This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2002 Travels May 1

WEDNESDAY 1 MAY     CARNARVON GORGE NP

Slept in somewhat later than yesterday, despite campground noises.

The body was certainly telling me that it had been excessively exercised, yesterday.

We had a fairly quiet day, to recover from yesterday. I read and sewed. John read.

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One of the locals in the campground

A little mild exercise was in order, so we walked from the campground to the Rock Pool – a large waterhole in the creek. The return walk was almost 4kms, so that was enough to loosen things up. Again, walking on the track through the bush was most enjoyable.

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The Rock Pool

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Interesting bark patterns

Later, realized that the fridge was definitely not working properly – it was not turning itself off, but constantly running. This was another thing that stupid J was wrong about! When the van was built for us, he was the supplier for Vitrofrigo 12V fridges, so it has been to him that one was supposed to turn with fridge issues. I had, before he took the van away at the start of the year, raised some concern about the fridge running with him. His response was that there was nothing wrong, or that, on the offchance that I might know what I was talking about, it “might” be a sticking switch. Patronizing fool! It was much easier to say these things than to actually do something about it!

So, it was over to the phone booth and yet more calls to Mr Incompetent. Of course, he did not answer the first few calls, being the keen business man that he was. With no mobile phone signal here, the trek to the phone box was the only option. When John was eventually able to get an answer, he told John that he would send a new thermostat for us, to Roma, for pickup there. Whether we would find anyone there who could install it was a different matter – and our problem. Why could he not just have checked the switch and thermostat when he had the van for all those weeks?

We could not have the fridge running all the time without eventually depleting the batteries, and maybe doing big damage to the fridge motor. So I put our frozen meat in the Chescold and turned this on full. Turned off the van fridge. I was resigned to – after a couple of days in this warmth – having to throw out things like cheese and some vegies.


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2002 Travels April 30

TUESDAY 30 APRIL     CARNARVON GORGE NP

We were up early – campgrounds like this tend to stir early!

We left for our walk at 9.15am, complete with packed lunch and drinking water.

It was a great day – a memorable walk to add to our store of same.

The track through Carnarvon Gorge winds alongside the creek, for 9.7kms, as far as the Cathedral Cave. That extremity was regarded as the end of the day walk section, though people doing multi-day walks could go further.

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Along the route, the track crosses the creek twenty times. The crossings are numbered.

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A typical creek crossing – on stones

We had decided, before setting out, that today we would focus on walking as far as the Cathedral Cave and the nearby Art Cave, have a good look at those, then on another day, visit the places of interest that were closer to the campground. I didn’t think we would have time to linger in all the spots, as we like to do, in one day. In any case, we were booked to camp for five days, so had the time to fill in.

The walking was easy. We had lots of stops to watch and try to identify birds.

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The walking track

For much of the way, one or other of the white sandstone walls of the gorge loomed above the trees as vertical bluffs.

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The white sandstone walls of the gorge

The creek crossings were mostly on stepping stones, not always set firmly, so one had to be careful. At some of the crossings, there were superb reflections in the creek water – but it was wise to stand still before admiring the outlook!

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Reflections in the creek

The grass at the sides of the path was often a couple of feet tall. The local Cabbage and Fan Palms provided shade. Some plants – macrozamias? – had clumps of red fruits.

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Macrozamia and fruit

In a couple of sections, currawongs overhead amused themselves by dropping pandanus fruits down on us.

As planned, we walked past the side tracks to features like the Moss Gardens, without taking these.

Our first proper stop was at the Art Gallery Cave, about 5.4kms along the track. There were two predominant types of aboriginal art here – etchings and stencilling. There were over 2000 stencils – outlines of hands, arms, boomerangs, in red ochre colour against the white-grey stone – very clear. We presumed the main purpose of these, originally, was as art.

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The Art Gallery

The etchings were mostly of vulvas – lots and lots of them. According to the information board, they are unique in their frequency, in this area. The board did not, however, explain the significance or purpose of these etchings. Primitive pornography?

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There were also deep grooves amongst the etchings – maybe tool sharpening points? And some hands etched too.

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The track became narrower after the Art Gallery. There were surprisingly few other people walking, along this far.

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Upstream from the Art Cave

 

We reached the Cathedral Cave after some 9kms of walking. This was another art site, where the predominant form was stencilling. Some of these showed a joined hand and forearm, which was, apparently, unusual. There were net shapes, and boomerang like objects.

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The Cathedral Art Site

We continued beyond the Cathedral Cave for a few hundred metres, then walked up along the side gorge of Boowinda Creek Canyon. This was narrow and interesting. We went about a km along this side chasm. It was quite scary to think what it would be like in this narrow cleft in flood times – the smoothed rock of the walls showed the erosive power of floods.

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In Boowinda Creek Gorge

There were plants growing on the canyon walls, in places where the sunlight hit the walls. The going was loose and rocky underfoot, and a bit of a scramble.

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Boowinda Creek

The guide booklet said the first km up along here was the best, so we then turned around and retraced our way back to the Cathedral Cave, where we sat and had lunch.

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It was 2.05pm when we left the Cathedral Cave to start the walk back to camp, where we arrived at 4.55pm, having walked about 21kms today. We did not dawdle too much on the way back, though I did keep stopping to take photos – the outlooks were different, going the other way! The white, sheer, gorge walls were so photogenic.

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Waterfall scars on gorge walls

At Crossing 12, John nearly walked on a metre long green snake. It shot away in front of him, into the reeds beside the creek. They both got a big fright!

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It went that-a-way

We were both counting down the last few crossings. My legs were quite weary and my knees began to hurt a bit – unusual for me. John’s feet were uncomfortable, with some blisters formed on the soles of his feet, which slowed him down, somewhat.

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Enter a caption

Despite the aches and pains, it felt great to have done the walk.

Back at camp, headed off for a shower, before relaxing too much. It cost $1 for a 3 minute hot shower – lovely, and worth every cent.

As the evening wore on, my legs became quite stiff. I am obviously walking unfit.

Tea was stir fry vegies, with hokkien noodles and cashews – I made it up as I went!

There was adequate power in the batteries, after a day of charging – great news!

We had a very early night and slept very well.


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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 28

SUNDAY 28 APRIL   ASPLEY TO CHINCHILLA   340kms

Packing up and getting going took a while, because we had not done any of this yesterday.

We left Aspley about 10am.

From the Caravan park, I navigated north a short way and on to Telegraph Road. This took us east and onto the Gateway Motorway. Followed this south, over the Brisbane River, then took the Ipswich Motorway west. Whilst this looked the long way round on the map, it was so much easier than the way I’d brought us in on. In the much lighter Sunday traffic it was a really easy run.

We stopped at a BP servo in the Ipswich area, where John topped up the fuel with 30 litres – at 84cpl – enough to see us to Dalby, where he knew there was really cheap fuel.

Just before we started the climb up the Toowoomba Range, we pulled off the road and John engaged low range gears. He kept in the low range selection up the Range. I had been a bit worried about towing back up the Range – its 10% gradient seemed to steep when we’d come down it – but trusty Truck churned steadily up the gradients to the top. I was relieved to come to the edge of Toowoomba at the edge of the Range.

Then, we had to navigate our way through Toowoomba. There was no easy route because we had to cross right across the town. Again, we were glad it was Sunday.

At Dalby, refuelled – 78cpl.

We hadn’t really had a plan for where we would stay tonight – had decided to see how we felt. As we came to Chinchilla, decided to overnight there. Could have pushed on to Miles or even Roma, but it had been quite a demanding drive, for much of the way, so we both felt it was time to stop.

Booked into the Mobile Caravan Park – $16.50 for the night.

We only needed the minimal set up, as we were able to stay hitched up.

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Still hitched up at Chinchilla

John had a nap. I sat outside the van and read.

Tea was cold roast chook and salads.

Early night – we were both really tired! I am pleased to be heading “bush” again. Cities are stressful places!

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2002 Travels April 27

SATURDAY 27 APRIL     ASPLEY

Before breakfast, I walked to the Hypermart for the Saturday papers. I spent some time reading these.

Did the small amount of washing that had built up and tidied up the van.

John went to bowls. He enjoyed the game better than last week.

I read some more and roasted a chook for tea.


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2002 Travels April 26

FRIDAY 26 APRIL     ASPLEY

Today featured more sight seeing, but in a different direction.

Drove through some of the western suburban edge, and up the road to the summit of Mt Coot-tha. I wanted to come up here to look at the view over Brisbane. It was somewhat similar to our Mt Dandenong lookout, at home, but much closer to the city – thus with a much better outlook.

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Central Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha

A segment of “This is your Life” was being filmed at the lookout area, with attendant camera crews and a small crowd. We did not recognise the subject of the segment.

We had a good, clear, view out over the city.

Back down from the mount, we visited the Botanic Gardens, at its base. Here, I was really keen to see the Wollemi Pine – a newly discovered species. The specimen here was one of the few plants existing and was protected in a special cage. It was, obviously, the subject of a breeding program, now.

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The heavily protected Wollemi Pine

We did some exploration of the Gardens. I particularly enjoyed the Japanese garden section, and the bonsai display. One can admire the artistry of bonsai, without wanting to own any, or try doing it.

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Some of the bonsai

On the way back to camp, did a food stock up.


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2002 Travels April 25

THURSDAY 25 APRIL     ASPLEY

We set off late morning, to do some sight seeing of parts of Brisbane we mostly had not seen before.

Drove east to the coast, through the suburbs that are almost the northern edge of Brisbane, to the older, seaside suburbs of Sandgate and Brighton. Took a road that hugged the shore line to the north – very pretty.

Crossed a long bridge to the suburbs of Redcliffe and Scarborough, again, hugging the shore line as much as we could. There was an outlook across to Moreton Island, in the distance. We parked where we could look out over the sea, and had our packed lunch.

I think if I had to live in Brisbane, it would be these seaside suburbs that were most attractive. Of course, I don’t know if they are prone to sandflies!

We left the coast then, but continued north, through Burpengary and Morayfield.

Some thirty years ago, first husband and I holidayed, for a short time one January, in Brisbane, with a friend. I remember, dimly, that it was extremely hot and humid and we could not find the energy to venture out and do much. However, we did engage in some speculation in land, buying acreage – bush – in the Morayfield area. That land was long sold, but I was curious to see if I could find it again – having only ever been there once – to see if it had been developed as Brisbane spreads north. Development of the area in general was certainly happening, but I could not locate anything familiar, or the land. At the time, although this land was distant from the Brisbane built up area, there were large areas of pine plantation between the then outer suburbs and the Morayfield area – we had thought there was a chance that development would jump the pine areas to where we bought.

From Caboolture, made our way back east again, crossing the bridge over a fairly narrow sea channel, onto Bribie Island. This appeared to be a flat, sandy island – we were not able to explore much of it by road. It appeared to be changing, with housing development happening – looked like it was on the way to becoming suburban, too.

Then it was back to camp, before the late afternoon traffic peak.