The Crossing

27 04 2010

The arrival of some new cars at work combined with Australias NorthWest Tourism holding their biannual awards for the first time at Fitzroy Crossing, seemed like a good excuse to make the 400km trip out and see the sights. Having only really passed through the town before myself,  it was good to this time get out and see a bit more of the surrounds.

Fitzroy Crossing, the town, most often makes the news for unfortunate reasons : much of the  mainly indigenous population is wracked with the twin evils of poverty and alcohol abuse, which make the headlines, at least in WA, on a reasonably regular basis. Politicians from all sides argue and propose stopgap solutions infrequently, but the vast remoteness and spread of the region coupled with inadequate resources and  allocation has meant little real progress over the years.

Four of us, the better half, friends A & C and myself did spend one evening up at the “local” Crossing Inn. The place has a fearsome reputation,  but on Saturday night, we saw no problems. Flash, the place wasn’t. Picture a corrugated iron shack, barred windows and a rarely-felt air of neglect. Large iron shutters and gates hung from the ceiling, ready to be brought down in times of trouble, whether to lock people in or out, we weren’t entirely sure. Only full strength beers served were Emu Export or VB, cans only, and only after 6pm, result of a largely ineffective alcohol “ban”, really a curbing,  placed in force on the town over the last year.

Signs everywhere spelt out the penalties for spitting, fighting, and “humbugging”, ranging from eviction, to in the worst case (for assaulting barstaff), 6 month bans.  But the only action we saw was around the pool tables, the decent sized crowd all in good spirits and happy to chat with us out-of-towners, the only “white fellas” there. In fact, I’d say the hour or so we spent there would have been one of the  friendliest you’d find anywhere, with everyone wanting to say hello and strike up a chat.

Also got to go on the Geike Gorge riverboat tour. This was well worth doing, a one hour slow cruise up a small section of the river, with great commentary from AJ, our Dept of Environment & Conservation tourguide. As well as being DEC staff, AJ was also a local Bunuba tribesman, so knew not only all the facts and figures on the river (in wet-season flood, the second highest flowing river in the world  : 30,000 m2/s – would fill Sydney Harbour in 20 minutes!) but also all of the dreamtime stories and tales of the local people going back thousands of years.

Some photos of the gorge : white shading indicates usual rise of the water levels every Wet Season.

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One response

27 04 2010
Dr Yobbo

Was up there about 20 years ago, doesn’t look like it’s changed much. Geike Gorge is pretty spectacular. Fitzroy Crossing was just as scary then too, I seem to remember…

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