We are continually amazed at the difference water makes to this dry land. The Fitzroy River at the crossing is big and deep and so, even in the dry season, green abounds around its shores. Away from the river the harshness of the land is very evident.
A natural sandbar acts as a dam to keep this section of the Fitzroy River full even during the dry season
Standing on the banks during the dry gives no idea of the enormous volume of water that travels West down this river towards Derby,
in the wet when water level could be 10 metres higher that this boat ramp and flowing over the banks, cutting off Fitzroy Crossing.
The pleasant and easy Geikie Gorge walk follows the river along its flood path with the water on one side and a rough and fragile rocky outcrop on the other. The flood path is wide, 100 meters or more from outcrop to water in most places, and generally consists of coarse river sand. As you walk along there is a constant reminder of the river’s potential strength and power. The water levels of the wet season, marked in white, can be seen high up on the rocky banks of the gorge that trap the water in its current course.
The River has carved its path through a fault in a massive limestone reef, formed from a historic coral deposit at least as big at the Barrier Reef
A cruise on the river itself opens up a totally different world. The young indigenous guide shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for this environment.
Fresh water crocodiles sunned themselves on the rocky banks. Bats, whose noise made their presence known, hung from the trees in large numbers. The bats glide over the water to wet their chest feathers. When safely back in the trees they lick these feathers to satisfy their thirst. Safely indeed, as they are a favourite meal for the crocs waiting to catch them as they touch the water.
The previous image was the Western bank. This one of the eastern bank clearly shows on the rock face the height of recent flood levels
Beneath the overhanging rock thousands of tiny birds make their nests from the river mud. These birds will return to the southern states as the river rises and covers their nests.
The Gorge is also a popular fishing spot but swimming is “at your own risk”.
This fresh water crocodile seems to hesitate swimming at the mouth of a stream which is sacred to women’s initiation rites.
The gorge is a very important site for local aboriginal groups.
A large rock outcrop in the middle of the river marks a sacred place for indigenous men whilst further down the river is an area sacred to the local indigenous women. Both these areas are respected and avoided by the cruise.
The wet season sees the river generally rise around nine meters. 2002 was a record wet where the river rose more than 22 meters. The guide and rangers gazebo, built high up from the river and with a roof structure that is five meters high at the top, was completely covered with water.
Towering limestone cliffs overhang the river at various points, proving shelter for many birds and other wildlife
For now the Gorge is a peaceful oasis for all to enjoy