Show all
Browse by Editions Authors Topics Locations

Wondrous Windjana

menu_book picture_as_pdf bookIan Smith Bushwalk Australia Western Australia Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) NP

Wondrous Windjana

Text and photosIan Smith

Windjana Gorge

It was first on the list of my destinations after leaving Broome. Since I hadn’t done much homework it actually took a lot longer than I thought to get there; around about four hours in fact. But of course I turned that into at least six after I stopped to photograph a tree and a sunset.

30 | Bushwalk April 2023

It was the following day before I reached Windjana and it certainly delivers as soon as you arrive, with the massive cliffs rising from the plain dating from the Devonian Period, when only sea creatures inhabited the earth. No crocs to worry about way back then!

The entrance to the gorge is exciting. Looking at the cliffs you’d imagine you’d have to walk up the stream to get into it but no, there’s a small cave-like entrance about 20 metres long that you slip through and, hey presto, you’re there.

It’s a broad expanse that awaits you and you’re quickly onto river sand after signs reminding you of the crocs and also taunting your curiousity to find a fossilised nautiloid in the rock (I found one).

If you’ve ever wondered what seeing a crocodile in the wild would be like then pencil in Windjana. On one bank in the space of 100 metres there would have been twenty, and then there were more on the “tourist” side. I wondered whether or not it was the knowledge I had about the Johnson River

croc or just their posture; whatever it was, you’re just not intimidated by them as you are by the estuarine crocs.

For starters, they’re not gliding towards you with both eyes focused! No, by the time I finished the gorge walk, I felt quite at home with them. In fact, I can boast I even went swimming in croc-infested waters! Okay, so it was about a kilometre upstream from where the crocs actually were (well, the ones you can see anyway) but I was the only one who did venture in. Bunch of wimps.

The walk is listed as two hours return. If you’re snap happy and want to push the boundaries a little, you can easily turn it into four hours. It’s a pleasant place and the further you venture along the


Fossilised nautiloid


Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge

32 | Bushwalk April 2023


The trail follows the creek and curves in an “s” shape until the end ...

chasm the quieter it becomes; anything to get away from the screeching flock of corellas at the main pool.

After a while you start to encounter boabs on the lower slopes and a pretty yellow flowering tree. The trail follows the creek and curves in an “s” shape until the end is reached, designated by no sign, just where one encounters a wall of reeds. However, no hardy bushwalker would be detained by a few stalks so I battered my way onward till I reached a

dry stream bed running in from the side and followed it down to the river again and it was near here that I crossed over and came down the other side.

The only prints were those of a horse that had been past in the last day or two, but no humans had ventured on this side though the water was just shin high where I crossed.

Coming back beneath the streaky high clouds I roughly knew where I could cross and, apart from dropping one shoe in the water, made it safely before I went in for a dip. The water is just beautiful and so refreshing, it’s no wonder Paul (someone I’d met earlier) spent so much time in!

So, a wonderful morning came to an end, but there would be more adventures later.