Experience Fitzroy Crossing 'Heart of the Kimberley and home of Geikie Gorge'
Even though Fitzroy Crossing wasn’t gazetted until 1975, the town was settled in the late 1890’s. The Post Office was officially opened as a telegraph office on September 1, 1892 and a police camp was established in July 1894. A “wayside house license for premises erected at Fitzroy Crossing” (a hotel) was issued on July 5, 1897
Fitzroy Crossing was first show on maps in 1903. The name is descriptive, as it is located at a crossing on the Fitzroy River. The Fitzroy River is one of the longest rivers in Australia with a catchment of 90,000 square kilometres. Just north of the townsite the tributaries of the Leopold and Margaret/Mary Rivers join the Fitzroy before continuing on its journey to King Sound and the ocean.
The Fitzroy River, was discovered and named by Captain John Lort Stokes of the "Beagle" in 1838. He named it after Capt. Robert FitzRoy, who was captain of the "Beagle" from 1831 to 1836 during its voyage around the world. Stokes was mate and assistant surveyor on the "Beagle" under Fitzroy, with Charles Darwin the naturalist. In naming the FitzRoy River Stokes stated in his journal "I determined, with Captain Wickham's permission, to call this river after his name, thus perpetuating by the most durable of monuments, the services and the career of one, in whom, with rare and enviable prodigality, are mingled the daring of the seaman, the accomplishments of the student, and the graces of the Christian – of whose calm fortitude in the hour of impending danger, or whose habitual carefulness for the interests of all under his command, if I forbear to speak, I am silent because, while I recognise their existence, and perceive how much they exalt the character they adorn, I feel, too, that they have elevated it above, either the need, or the reach of any eulogy within my power to offer". This river, with its tributary the Hann, is the longest system in the Kimberley at 733 km. The Fitzroy rises in the King Leopold Range and empties into King Sound south of Derby.
Alexander Forrest led a land based exploration in 1879, to the West Kimberley in search of suitable pastoral country and the Fitzroy Valley contains some of the best cattle country in the Kimberley and attracted early pastoralists such as the MacDonald brothers.
In the Dry season billabongs make great recreational areas while the magnificent Geikie Gorge is a “must see” for visitors. In the Wet season the river’s brown and swirling waters can rise 26 metres about the old concrete crossing and as an estimate flow rate of 30,000 cubic meters per second.
Fitzroy Crossing is some 2524 kms from Perth via the Great Northern Highway. It not only serves the pastoral industry but is also linked to mining and tourism as well. It is approximately 114 metres above sea level and is surrounded by the vast floodplains of the Fitzroy River. Soil type is a mix of “pindan” or red brown clay and the productive “blacksoil”