The most northerly port in W.A. Wyndham is located on the Cambridge Gulf which further out becomes the Timor Sea.
The main town is neat and tidy - something Halls Creek could do well to learn from - and while the port area is not as attractive it is at least interesting. Five Rivers Lookout provides a spectacular view and is a 'must see' if you are in the town. The lookout has BBQs, tables and shelters as well as a toilet so take a picnic and spend some time there. The road up to the lookout is not suitable for caravans as it has several hair-pin bends.
30km south of Wyndham is the Grotto. 2km down a roughish dirt track you will find one of the most beautiful swimming holes in the area. The climb down may be a bit strenuous for older people and space at the bottom is limited but this is truly a beautiful place.
Wyndham is another of WAs hot spots. In 1946 the temperature stayed above 32C for an amazing 333 days.
Wyndham is on record as laying claim to having the highest consumption of beer (per head) in Australia.
The town was proclaimed in September 1886.
The area was explored by Phillip Parker King in 1819. King's pessimistic
description of the area kept Europeans away for the next 60 years. Originally called Anton's Landing, the town was renamed Wyndam by
John Forrest in honour of Governor Broome's son. (Turns out he was the
son of Governor Broome's wife but was actually fathered by her first husband Capt. Barker R.A.)
The first ship to land supplies in the area was the Cushidoo. The supplies were destined for the Ord River Station but by the time transport arrived the local
Aborigines had made off with all but a few well hidden bags of flour.
By 1886 the town had six pubs and a booming trade. The gold field at Halls Creek was attracting miners and merchants to the area and at
least 5000 people passed through the town. The gold rush was short lived and Wyndham quickly fell back to being a sleepy backwater town.
In 1901 there were only 61 people in town and by 1912 the economy had resorted to the barter system. By 1919 a meat works had been established in the town and it
continued to operate until 1985. The meat works had been in the construction phase since 1913 but World War One and a scandal with the London financier of the
project (S. V. Nevanas) caused the long delay.
'a lonely pin-point of settlement upon a vast and empty landscape of tidal estuaries, mangroves, unpeopled valley floors and barren, tree-less ranges'
George Farwell 'The Outside Track' 1951
Leslie Rees later wrote about the town having a foreground of 'empty 44-gallon drums, beer bottles, old tins, bits of sheet iron, termite-eaten wood. A background of salt
marshes and harsh, desolate hills under the torrid sun.'
Hardly inspiring stuff, but Wyndham has its own odd charm.
In 1935 (one source says 1938) a Royal Flying Doctor base was established there to service the east Kimberley.
The area was bombed by Japanese planes during WWII but there were no casualties recorded.
This town is in the middle of crocodile country, and care must be taken around all waterways.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Adams and Flinders.
In the 1920s a Dr. Adams and Charles Flinders were the towns Justices of The Peace. For some reason they hated each other and one afternoon after drinking at the local
hotel they had an all out brawl in the main street.
The constable had no choice but to arrest them and they spent the night in the lock-up. Next morning it was decided (as there were no other JPs in town) that they would
each preside over the other and impose a nominal fine on each other.
Adams was the first to preside, fining Flinders five shillings. Adams then replaced Flinders in the dock, but Flinders imposed a fine of ten pounds stating; "There's far too
much of this sort of thing, this is the second case of this kind this morning." Their relationship went from bad to worse.
Death Defying Dive
Anyone who has been up to Wyndham is probably familiar with a nice little spot known as The Grotto. Most of the year a stream runs over the lip of a drop off and plunges
down about 100 feet into a large pool below.
It is a favourite swimming hole and most people climb down to the pool by following a well worn path and a large number of steps cut into the rocks.
One evening, however, a group of people got full of booze and went out to The Grotto to have a swim. One of their number decided that climbing down all those steps
would be just too much of an effort and decided to dive into the water.
Unfortunately the spot he landed was shallow water and he broke just about every bone that it is possible to break.
The Royal Flying Doctor was called out to evacuate the rather horrifically injured man and found moving him was like shifting a 'big bag of jelly'.
The injured man was flown up to Darwin and the RFDS crew who delivered him did not expect to ever hear from him again. Imagine their surprise then when just three
months later he walked off a plane and returned to Wyndham.
(This tale comes from the book "Great Australian Flying Doctor Stories" by Bill Swampy Marsh. It is a great read if you can get you hands on a copy.)
Lost silver mine
Before the days of colonisation it is said that a Malay trader named Ibrahim had visited the King Sound coast and had discovered a huge deposit of silver. He went home and spent his treasure in Macassar and then returned for more. On the return trip he was shipwrecked and died but his journal was found and it mentioned the silver but not exactly where to find it.
Much later in 1909 a local character called Mad Jack was found dead on his boat. Killed by spears and a stone axe. There were also a few ounces of gold and a tin full of silver ore.
Later still an employee of Ibrahim's great grandson is said to have arrived in the area and travelled with a tribe of wild Aborigines. He was last seen in 1939 and is presumed to have died searching for the lost silver mine.
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(C) Jan Van Roey YouTube channel.
Port, Afghan Cemetery, Gully Cemetery, Moochalabra Dam, Three Mile Valley, Dreamtime Park, Crocodile Lookout, Five Rivers Lookout, Parry Lagoon, The Grotto,
The prison tree.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
FAMOUS SONS AND DAUGHTERS
State : Kimberley
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6740
Local Government : Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley
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