23/06/2015 To allow us to stay on at the Gregory River for a couple more days, we needed to replenish some grocery items, so we did a day trip north to Burketown in the Discovery, leaving the van at Gregory Downs.
Burketown is located on the Savanna Way just below the southern part of the Gulf of Carpentaria. There are two ways to get to Burketown from Gregory Downs – north via the Wills Development Road or looping around to the east via the Floraville Road. Together, these roads form almost an elongated loop with Burketown at the top and Gregory Downs at the bottom. We decided to do it anticlockwise; going there one way and coming back the other.
Heading off east and then north on the Floraville Road took us through the Augustus Downs property to the Leichhardt Falls, 70kms south of Burketown. There was a large waterhole in the river above the cascade but unfortunately, after three years of drought, no water was flowing over the falls. It would be a spectacular sight when it was flowing. The road is laid on top of the broad rock shelf that forms the river bed, and a crossing in the wet would certainly involve getting the vehicles wet.
Burketown has a population of 200 and comprises a pub, bakery, café/restaurant, grocery store, a few government service offices, a small school and a sprinkling of houses. Not much there but great for the fisherman as it lays claim to being the Barramundi Capital of Australia with its many nearby waterways.
The Burketown Bore was drilled in 1897 and is still flowing. It is now uncapped and the rich mineral waters feed a wetland on the southern outskirts of town. The water is too hot to touch straight out of the bore but soon cools in the wetlands area. We were very close to the Gulf, but couldn’t get to the beach because of the extensive salt flats that are not traversable. Only a smidgeon away on the map – so near yet so far.
After lunch and shopping, we continued the anticlockwise loop to take us back to Gregory Downs, and had an enjoyable meal that night with Paula and Peter and their friends Graham and Chris.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo