Timber Creek sure didn’t look like the home of Australia’s wildest river OR the crocodile capital of OZ as we pulled in after a punishing hour – and about 90 kilometres – on the road. I hadn’t yet discovered the killer Scenic Loo but even if I had, Timber Creek wouldn’t have looked like dunny heaven either.
I checked my watch. Only 10:30 am and we were done with the driving for the day.
Damn! How did I turn into a Grey Nomad* without noticing?!
The Victoria River – Australia’s WILDEST – is over 200 km (~120 miles) of sensational scenery, rugged ranges and wall to wall crocodiles. And as well as spectacular natural attractions, the region has an intriguing blend of Indigenous, Colonial and Military history. We’d seen part of the area the day before at the Victoria River Roadhouse.
So the bonus of arriving so early meant loads of time to explore the rest.
Just as well, because there’s a helluva lot to see!
1 The Crocodiles
Pilchard and I saw more crocodiles in two days than in all our previous crocodile sightings combined. And when I add all the crocs we’ve seen since then? This town’s still WAY out in front.
Crocodiles don’t actually go to heaven – they just head north to Timber Creek!
Because if you’re a crocodile, what’s NOT to love about Timber Creek?
If you’re a freshie**, hang out in the creek behind the caravan park and get fed by a gaggle of tourists EVERY NIGHT!
And if you’re a saltie*** the Victoria River is a croc-heaven takeaway with cattle from the stations, wallabies and other wildlife feeding along the banks, and boatloads of barramundi fisherfolk who make catching a big one for dinner REALLY easy!
PLEASE NOTE: Practice crocodile safety on and near waterways. All my crocodile photos were taken from a croc-proof boat and pontoon on the Victoria River Crocodile Cruise!
2 Cruising Australia’s Wildest River
There’s something about eating a sensational array of snacks and enjoying a drink while watching a superb sunset sink into a crocodile-infested river. Something that makes you want to – well, YOU know!
So where DO you go when nature calls and you’re surrounded by crocodiles on Australia’s wildest river? To one of Australia’s most scenic and unusual toilets, of course!
Yes, it’s in MY BOOK (click right HERE to got there)!
The pontoon potty is just one (VERY good) reason to take the Victoria River Crocodile Cruise. It’s a 3 hour 70 kilometre journey into the heart of the Top End with local guide Neville Fogarty in his purpose built croc proof boat – the Fleetwing – to a pontoon perfectly positioned to showcase the sights.
And see as many crocodiles as you’re likely to see anywhere outside a crocodile farm!
3 History and Heritage
The Crocodile cruise isn’t just about the crocs. Before we get anywhere near the river, we’ve had a mini-town tour, fascinating history lesson, and a pit stop at the local museum. But the croc cruise gets back after sunset, so we stay another day to see what we’ve missed.
I didn’t know anything about how to take fingerprints correctly until I entered the heritage listed Police Station Museum, also home to other quirky memorabilia like a Furphy; and a kangaroo hide bed where Neville Fogarty (croc tour man) apparently once slept!
But reminders of more shameful past episodes are in the shackle and chain for Aboriginal prisoners still attached to a tree, and the holding cell in the front yard.
And who knew about the Nackeroos, ‘Bush Commandos’ with a platoon stationed at Timber Creek after the Top End was bombed by the Japanese during World War Two? I certainly didn’t, but the escarpment memorial tells of the hardships faced in defending Australia’s coastline in this wild and remote area, and the great respect for the skills of the local Aboriginal people working with and as part of the Nackeroos.
But the Nackeroos weren’t the last of the military activity in the area …
4 The Bridge to Nowhere
If you’ve seen the super-highway-like Bridge to Nowhere spanning the Victoria River you’re probably questioning my judgement about recommending it as a Timber Creek attraction.
Especially if I say the bridge was a highlight of our visit!
The bridge doesn’t REALLY go to nowhere – it just goes to nowhere the average person is allowed to go ie the Bradshaw Field Training Area. If in any doubt about entering, there’s a few handy hints that’ll make your unwelcomeness perfectly clear.
Like the massive gate with padlocks and spikes.
And the four separate signs with different messages that make even a croc seem friendly.
But quite apart from anything else, the bridge – across which you’re quite welcome to walk – is one of the best places from which to appreciate the grandeur of the Victoria River!
5 Judbarra/Gregory National Park
When I first saw the Gregory Tree, it was overlooking a crocodile from high on the banks of the Victoria River.
I was checking out the same crocodile from just above the waterline on the croc-proof cruiser. I’m not sure who had the best view, but there were no crocs in sight when I saw the tree up close the next day.
It’s just part of the 13000² km Gregory National Park, named for explorer Augustus Charles Gregory, whose expedition passed through in the mid 1800’s. And although graffitti artist Gregory left the travel dates inscribed on the tree, it’s considered ‘historic’, rather than vandalism! There’s nothing to say how the local Ngaringman Aboriginal people felt about Gregory defacing the tree – it’s also registered as a sacred site.
We explored the eastern section of the park the day before from the Victoria River Roadhouse, 90 km east. Don’t miss the fantastic Joe Creek walk through Livistona Palms, and the amazing view from the Escarpment Lookout.
The western section extends quite a long way south of Timber Creek, with 4WD tracks to the old station homestead, gorges campgrounds and fishing spots. The tracks even join up with the Buntine Highway, an alternative route into Western Australia – which isn’t that far away from Timber Creek!
Tragically, the only part of the western section I saw was the Gregory Tree – but that’s what ‘next time’ is for, right?
Timber Creek may be small but has a LOT of attractions that make it a TOP Aussie Town!. So if you’re thinking of giving it a miss, think again and get there early – because sometimes acting like a grey nomad pays off!
5 things to do in Timber Creek on an overnight stay:
- Crocodile Cruise on the Victoria River
- Drive to Policemans Point Lookout
- Walk the Heritage Trail
- Watch the Sunset from the Escarpment Lookout
- Feed the Crocodiles at the Circle F Caravan Park
5 more things to do in Timber Creek:
- Tour the Historic Police Station Museum
- Cross the Victoria River on the Bridge to Nowhere
- Drive out to the Gregory Tree
- See Limestone Gorge in Gregory National Park’s western section
- Walk Joe Creek and the Escarpment Lookout trails near Victoria River Roadhouse in Gregory National Park’s eastern section
Timber Creek Fast Facts!
Where: Timber Creek is ~285 km west of Katherine; 90 km west of the Victoria River Roadhouse; 225 km east of Kununurra on the Victoria Highway.
When to Go: Temperatures are lower with less humidity during the Dry season from June to November. 4WD tracks and other attractions are closed during the Wet Season when rains commence around December and re-open around May depending on the amount of rain.
Where to Stay: We stayed at the Circle F Caravan Park attached to Fogarty’s Store and the Timber Creek Hotel, also with cabins and motel accomodation. The Big Horse campground is near the boat ramp. Gregory National Park has several campgrounds.
What’s There: Timber Creek facilities include accommodation, fuel, food, banking, vehicle repairs, emergency medical services and an airstrip.
*In our experience of travelling with the Southern Grey Nomad, we’ve observed that they’re often at their destination by lunch time. The rest of the day is spent setting up and preparing for happy hour! That’s not a criticism – it’s just the way it is – but such a short travel time meant that maybe, just MAYBE we were becoming more like them :-O
** Freshies = Freshwater crocodiles, the smaller, less aggressive Crocodylus johnstoni
*** Salties = Saltwater crocodiles (aka estuarine crocodiles), the much larger, VERY much more aggressive Crocodylus porosus
- Timber Creek
- Victoria River Cruises
- Judbarra/Gregory National Park
- More about the Nackeroos
- MORE Photos of the Victoria River Region on Flickr
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