Day 60: Fitzroy Crossing (Tunnel Creek)
King Leopold Ranges, Western Australia
Beautiful cool night so everyone was refreshed this morning. Took off at 9 on the highway to the turnoff to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek for our adventures today. It took 2 hours to travel the 150kms to Windjana Gorge - the road was pretty good though. The gorge walk is usually 7km return, however, the last 1km has been closed due to vegetation issues. The walk itself was easy enough but we came to an abrupt stop where the trail was closed, and we were disappointed to not really see the gorge at all.
Anyway, we headed back to the car and looked forward to the Tunnel Creek Walk which we'd been discussing for some months due water and freshwater crocodiles being in the creek. So, with our torches in hand, and soon to be wet joggers on, we ventured in. Wow, what a place - a 750m long natural tunnel (similar perhaps to a train tunnel) with water and sandbanks along it. There was only light at the beginning, end, and about halfway, so in between the torches were necessary, and there was zero signage - all the while our torches shone into the water and saw glimpses of freshwater crocodiles - they are not meant to bite humans (as opposed to the saltwater crocs), however, it can happen so we were very cautious (and nervous).
The first couple of crossings were shallow. As we progressed through the dark tunnel, the odd pair of eyes was spotted in the waters with our headlamps. The break in tunnel around midway looked fantastic and hundreds of bats were overhead, hanging from the roof! The next section involved a thigh-high water crossing, and Renee was freaking out, not wanting to cross because of the crocodiles (there were none to see through the light of the torches), but there wasn't much choice, so over she came. The end of the tunnel view was also magic and worth the nerves - it really was a great place to visit. On the return journey through the caves, Renee freaked out again, but we made it out safe and sound, and it will be a highlight of our trip for sure.
A bit of a long unsealed road drive back to Fitzroy Crossing, and we were sad to see lots of smoke and burnt out areas in the town/caravan park. Seems that during the day a couple of major bushfires have started - the town's heavy with smoke as there's no breeze to lift it. We cope with it by having dinner in the bar (remember it's a dry town, and we have run out of supplies!).