Today was a very interesting day on the Old Telegraph track featuring the most well-known crossings, Gunshot Creek. The day started easy. Bertie Creek crossing was only a very short distance from our camp and is fairly straight-forward. The creek is clear and has a nice rocky base, but also hides some pretty deep potholes. our recommendation would be to walk any of the crossings – at least getting out of your vehicle to have a look – before attempting to drive them.
We drove past the Gunshot Bypass track with the intention of going to Gunshot for a look and to attempt an easier crossing like the old Chicken Track. There is one crossing after the turn-off before Gunshot, Cholmondeley Creek. It’s a fairly straightforward crossing with clear shallow water. Gunshot is definitely a great spot to hang around watching others attempt the crossing! Most drivers we saw did really well, with only one driver towing a camper needing a winch out after getting hung up on the camper on the drop down. After checking all the crossing options and contemplating driving back to the Bypass track we all decided to give Gunshot a go. I’m glad we did – all three of the vehicles in our convoy made it through without any damage, even if it was decided to winch the “Shortie” Pajero down just to be safe.
Was it worth doing? Absolutely! If you’re going to attempt Gunshot please make sure you have a vehicle that’s capable and have the know-how to pull it off. A lot of vehicles have come off second best to this crossing. Having a spotter really helps, too. When you’re about to drop down the crossing it’s near impossible to get your line right without a spotter as you just cannot see enough over the bonnet. At the end of the day it is a crossing recommended only for those with experience. There’s no shame in taking the bypass track, particularly these days now that the Chicken track is arguably more difficult than the actual crossing. Its not worth breaking your car and ruining your trip. There is a lot of comradery between 4-wheel-drivers that even heading to the crossing just to watch would be worth it.
Cockatoo Creek is the first time heading south to north on the Old Telegraph Track that you’ll see signs warning about crocodiles. Thankfully we didn’t see any there, but we definitely kept our eyes peeled! I’d definitely recommend walking this crossing (if you’re brave enough) – the water is clear and its solid rock at the bottom, but like Bertie Creek there are some big potholes to avoid.
Between Cockatoo Creek and Sailor Creek you’ll drive past a lagoon on the left. None of us are quite sure what it’s called as we can’t seem to find it on the maps we have, but is is worth a quick stop. There’s lots of curious fish and tortoises who will swim up to have a look (particularly if food is on offer). Sailor Creek has both a log bridge crossing and a drive-able water crossing, and neither were overly challenging.
Fruit Bat Falls was possibly the highlight of the day, or if not a very close second after Gunshot. Photos do not do this spot justice – it really is a gorgeous crystal clear waterhole with waterfalls cascading over a rocky ledge. It is stunning! Make sure you pack your bathers as you will not want to miss the opportunity to swim here. Even in July we found the water was a pleasant temperature. The falls on the far side had a stronger flow and certainly must be nature’s best spa bath!
Our last challenge for the day was a water crossing that was harder than we’d anticipated. It was unnamed on our map but is possibly Scrubby Creek. It’s a longer stretch of water than any of the other crossings and unfortunately is muddy water which makes visibility from the bank impossible. There are two crossing options – one with a steep ascent out of the crossing in the left, or a longer, deeper crossing to the right. We attempted the left but found the clay surface slippery and bottomed out at the back. We then took the other crossing option which was easier in our Patrol but very deep – water was over the bonnet! Rumour has it that cars have been drowned at that crossing in recent times. Both the Shirtie and the Cruiser took the left crossing option but had to winch out.
We’re camped for the night at Canal Creek but unfortunately got in later than we would have liked. We were left with a pretty poor option for a campsite but it is a nice spot to camp if you get in early! Tomorrow should see us finish the Old Telegraph Track. It’s been a fun ride so far!