Tides at Cahills Crossing

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:10
ThreadID: 139859 Views:12013 Replies:8 FollowUps:5
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Planning next year's trips.
How low does the tide need to be to get across Cahills crossing without being silly?
How can we relate water depth over the crossing to the tide charts?
The OKA is heavy and has good clearance so can tolerate fairly deep fast flowing water as well as most, but interested to hear from those who have been there & done that and know what the tide level actually was at the time.
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Reply By: tonysmc - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:27

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:27
I would be concerned about "fast flowing water" as you mentioned as the crossing does get slippery and washes many vehicles off it. Google, Cahills crossing fails. If depth not too bad better to cross at the change of tide when water movement is slack.
A very poor wet season this year so it won't be very long and you could walk across it most of the time except for on the big tides. Not sure what time next year you are planning but depending on how big a wet season will make a lot of difference.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:33

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:33
Thanks Tony. Next year. No problem finding tide charts, but relating them to actual depth over the crossing seems to be a harder question.
Planning means trying to arrive when we can cross rather than having to wait a few hours or a few days.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Apr 02, 2020 at 06:28

Thursday, Apr 02, 2020 at 06:28
Hi Pete,

Have been a SCUBA diver for many years, I can tell you that diving in the southern end of Port Phillip Bay where the tide can run at up to 7 or 8 knots, and trying to predict exactly when “slack water” was extremely difficult. The tide charts are really a guide only. Sometimes slack water only lasted a couple of minutes, other times up to 40 minutes.

Given that you are trying to predict “slack water” so far inland on a tidal river will be extremely difficult. Perhaps making contact with the local rangers may be of some help, they may have more “local knowledge” than anyone else. There is a Kadadu Ranger on this forum.


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Reply By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:46

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 22:46
Unless there is a lot of flow in the East, the crossing's likely to be dry at the bottom of the tide. It really depends on the flow. There was a video posted a while ago of a vehicle getting washed off. I never drove across myself, as in my time permits were almost impossible to get as there was little or no self-drive access. As you can see from the photo taken in January 1983 when the wet was late, at points in the tide there is little flow and the water is about top of tyre depth. The MQ patrol was towing the light truck across, not sure why. When I lived there (1980-84) you could only get down the road during the dry (gravel all the way from the Arhnem Highway, no bridges and only the occasional culvert) the causeway was almost always dry at low tide.
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Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 08:43

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 08:43
Just go on low tide using the Willy chart you have provided. Low tide will be well below the barrage crossing.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 08:55

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 08:55
Thanks all.
Looks like the river flow variations are the main influence of depth at low tide and any low tide will be OK?
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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 09:14

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 09:14
Hi Peter,
I think the info you want is likely not possible to obtain so far in advance, rather like asking about road conditions in advance without knowing what the weather will do. The ‘Border Store’ will have the info about how long after high/low tide at the coast the impact reaches the crossing, but fresh water flows into the river would have to affect depths, along with relative timings of catchment rainfall & high tides. Sounds like you are planning to be on a tight schedule? We had intended being in Arnhem Land next year, but now we are thinking we’ll be sitting the virus out here in FNQ , & going up the Cape as we had planned for this year.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 10:13

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 10:13
Thanks Cuppa.
So far, I have concluded that even if the river flow is still significant, provided the tide is low, flow will be reduced and depth will be moderate and we will be able to cross safely, even if the wet is a bit late.
Not on a "tight schedule", just want to plan on being there at the best time, reasonably early in the season, without having to wait for a better tide.
Re the Cape next year.... any indication of new plans for the Laura Festival?
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 10:55

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 10:55
On the two visits we've had to Kakadu we spent a fair bit of time at the crossing, over consecutive days, specifically around the turn of the tides ..... best time to see the crocs in large numbers & with plenty of action as they target the mullet trying to cross the causeway when the water is low. Best free croc show going! Every day we were there ( a couple of days each visit, a number of years apart) there was a short period when the causeway was dry & quite a long 'window' where driving across presented no 'challenge'. The deeper crossings which get folk into trouble are for the impatient, the gung ho & the foolish. I may be wrong, but I have been of the belief that most days present a safe crossing period in all but exceptional circumstances

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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 09:53

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 09:53
We were up there a couple of years back, Prado towing VistaRv.

A car had been washed off prior to our arrival, there was a video of it around for awhile.

We timed the crossing for low tide going heading off to Smiths point and had no issues, water flow was below the ford. Coming back we were about three hours before low tide, water was flowing over the ford but we had no problems crossing. As others have mentioned will depend on how wet it has been and flow rates.

There is a boat ramp car park on the Kakadu side where you can wait it out but from memory the flies and mossies were pretty bad. Not much parking room on the other side.

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Reply By: Steve in Kakadu - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 11:14

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 11:14
During the dry season (May on wards) the crossing is only covered with water with a tide higher than 6.5 mts, you can on most days cross between 8am until just after midday. Then what ever the tide is above 6.5 mts is what will come over the causeway, I personally wont cross at 0.5 and above especially on an out going tide. Whilly Weather tide chart can be between 20 to 40 minutes out, something to keep in mind.

I have on a couple of occasions crossed at the turn of the tide at 1 mtr, but you only have a 5 minute window to do it. Even with an OKA I wouldn't give it a go when it is flowing, if by chance you get caught on the other side, it will be a couple of hours wait.

Hope this helps.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 13:09

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020 at 13:09
Have crossed a number of times in both truck and 4wd. If water is across the causeway I only cross on the slack and at nothing more than 300mm.

Enjoy the trip.
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Reply By: Mark C9 - Thursday, Apr 09, 2020 at 13:03

Thursday, Apr 09, 2020 at 13:03
Only attempt in the dry season
Never on an outgoing tide
Although the Oka has a high clearance, that means little at the crossing
Every week I get sent photos of high clearance vehicles that have been washed off
Contact the ranger station to get the best time to cross.
I have done it several times but would never attempt again unless the crossing was less than 100mm
I would park up and wait til the crossing was dry
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