Rain transforms landscape ahead of tourism season

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Revolver Falls in the Kimberley
Revolver Falls near Lake Argyle makes for quite a spectacular sight. PIC: Kimberley Air Tours/ABC

The heavy rains that accompanied ex-tropical cyclone Esther on its ‘grand tour’ of Western Australia’s Kimberley region has got waterfalls pumping again … and tourism operators pretty excited.

As the tropical low did a four-day loop between Kununurra, Derby and Halls Creek, it dumped between 50 and 350 millimetres … rainfall totals not seen in some parts of the region for several years.

The ABC reports that, as the system moved west across the Kimberley, the landscape along the Gibb River Road was transformed.

Ellenbrae Station, which is approximately 230 kilometres from Kununurra, received 190mm in little more than 24 hours. Other tourist stays along the Gibb River Road like El Questro and Home Valley Station, also received 150-300mm of rain.

All the extra rainfall has also been welcomed by tourism operators at Lake Argyle, with the lake’s level expected to rise a metre or two over the coming days.

“There’s a lot of rain coming through Halls Creek and the catchment area — that’s a 46,000 square kilometre catchment area,” Josh Melville, of Lake Argyle Adventures, told the ABC. “It’s the first in a good few years — we’re all ecstatic to have the rain like this.”

Locals have been making the most of the waterfalls flowing around Lake Argyle, despite some intermittent road closures.

“We’ve just got unlimited natural infinity pools, waterfalls out of all the rocks, it’s beautiful,” Mr Melville told the ABC. “We don’t know if we’re going to get a wet season like this again next year, so take advantage of it while it’s here.”

The rain is also good news for all grey nomad fishing enthusiasts, after it flushed local rivers and replenished a crucial barramundi breeding habitat. Greg ‘Hairydog’ Harman, who runs fishing tours from his camp on the Lower Ord, said that if you don’t get a good wet season, the little tiny barramundi get eaten by everything else.

“If you’ve got a floodplain that gives a little fish a chance to get to a size that they can defend themselves from other predators in the river,” he told the ABC.

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