SUNDAY 15 JULY MORNINGTON WILDERNESS CAMP
After breakfast, at Reception, we paid $60 to hire a canoe to go paddling at Dimond Gorge, on the Fitzroy River. That fee entitled us to use the canoe for as much of the day as we wanted. We were given paddles, mud map and lifejackets. The canoes were permanently in place at the Gorge, for the season.
Followed a rather roundabout route the 23kms to Dimond Gorge. The track had to follow valleys through the rather grand ranges.
On the way we took a short side track to a low rise that was a lookout, giving an elevated outlook onto the surrounding ranges.
At Dimond Gorge, it is about 80kms down the river to the town of Fitzroy Crossing, where we were a few days ago. Not really far at all, but there are no roads through that rugged country.
It was a bit of a hike from the car park, across sand banks and rocks, to where the canoes were stowed, close to the river bank.
M and John did the first paddle in the open, two man canoe, downstream and into the gorge.
While they paddled off into the distance – and back – I wandered about, rock hopping, taking photos, and enjoying the chance to do so in my own time.
Eventually they reappeared and paddled back to the starting point. Then M and I did the same paddle – she was quite happy to repeat the experience.
It was possible to paddle a fair way along the river, which was a series of long waterholes here, interspersed with narrow rapids areas and rock platforms.
The first part of Dimond Gorge, where we canoed, was essentially a long and winding waterhole. The water was calm and the paddling was easy. The solitude was wonderful.
By the time M and I got back to John, another couple of campers had appeared and were organizing a canoe. It felt quite privileged to be able to enjoy such places with so few other tourists around. Amazing the difference 90km of side track makes!
Ate our packed lunches, sitting on rocks at the gorge, then started back the way we’d come.
Detoured up a side track to visit Waterfall Gorge, which could be seen from a distance as a very narrow valley going back into the range.
Parked the vehicles at the end of the rather rough track, then followed a faint track up beside the creek, to a little waterfall that was as far as we could go.
There was some boulder hopping and scrambling involved. M managed to slip on a wet rock beside the creek and finished up with one soaked walk sandal and a wet derriere.
Further back towards the Camp, took another side track that led down to Cadjeput Waterhole, further upstream on the Fitzroy from Dimond Gorge. Cadjeput is a name for the big paperbark trees found along many northern rivers.
This was a serene place, with lovely reflections on the water.
The trees beside the waterhole had a distinct downstream lean, indicating the force and huge volume of water that could come down the river in the Wet season. We were seeing it at a deceptively tranquil time.
After walking around, exploring there, for a little while, returned to camp.
Outback Spirit had a tour group in, staying in the safari tents, further down the creek. Their tour groups are not large ones. As we relaxed back at camp, could hear, and catch brief glimpses of, some of the tour members doing the Riparian Walk on the other side of the creek from us. We decided that, for people who did not have the equipment or confidence to drive themselves in remote parts, that sort of small group, ethical, specialist tour was a good option.
Right on dark, a party of three men arrived in “our” camp clearing and set up their camp a little further along from us – close enough to be heard.