Brief guide to visiting Fitzroy Crossing - "the heart of the Kimberley"
Fitzroy Crossing is very small and remote town in the central southern part of the Kimberley, the northern region of Western Australia.
Most people visiting the place are either there as a stop over on a long drive or to visit the nearby Geikie Gorge, where the Fitzroy River meets Margaret River. If you’re traveling through the Kimberley on the Great Northern Highway and avoiding Gibb River Road, it’ll be hard not to pass through Fitzroy Crossing.
The town is mainly occupied by Indigenous Australian’s with the Bunuba being the traditional people and land owners of the area.
There’s a couple of servo’s, an art gallery and shop, clothes store, mechanic and IGA, other than that, there’s not a lot going on in terms of commerce, although just out of town is the Fitzroy River Lodge, a great place to grab a drink, meal or spend the night in a hotel room or the campground, the same goes for the historic Crossing Inn which is still in operation and was the first established hotel in the entire Kimberley region.
What to see around Fitzroy Crossing
If you happen to be visiting Fitzroy Crossing and have some time to look around, here’s a few different places that are worth checking out:
Just 20 kms from the centre of Fitzroy Crossing is Geikie Gorge, where the Margaret River meets the Fitzroy and the Limestone stands tall.
The area is covered in rock formations, mainly made of Limestone where the water and wind has eroded parts of the rock, creating caves, small tunnels and a stunning honey comb effect. The main attraction is across the river from the boat ramp where there’s a large Limestone wall, but the stone doesn’t just make up the river beds, many formations can be seen by taking a short walk around the area.
There’s the “Short Walk” which doesn’t give river views but will take you around huge boulders and other interesting rock formations, including an ancient reef. It’s recommend to allow an hour to complete the walk, but it’s no more than 10 minutes if you’re short on time and want to power through. The entire Geikie Gorge Short Walk is about 500 metres.
Go on the “Long Walk” to see similar rock formations and then head out to the western part of the Geikie Gorge.
For the best view of the gorge, boat tours operate in the peak season and are closed over summer, but if you’re to head down to the boat ramp and walk a little to the left, you’ll get a great view of the famous Limestone wall on the opposite side of the river.
For a couple more walking trails, walk over to the Sandbar car park, there’s then a two short walk to choose from.
Getting to Geikie Gorge is easy. Take the road that goes along side the Coles Express and BP servo, it’ll bend around past IGA and not too far down the road, you’ll see a well signed turn off for the gorge, turn right and drive to the end. The road is bitumen the entire way and suitable for all vehicles.
The original Fitzroy River crossing
Long before the Great Northern Highway existed, travellers wanting to cross the Fitzroy used to have to drive down a dirt track to where the river was shallow and make their way across. There’s a concrete structure that acts as a bridge when the water level is low enough – this is now referred to as the “original Fitzroy Crossing” but is no longer used or accessible by car.
Once river was crossed (when travelling from Darwin to Broome), the road would then go back along the bank, past the Crossing Inn and then in the direction of Broome.
This is a good spot to head down to for the sunset, as the sun follows the river and then falls away behind the trees.
Locals head down there for a swim as the water is usually running and not too thick, and the fresh water crocodiles are normally small.
There are two ways to get to the old Fitzroy River crossing, the first option is to head towards Geikie Gorge and about 10 minutes after leaving town, there’s a bend in the road and a small sign that says “river crossing”, turn right down the dirt track and drive to the end. Otherwise, head to the Fitzroy River Lodge and turn left at the side road just past the lodge, drive all of the way to the end.
Windjana Gorge is full of fresh water crocodiles in a remote part of the Kimberley, about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Fitzroy Crossing, near Tunnel Creek.
The gorge walls tower into the sky and you can walk along the bottom of them just above large pools and large sandy patches that get used as a beach. Although you shouldn’t swim here due to the crocs, on a hot day, you’ll see the occasional person bravely playing around in the water.
With permanent pools and others that are created from heavy rain, an abundance of vegetation is found throughout the lower edges of the gorge, creating a shady 3,5 km hiking trail.
The Windjana Gorge Walk showcases stunning landscapes and huge stone cliffs (some that are 300 metres tall) with the good chance of spotting crocodiles, it’s a great Kimberley hiking trail that’s worth a visiting when you’re in the area. Windjana Gorge can be accessed from both the Gibb River Road or Great Northern Highway, it’s on a road that joins the two.
While you’re there, consider spending the night as the Windjana Gorge Campground is just near the start of the hiking trail. Read more about the Windjana Gorge Campground here.
When you’re visiting Windjana Gorge, make sure that you also head to Tunnel Creek, both places are just near each other.
Tunnel Creek is an adventure!
About 1.5 hours from Fitrzroy Crossing, a bit over an hour off the Great Northern Highway is Tunnel Creek, & the name says it all.
You’ll need to climb over some boulders to enter a cave where you’ll then walk over some sand on the edge of a creek or if it’s been raining, paddle through it. Tunnell Creek is a long cave or ..tunnel with a creek going through the centre of it. You can follow a trail all of the way through, from one side to the other.
The entire Tunnel Creek walk is 2 kms, which includes the cave walk from one end to the other, then looping back around in the light of day.
Make sure you bring a torch, it’s pretty dark in there! & watch out for the crocs, there’s plenty of freshies around.
Accommodation & Camping at Fitzroy Crossing
There are two places in Fitzroy Crossing that both have accommodation and camp grounds.
Fitzroy River Lodge is the main accommodation and place to camp in Fitzroy Crossing. It’s just outside of town on the edge of the Fitzroy River with a large choice of accommodation types. There are 50 nice hotel rooms, some have kitchenettes, others are family rooms. 2 luxury river view suites, more affordable rooms over the back, glamping safari tents with ensuites, then powered and non powered camp sites. There’s a pool, bar, beer garden and semi-fine dining restaurant. It’s a great option.
Out the back of town, still on the Fitzroy River is the historic Crossing Inn, the first established hotel in the Kimberley. Depending on the season, there’s a bar and restaurant, then plenty of hotel rooms, workers huts and a small but nice camp ground.
Getting to Fitzroy Crossing from Broome
It’s an easy 4-5 hour drive from Broome to Fitzroy Crossing.
Head out the eastern side of town on the Great Northern Highway and just keep on driving until you get there.
To break up the drive, consider heading to Derby, although it’s a bit of a detour and there’s not a great deal there to see, but it is on the coast with plenty of great things nearby.
There’s a giant Boab tree that’s nice for a quick stop and look, just next to the highway.
If you’ve got plenty of time and a suitable vehicle (corrugated dirt road with a small creek crossing) at the right time of year, try heading to Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge on the way, even stay the night at Windjana Gorge Campground then head to Fitzroy Crossing the following day.