The next morning we did a walk thru the spectacular rock formations easily rivalling the rock formations in the Bungle Bungles.
We left our camp at Gurrandanlng (Brolga Dreaming) at Keep River and stopped in at a billabong on the way out – nice birdlife with the highlight being a Spoonbill being picked on by an Ibis defending its feeding hotspot – then another Spoonbill showed up – then another – the Ibis was given his marching orders quick-smart. We hit the road and made it through Timber Creek before turning off into Gregory (or Judburra) NP.
Some 4WD tracks were still closed so we headed for the easy option of the Bullita Homestead campground – hoping to find a spot to fit in. What a busy place – there was exactly NO ONE in the campground – terrible for social butterflies like us that need lots of people and noise and hustle and bustle around. Instead we got a good hot campfire burning and settled in. One vehicle did come in later and set up a fair way away but that was it for three nights.
Our camp was on the banks of the East Baines River. We did a self-guided tour of Bullita Homestead which was very isolated back in its early years. There’s some great history particularly about the Aboriginal workers and how they maintained their connection to their country by working with the white fellas and then being allowed to visit sites and do their ceremonies during down times in the wets season and so on. Some good stories about life there through floods and some bad injuries during mustering.
The cows are still here and have a particular dislike for the campers who arrive early in the dry season after they’ve had the place to themselves. The groaning and moaning of the herd at night was incredible. Josh tried to scare them away from the campground one night and they worked themselves up so much they were ready to stampede the place.
We tried fishing for some barra but with very few accessible creek banks – mostly overgrown with lush Pandanus and other thick plants fringing the river. Off the rock bars across the river was the easiest fishing – actually the bird watching while down near the river was incredible – a highlight was a Black-necked Stork flying through the sunset with a large stick in its beak – on its way to its nest.
The cockatiels were great as well – the first we’d seen. And, of course, brolgas always need a mention – a few pairs we spotted were impressive as always.
There were quite a few Freshwater Crocs – mostly small ones – but we knew there were the mummy and daddy in there somewhere plus the risk of Salties is very high too.
We did a day-trip drive out to Limestone Gorge which was another camping option and there were three groups camping there. The last few hundred metres of the “track” was actually just driving up a dry rocky creek bed with some substantial boulders to negotiate around and over – not many options if someone was coming the other way. It was a slow, low range drive but it wasn’t far really. The water in the river here is that beautiful clear spring water colour – with the palms and pandanus drooping into the edges it has the feel of a lush oasis.
We had a go at fishing but again it was difficult to cast without getting snagged or tangled. There was a nice walk that wound its way up into the rock country and gave good views of the limestone. Back to camp and running low on bread we made a damper for lunch – the first out of the fire had a fine dark crust with a smoky aroma and a hint of charcoal – yes it was burnt to a crisp! The second attempt produced a more edible loaf which we demolished pretty quick.