MONDAY 1 JUNE ST GEORGE TO CARNARVON GORGE 440kms
The first day of winter. Definitely time to be further north.
John’s hip was sore through the night and he did not sleep well, so we got up just before 7am. The caravan park was noisy, even then. We were all breakfasted, packed up, and pulling out at the most unusual-for-us hour of 8.15.
John wanted to make distance today, and vetoed my plan to overnight in Roma. But he did agree – since we were kind of driving right past it – to go and stay near Carnarvon Gorge for some of the walking I was owed.
It was an enjoyable drive to Roma, through mostly grazing country, once the irrigated parts around St George were left behind. The road was better than I’d expected. We paralleled the Balonne River as far as Surat where it was still quite a respectable stream that we crossed by bridge.
We found a van parking area in Roma, only a block from Woolworths. Full marks to Roma! I walked to the supermarket to stock up on some supplies – and on cash – while John took advantage of the strong phone signal to get on the internet to pay the overdue Telstra bills. I phoned the Takarakka caravan park at Carnarvon Gorge, to ensure we would get in.
So we pressed on. Refuelled at Injune and ate our packed lunch in a small park there. Just south of Injune we had passed out of the Murray Darling Basin at last.
The first part of the side road to Carnarvon Gorge was sealed, but the last 20kms or so, to Takarakka was not. There were a couple of cattle grids that could have caused some damage, had we hit them too fast. But this was not our first time along this road, and John was cautious. The dirt section was well graded, and being worked on.
Reached Takarakka at 4.15pm, which was pretty reasonable, considering the distance we covered for the day.
We hadn’t stayed at Takarakka before. Last time, the National Park campground was open and we camped there. The commercial Takarakka cost $38 a night for a powered site. Gulp! With no current camping in the National Park, except for some limited times in school holidays, this place had a monopoly and could charge accordingly. We booked in for three nights.
Our site – in their more informal Echidna Circle area – was very pleasant, with the creek looping around the perimeter of this small section of the park, and a fairly bushy outlook. We were on grass, and able to hook up to water as well as power. The amenities were modern and clean. There was a big camp kitchen area, with gas BBQ’s. Clearly, as the closest place to stay to the Park, they had a pretty good business. There were still outfits coming in after dark.
There was no mobile phone reception here, and hence no internet. No TV either – I can pick ’em! John was disgruntled.
Before dark, we walked along the creek to the platypus pool. Apparently there was a family of four of them lived there, but we didn’t see any. Then, we walked around the campground to get a sense of what the rest of the place was like. The section on the northern side of reception was bigger, with a number of cabins, as well as smaller, more conventional powered sites. I liked our section much better.
Whilst walking, we saw a guy towing an Avan with an ordinary car, come in, driving very fast. We watched his back car tyre go flat, whilst he was in Reception. If his arrival was typical of his general driving style on the road in, we were not surprised he’d stuffed a tyre. Then we watched him make a real hash of trying to back this tiny Avan into a large site, flat tyre and all.
Although the night was on the chilly side, it was lovely to go to sleep to bush noises again.