This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels June 14


After the usual fairly slow morning start, some daily exercise was called for.

Close to our camp was the point where vehicles attempting the Bullita Track circuit, would cross the East Baines River on a series of flat rock shelves interspersed with patches of river pebble beds. Right now, the lower sections of that crossing were too far under water to be passable.

We were able to pick our way, rock hopping, across the river. It was a bit easier for us on foot than it would have been for a vehicle, because we could jump from rock to rock, that varied greatly in height and size. Even so, we got wet feet! The actual vehicle crossing here swings around in an arc, but we took more of a straight line, because much of that arc was deep water.

Rock shelves of the Bullita crossing

The vehicle line was marked by posts in the river with blue markers on. The rule was that one must keep to the left of the markers.

Bullita crossing, with track marker post

After the river, we aimed to walk at a steady pace for an hour, along the Bullita Stock Route. The vegetation over here was quite open, having been fairly recently burnt, with some termite mounds and lots of boabs to look at, including one huge and venerable old specimen.

After the stipulated hour, turned around and walked back.

The walk was pleasant, before the day got too hot. The track was reasonably level, so we could – kind of – walk and look around at the same time.

Back at the crossing, M was in front, as usual, and surprised a croc, sunning itself on a rock. With hindsight, she thought  it was a freshie.  At the time, they both moved a bit too quickly for a good look!

The Bullita crossing of the East Baines River, at low water (marked in pink) (Zoom)

Felt virtuous about making the exercise effort, but lazed about camp for the rest of the day. Spent some time bird spotting. There was so much birdlife here.

During the afternoon, a Britz  hi-top 4WD camper arrived in camp, and set up at some distance from us. We spoke briefly with them – a young couple from Europe.

It was another lovely night, with a sky full of stars. They were so brilliant up here.

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2007 Travels June 12


Today our destination was in the western section of the Gregory National Park. This is the second largest National Park in the NT, but was only declared less than twenty years ago. This larger section preserves some pastoral history of the region, but also has some special landscapes.

We drove about 80kms west on the Victoria Highway, then turned south onto the Bullita Track. This was unsealed, but reasonable going albeit a bit rough in spots. The creek crossings required some caution, sometimes being in little gullies.

There was one creek that surprised John by being deeper than it looked – we were not doing as we should have by checking and maybe walking crossings first. It was only a small creek, but about 3 foot deep! We made an enormous splash as we hit and ploughed on through – more by momentum than anything else. We were through before John had much of a chance to react. Didn’t seem to be any ill effects…. There was more than one good reason why M was content to follow us!

We were clearly back in boab country. These trees, with their weird shapes, are fascinating, and are just such an intrinsic part of the Kimberley experience.

After about 50kms, came to the Bullita camp ground.

This was a very pleasant, basic camping area, by the East Baines River, with a toilet and water tank. Camp spots were delineated by bollards. After finding it so pleasant, decided we’d need three nights here, and paid accordingly. Didn’t have quite the exact change needed, so put $20 in the envelope. Slight tip for the Ranger!

We set up where we had a fireplace and table. Also had a collection of fruit bats in the trees not far away – they were very noisy, but to us that was nice “bush” background sound. There was no one else here.

Bullita camp

The campground surrounds were reminiscent of our Safari Creek camp at Pungalina, in 2005. Similar climate and vegetation zones of course – the monsoon affected savanna grasslands and tropical riverine vegetation.

After setting up camp, we walked to the nearby stockyards and the former homestead.


Bullita was once an outstation for the pioneering pastoral Durack family. It was never a stand alone property in its own right. Various important stock droving routes passed through what is now the National Park – some of them for moving stock between various Durack holdings.

The Bullita Homestead was not a grand old building in the pastoral traditions of the south. Rather, being a “back block” outstation, it was a glorified tin shed! It would have been a very hard life style here, even into the 1970’s. Actually, for the Park staff, it would be no picnic today, and they have more modern accommodations.

Of note, near the Homestead, was a big old boab tree, with a Durack name carved into it, and 82 – the question arises, was this 1882, or 1982?

The stock yards were interesting. John, of course, was interested in their construction. Bloodwood, found around here, was used, as was lancewood from further south, along  the Murranji Stock route. This was the timber commonly used for posts and uprights in these parts, and would have involved considerable effort to get it here.

The finished stockyard here was regarded as an exemplar for a drafting stockyard, where cattle were to be sorted into different categories.

An information board explained their layout and place in the pastoral saga of the area.

Totally strangely, and most incongruous, next to the stock yards, was a modern Telstra, solar powered, functioning telephone box!

Walked down to the point on the East Baines River, near our camp, where the Bullita Track crosses it. This was definitely not a river for swimming in – crocodiles in there, for sure. It is a feeder stream to the lower Victoria River.

East Baines River at Bullita

A couple of interesting 4WD tracks go out from where we were camped. The Bullita Track follows one of the old stock routes and then makes a circuit. The Humbert Track goes south and is a way through to the Buchanan Highway and Top Springs, or the Buntine Highway that runs between Top Springs and Halls Creek in WA.

On a different occasion, we would have been tempted to go day tripping, at least, on these, but all the 4WD tracks radiating out from Bullita were currently closed. The height of the river here might partly explain that. I hoped this might keep any yobbo type 4WDers away, whilst we were here.

It was lovely sitting around our campfire again at night. It was so quiet here – just the nocturnal critter sounds one would expect in such a place – and the occasional louder “plop” that one hoped was only a large fish.

At dusk, the bats departed  for their evening of feeding.

All was very well with our world!

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2000 Travels June 22


We got up about 8am. This is the type of campground where most travellers move on after one night, so there was much activity around us, to wake us up.

After breakfast, I went to the general store – part of the roadhouse complex – for bread. While I was gone, John got talking to the man on the next site, and helped him back his vehicle onto his van. His wife, whom we’d thought on seeing her yesterday was ill, he says is losing her sight and balance; this trip is for her. Of course, there is much that she can’t do, so he doesn’t either.

We went to the National Parks Office, here, and collected information about Gregory and Keep River National Parks.

Drove back along the highway for a few kms, then took the unsealed Bullita road, towards Bullita Homestead, which is 47kms from the highway.

The road was not too bad; there were lots of dips, quite a few with flowing water in. The deepest crossing was probably about 35cm. John stopped briefly in the middle of several crossings to “give the tyres a cool down” – not recommended practice at all, but it gave us views up and down the little creeks.

We spotted two new birds by the track, after getting out of Truck and looking carefully at the movements we saw – both finches: the long tailed and the black faced. There was much other bird life, most of which were familiar varieties. We are getting better at our bird remembering.

About 40kms down the Bullita road, the turnoff to Limestone Gorge was on the right, and we took that. The Information Board at the start of this said that it was closed beyond the Calcite Walk park area, due to washouts.  When we got to that point, some 6kms along, there was a closed gate across the track.

We left Truck parked there and did the 600m Calcite Walk. This took us to a valley where the limestone formations looked like a white waterfall.

06-22-2000 02 calcite near Limestone Gorge.jpg

The Calcite Flow

There were occurrences of stromatolites in places. The layered limestone outcroppings on the valley walls were most unusual. I loved the boabs scattered across the slopes. In all, a most interesting and enjoyable little walk.

06-22-2000 01 limestone gorge

Rock layers created an interesting terraced effect on the hillside

We encountered another traveller who told us that a grader driver had told him you could fish in the potholes in the closed section of the Limestone Gorge track.

We set out to walk to Limestone Gorge – the camp ground there was about 2kms from where we were parked. The closed road really was very badly cut up in a section of a few hundred metres – and there were little fish in some of the larger water filled holes in the road. It was a real mess, and we couldn’t see it being easily or cheaply repaired.

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Closed road into Limestone Gorge camp area

There were some superb old boabs en route.

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Boab tree with massive base

Stopped to eat lunch just short of the campground, beside the Limestone Creek, near little rapids. We were amused by a water monitor sitting on a rock and watching us carefully. He was about half a metre long. Eventually he took to the water, but then crept around in a big circle behind us – cunning fellow!

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Water monitor  watching us

We walked on to the campground. This would be a really pleasant place to stay, were it accessible with a vehicle.

From the campground, we decided to do the Limestone Ridge walk, since we were here. This was a 1.8km loop that was signed as taking one and a half hours, but we found it hot and exposed, and did not dawdle, so it took us 45 minutes. It gave great views over Limestone Gorge – quite impressive.

06-22-2000 03 Limestone Gorge Gregory NP

Limestone Gorge, seen from the Limestone Ridge walk track

We had ample water with us, which was good, given the heat of the middle of the day.

In all we walked for two and a half hours, over nearly 6kms and were stuffed by the time we got back to Truck. Our systems have become unused to exertion in real heat.

We then drove back to the Bullita Track and down to the Bullita Homestead area. We looked at the camp ground there, which would also be a pleasant, quiet place to stay – just a basic, National Park camp area. There was no one else there.

The Bullita Stock Route circuit drive starts there, with a crossing of the nearby East Baines River. We looked at this – with the river level quite high and the exact route through the river rather vaguely marked, it did not look a pleasant prospect. There was no way I would be wading that river to check the way – this is real croc country!

06-22-2000 08 bullita tk at east baynes r..jpg

Bullita Crossing of the East Baines River. Route goes to left of the marker.

It was getting quite late, so we did not stop to explore the old homestead area itself.

Returned to Timber Creek the way we’d come, getting back near dark.

A shower was very welcome after all the hot and sweaty walking.

The night seemed a little less hot and oppressive. Maybe we were beginning to acclimatize? The occasional small breeze that wafted over was lovely.

I couldn’t face cooking the planned sweet and sour pork, so I just cooked up the pork strips with some onion, and John had that with the leftover fried rice. I wasn’t hungry.

We drove 136kms today.