, owned by the Garstone Family.

The campsite was situated alongside a beautiful water-lily covered expanse of water surrounded by tall Melaleuca trees, where there was more than enough room for everyone to spread out and find a shady nook. The site was a great one with a great diversity of habitats on the station from tailings dams to billabongs, to gorges with Livistonia Palms and riparian vegetation.

It is impossible to sum up such a wonderful trip into such a fascinating area of Australia in this small space. Some of the highlights however include the great local guides and spectacular scenery of the Kimberley. The group was very fortunate to have Jack Trust, an Aboriginal Elder at the Wuggubun community obtained special permission to visit a special area of the Deception Ranges. George Dixon, Teddy Hall and Neita Birch from the Mangangala community lead the group through Glen Hill Station. Other sites included Dunham River Station where the Pilot Dam, the Saw Ranges and fishing for Barramundi kept people amused. The Keep River National Park over the Border in the Northern Territory was another interesting destination. Jeff Hayley took most of the group for a tour of the Ord River including the dam.

Each evening an excellent array of speakers came out from Kununurra to talk on aspects of the Kimberley including Geoff Lodge on birds, Tony Start on the effects of the Dam, Chris Done on the magnificent Kimberley Coast, Gordon Graham on fire regimes, Tim Croot on farming on the Ord, Jenny Wilksch on geology of the Kimberley and John Lewis an Engineer in charge of planning, design and investigation in the 1960s for many of the Dams.

The final evening concluded with a damper making competition which was a huge success with Brody Kelly-Wilson taking out the under 15s and Berkeley Allen the over 15’s. It was judged by guide and Aboriginal Elder George Dixon who was well qualified having been a drovers cook in his younger days.

The highlight for many naturalists was the diversity of bird life with 155 species recorded during the stay. Further information on Kingston Rest is in The Western Australian Naturalist Vol 23, No 1 April 2001. “The Birds of Kingston Rest North-East Kimberley, Western Australia” pages 9-38.