Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
1-2 August 2006 - Fitzroy Crossing

Location map During our two day stop-over at Fitzroy Crossing I did a boat tour of nearby Geikie Gorge where the Fitzroy River has cut a gorge 30 metres deep through a thick bed of limestone laid down millions of years ago in a coral reef. Rainwater has dissolved the upper part of the limestone in distinctive vertical grooving and the river has undercut the bottom of the cliffs by several metres. Much of the upper limestone has a dull black surface layer of dust and plant life; but these surface deposits have been washed off by the river during wet season flooding exposing the shining white natural limestone colour in the bottom 10 metres of cliff. The overall effect of the different bands of coloured rock against the blue water and deep blue sky is visually startling. Freshwater crocodiles basking on river bank and limestone ledges add to the scene.

Geikie Gorge Geikie Gorge has been cut through an ancient coral reef by the Fitzroy River.
Freshwater crocodile Freshwater crocodile basking on the side of Geiki Gorge.
The tour included a look at Fitzroy Crossing which came into existence because it was a convenient place to ford the Fitzroy River in the dry season; a low-level causeway was built when the Northern Highway was established but it is less than a metre above a river which rises ten metres in the wet (the causeway is still used by local traffic). There are no alternative roads so wet season travellers just had to wait weeks until the river went down and Fitzroy Crossing was where they waited. Now there is a high-level bridge and traffic is held-up for shorter periods; Fitzroy Crossing is primarily an administrative centre for surrounding aboriginal communities. Our tour guide went into some detail on measures to minimise the harm caused by alcohol to aboriginal communities.

The road is no longer cut for weeks at a time but regular wet-season flooding is a fact of life for Fitzroy Crossing. The resort is on the banks of the river and most of the caravan area floods regularly replacing the red Pilbara dust with brown Fitzroy River silt left by floods. Toilet/shower blocks are about two metres above ground level and the main building is also raised.

Fitzroy River The Fitzroy River routinely erodes the banks of brown loam. This erosion is exposing coffins in the cemetery.
Road Bridge The high level road bridge over the Fitzroy River is less prone to being cut by floodwaters than the original causeway.
Jabiru Black headed stork in the Fitzroy River bed. This bird, previously called by the more attractive name Jabiru is readily seen at a distance but is sometimes hard to get close to.
On our second day in Fitzroy Crossing we treated ourselves to lunch in the resort bar. We found it very pleasant to sit in air-conditioning having a meal while watching caravans queuing up to check into the park.This park has been much hotter than previous places. Locals take some pride in saying that Fitzroy Crossing is the next hottest place in Western Australia after Marble Bar. Whereas Broome was comfortable at a thermometer temperature of 33 degrees, Fitzroy Crossing was definitely hot at that same temperature. At Broome we had the van set up so that it was more comfortable inside than out; this didn't apply at Fitzroy Crossing. Insects were also common after sunset at Fitzroy Crossing; they were not particularly 'bitey' but there were so many crawling and flying over everything that they were a nuisance. Inside the A-liner we use a Mortein Mozzie Zapper plugged into a mains power outlet; this evaporates poison from a bottle screwed to the base of the heater or from small mats slipped into a heater slot. The unit takes about an hour to kill all insects in the van.