SATURDAY 9 JUNE DUNMARRA R/H TO SULLIVAN CREEK CAMP 426kms
We left the bitumen at Dunmarra and drove west to Top Springs – some 180kms on a reasonable gravel road. In 2000, we’d camped here but it seemed the Roadhouse at Top Springs now no longer offered camping. The area we’d stayed in was fenced off.
Refuelled – $1.75cpl. Treated ourselves to cold drinks and ice creams. The days were starting to seem hotter.
From Top Springs, the Buntine Highway was narrow and sealed. It was interesting enough, with some low range areas breaking up the grassland sections. Along the way we passed the turnoff to the Birrimba station, once owned by a lady I knew back in my teaching days, who was an advocate for the needs of isolated students. I wondered idly if her family was still there.
At the intersection with the Victoria Highway, we turned west and thus onto a road travelled before – most recently last year. This time, we had the luxury of leisure time to explore.
Gregory National Park is slightly strange, in being divided into two different sections, with considerable distance between them. It is about 85kms by road between the parts, though south of the highway they are closer. I presumed, from the irregular boundaries, that both sections had been pastoral leases. The section between them was now marked on my road atlas as Aboriginal land. The eastern section contains some of the upper Victoria River and is spectacular range and gorge country, whereas the western part is flatter and has tributary streams of the Victoria River. The Park is regarded as marking the division between the tropical north and the semi arid grassland areas to the south. Thus, like Davenport Ranges, it is biologically diverse.
Pulled into the Sullivan Creek Camp Ground, just inside the National Park, which – according to one of my guide books – was a good place from which to explore that section of the Park. It looked very pleasant – fairly small, with toilet. There was a fireplace and low table in a circular central area, protected from encroachment by vehicles by bollards. The small creek looked lovely.
There were two vans already set up, parked in the most secluded corner of the camp area. We decided to stay and paid our $6.60 into the honesty box provided. Found a place to set up, parallel to the bollards of the central area, with M behind us.
John did not want to pull into any of the nicer, bushy corners, because he wanted full sun on the solar panels. He declared that he would decide where we parked, and that he did not want my input, at all! The result was that he did not get my input – and parked the rig pointing the wrong way, so the van door opened out into the road part, not towards the bollards. Eventually, he realized this, and had to drive away and come back from the other direction. Face was lost!
We wandered about, looking at the creek. It formed a small waterhole here which would be very tempting in hot weather. But it also might not be croc free…..
As the afternoon wore on, a surprising number of rigs arrived, the last couple well after dark. They ended up squashed in everywhere, with later comers just parked on the access road itself. I find it quite incredible, how late some people travel. There had also been a few who drove in, looked, and departed again.
After tea, we chatted for a while with a couple who had set up by a fireplace not far from us. They were travelling with just a vehicle, being workers moving from one place to another, and set up a foam mattress by the fire, to sleep on. She – an indigenous lady – was an interesting person to talk to. She told us they were moving elsewhere to work because she was sick of her relatives “bludging off us”.