SUNDAY 10 JUNE SULLIVAN CREEK CAMP TO VICTORIA RIVER R/H 16kms
It had become obvious by the late afternoon, yesterday, that Sullivan Creek was not a suitable place for staying any longer. Too many people too close together. This is the trouble with half way decent low cost or free camp areas. So we packed up and moved on.
After only 16kms, reached the Victoria River Roadhouse. While John refuelled – $1.62cpl – M and I had a quick look around.
The campground looked very attractive and this would be central for walks M and I wanted to do. John was not happy that we’d “messed about” with last night’s camp, only to come 16kms today, before wanting to stop again. However, we didn’t then know how good this was, or how unsuitable Sullivan Creek would turn out to be.
Our powered site cost $20 a night. The campground was huge and grassy, with plenty of shade trees. It was very pleasant – and not all crowded! There was some TV – but only one channel, relayed from the roadhouse.
Set up camp, then set off to do the Escarpment Walk, before lunch. Had to drive along the highway for a couple of kms, to get to the carpark, from which the walk started.
This 3km walk involved climbing up to the top of the scarp. There’s that dreaded word “climb” again! It was quite steep in places. Taking photos provided an excuse to stop and rest my cramping calf muscles – always an issue on uphills.
Along the way were boards featuring some of the stories of the local aboriginals, that explained how rivers (and hence gorges) were made and how rain was made to fill these.
A local tree was flowering profusely at this time of year, and its brilliant yellow blooms were a distraction from the broader scenery.
There were excellent views from the top of the Escarpment, over the ranges, the Victoria River and associated gorges, and over our campground.
And what goes up must come down again…….
After lunch back at camp, we stirred ourselves again, and drove 10kms to the turnoff to the Joe’s Creek picnic area – 2kms along a gravel track. Here was the second walk we wanted to do in this area. This one was only a 1.7km circuit – however, distance is not always the indicator of difficulty! It just tells you for how long, roughly, you are going to be in pain!
From the carpark, in the picnic area, the range rose in a tall semi-circular escarpment. It was worth driving in here just for that outlook.
Our path wound through the spinifex and scrub, and then up a loose rock scree slope, through clusters of Livistona palm trees, to the base of the almost vertical scarp face.
The track along the base of the scarp wall took us past aboriginal art works on overhanging rock sections. One of the figures reminded me of the Lightning Man depictions at Nourlangie Rock in Kakadu. Another, an elongated being with a striped body, was similar to something we’d seen up near Kalumburu in the northern Kimberley. I found it interesting that there were these apparent similarities from across such a widespread area.
Then we descended back through some more scree slope and palms, and wound back to the car park, all the time with those imposing scarp walls encircling us.
This walk had been very scrambly, in sections. John did well, considering. All of us were leg weary by the time we got back to the vehicles.
Since we were close by, decided to take the short 4WD track to the Old Crossing of the Victoria River. It was only in 1970 that the road bridge near the Roadhouse was built across the river. Until then, traffic had to use the Old Crossing – basically a rock shelf in the river. It would have been impassable for significant periods.
It is easy to forget how recently it really was that these regions were opened up to the sort of modern access and travel that we enjoy today.
Our final little sidetrack for the day was to drive down a road near the Roadhouse, that led to a place on the river where boats could be launched, into what was a long reach of the river. We had to walk the last part of this, not being sure if there would be room to turn our rigs around at the end. It was a narrow little road through very tall grass.
Decided to have another, lazy, day here, tomorrow, in this very pleasant spot. John was content to do so, being happy that there was some TV.
Both walks today were excellent, but neither had been easy. The clearly hotter days made exertion that bit more difficult. The nights were still cool, though, and we needed to change into long pants.