SATURDAY 7 JULY KURRAJONG AND PICCANINNY GORGE CAMPS
Interesting conjunction – the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of the century. Guess it happens once a year for a little while yet.
We had a very early start, breakfasted, did final pack, drove the 40kms to the Piccaninny Creek car park in Truck, and were walking by 8am!
There were few other people around at that hour, and no one else at all after we passed the track turn off to Cathedral Gorge, about 1km along.
John did not look anything like a well prepared bushwalker. The green supermarket bag definitely spoiled the image!
He had to stop a few times to make adjustments to his load – some of which was tied to the outside of the day pack. His water bottle waist belt needed regular adjustment – the man has a very narrow derriere, and a significantly larger middle, so it was an easy southward way for said belt.
I carried lunches for the three of us, an extra 1.5 litres of water for them, and 2 litres of water for me – all in John’s very small day pack. The plan was, that I would walk part way to the Gorge with them, by which time their water bottles would need replenishing with the extra water I carried.
The way was through quintessentially Bungles scenery – the striped beehive domes to the sides of the grey rock bedded creek.
At times, the creek valley was fairly wide, with sandy banks at the sides, with spinifex, shrubs and even low trees growing there. At other points, the domes constricted right in and the way was narrower.
I stopped a lot to take photos, but was always able to catch up to the others in front of me.
John plodded on – the going was not easy, especially for him. The grey rock of the creek bed was uneven and involved picking a careful path between the deeper erosion channels in it.
Some of these contained water, in fact there were regular little water holes to add interest along the way. I suspected that, without the recent heavy rains, most of these would have normally been low or empty by July.
We stopped for a break after a couple of hours’ walking. Managed to find a shady place where we could sit in reasonable comfort – such places were not easy to come across in the first few kms of the Creek walk.
The domes that surrounded us all the way were always changing shape. The variety was enormous, but after a while, because they were constant, the impact began to fade, a little.
By 11.45am, we were about 7kms along the approximate 12kms to the waterhole up in Piccaninny Gorge, where they planned to camp. I wondered if we were actually quite close to the feature called the Elbow, where the creek turned from heading NE, to NW, and the Gorge began. Certainly, the valley walls had closed in on us.
I had found the sections of sand and loose pebbles that we were increasingly trudging through, very tiring.
We took an early lunch break at that point. Then, their drinking bottles were filled from the spare 1.5 litres of water I carried, and I packed the empty container to take back with me.
We parted company here. They had about 5kms to go to their camp point. It had taken nearly four hours for us to reach here, so I needed to allow at least that amount of time for me to return to the Truck.
It was very tiring, in the hottest part of the day. The heat reflected off the bare rock surfaces of the creek bed.
I had been conscious all along, of needing to pace my consumption of my 2 litres of water, through the day, so I didn’t run out before getting back to Truck. This meant that I was getting increasingly thirsty and probably somewhat dehydrated in the much hotter afternoon conditions.
I took some “short cuts” across the inside of bends, through the spinifex on the creek banks. On one of these sections, got a big fright when I disturbed a large monitor lizard on a sand bank! This made me more aware that, with no other people venturing this far along the creek, and with no one waiting for me back at camp, there would not be help if I came to grief. So I was more careful after that. With hindsight, I probably should have signed out at the Visitor Centre, as a safeguard, but it hadn’t occurred to me. Silly!
All the perspectives were different, going back, so it was really hard for me to gauge how far I still had to go.
The sign to Cathedral Gorge was most welcome – and actually came a lot sooner than I was expecting. It was only 2.30pm then, so I’d done the 6kms to that point in just over two hours!
Knowing there was only a kilometre left to walk, that it was relatively easy going, and that I could drink the dribble of water I had left, all spurred me on with fresh energy.
By the time I reached Truck, I had definitely had more than enough, and was all “domed out” in terms of taking photos.
Drove back to camp, via the Visitor Centre. There, I bought two COLD bottles of water and a can of lemon-lime mineral water – which tasted like the nectar of the gods!
I relaxed at camp for what was left of the afternoon. My suspect heel was very sore, with a throbbing ache, after the demanding walk. Parts of the rest of me were complaining also.
Had a light tea – cup of soup and some tinned fruit. As usual, after a hard walk, I had little appetite. Was in bed by 7pm!
I hoped the intrepid campers were finding their efforts worthwhile at what was no doubt a very basic camp!
M took the following photos as they walked into Piccaninny Gorge and along it to camp.