This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels June 16


The tour group was on their way fairly early. I snuck over there and used their amenities for my morning ablutions, before they got locked up again. These were in much better order, and cleaner – as I’d thought.

We were not particularly slow getting going, but many others in the campground were away before us. Escaping the grunge.

This was not a park – or even a place – I’d recommend for travellers.

Our approximate 200kms drive west, on the Victoria Highway, was an interesting one, as the terrain became more rugged. The road crossed the East Baines River, then the multiple channels of the West Baines River. Noted the turn off to Bulloo River Station, once the home of author Sarah Henderson.

Almost to the WA border, turned north off the highway, onto an unsealed road into the Keep River National Park. This lesser known Park is, in our opinion, a real gem. Most travellers tend to be focussed on getting to – or leaving – Kununurra, with often a long drive ahead of or behind them. They sail on by the unprepossessing dirt road that leads into this Park. Some, of course, are put off by the 18kms of gravel road that leads to the first of the two campgrounds. Usually, this road is in quite good condition and – in fine weather – would hold no issues for a two wheel drive vehicle and conventional caravan – although the latter would have to be off grid capable.

Our destination was the first campground, which we consider the more immediately scenic of the two – Goorrandalng Campground. The way to this took us past Cockatoo Lagoon and the Ranger’s place. We did not stop, having not found the lagoon all that special, previously. Also passed a water point, where potable water could be obtained.

We arrived before lunchtime and, at that stage, there were only two other lots of campers in here, so we had a fair choice of sites.

The camp area was a loop road around a bollarded off central area of low rock outcrops. Places to pull in with campers or vans were spaced along beside the inner part of the road loop. Tent campers could use the central “fenced off” part.  At convenient spots in this central area, were fireplaces and low table platforms. There were pit toilets down close to the entrance.

It was a very scenic and pleasant place to stay. Beyond the campground, to the west, were higher rock outcrops – very dramatic ones.

We set up at the far end of the campground, where we had a great outlook across to the rocks beyond. We had a bay where we could pull in and face the van inwards, M had an adjacent bay where she could put up her living tent on the area between the two bays. A most suitable spot for us!

Tailor made for us

Settled in. Walked up to the check in point and completed our registration envelope and put in our $6.60 a night fee – for the next three nights.

Rock outcrop in central area of campground

There appeared to be a number of day trippers in the campground area, presumably from Kununurra, it being a weekend. Them being parked in a number of the camp bays made it harder for the would-be campers who arrived later in the day. By dusk, most of the day trippers had gone and most camp spots were occupied. It was certainly busier than when we had been here last.

In the later afternoon, we walked the 2km circuit from the campground, through the rock formations nearby.

There are like a mini-Bungles, in the shapes and colouring of some of the formations, and geologically similar – striped sandstone.

There were spectacular, photogenic shapes.

It was a great little walk, except for there still being too many day trippers around. M was impressed.

Sunset, with an uninterrupted outlook to the west, was dramatic.

Camp chores

We had a campfire again! And stars at night. All was well with the world again…..

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2007 Travels June 15


 Today’s was a really short stage.

We wanted to do the boat trip on the Victoria River, which went about 40kms down the river, from Timber Creek.

So, booked into the Gunumu Caravan Park at Timber Creek, thinking we would be able to have a bit of a clean up,  before another National Park stay, as well as do the late afternoon cruise. Our powered site cost $18.50. This caravan park was a large one, behind a roadhouse. On paper it seemed the better of the two options available, with a greater range of facilities.

The park was nicely shaded and quite attractive, although somewhat dusty as sites have become a bit bare in parts. Unfortunately, the park amenities were dreadfully dirty and looking run down, with broken tiles. They were also accessible to the general public i.e. local indigines, who hung around the roadhouse and licensed facility. This did nothing for their general cleanliness. As the day wore on, so did the collection of used nappies strewn around the place.

There was a second amenities block, but when I went to look at this, found it was locked, because it was for the use of bus tour groups only. That said it all, I thought, about what happened in the ones that were for general use!

When we went to the office to book the boat trip for this afternoon, found that it was all booked out, due to some large bus tour group coming in. Damn!

Had the park amenities not been so filthy, we would have considered staying an extra night and doing the boat trip the next day. As it was, decided we’d spend our money on a boat trip on the Ord River, in Kununurra,  instead.

The park was fairly well patronized by campers. I wondered how many of them had been caught out by the boat trip scenario, like us.

Timber Creek camp – our basic overnight set up

Had refuelled at the roadhouse in front of our chosen caravan park, before coming in.  $1.64cpl.

With mobile phone coverage here, we did some catching up with family and friends who had left messages while we were out of range. Sent texts to my two offspring. Son replied back that he was off to New Zealand next week, for four days, for work. I was pleased by this news – a nice distraction from domestic matters.

This had turned out to be a “wasted day” really.

We did go for a little stroll around the campground. Opted not to go to the late afternoon crocodile feeding at the end of the campground, this being the other attraction in Timber Creek. I have seen plenty of croc feeding demonstrations in Darwin, thank you.

The large bus tour group arrived, set up in “their” area, then headed off for the boat trip.

As the night and the dark wore on, the background noises – mostly yelling and loud voices – became louder and more constant. No campfire, of course, but equally, no sitting outside after tea.

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2000 Travels June 21


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.

06-21-2000 04 Dashworth Crossing VRD.jpg

Cement ford over creek on the Buchanan Highway


We stopped at the Dashworth Crossing of the Victoria River, and walked alongside the adjacent waterhole, for some way. It was really lovely.

06-21-2000 02 vrd road

Crossing the Victoria River

06-21-2000 03 Victoria River waterhole

Waterhole on the Victoria River at Dashworth Crossing

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.

06-21-2000 06 jasper gorge camp area

Camp area near the entrance to Jasper Gorge

There were pandanus growing there. Hadn’t seen any of those for quite some time!

06-21-2000 jasper gorge.jpg

Jasper Creek at the campground

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.

06-21-2000 07 jasper gorge

Jasper Gorge

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.

06-21-2000 01 Buchanan Hway west of Top Springs

A road that required some caution

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!

06-21-2000 washing van.jpg

Looking much more respectable.

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.

06-21-2000 to timber ck