TUESDAY 2 JUNE CARNARVON GORGE
There was a heavy dew overnight. When I got up, there were superb bush smells and lots of background bird calls, especially currawongs and lorikeets. There were some big family groups of apostle birds – Happy Jacks – and the odd, opportunistic kookaburra, about the camp.
There was a mist hanging in the valley, early, but it cleared away as the morning went on.
After breakfasting, we drove to the Gorge, only a few kms away. It was too late (one of us had slept in, as usual), to walk right up the Gorge, which John was considering doing. Our main target was the Amphitheatre, anyway, a return walk of almost 9kms.
At the Visitor Centre we read that the National Parks service intended to re-align the walking track along the creek, between Crossings 2 and 6, so that the track stays on the right hand side of the creek, looking up the Gorge. The reasons given were the amount of maintenance that always needed to be done on the crossings after each flood, and that the crossings were where most people had accidents. There would still be a number of crossings left, though.
The big floods, since we were last here in 2002, seemed to me to have really cleaned out along the track – it no longer felt so “bushy”. So the walk did not seem as attractive as I’d remembered. However, it was still interesting and worth doing.
I remembered, last time, having to dodge pandanus fruits thrown down on walkers below, by the currawongs. That did not happen today. There were still cycads alongside the path, in places, but they didn’t have the orange nuts on now.
We criss-crossed the creek, on the variety of stepping stones and rocks placed to assist. I felt rather sad that some of these crossings would be removed. They gave lovely outlooks right along the creek, and added to the sense of adventure of the walk.
The approach track to the Amphitheatre passed through a pleasant little side valley, towards the sheer wall, and the entry cleft part way up the wall.
The ladder up to the entry had been rebuilt with the latest in safe ladder structures. More evidence of awareness of changing public health standards – otherwise known as removing the adventure from adventurous outdoor experiences.
After a short pass through the tall and narrow opening, the rock walls opened out to form the roughly circular Amphitheatre.
A hole in the rocks above was open to the sky and this allowed some light and rain to enter.
Because of the opening above, there was a beautifully green growth of mosses and ferns in the “cave” part.
The whole formation had been carved out by water erosion, following fault lines in the rock, over time. The entry gap we’d come through was one such line of erosion.
There were still non-eroded fault lines to be seen in the rock layers.
For about twenty minutes, we were the only people inside the Amphitheatre, which meant we could really enjoy the silent awesomeness of the place. Then others arrived and we tucked ourselves out of the way, sitting on some rocks, and ate our lunch.
John opted not to continue on to attractions further along the Gorge, so we retraced our way.
John found it hard going – his hip was painful. Along the track, we had a brief conversation with another walker, a man in his mid-50’s, who told us he’d had a hip replaced six months previously. He was walking extremely well, which gave John heart. It had taken him a lot longer than six months to become that mobile, after his ’97 new hip. Presumably the technology had improved considerably since then.
Actually I felt quite weary, too, after the walk. John realized, later, that he hadn’t worn his Skins on the walk – maybe that was why he battled so much?
We decided to stay an extra night beyond the original three. That would enable us to have a bit of a rest day tomorrow, then maybe tackle the Gorge again, to see some more, the next day.
I went up to Reception and booked and paid for that, and bought some postcards. We were now due to leave on Friday morning.
I still had time, after our walk, to roast a chook for tea.
We had an early night, both being tired. That track had required a lot of concentration, so it was mental tiredness as well as physical.
John had to get up during the night and take Panadol because of hip pain.
Rain started during the night. The story of this trip! It was quite heavy at times and we could hear thunder echoing through the valley, in the distance.
I suspected the roads might be closed in the morning!