It’s been chilly lately at the Twelve Mile Circle as winter approaches and perhaps some warm thoughts will help me get through these cold evenings. I need to take my mind to the hottest spot on the planet. I might consider the place where the highest absolute temperature has ever been recorded. That would be Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya on September 13, 1922, at 57.8 °C (136 °F). No, I think I’d rather go somewhere consistently hot, day-after-day, somewhere that Wikipedia dubbed the Hottest Inhabited Place on Earth, a place so sunbaked that its average maximum temperature is 35.6 °C (96 °F). That is HOT. Contrast that with Phoenix, Arizona where I was the hottest I’ve ever been in my life a few months ago, where then average maximum is "only" about 30 °C (86 °F)!
Actually there are two places that share this dubious honour, both in the rugged, eroded Kimberley region of Western Australia: Fitzroy Crossing and Wyndham.
I poked around both towns with Google Street View to select my virtual vacation spot and I decided that Wyndham probably housed more sites that would interest me. I’m sure Fitzroy Crossing is a fine town but I appreciate quirky and unusual, and Wyndham seemed to have that in abundance. So let’s not have any nasty email messages from the residents of greater Fitzroy Crossing, please. Wyndham, it is.
Wyndham is a small town of about a thousand people gazetted in 1886 in the East Kimberley. It rests between the Bastion Mountains and the Cambridge Gulf amid mudflats and dessert. For much of the year it cooks in the tropical sun and during the rest of the year it soaks in monsoon rains. It’s also about as isolated as any town in Australia can possibly be, which means it’s really, really isolated.
Wyndham bills itself as the Top Town of the West, and with these amazing attractions I would have to agree:
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The Big Croc!
Drive into the eastern part of town, Wyndham Three Mile, and one can’t miss the Big Croc. I’m a sucker for giant concrete creatures so this would be a big bonus for any visit. Reputedly a local artist and his students used computer technology to turn a photograph into nearly 2,500 mathematical points, which were then used to plot a mesh structure that they covered with concrete. Roadside attractions go high tech!
This is an homage to the local saltwater crocodile population. Wyndham once had a meatworks that drained its discarded blood and meat scraps into the Gulf to the delight of waiting crocs. Sadly those days are gone (’cause I would have paid big money to see that) so we’ll have to content ourselves with statuary.
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Warriu Dreamtime Park!
And speaking of statues, drive further into town to see the artwork at Warriu Dreamtime Park. This includes a series of large bronze castings of an Aboriginal family in their natural surroundings. Indigenous artisans designed and created Dreamtime for the bicentennial and originally it was destined for a park in Perth. Somehow it seems more appropriate, more visible standing right here where it can command greater attention.
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Five Rivers Lookout!
Ease on up the road a bit to the highest point on the Bastion (Bahdarwi) Range to an altitude 330m above the Gulf. Check out this view of the five rivers that drain into the Gulf far below; Ord, Forrest, King, Durack and Pentecost. It’s a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset over the Kimberley. Gaze out to the horizon in all directions towards the vast emptiness below.
I feel warmer already.