HAVE just been listening to an interview* with UK comedian/musician/actor/author/bird watcher Bill Bailey, in which he enthuses about the vastness and the emptiness and the solitude to be enjoyed in Australia.
Perhaps not here in The Kimberley, Bill – I’ve never seen so many four-wheel-drives and caravans charging towards the Outback.
It is a remarkable part of Australia. Five million campers and cane toads can’t be wrong.
But if it’s solitude you’re seeking up this way, the nearest you might come to it is Mornington Wilderness Camp.
And the bonus for you, dear Bill, is the birdlife. Threatened species like the Purple-crowned fairy wren and the Gouldian Finch hop about under the protection of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which purchased the 320,000 hectare property in 2001.
It is part of a network of 23 AWC sanctuaries around Australia, largely funded by members of the public who are keen to see our unique wildlife and ecosystems protected.
Staying or volunteering at these sanctuaries all helps the cause.
Book in to Mornington well ahead. Without a reservation, you can ask at the little radio booth at the entrance to the property, but you’ll probably be turned away. Camping numbers are limited, there are no powered sites, and generators and campfires and pets and fishing are banned.
Above: The ‘driveway’ through Mt House Station is about 80km long.
That said, there are excellent amenities (solar powered, gas boosted hot water), a bar and restaurant, lots of enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff, and researchers and birdwatchers running around everywhere. Birdsong from Annie Creek to add music to your day, dingoes wailing in the night to add a frisson of excitement to that walk to the toilet …
You can spent your days lolling about or canoeing in spectacular gorges and waterways, in almost solitary splendour. Or you can pay to be taken to more exclusive wildlife watching areas on the property – and let’s face it, the funds are going to a good cause, the preservation of our environment and its remarkable inhabitants.
Read all about AWC on http://www.australianwildlife.org
In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures of this wonderful property…
*ABC National podcast, Conversations With Richard Fidler, “Bill Bailey: seriously funny amateur naturalist”. In this vast tract of country uncluttered by wi-fi, telephone or radio reception, I recommend you pre-load your phone with lots of interesting podcasts to fill in the kilometres on the road. (R. Fidler and B. Bailey, below. Pic: Twitter)