17 – Fitzroy Crossing and Darngku

posted in: Travel | 3
Girrganyi – the black kite

After a two-night R&R in Broome we drove across to Fitzroy Crossing. We didn’t do much in Broome, treating it as a chance to do nothing for a day. After all, we’d had a busy few weeks so far.

We stayed in one of the safari tents at Fitzroy River Lodge. They are what it says on the packet – a canvas tent set over a concrete base. Each tent has its own small ablutions block. The idea is when the monsoon comes, the canvas, beds etc are packed away, the ablutions block is sealed, and the weather does its thing until the water recedes. They’re fine for a one night stay, but it was the end of the season. The shower leaked and the sink was blocked. Pete complained and it was fixed – but one expects better at $180 a night.


This was the first time it was really hot, reaching 39. That’s not very hot for this part of the world where the average maximum is 37.5, but we felt the heat and humidity. We sat on our little veranda facing the Fitzroy’s very empty course. Pete read a book and I watched the few birds out in the heat. Big black cockatoos munched on acacias, a handsome little northern kookaburra panted on a tree branch. A kangaroo hopped across the sand banks in the Fitzroy near one of the remaining pools.

We’d decided to go down to Geikie Gorge (Darngku is its aboriginal name), one of the Fitzroy’s permanent water holes, for a short boat trip. It was due to start at 4pm, when the temperature had dropped a little and the sun was sinking. A nice young aboriginal man did the EFTPOS thing with us at the park. (Visitors are not asked to pay to enter the park.) While we waited for the tour to start we read through the displays telling people about the gorge, and some of the aboriginal legends. That’s why I have a picture of a black kite as the header for this post. Here’s his story.

“Long ago Bunuba people didn’t have fire and so only ate raw meat. At the West Wall the old crocodile Gayi kept all the fire sticks for himself. One day the animals plotted to steal the fire sticks off Gayi but no one was brave enough except the bird of prey Girrganyi. Girrganyi dived down into the murky depths where Gayi lived and stole the sticks from him. Girrganyi then changed into his bird form and set the bush alight to produce fires for cooking. Today Girrganyi can be seen everywhere there are fires. He is maintaining the fires for everybody else.” (From the story board below)

The story of the black kite. And you do see this bird wherever there's a fire
The story of the black kite. And you do see this bird wherever there’s a fire

About a dozen of us hopped onto a shallow draught boat for the hour-long trip. It was a fabulous little tour, best told in pictures.

The gorge from the start of the tour
The gorge from the start of the tour. It’s an amazing place. Some ancient species like sawfish still exist in these waters (remember, it’s fresh water).
The colours are amazing. That white line is the high flood mark
See how the rocks have been undercut? You can see the ripples reflected on the stone. And those lumps of mud are bird houses, little local mud larks.
If you look inside the circle you'll see two little faces
If you look inside the circle you’ll see two little faces. The nests will be swept away in the next Wet – but they’ll build again.
Arty-farty gorgeousness
The ‘dark’ side of the gorge. There are caves all through there, home to many things. The ranger told us a story about two people who went exploring. Their torch died, and they sat down in the dark to take a breather. Until their ‘seat’ moved. It was a 4.5m olive python.
One of the local wallabies came down to watch us glide past
The line of debris towards top left is a fresh water crocodile. They’re harmless (to people). It disappeared in a swirl of water as soon as it realised it had been spotted
Right place, right time. I noticed this kite hunting and managed to get a rather grainy shot of it with its prey in its beak
Last light on the rocks as we disembark
Last light on the rocks as we disembark

3 Responses

  1. Marj

    I had heard that it is very expensive over there. $180/night for a tent – that is excessive.
    Beautiful pics, and you are seeing a lot of territory.

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