WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE TOP SPRINGS TO TIMBER CREEK 251kms
We were up at 7.30am and away by 9.
John topped up the tank with 20 litres of diesel. The fuel here was 1.13 cpl. He pumped up the van tyre that had been put on yesterday – it had lost some air overnight – only a few pounds.
Today’s driving was really scenic. After leaving Top Springs, we soon drove into jump-up country, which was much more interesting that yesterday’s fairly flat grass and scrub lands had been. There were more creek crossings, too, the closer we got to Victoria River Downs, and some with significant water in, too, though the crossings were shallow fords.
We stopped at the Dashworth Crossing of the Victoria River, and walked alongside the adjacent waterhole, for some way. It was really lovely.
There was more traffic today – we met about ten vehicles on the dirt “highway”, over several hours. Most were VRD vehicles.
Victoria River Downs is a very large cattle station that dates from the early days of pastoral settlement of the NT, in the 1880’s.
A few kms after the river crossing, we passed kind of through the settlement that is the station centre. It was like a small town. There were many houses, other buildings, yards, an airstrip. We saw two helicopters there and two light planes.
We decided that, in the rainy season, there would only be air access to the place. at times, given the size of the streams we crossed in the area.
After VRD, the road headed more in a northerly direction. We stopped at the campground at the entrance to Jasper Gorge, and had lunch. This was just into the Gregory National Park. It was a very attractive spot, beside Jasper Creek, a tributary of the Victoria River, which flows through the Gorge.
There were pandanus growing there. Hadn’t seen any of those for quite some time!
There were two camper trailers set up at the campground, but we thought the people were off canoeing.
Then we drove on through the Jasper Gorge itself, which was very dramatic, with great towering red walls.
Closer to the main Victoria Highway, there was burning off close to the road.
It had become increasingly hot and humid through the day – possibly partly a product of us moving further northwards.
The road today was rougher than the one we were on yesterday, and much more stony and rocky. With that, and lots of creek floodways that made dips in the road, it was fairly slow going. We had ceertainly made the right decision to stay at Top Springs last night, and not press on.
Once we reached the sealed main highway, and turned left, it was only about 30kms to Timber Creek – a small settlement beside the large Victoria River.
Timber Creek began as a dock for boats that serviced pastoral stations upstream, around 1900, but really only grew after the Ord River Scheme over the border in WA, began, the highway between that and Katherine to the east was sealed, and a bridge built over the Victoria River for the highway – in the 1970’s. One tends to overlook how relatively recently these parts have become readily accessible to travellers like ourselves.
We booked into the Timber Creek Caravan Park, for $15 a night, for two nights, because we wanted to do a little exploring around here.
John went to the servo and workshop at the roadhouse, to see about a new tyre. The man told him that our Dunlops were wrong for the roads up here! We will see, because this was an issue we had discussed specifically and at length with the Rockhampton dealer before we bought them. John then said we would wait until we got to Kununurra before looking for a replacement. We do, of course, still have one usable spare, for either Truck, or van.
John hosed the van down – it was extremely dusty – before we set up. Setting up was hot and sweaty work!
I phoned K and reported our movements to the answering machine.
Tea was soup, lamb chops, veggies, yoghurt.
No doona was needed tonight. It is not that long since we were huddled up in our winter gear, around the campfire at Opalton!
We went to bed at 9.30pm – were both really tired.