We got the 2pm barge from Fraser Island so we had time to wash the Lestervan in a car wash in Hervey Bay. After all that beach driving and the inland sand tracks, it needed a good cleaning job for both the sand and the salt water. Eventually we managed to find an underbody carwash that could fit our 3.1 meter height. Then we drove to Maryborough for our two night catchup/stockup stay and found a Caravan Park (CP) with an ensuite. That was a treat after Fraser Island and we also treated ourselves to a belated anniversary dinner at the best restaurant in town.
I was attracted to Maryborough when I read that they have a statute of Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane beside the 135 year old bank building where her creator, PL Travers, was born in 1889. The bank building is currently covered in scaffolding as it is being renovated to become a Mary Poppins museum. We were too early for the Mary Poppins Festival, June 23-July 2, which celebrates the art of storytelling. Maryborough also has a Woolworths and a Bunnings so we had all we needed.
To break the drive to Carnarvon Gorge we stopped at Cania Gorge, thanks to Chris Lowe for the suggestion. We got in a couple of short walks, late afternoon and in the morning, so got some exercise and enjoyed seeing parts of the gorge and stayed in a nice, quiet CP. Then we had about a 6 hour drive to Carnarvon Gorge and arrived in time to catch most of the presentation on the gorge given at 5pm every day at Takarakka Bush Resort where we stayed for two nights.
Carnarvon Gorge has been compared to an oasis in the desert since its rainforest, creeks, cliffs, moss garden, Aboriginal rock art and abundant bird and plant life are in stark contrast to the surrounding dry plains. With 27 kms of graded walking tracks through the towering cliffs, colored gorges, endemic fan palms and ancient cycads; this place is a walkers paradise and everyone here seems to be doing the walks, and although not all seem well-equipped, all seem to enjoy the scenery. We followed the general advice given and did the 14 km main gorge walking track to Art Gallery (aboriginal art site), then visited Amphitheatre, and Moss Garden on the way back. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we enjoyed all that we saw (and photographed!) in the six hours. We then attended an excellant presentation/ slide show on the history and geology of the gorge, as well as info on the walking tracks and tours.
Enjoyed the showers and water at Takarakka but we were reasonably close to our neighbors so we moved for night 3 to the newly opened Sandstone Park, which is located next door and boasts 360 degree views of Carnarvon Gorge and the Great Dividing Range. It only caters for self-sufficient travellers (no water or power), and allows campfires and pets, so is catering for a niche market.
We had another walking day, this time without the sun, and tackled the hardest walk under 20k’s in the gorge – Bolimba Bluff, Class 4, 7.5k’s, 3.5 hours and 200 meters elevation change. Lots of steps and ladders but we took it slowly and were fine. Stunning panorama at the top, even on a cloudy day. This area is called ‘The Roof of Queensland’ and ‘The Home of the Rivers’ since many of Australia’s major river systems start here, including the Warrego and the Barcoo which flow into the Murray Darling Basin and Lake Eyre respectively. After lunch we did the 3k Mickey’s Creek walk so had a reasonable walking day and lucked out as it started raining just when we finished walking.