Near the bottom of the Cape Range National Park is a truly spectacular location known as Yardie Creek. The walks, wildlife and scenery are nothing short of world class, and if you have a 4WD you can cross the creek and continue south towards Coral Bay.
However, this is a tidal creek crossing, and there’s a few things that you need to know about it before you drive your vehicle in and end up in a situation made of nightmares.
Is Yardie Creek flowing?
The first, and most important consideration is whether the creek is open to the ocean or not. In years gone by, its closed naturally and remained that way for a long time.
However, as of right now it is open to the ocean, and flows in and out based on the tides in the ocean.
If the creek isn’t flowing, the crossing is nothing more than a sandy drive about 150 metres long, and can be done by any vehicle and trailer with the right tyre pressures and speed.
If its flowing, it’s a whole new ball game.
The creek is tidal
Its important to know that Yardie Creek is tidal, and that as the tide goes up, so does the water level in the creek, and thus the depth of water you need to drive through.
This is important for a number of reasons. It can increase the chance of you getting stuck as the water moving creates holes and some can be more than 600mm deep.
The more important thing for me though is that the water is salty, and driving a 4WD through salt water is not on my list of recommended 4WD practices. We do everything possible to avoid driving through salt water, and its for good reason.
If you’ve seen a 4WD rust after its been through salt water (despite how well you wash it, you’d never drive a vehicle through).
Despite this, we saw several 50k + vehicles plough into deep water without a care in the world as to where it splashes.
I can tell you from experience that our 80 series was in pretty good condition overall, until we timed the tides wrong near Port Gregory and got hit by a wave rolling in.
From that day on, despite hours of flushing and washing underneath the vehicle the surface rust and general condition under the vehicle looked terrible.
Of course, its superficial short term, but long term it can do some nasty damage. They don’t call it car cancer for no reason!
If possible, aim to cross the creek at low tide. We saw a number of people with cars parked on one side, and they kicked back and relaxed until the tide dropped down to a trickle, and then the crossing was straight forward.
Where do you cross?
The best place to cross is right at the entry and exit, straight across. There’s rock underneath, and this is where everyone goes; its proven and easy.
You can try and cross closer to the ocean, and it might work in your favour, but once you’ve seen how much it can sink its not something you probably want to do.
How fast should you go?
Ideally, watch a couple of other vehicles go past before you do. We saw some vehicles plough in and create a big splash, and we saw other vehicles idle through at a speed slower than you’d walk.
Ideally, you go as slow as possible, without risking bogging down and getting stuck. If you are towing something you probably need a bit more momentum than if you aren’t.
Have a recovery plan
Before you jump in, have an idea in your mind as to how you are going to cross. Perhaps unbury the Maxtrax, and work out your escape plan if you do get stuck, and it all goes wrong!
Its OK to go around
If you decide that the crossing looks a bit above what you are prepared to do, that’s perfectly fine. The unfortunate thing is that the way around is about a 250km drive, but at least you won’t get stuck in the middle of a salty river crossing!