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Since the pastoral expansion into the Kimberley in the late nineteenth century, FITZROY CROSSING has been a rest stop for travellers and a crucial crossing over the ever-flooding Fitzroy River. Today it's also a fairly desolate welfare town serving the Aboriginal communities strung out along the Fitzroy Valley – it's a better overnight option than Halls Creek however. The Fitzroy River's runoff is second only to the Amazon during flood peaks, at which time two cubic kilometres of water a minute surge under the road bridge, gushing out across a forty-kilometre-wide flood plain before disgorging into King Sound. The visitor centre (Mon– Fri 8.30am– noon & 1–4.30pm; 08/9191 5355) is on Flynn Drive by the roadhouse, and there's a supermarket with limited stock and a post office on Forrest Road. Tours to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek national parks (full day; $160) and Geikie Gorge (3hr; $60) are run from the Fitzroy River Lodge by Eco Adventure Day Tours (08/9191 5141).
For accommodation, don't look past Fitzroy River Lodge (08/9191 5141, www.kimberleyhotels.com.au; camping $22, powered site $27, rooms Price: $131), on the highway east of the bridge. This lush, sprawling oasis in dusty Fitzroy Crossing has lodges on stilts (to avoid flooding), smart motel-style rooms and less smart apartments, acres of camping space and excellent facilities including a pool, restaurants, a bar and internet access. The most memorable experience in town is a few drinks or some pub food at the atmospheric century-old Crossing Inn (08/9191 5080, www.kimberleyhotels.com.au; camping $22, powered site $25, rooms Price: $101), a true Outback pub on Skuthorpe Road with a small art gallery, rooms and camping in a natural bush setting. It can get fairly raucous on Thursdays – pay day.