This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2002 Travels May 2

THURSDAY 2 MAY   CARNARVON GORGE NP

Today was another walking day.

Our plan was to walk the track along the creek, through the gorge, as far as Wards Canyon – about 4.6kms – see that, then turn around and work our way back, visiting the other special features as we came back.

The walk back up the creek was as pleasant as it had been two days ago. The gorge is just so beautiful.

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The creek in Carnarvon Gorge

Wards Canyon was up a steep little side track alongside a small creek for about 250 metres, past a little water rapid. It was a deep and narrow gorge – almost just a cleft in the rock. It was notable for the King Ferns that grow there – the world’s largest ferns. It was quite dim and cool in there.

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King ferns in Wards Canyon

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Walking track in Wards Canyon

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Creek in Wards Canyon

From that point, we were returning the way we came.

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Not far back along the main track from Wards Canyon was the side track off to the Ampitheatre. This was a narrow, scrambly track, some 600 metres in. At the end of this there was the steep side of the gorge wall, with a ladder to climb to go further. At the top of the ladder was a really narrow cleft that was the way to get through to the Ampitheatre.

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Ladder access to the Ampitheatre

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The narrow cleft leading to the Ampitheatre

The best way to describe this was like a big cave without a roof, open to the sky – high up. It has been eroded by water, over time – presumably the water followed fault lines or lines of weakness in the rock, in order to erode so steeply and deeply.

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Inside the Ampitheatre

Because of the light, plants can grow in there. These were mostly ferns, but there were also some surprisingly large palm trees – the fan palms of this area.

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Lush fern growth inside the Ampitheatre

The ladder climb – even though it had a type of protective cage around it – did not thrill me! But it was worth the raised heart rate – very dramatic and grand inside, cool and cathedral like. Sounds echoed in here.

We found places to sit in here and just soak up the atmosphere, whilst eating lunch. We had the place to ourselves. which made it even more special.

I imagined the earth giving a little hiccup, and the very narrow entrance cleft closing! No other way out! Also wondered how this place was originally discovered, pre-ladders. Perhaps it was known to the aboriginals who clearly spent much time in the gorge area.

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The way out is through there!

Our last side track, back in the camp direction, was to the Moss Gardens – a 650 metre walk from the main track. This was another small, gorge like area, very cool and damp, with a little creek and waterfall. As the name suggested, there were lots of mosses growing, and ferns. The sandstone walls here are very moist which contributes to the humidity and general dampness of this micro environment.

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The Moss Garden

Then we had the walk back along the creek to the campground – about 3.5kms from the Moss Garden. The last part seemed much easier than two days ago – we were not so tired.

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Crossing 10 – meant there were 9 more to go, on our way back

Overall, we walked about 13kms today. One does not notice the distances so much when there is so much that is interesting to look at, as you go.

Another lovely hot shower back at camp. Another early night.


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2002 Travels April 29

MONDAY 29 APRIL   CHINCHILLA TO CARNARVON GORGE NP   435kms

As we were still hitched up, were able to leave the park about 8.15am. Headed west again.

Stopped to have our morning tea of coffee and fruit cake at Wallumbilla – a small, dying village about 40kms east of Roma. The east-west railway line, which we had been running parallel to since leaving Chinchilla, passes through Wallumbilla, but it looks like the trains no longer stop here.

Stopped at a roadside fruit seller, in Roma. Bought $15 worth of oranges, pears, avocadoes, and tomatoes – seconds, but fine for us.

At Roma, turned north onto the Carnarvon Development Road. All the driving today had been through good farming country – a mix of crops and grazing, and this continued north of Roma, though gradually it seemed that grazing became more dominant. There were also increasing areas of native forested country.

Refuelled at the small town of Injune – 94cpl.

Stopped beside the road not far north of Injune, and ate our packed lunch. Of course, after we started off again, there was a very nice, proper picnic spot a few kms further on!

Some 40kms north of Injune, the country became more rugged, as we passed through the Carnarvon Range. The route was more hilly and winding. Gradually we began to catch glimpses of high bluffs standing ahead and to our left.

About 100kms north of Injune, we turned to the west, onto the road to the Carnarvon Gorge section of the National Park.

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The approach to Carnarvon Gorge National Park

The first 25kms of this road was sealed – a pleasant surprise. The remaining 20kms or so, of gravel road, was not too bad, though there were several grids that were higher than the road surface. We hit one a bit fast, and rearranged some of the van contents, and after that approached each one with considerable caution.

There were some quite steep sections that were unexpected, but these were managed using low range on the downhill parts.

The road was nice and dry – not sure that it would be a great experience in wet conditions.

It was a really enjoyable drive in, with the distant escarpments coming closer – quite dramatic.

Then the sections of gorges and valleys became more common, and palms and cycads began to appear in the bush. There were a couple of dry creek crossings that looked like they could get quite deep, quite quickly – probably one of the reasons this road is regularly closed in wet spells.

We passed the turnoff to the private Takkarakka camp area, but continued on to the National Park campground and Office.

When we went to register, there was no record of the booking I’d made, by phone, last week. The staff person said they’d had several such stuff-ups today. It did not seem that the great centralized booking system, operating through Brisbane, was working too well! Luckily, they were still able to get us onto a site for the five nights, though not the site we thought we’d been booked in for. Five nights is the maximum stay allowed in the park campground.

Still, Site 27 was fine – nice and big. It cost us $7.70 a night.

The camp bays are fairly spread out amongst lots of trees and bush. The creek is some distance away.

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Carnarvon gorge Site 27

After setting up, I noticed that the power input looked good, to date. We could tilt the pop top roof to get a better angle to the sun onto the panels, given the trees that were around us. Site 27 was not as open as the one Brisbane had allocated us.

There was a big, unusual mauve-coloured truck based “house” structure parked near us. I had seen this motorhome written up in a caravan magazine, a while ago. They call it “Wotzahellisit” – for somewhat obvious reasons! It was certainly unique, but a bit over the top for my liking. I prefer things somewhat simpler. It was summed up, I thought, by another camper, who walked past it and called out to the couple, who were sitting out on their “balcony”, up high: “You win, mate”.

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Wotzahellisit

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A superior view over the camp!

Tea was cold roast chook and lettuce salad.

After tea, at 7.30pm, we took our camp chairs up to the Rangers’ area, to a slide show and information session they were giving. A screen was set up out in the open for this. It was worth attending, even though there were about 60 school kids there – upper primary or lower secondary age.

The slides showed some spectacular scenery and the Carnarvon Creek in flood – a more rare occurrence these days, since there have been some drier seasons. The Ranger said the creek really needed a good flush out!

We had a relatively early night: bush smells and noises, and dark outside. This was so very nice, after our urban sojourn.

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2002 Travels April 24

WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL     ASPLEY

The solar man turned up, as promised, not long after breakfast. He installed the two new panels on the poptop roof, and linked up all the wiring.

He discovered that there was a quite deep hollow on the poptop roof, under one of the panels put in by J. It looked like someone had kneeled or stood on it, carelessly. What was worse was that at the bottom of the indentation was the hole where the lead from the panels goes into the roof. Thus, there was a funnel effect. AND there was no sealing at all around the entry point! No wonder we had a massive leak in the rain.

He put silicone sealing around the lead at the entry point – as should have been done in the first place. He could not do anything, though, about the hollow. We would just have to hope that the silicone sealing is good, and holds.

That work cost us $1700. That is probably all we can do, for now, about the power set up. Will just have to see how it functions, out in the bush.

So we would not now worry about trying to get help from Bushtracker, and thus could make plans to head back out west, when our booked time here was up. We had already extended to Sunday, so John could play bowls on Saturday! That would also see us going through the city areas on a Sunday – always preferable.

Out extended three nights had cost $18.45 a night.

We might also fit in some “tourist” things, around Brisbane.

Now that we were so far east, I was very tempted to head back west via the Carnarvon Gorge National Park. We had not been there before and it is supposed to be well worth visiting. From what I had been reading, the campground there would still be open, but in the future, National Parks intends to severely limit its opening, or maybe close it altogether. So I thought it would be advisable to go there while we could camp in the Park. That would also try out the power system again!

I was concerned that the two extra panels would make the roof too heavy for me to be able to raise by myself, so tried it out. It certainly was harder, but I still could do it – a form of weight lifting exercise!

I phoned the National Parks booking service and managed to book us into the Carnarvon Gorge camp ground, for five nights – they said we would have a site that allowed for sun on the roof panels, and one that was suitable for a caravan. I was really pleased that we were able to get in!