We embarked on a half day cruise up Lake Kununurra and the Ord River to the Ord River Dam at Lake Argyll. Honestly, I am not a big fan of organized tours with the incessant, earnest commentary, but in this instance, the guide was very interesting (if a tad repetitive) and the commentary informative. Initially, the Ord River was simply dammed at Kununurra to produce the Lake. Later, they added the massive dam at Lake Argyll to essentially provide an “infinite” storage capacity for water and to control the flow. It rains a huge amount during the rainy season, most of which rapidly runs off and is lost unless dammed. The system provides a huge irrigation scheme, which is fed via channels using gravity, and involves virtually no pumping. The dam is also used to generate electricity, 60% of the which is used to power the Argyll Diamond Mine that will shortly close. Wonder what they will do with the spare capacity; free electricity for Kununurra? Probably not!
The best part of the trip was exploring the Everglade-type creeks at the transition between the Lake and the River, which teemed with bird life, including: darters, glebes, cormorants, sea eagles, pelicans, and many others.
On the return to Kununurra by bus, we visited the Durack Homestead, which is a museum devoted to the Durack family. In mid 1883, the family began the Herculean task of stocking their Kimberley land with cattle. They drove 7,520 cattle using 200 horses over 4800kms from Coopers Creek in Queensland to the Ord River in Western Australia. Their journey took over 2 years, cost a staggering 70,000 pounds, and along the way half the cattle and many horses died, and a few men died too. Think about that .. two years on horseback .. and the suffering and privation. One story described a Christmas surprise that “Black Pat” Durack found in his swag; a 20inch long death adder.