Fitzroy Crossing sits along the great Fitzroy River and is the traditional land of Banuba people. The original town site and crossing stand as a reminder of early droving days. A little further along the banks of the Fitzroy River is Geigie Gorge with its ancient limestone reef that was once part of an inland sea that stretched from Derby to Kununurra. Over time, the limestone ridges have been both sculptured by rain and sandblasted during floods to give the contrasting black and white appearance.
Fitzroy River and original crossing site
Located at the north end of the Kimberleys, the town of Wyndham sits between the Cambridge Gulf and Erskine Ranges. Suffering economically since the closing of the nickel mine, Wyndham and its surrounding area still offers lots to see for travellers. While there we saw the Grotto with a waterfall fed pool around 300 feet deep, Parry Lagoon Nature Reserve with the RAMSAR Marglu Billaong, the King River, Moochalabra Dam, aboriginal cave paintings and an old boab tree that was once used as a temporary jail. The five rivers lookout offers spectacular view over the Wyndham port and the five rivers that feed into the gulf.
Euros at the five rivers lookout
View across port to the gulf & King River entrance (left)
The town’s giant croc
Boab prison tree
Aboriginal cave paintings
Boab field at sunset
Kununurra is the gateway to the spectacular east Kimberleys and traditional lands of the Mirriwoong and Gajirrawoong groups. Established along the Ord River Irrigation Scheme (ORIS), it lies close to Lake Argyle, Lake Kununurra and their respective RAMSAR protected wetlands. The nearby Gibb River Road and ranges include the El Questro Wilderness Park. The ORIS supports significant agriculture including sandalwood, mangoes, sugar and pumpkins.
Lily Creek Lagoon, Lake Kununurra
Ord River diversion dam spillway
View of Kununurra from Kelly’s Knob Lookout showing the lake (left) and Sandalwood crops (right)
El Questro Wilderness Park and Emma Gorge
Located on the border of Northern Territory and Western Australia, Zebra Rock Mine is the only one of its kind in the world. The striking zebra rock fascinates researchers and tourists alike. While there, we went on wetland safaris to Lake Argyle, sought out the local Gouldian Finches, spent time fossicking in the nearby creekbed and ate locally caught silver cobbler.
Lake Argyle sunset tour of wetlands
Gouldian and other finches
Our final leg of the Northern Territory took us south from Darwin to Berry Springs, Litchfield National Park and Leliyn, Nitmiluk. In this land the horizons were dotted with columns of smoke from Wurrgeng (cold weather) burning, the haunting screams of curlew pierced the nights, and we found relief from the heat in specially designated waterholes. At Katherine we headed west and passed the beautiful Gregory National Park and Victoria River.
Darwin from East Point
The Lake, Berry Springs
Litchfield National Park: Magnetic, north-south pointing termite mounds (with cathedral mounds in background); Wangi Falls, View from top of Tolmer Falls, Savanna woodland, Florence Falls.
Leliyn (Edith Falls)
Victoria River and Gregory National Park (Judbarra)
Crossing the East Alligator River from Kakadu to Arnhem Land took us over Cahill’s Crossing and into an ancient rocky landscape with its floodplains and billabongs. We visited the town of Oenpelli before making our way to the surrounding sandstone outcrops, aboriginal wall art and Inkiyu Billabong. The tidal river was up on our return journey where dozens of crocodiles were lining up to catch fish going over the crossing. As we headed out of Kakadu, we stopped at the Mamukala Billabong.
Near Oenpelli, Arnhem Land
Rock art sites
Inkiyu Billabong, Arnhem Land
Cahill’s Crossing, East Alligator River
Mamukala Billabong, Kakadu
You don’t have to spend much time in Kakadu before understanding why it deserves world heritage listing. It’s home to hundreds of different types of birds, thousands of plants, and lots of crocodiles and other animals. Over half of the park is managed by its traditional owners, the Bininj, or Mungguy peoples. We observed much wildlife on a sunrise cruise across the river and flood plains of Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba).
Plumed Whistling Ducks
Black-necked Stork (Jabiru)
Salt water crocodile
Comb crested Jacana with chicks
Crocodile eating fish
A drive east of Katherine took us to the magnificent Nitmiluk National Park and gorge. A dinner cruise along the gorge and hike to Butterfly Gorge showcased some of the area’s beautiful landscape. The national park was returned to the traditional owners, the Jawoyn people in 1989.
Located by the Esley National Park, Mataranka is famous for its natural thermal pools and as the setting for Jeanie Gunn’s We of the Never Never. We enjoyed the tropical bush, walking the river trails and taking a dip in the Bitter Springs thermal pool.
Little Roper River
Elsey National Park
Recommended to us by fellow travellers, Longreach Waterhole was not on our maps or signposted from the main road. Just outside of Elliott, it’s free style campsites provided a tranquil setting with many species of birds.