The one thing that leaves a lasting impression no matter which road you take into the town of Kununurra, is how green it always is. This region has an abundant supply of water thanks to the Ord River Irrigation scheme and Lake Argyle.
To learn more about how this water is used and where it comes from, we jumped on a river boat cruise with Triple JJJ Tours. We cracked a winner, as Jeff our guide has over 5,000 tours to his name. So you could say he might know a thing or two about this place!
While there’s a range of tours to choose from, we were keen to learn more about the Ord River and what it means to the region. So we chose to cruise the Ord River from where it now starts at the Lake Argyle dam wall and the hydro power scheme.
We took the option of the bus ride up to Lake Argyle as it includes a visit to the Durack Homestead. The tour also provided a chance to take a quick look around Lake Argyle resort and a few pics at the top of the dam wall before boarding the boat back to Kununurra.
Jeff’s knowledge of the region is phenomenal – we liken him to a talking encyclopaedia of Kununurra and its surrounds! He welcomes questions, so naturally everyone took advantage on the bus and hit him up. We learnt about the fauna and flora, the past history of agriculture to the present day, and future expansion plans. Yet, we only scraped the surface on our bus ride up to Lake Argyle.
Fun Fact : Did you know that the present location of the Durack homestead is some 20kms away from where it originally was , and that the locals relocated it before the lake was flooded, and thankfully they did as its full of interesting and fascinating information from days of old. We took a quick look around and learnt heaps.
After arriving at the boat and having the safety briefing, we got going and pulled alongside the Ord River Hydro Electrical system, where Jeff explained how it supplies power to Kununurra and nearby towns and mines. It’s here where the water from Lake Argyle passes through the turbines and generates electrical power. The water then enters the Ord River system for its next phase.
The cruise downstream was simply stunning, as you meander your way past majestic cliffs which have a deep red glow as the sun lowers for the day. Their reflections in the water were mirror-like as we made our way down the Ord. With the river teeming with birdlife, Jeff would stop the boat for photographs, share his knowledge and experience about the birds and animals, and answer the many questions that were fired his way.
As the afternoon passed by, it was time for a break. So the boat was anchored along the riverbank and we all stepped off to stretch the legs and tuck into a magnificent spread of home baked cakes, tea, coffee, cool drinks and fresh fruit. The mooring area is well set up with tables, chairs, and plenty of shade and toilet facilities.
Back on the water, the cruise took a few diversions into creek tributaries and back waters, finding a colony of fruit bats, rock wallabies, and some rare bird life. The eco system along the Ord River here is alive and well! Just as the sun was setting, the cruise made its way to a cracking spot where the boat was positioned to get some sensational photos.
From here, it was a short trip home and we pulled up not far from the Diversion Dam to disembark and hop on the bus for the return trip back to our accommodation. It’s a big half day, as we got picked up from our accommodation around 11.30am and returned after sunset. But what an amazing day!
This tour simply wasn’t a cruise, but more so a learning experience. It was interesting to learn how valuable the Ord River Irrigation scheme is to Kununurra and the towns nearby using gravity and some clever agricultural farming. But also, how it brings the river system to life along with the sustainable eco practices that’s been implemented at the same time. And it’s all in a relaxed enjoyable cruise in an amazing setting.
More information about the Triple J Tours can be found here.
Catch you next time!
Grant & Linda
My Aussie Travel Guide