Stunning scenery, billions of bats, cruising crocodiles, fantastic hikes and the chance to splash about in puddles in a dark tunnel! Every turn brings us more magic in outback Australia.

The Fairfield Leopold Downs Road is an outback track which connects Halls Creek – the end point of our Tanami Track trek – with Derby – the start point of the Gibb River Road. Along its relatively short length are two spectacular stop-offs.

Tunnel Creek is the oldest tunnel system in Australia and it is exactly what it says on the tin – a creek running through a tunnel. Half way along there is a roof cave-in and a colony of sleepy bats. In between are small lakes and pools, so it was time to go splashing and clambering – ┬ájust because we could.

The entrance to Tunnel Creek

The entrance to Tunnel Creek

 

One of the subterranean pools you have to wade through in Tunnel Creek

One of the subterranean pools you have to wade through in Tunnel Creek

 

Clambering over rocks and paddling through pools - we are 9 yrs old again

Clambering over rocks and paddling through pools – we are 9 yrs old again

 

A small crack of light is all that guides the way

A small crack of light is all that guides the way

Emerging from the darkness

Emerging from the darkness

Windjana Gorge, further up the Fairfield Leopold Downs road, is what remains of a coral reef from the inland sea which flooded the area more than 350million years ago. What looks like a rock face is in fact an ancient reef.

Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge

 

The ancient, fossilised coral reef

The ancient, fossilised coral reef

 

An ancient coral reef reflected in a river

An ancient coral reef reflected in a river

Much of the river bed was dry, but not all of it and there was just enough water for our first encounter with “freshies” – the rather cheery name given to freshwater crocodiles.

A freshie fresh from the water

A freshie fresh from the water

They were more interested in sleeping than eating, which was good for us, but they still kept an unblinking eye on an easy dinner.

The early morning glow on crocodile beach

The early morning glow on crocodile beach

 

There's alot of lying around when your a croc

There’s alot of lying around when your a croc

 

Wet and dry

Wet and dry

 

Living dinosaurs

Living dinosaurs

 

Spot the croc

Spot the croc

 

Floating along

Floating along

 

The trees along the Gorge are creaking, squeaking and reeking of fruit bats.

On the wing

On the wing

There were tens of thousands of them and barely visible below the trees, who’s branches literally quivered and bent with the weight, was a wait of a different kind.

Weighed down with sleeping bats

Weighed down with sleeping bats

 

The dark patches are not dead leaves - they are fruit bats

The dark patches are not dead leaves – they are fruit bats

 

Barely visible on the ground - two crocs wait for bat bounty to fall

Barely visible on the ground – two crocs wait for bat bounty to fall

It wasn’t just crocs and bats though. We spotted some delightful birdlife too.

A Rainbow Bee-Eater

A Rainbow Bee-Eater

 

A pair of Little Corellas

A pair of Little Corellas

 

A whistling kite looking for easy pickings

A whistling kite looking for easy pickings

 

An Eastern Reef Egret - we think

An Eastern Reef Egret – we think

 

A Black-Fronted Dotterel goes for a paddle in the creek

A Black-Fronted Dotterel goes for a paddle in the creek

Both were fabulous walks through more lovely and ancient nature in West Australia and we have included additional images in the slideshow.