Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Carnarvon Gorge Part 2

Happy bushwalkers (yes, only a kilometre into the gorge)
Sunday was walk day and whilst we wanted to get started at 7.30am, allowing for the Fiela Factor plus the child handicap, we started at 8.30am. We had planned to do a (3.5km one way) walk up to Moss Garden (where water trickles from a spring down the walls of a cliff into the creek below, allowing moss to live and grow in a little gorge) with the children, and then I would walk a bit further on (1.8km one way) to the Ampitheatre (a large rock formation). Marguerite was a bit painful, but by the time we went over a creek or two and met some hikers already coming back, she was pumped. One of the hikers told us not to bother with the Moss Garden as it was ‘too steep’, though by the colour of her face, I’m sure she was rethinking the Carnarvon Gorge experience in total. Anyway, we pressed on, and when we turned off the main path to the Moss Garden we were all pretty pumped. It was steep, but totally worth it if only for the cool temperature of the viewing area. It was a lovely waterfall, and with all the water dripping down the sides of the walls it really was spectacular. We let the kids (all three of them) have a cool off in a stream a bit further down, then I headed off to the Ampitheatre while Fiela took the kids back to the car park.
Looking up to the gorge

Looking up into the Moss Garden

The Moss Garden

'Secret Garden' steps up to the Garden...
according to Marguerite.

The Moss Garden.

Swimming in the creek

Entrance to the Ampitheatre
Wow. I had hoofed it up to this next site, knowing I had to get back as Fiela was trudging along with Caesar in the carrier and no doubt carrying Marguerite part of the way as well. There are a number of ladders leading up to the opening of what looked like a cave, but as a cool blast of air hit me I could see  through the narrow rock corridor to a large area opening up to the sky, 10 storeys above. I was the only person there, and whilst my plan was to have a look, take some photos and scoot, I just couldn’t. Instead I sat down, took off my hat and had a little think and wonder at the natural beauty in front of me. It’s not often we are given true opportunities to contemplate the ancientness of this land we live in, but here looking up the worn sides of the cliff and seeing the sedimentary layers exposed from thousands of years of dripping water, watching individual leaves flutter down from the trees high above to the floor of the Ampitheatre for minutes at a time… It felt quite spiritual, peaceful and overwhelming large- isn’t that what all buildings of religion aim to be? Anyway, getting 10 unexpected minutes of absolute peace and quiet in such a beautiful place would turn any time-poor mum religious.

Looking out.
Walkway to the Ampitheatre

Inside the Ampitheatre

Inside the Ampitheatre- so peaceful

Wards Canyon
I bounced out of there with a new lease on life (lucky as it was bloody hot) and headed even further up the gorge to Ward’s Canyon. We’d been told it was definitely worth a look and only another 1.2km up from the Ampitheatre. It really was a heart-starter in the steep steps category, but again totally worth it. This is the only King Fern colony in Central Queensland and it is beautiful (and again really cool in temperature). Took a few photos then very quickly walked back to the carpark. All of a sudden it was hot, and the last 2kms started to feel very long. Made it back to see the rest of the Uys Huis lounging about on the grass. Fiela looked spry even, saying that he really only carried Miss Marguerite for maybe 400mtrs (what a little champion- and all in some $5 Big W gumboots- yes yes, we’re buying her proper shoes at the next town!)

King Ferns.

The Canyon.

Looking out of Wards Canyon.
 When we left camp at 8.30am, it was 21 degrees celsius. Now, at almost 1pm, it was 35 degrees.  We got home, and collapsed in the shade, then the creek.

More bushwalking fun...
That night two storms rolled through the camp, the first inciting much banging in of guide ropes, and the second sighs of relief with a decent shower of rain and a drop in temperature.

We left the next day, after a look at Balloon Cave with some Aboriginal rock art work and a surprisingly good lunch at the Oasis Lodge Café just down the road- I had a haloumi and pumpkin salad, Fiela a steak burger and the kids shared a chicken quesadilla which were all lovely. Here was this café in the middle of nowhere, 300kms from the nearest Woolies and they were still turning out nice food, and yet we’ve all been to well serviced and populated areas where cafes can spectacularly botch a vegemite sandwich. It boggles my mind.

On the way to Balloon Cave.

Rock art at Balloon Cave, apparently advertising axes.

It's only a very small example of rockart, you can see the orange colour above Marguerite's head- that's it.

While I would definitely come back to Carnarvon Gorge, we certainly won’t until the kids are able to do most of the hikes by themselves and there’s a bit more water in the creeks… On to Emerald and the gemfields! 

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