MONDAY 4 AUGUST MUSSELBROOK
We kept the canvas window flaps of the tent open, all night. Because of the curve of the tent roof, we could lie in bed and look straight up at the stars, which was rather magical. There are so many, and they are so bright, out in this country.
We slept quite well on the air bed – a while since we’d used this!
After breakfast, set out to drive to Chilli Gorge, following another of Ranger J’s mud maps. This was a set of rather wobbly lines, with crosses over track junctions to show where we should not go! I was not convinced, however, that all possible deviations were thus covered! It had annotations like “tall ridge”, “ironstone escarpment”, “down through deep valley saddle”, “bulldust”.
Having the GPS made me a bit more confident. If I entered enough way points as we went, then at least we should be able to find our way back to camp!
We took one wrong turn, but ended up at a pretty water hole anyway, which we thought might have been Black Cockatoo Water Hole.
Much of the track was along ridge tops, with increasingly dramatic vistas of ranges and distant gorges.
Lots of the creek beds had stands of gutta percha, which we’d noticed by the track on the way in, yesterday too. John was determined to get some, later, for home wood working. I found a gutta percha tree that had been injured by flood debris, last wet, and gathered some of the large balls of golden resin that had formed along the scar. I’d been told that, in the early days, this had been used as a primitive form of dental filling. It certainly was set hard.
We eventually reached the end of the track we were following, near the gorge, some 25kms from camp.
Walked up the creek bed, into the gorge, carrying our packed sandwiches.
It was quite spectacular – rough and rugged. Water pools and sheer rock faces eventually stopped us from going too far, so we stopped and ate lunch beside the water.
Then climbed to the top of the escarpment and could see the gorge extending a long way back into the range. We followed the ridge for a way, until stopped by a very steep sided gorge ahead of us.
Walked back to Truck and set off back to camp. Felt confident enough to explore some of the side tracks on the way back, but always eventually retracing our way, with the help of the GPS.
KT had left this morning, to head to home in SE Qld, where he was due to have his fourth hip replacement!
So we were now alone out here.
We had been most heartened, out at the Gorge, to find the skeleton of a cane toad that had clearly been turned on its back and eaten out through the stomach. Some birds, notably crows, had learned to do this, thus avoiding the deadly poison sacs on the toad’s back shoulders.
An interesting event happened back at camp, whilst we were relaxing after our drive. We heard, quite clearly, a ringing telephone! It took us quite a while to work out that a butcher bird was making the sound! He had obviously heard the amplified phone ring, when the camp was in use, and now mimicked it. It seemed totally incongruous.
This night on our own passed uneventfully – no spooky noises in the night.