Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ
I don’t know what made us decide to stay overnight at the Victoria River Roadhouse as we pulled in for fuel, late on a Northern Territory July morning.
Perhaps we took the Grey Nomad’s experimental driving technique involving an inexpertly executed U-turn directly in front of us without warning as a sign to stay off the roads that day.
Perhaps the imminent full moon threatened the same thing.
Or perhaps the iconic Victoria River Roadhouse, nestled below the wild Victoria River’s magnificent escarpments between Katherine in the Northern Territory and Kununurra in Western Australia just looked too inviting …
Whatever the reason, we soon discovered we’d lucked out with one of the most spectacular campground settings in remote Outback Australia.
And 5 completely unexpected extraordinary experiences that make this remote outpost on the Victoria Highway WAAAY more than just a fuel and food stop.
So … what’s to do? Here’s how WE spent a stay of less than 24 hours at the Roadhouse!
1 Get a photo of … well, EVERYTHING!
From the iconic Roadhouse sign to the wild outback landscape to the moonrise over the escarpment* and sunrise over what is arguably Australia’s wildest river, it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo (although I did my darndest!).
BUT … here’s the catch. You won’t get good pix by spending all your time having happy hour in the campground or drinks at the bar.
Here’s my tip. Do the other things on my list, and the photos will take care of themselves!
2 Admire the landscape from the Escarpment Lookout!!
Heading west up the road and round the corner, a reasonable walking track (with some steep sections) winds up from the valley over the rocks and onto the escarpment.
It’s worth the effort for the staggering views over the Victoria River Valley, and down to the roadhouse and campground, nestled amongst the trees.
The fantastic array of wildflowers** were a pleasant surprise!
And because it’s in the valley between escarpments, the sun on the RED rock enhances the incredible view at virtually any time of the day!
3 Get close to Australia’s Wildest River!!!
If you DO try to get close to the river, don’t get TOO close – crocodiles are common in these parts. And while we didn’t see one on the Roadhouse stretch of the Victoria River, on our crocodile cruise at Timber Creek, a couple of hours west, we saw more crocodiles in a couple of hours than in the rest of both our lives put together!
The height of the old bridge compared to the new gives an indication of how much water flows through the river crossing during the wet season. The many campers who didn’t take the 5 minute stroll down onto the old bridge missed an excellent opportunity for those sunset or sunrise photos where the escarpment GLOWS!
A short drive south along a gravel road down to the river gave a different perspective. On the lookout for the crocodiles infesting the river, we weren’t expecting the buffalo*** that somehow wandered between us and our car …
4 Eat at the Roadhouse Restaurant …
… and have a real multicultural experience!
The pierced Nordic backpacker**** who rattled off her practised spiel as we checked into the excellent and scenic caravan park nestled between escarpment cliffs of the Victoria River Valley was only the first in a string of overseas tourists we encountered during our short stay.
An eclectic mix of staff representing a smattering of other European countries variously served us drinks, took our order, served our meal and cleared our table.
And the other diners weren’t all Grey Nomads on an extended happy hour, either! My shameless eavesdropping picked up at least 10 different accents from both sides of the counter in the small dining room – with Aussies way in the minority.
More fools them!!
5 Walk the Joe Creek Loop
The guidebook ‘suggests’ this walk is moderate grade, but I wasn’t so sure … a steep, rocky track straight up the escarpment; a narrow path under a soaring cliff; gravel crumbling underfoot.
But the next day at Timber Creek, the one-legged man with crutches***** on our crocodile cruise told us he’d done it the day before and I felt like a big girl. Hardly surprising because I AM a big girl, but you know.
Difficult or no, however, this walk delivers the goods. Red rock, livistona palms, Aboriginal Art, natural amphitheatre glowing RED in the evening light. It even overshadowed the public toilet which sadly, wasn’t quite scenic enough to make the cut …
And if I can do it, and a one-legged man with crutches can do it, what’s YOUR excuse?!
This remote outpost in the Aussie Outback is the real deal. But like so many Outback places, the only way to see it is to stop and explore. Looking back, it’s hard to believe we spent less than 24 hours there – but I see at least one more 24 hour stopover in my future …
* I can’t guarantee a moonrise for YOUR visit!
** Nor can I guarantee wildflowers!
*** Wild buffalo might not appear!
**** And Nordic backpackers might not turn up for YOUR visit!
***** And I certainly can’t guarantee a one-legged man with crutches!!
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We have only been to NT once – and then only as far north as Alice Springs. Fantastic images and story Red. You have certainly reminded me why I want to visit more of NT.
I would love to see this part of Australia sometime. Thanks for tip on Crocs! It is an important one to remember.
@FrankandMary – Yeah, I just hold the camera out, press the trigger – I mean shutter button – and a cool pic pops out the other end! Saves a helluva lot of time!!!
@Frankie G – Was only just July for us – the 2nd!!! It was pretty warm that day, but we worked through it … and my point and shoot camera managed those pix!!
@Sallie – I know those people too!! Not that I’ve got anything against happy hour – only when it takes over your whole travelling life to the point where it’s the focus of the day! But hey!! That’s just me!!! Each to his own, huh?!
@diane b – you might not have even stopped there. If you don’t get to look around, it’s just another outback roadhouse!!!
@FruitCake – I was a Victoria River and Kimberley virgin until this year!!! But it’s not the kinda place to be gentle with you …
@Are We There Yet – Tragically, we also have the other kind of roadhouses too … but the remote outback ones are often an experience in themselves!
@Manzanita – Welcome back! I’ve missed you!!! Sometimes it’s OK to be a moving target – but didn’t mean to shake you off with the name change!!! And the day I get lean leg muscles?? HHHMMMmmm… not sure what I’ll do …
@Stewart – It’s only imperfect if you think it so! Just heard a great quote – ‘Think outside. You don’t need a box’!!!
@Go Camping – May I suggest narrowing Central OZ down to 1 or 2 regions? There’s too much to do properly in one visit!
@Aleah – That guy made my ‘achievements’ seem like nothing. But who cares when the scenery’s THIS good?!?!
@eileeninmd – This far north, and you’re really in the WILD zone! Glad you enjoyed!
@PDP – Are you kidding? It’s an honour and a privilege to be an explorer downunder!!!
Those d#$n gray nomads ;>>))…the inexpertly made turn and the spending all their time on happy hours in the campground … I know those people! (But even though both parts of the title apply to us, I’d rather explore like you guys do!) Beautiful there — glad you discovered it.
Wooee! Look at them pictures. Interestingly we were there in the month of July and let me tell you it was too HOT to do any walk around Joes Creek. It was all we could do to stand in the shade of a spindly tree to gulp down our thermos coffee. However the scene from the parking lot was spectacular and my early model point n shoot camera did not produce photos as good as yours.Joes Creek, Timber Creek and Victoria River Roadhouse are on our list of places to re-visit. Thanks for the reminder.
Your Roadhouse is sure more beautiful than what we call a Roadhouse here in the States. You get to see beautiful scenery, we get to see parked cars and pavement.
Our Roadhouse is a Steakhouse restaurant… no campground NADA!!
A guy on a crutch also did all those things?? Well, hats off to him. I can clearly see why from your pics though. Your country has so many wonderful places to adventure in!
I so must get to the NT next year. Stories like this inspire me to go (well, the one legged man isn’t a major drawcard for me), but everything else IS!! Great photos too.
The photos have to take care of themselves, because you nearly always have so very much going on.~Mary
I really must get up there sometime.. I am obviously missing so much. Your photographs are great-my favourite is the one looking under the bridge at the river.
Upon my return, I looked for you, my Dear, but now I see what you did…. you changed your name on me. And …. amazing adventures are what I find on your blog. No rabbit behind the bush for you two. Ha
Wildest river? It looks like a pane of glass. Or do you mean surrounding territory and critters?
I admire your stamina for all your treks through the wilds of your country land. That is what makes all your lean leg dancing muscles. Teasing, about the dancing, I mean.
I’ve been teaching myself “tap” during my hiatus. Come join. (smile)
Love to you, Manzi
I’ve never seen this part of the country but of course Victoria River and the Kimberley are an integral part of so much history. Thanks for this post, Red!
I don’t remember this place on our trip. Probably because we were on a bus. The hike sounded strenuous, well done for doing it. Hike, I mean.The colours are so warm and earthy, the ones that cry out Aussie outback.
Oh we’ll that’s it then Red, if you can’t guarantee a guy on crutches it’s all over red rover!! Seriously this is like an oasis in the outback, I can’t believe some folk missed out, thank you for being the keen explorer that you are..
What a beautiful country and a great place to visit. I loved your photos, the views are amazing. Wonderful post, have a great day!
Nice idea to redefine perfection!
If you want to see a road house stay in one – if you want to see the country, go outside! Good tip.
Like the pictures from “Calamitous Falls” in an older post – it was christened that after one of our family fell over on the way to it!
Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne
@Andrew – I can’t believe we didn’t see crocs there – we certainly saw them almost everywhere else!
@Beach Bum – It’s a bit too harsh and wild up this way for civilisation …
@Rose – Hey! So glad you dropped by!! Yes, the air was clear, the nights cool, and the colours FINE!! What’s not to love?!?!
@lorik – With your penchant for orange, you’d feel right at home!!
@SFlaGuy – Haha, I’ll NEVER run out!! The more I travel OZ, the more I realise how little I’ve seen …
@Mary – Thanx for dropping by!! Indeed all IS well!
@TMWH – All this … and not a bakery in sight!!!
@Carole M – How far do crocs go from the water? Depends how far back you’re standing!!!
@River – I’d be VERY surprised if you couldn’t get there by bus! And the roadhouse also has motel-style accomodation as well as the campground!! Good luck with your travel planning!
@Friko – Almost!! And there are a few un-beautiful places – I just don’t blog about them!!!!
you’re certainly doing a great thing in your lives, getting out and about in tandem like you do. Great photographs, love the commentary always. How far do the crocs roam from the waters edge I wonder?
G’day Red……what a spot!! What amazed me the most about these gorgeous photos is the clarity – no haze just crisp and clear. You wouldn’t have to tell me twice to stay away from the river’s edge, oh nooo.
What an enchanting and spiritual area. Wonderful.
When I was much younger I remember people talking about how the United States had millions of great, out of the way places like old motels, roadside attractions, and locally-owned restaurants. That was when the national Interstate road system was relatively new with huge stretches empty and undeveloped.
Now it seems its nothing but a long stretch of strip malls, sterile national restaurant and motel chains. It’s great to look at your pictures and dream about get away from all the hyper-commercialism.
Interesting spot. I’ve just been looking at satellite images. There is a huge sand deposit south of the highway, an ideal place for crocs to warm themselves.
But you can guarantee crocodiles?
I promise to stay well away from the river.
Is there anywhere in Oz which is NOT breathtakingly beautiful?
I need more information. Can I get there by bus? (because I don’t drive), are the caravans for hire to stay in, like cabins, or do you have to bring your own? (I don’t have one).
I’ve decided to use an exercise book to list all the places I want to see now, instead of little bits of paper scribbled on as I read your posts.
Ooh Red, you have such lovely adventures. Those little palm trees/bushes I love. So elegant. Great photos and another wonderfull post. Musta been a thrill to see so many crocs – are they always in the water or do they live on land as well?
Oh my! And I’ll bet many people just pass all that glory by without even knowing it is there. Their bad luck, I say!
What a great find. Your photos are fabulous and this an appealing spot to visit. I hope all is well. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary
I’ve been wondering how you come up with so many wonderful, out of the way places for your blog so I decided to google map the place (your country). I see you will be posting for a long time.