GREGORY NATIONAL PARK - FEBRUARY 2014
Spectacular rocky country dotted with biillabongs and boab trees.
Gregory National Park doesn't have the scenic attractions of the wetland NT Parks, but is sited in unique country with great historical significance and offers good off-road driving.
Gregory is in two bits: a spectacular gorge section at Victoria River Crossing and a much larger chunk immediately south of Timber Creek.
The predominant trees are crocodile trees (nutwoods with scaly bark) and boabs that have developed the most wonderful collection of sizes and shapes.
There are two entrances to Gregory National Park: by way of Top Springs at the bottom end; or the better way for first-time visitors, through the top entrance, via Timber Creek, where you can top up fuel and water supplies.
The Bullita Stock Route is a 90-kilometre loop track which takes a day's off-roading to complete. The track leads through a range of hills which feature remarkable stone terracing, which looks hand-made, rather than naturally formed.
After about an hour and a half's drive, you come across the old Spring Creek stock yards.The stock yards were part of the mustering and droving process until about the mid-1950s. The Bullita Stock Route was an important part of the chain which connected cattle properties to the meatworks at Wyndham.
Other evidence of the droving days is the ‘Oriental Hotel’. This huge boab is close to the junction of the East Baines River and Spring Creek, so it was obviously a regular droving campsite: hence the unofficial title.
The East Baines River crossing is a rocky causeway between two dry season billabongs, but debris hanging in the surrounding trees shows how high the wet season waters run, and with what ferocity.
A few kilometres past the crossing is a turnoff to the left, marked ‘Drovers Rest’. This 11km bulldust excursion takes you to another droving campsite, high on the banks of Barrabarrac Creek, near its junction with the East Baines River. Apart from its deep all-year water supply, this campsite was an important junction of the Auvergne and Bullita stock routes.
From the Drovers Rest, the track returns to the intersection and continues past palm-lined Barrabarrac Creek to the end of the 4WD road. From this point you return to the campsite at Bullita and fill in the log book details.
The Humbert Track makes an ideal exit from the Park and an all-day drive should see you at Top Springs for the night, where there are rooms and campsites available, and cold beer.
The Humbert Track remains a generally easy drive, with some interesting challenges at steep, dry river crossings. The most spectacular are at the southern end of the Park, where the Humbert River nears the giant Victoria River.
After the crossing, the track runs across flat, lightly timbered grass country and exits Gregory National Park, to enter Humbert River cattle station. Navigators get plenty of exercise here, opening and shutting gates. The road becomes progressively more travelled, passing by the famous Victoria River Downs headquarters on its way to Top Springs.
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