We’ve found it! The Styx River Waterfall!”, Zaydee and Mollie whooped as they raced down the track.
And sure enough, there it was- the hallowed Styx River waterfall we had been searching for.
Years before, we I had casually mentioned to a horsey acquaintance that I was looking for somewhere to go camping with my steed.
“Why don’t you head out to the Styx river waterfall?” he suggested. “We used to ride out there all the time.”
“How do you get to it? ” I asked.
“Just head up the road and along the firebreak behind Jono’s place, turn right at Macca’s place, keep going till you hit the rocky part of the gravel, then turn left towards Robbo’s place.”
Or something along those lines. I was determined to find this Styx River waterfall, given that such things are a rarity in our corner of the country. Never mind the fact that I didn’t know Macca’s place from Jono’s, or Robbo’s from my left arm. So I saddled Fly and we headed for the Styx, or rather, the sticks.
Hours later, we returned frustrated and footsore. Following the gravel firetraps in the general vicinity of the Styx river, we had discovered nothing other than a nice kind of blueish dam, a battered old license plate, and an interesting ant hill or two.
“Did you end up getting out to the waterfall the other day?” asked one of the Maccas a few days later.
He shook his head upon hearing of my unsuccessful venture.
“I cant believe you couldn’t find it! You just head out the back of Stevo’s place, chuck a right at Simmo’s old man’s block, then take the left fork next to the big jarrah. You cant miss it.”
Well, miss it I did- several times over. Over the next few weeks, every new set of directions seemed to grow more complicated, involving evermore Simmos and Burkos, which only make me more determined to find out if this place really existed.
Was there really a waterfall out there amidst all that flat, dry jarrah country, or was I being had?
My thoughts drifted back to the Magic Eye books we had as kids- my father utterly convinced that there had been a large conspiracy plotted against him and in fact there were no pictures to be seen behind the images at all.
“There nothing there”, said dad.
“But there is, Dad! There really is…. Its a train! Just hold the book up like this”, my brothers and I would persist, him shaking his head suspiciously all the while.
Likewise, One of the Jonno’s laughed. “NO, really! The waterfall IS there! I’ll take you out in the forby one day and show you.”
But alas, one thing led to another, and the ethereal waterfall lay undiscovered as I ventured further afield, in search of the bigger and better kind over east.
And then we came back from the BNT, having ridden, walked and cycled all over the countryside. And we STILL hadn’t found that blasted Styx River waterfall- in our own backyard no less. I looked at Zaydee. It was time for a mission.
With Fly having a much-needed post-trail spell and still officially ‘in quarantine’, we opted for four wheeled transport. With the help of a satellite map (Does that look like a waterfall to you? No, I think its a shed) and several seven-point turns, we were there. In 20 minutes.
I shook my head at my own incompetence. For all those months I had bashed through the bush on overgrown motocross trails, coming at it from the wrong side. I could’ve simply skirted around and followed the wide gravel road all the way to the end. Simple. But being such a hard-won find, I fell in love with that special little spot instantly.
I know, right? Its not a REAL waterfall. More of a trickle really. But when you come from a land of sluggish brown rivers and hillocks in place of mountains, you’ve got to take what you can get.
And this place really IS magic. It is in fact a sacred Aboriginal site, known for its Gnamma Holes.
Gnamma Holes were an important source of water for Aboriginal people in Western Australia. These natural cavities are commonly found in hard rock, particularly granite outcrops, and as such act as natural water tanks, which are replenished from underground stores and rainwater run-off.
This truly is a magical place, and it got me thinking about how I can travel or camp with my equines more sustainably and respectfully. Leaving no trace can often be easier for solo hikers, but as horse trekkers I believe there are definitely things we can do to tread more lightly and minimize our impact on the environment.
So come check out the Styx River waterfall for yourself- just head up the hill, past the big kangaroo, turn left at Simmo’s back fence and then right towards Stevo’s place. You can’t miss it.