The Gateway to the Frontier Territory – Camooweal

Corella Dam CloncurryHaving crossed the vast coloured ombre’ plains of a thousand ochre shades, we are now taking a moment to rest-up on the banks of the Georgina. We are at the top end and far West in the Gulf Country. Next we will be venturing into the central deserts of the Northern Territory though they are not deserts as you would imagine them. Savannah and grasslands of vast flood plains would better describe the land where we are headed.

The landscape around us is ancient, weathered and worn down to the baseline of time. The ground is stony with a sharp attitude, where the rock has been upturned and pushed towards the skies by the immense pressures still boiling deep beneath the ground surface of this country. This is still creating vast ridges and sharp valleys that sit on the edge of the great flood plain that is the Gulf country. These ridges and karst sit hard with this attitude against the red ochre lands as they bake in the sun.

Dawn camoowealIt is dry here, very dry as this world waits for the monsoons to arrive but first over the next months will come the heat of summer, the humidity and then the soaking rains. I wish I could bring to you the sounds, the smells and the beauty of this landscape; it is truly breathless.

It is the very break of dawn here and the sun will rise across the now still ponds and lakes of the Georgina, bringing with it the new day. In the meantime the quarter moon sits waiting for the dawn and the horizon is a beautiful burn sitting on the edge of the world it seems.

I can hear the birds and each moment their morning carol grows stronger, the pelicans, the kites waiting to greet the day. There are little ducks nearby, I can hear them call and the sweet chirp of the smaller birds who are now beginning to sweep low between the bushes.

There is one bird who sounds like a child struggling to learn how to play the recorder and the sound makes me smile. He has followed us across the Gulf Country with his call and still to me it seems he has not mastered the tune. I wish I knew his name.

The ducks have reached the dawn in their morning sweep across the now quiet waters of the Georgina and for a moment their call fills my world… and then they move on. It is near the break of dawn as the crimson sky takes on a golden hue at the edge of the bush in its climb into the heavens.

This region is called the basin of Lake Eyre, even though Lake Eyre lay thousands of kilometres to the south of us in a southern state. It was once an ocean here, a vast sweep of water, which laid down a thick bed of silt and limestone, one which now has weathered to caves and caverns of the Dreamtime deep beneath the surface earth. The monsoonal rains that come each Wet season, now drain across three states in their time, down the length of the Country and fill the remnant of this ancient sea only a few times in a century. It has been a good century this epoch and the birds have flourished in the prime of each event.

Camooweal caves entranceWe visited some of these ancient caverns nearby, those created by the seasonal flood of rains over the millennia. …. Thee caves are near Camooweal an they are not marked well but certainly worth a visit for the curious. They are not like the limestone caves of the Eastern coastline, as they are made of a hardier rock. They aren’t tamed yet and perhaps never will be. They don’t sit marked by a ridge of karst but instead sink quickly and quietly beneath the earth in a collapsed roof, buried on a flat plain of grasslands. They are a surprise to the unwary traveller who may stumble across them.

Camooweal Caves structure

Camooweal Caves structure

There is no easy access to these caves and no simple exploration is possible. They are dangerous, flooding unexpectedly or collapsing when least expected. They are sharp and rocky, hot and chill, a gateway beneath the earth into the deep sub-artesian basin. They would be inviting like no other to the intrepid caver, even to the curious traveller.

We didn’t venture inside as we knew they didn’t contain many of the often beautiful limestone formations and we didn’t have the equipment we would need to descend into the depth of the world beneath our feet. Another time, another world, another life.

Travel well.


Jan is an Author and you can find out more about her books here under the tab ‘The Dreaming,’ for fiction tales of the Ancient Aboriginal Lore woven through contemporary times.
You can explore the Lore and Legends of ancient worlds in her stories.
The Spirit Children series, ‘Lands Edge’ Book 1, will take you into the heart of Sydney on an adventure into legend and time. ‘Through other Eyes’ Book 2, will take you deep into the histories of the Jenolan Caves. It has been newly released and is available now at

Explore contemporary tales of the ancient Kadaitcha, or the Featherfoot of a truly unique Lore in ‘The Dreaming Series’.
Or enjoy some of her lively travelogues and tales of past true life travel adventures, published in both e-book and print under Around the Campfires and Oldies at Large.

You will find her on Facebook where you too can become part of the adventure. You never know… you might just catch up with her and The Man around the ridges somewhere.

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