TUESDAY 30 APRIL CARNARVON GORGE NP
We were up early – campgrounds like this tend to stir early!
We left for our walk at 9.15am, complete with packed lunch and drinking water.
It was a great day – a memorable walk to add to our store of same.
The track through Carnarvon Gorge winds alongside the creek, for 9.7kms, as far as the Cathedral Cave. That extremity was regarded as the end of the day walk section, though people doing multi-day walks could go further.
Along the route, the track crosses the creek twenty times. The crossings are numbered.
We had decided, before setting out, that today we would focus on walking as far as the Cathedral Cave and the nearby Art Cave, have a good look at those, then on another day, visit the places of interest that were closer to the campground. I didn’t think we would have time to linger in all the spots, as we like to do, in one day. In any case, we were booked to camp for five days, so had the time to fill in.
The walking was easy. We had lots of stops to watch and try to identify birds.
For much of the way, one or other of the white sandstone walls of the gorge loomed above the trees as vertical bluffs.
The creek crossings were mostly on stepping stones, not always set firmly, so one had to be careful. At some of the crossings, there were superb reflections in the creek water – but it was wise to stand still before admiring the outlook!
The grass at the sides of the path was often a couple of feet tall. The local Cabbage and Fan Palms provided shade. Some plants – macrozamias? – had clumps of red fruits.
In a couple of sections, currawongs overhead amused themselves by dropping pandanus fruits down on us.
As planned, we walked past the side tracks to features like the Moss Gardens, without taking these.
Our first proper stop was at the Art Gallery Cave, about 5.4kms along the track. There were two predominant types of aboriginal art here – etchings and stencilling. There were over 2000 stencils – outlines of hands, arms, boomerangs, in red ochre colour against the white-grey stone – very clear. We presumed the main purpose of these, originally, was as art.
The etchings were mostly of vulvas – lots and lots of them. According to the information board, they are unique in their frequency, in this area. The board did not, however, explain the significance or purpose of these etchings. Primitive pornography?
There were also deep grooves amongst the etchings – maybe tool sharpening points? And some hands etched too.
The track became narrower after the Art Gallery. There were surprisingly few other people walking, along this far.
We reached the Cathedral Cave after some 9kms of walking. This was another art site, where the predominant form was stencilling. Some of these showed a joined hand and forearm, which was, apparently, unusual. There were net shapes, and boomerang like objects.
We continued beyond the Cathedral Cave for a few hundred metres, then walked up along the side gorge of Boowinda Creek Canyon. This was narrow and interesting. We went about a km along this side chasm. It was quite scary to think what it would be like in this narrow cleft in flood times – the smoothed rock of the walls showed the erosive power of floods.
There were plants growing on the canyon walls, in places where the sunlight hit the walls. The going was loose and rocky underfoot, and a bit of a scramble.
The guide booklet said the first km up along here was the best, so we then turned around and retraced our way back to the Cathedral Cave, where we sat and had lunch.
It was 2.05pm when we left the Cathedral Cave to start the walk back to camp, where we arrived at 4.55pm, having walked about 21kms today. We did not dawdle too much on the way back, though I did keep stopping to take photos – the outlooks were different, going the other way! The white, sheer, gorge walls were so photogenic.
At Crossing 12, John nearly walked on a metre long green snake. It shot away in front of him, into the reeds beside the creek. They both got a big fright!
We were both counting down the last few crossings. My legs were quite weary and my knees began to hurt a bit – unusual for me. John’s feet were uncomfortable, with some blisters formed on the soles of his feet, which slowed him down, somewhat.
Despite the aches and pains, it felt great to have done the walk.
Back at camp, headed off for a shower, before relaxing too much. It cost $1 for a 3 minute hot shower – lovely, and worth every cent.
As the evening wore on, my legs became quite stiff. I am obviously walking unfit.
Tea was stir fry vegies, with hokkien noodles and cashews – I made it up as I went!
There was adequate power in the batteries, after a day of charging – great news!
We had a very early night and slept very well.