Carnarvon Gorge-‘Gorge-ous’ and great walks!

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.

 

 

My new friend, Mary Poppins, in Maryborough

 

 

Getting ready to take off…..

Cania Gorge from the lookout

 

Entering Carnarvon Gorge…like seeing an oasis

 

Lots of ferns and palms as we walked along the creek

 

One of the over 12 water crossings for the day

 

Towering cliffs in the background

 

The Art Gallery – over 2000 engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings.

 

A significant Aboriginal site, 62 meter long sandstone wall and some of the best examples of stencil art in Australia.

 

Getting into the Amphitheatre

Dick coming into the Amphitheatre

Inside the Amphitheatre

Looking up from inside the Amphitheatre

 

Both safely down….

 

Walking along the main gorge track

Moss Garden was a real treat

Water dripping constantly from the sandstone sustains this lush green carpet of mosses

Couldn’t resist another photo here..

 

Bolimba Bluff – the start of the tough stuff

 

Starting the climb

Dick checking his heart rate, as he did many, many times on this walk.

 

We did a lot of climbing

Some amazing root systems

The stairs went on forever….

The reward at the top  (if you expand out the photo you get some idea of the extent of the gorge)

 

Great vista
Good spot for the kissing photo (handy self-timer)

 

The 2017 Adventure-from Sydney to Fraser Island

This year’s adventure started off very socially.  In fact, the first week was all about visiting friends as we jouneyed up to Queensland. On night one we enjoyed a good catchup over dinner with Anne and Mick in Port Macquarie.  The next day was lunch with Sue Jamieson near Coffs Harbor and an overnight stop at Black Rocks campground on the northern NSW coast.  Being creatures of habit we stayed in exactly the same campsite we had a year ago when we drove the van home from Brisbane.  We spent a night in Pamela and Rod’s driveway in Noosa before enjoying a lovely lunch with them in one of Noosa’s top restaurants. That night we slept in Alan’s driveway in Mooloolaba and enjoyed dinner out with Alan and Barbara.  We journeyed back to Brisbane to get the van serviced and managed a catchup dinner with Fiona in Brisbane.  Then we got to Noosa Shores campground north of Noosa and spent two nights in the campground we had also visited in 2016 when we first got the van.  By this time we needed a break and a catchup on unfinished jobs from Sydney; and we were so engrossed that we forgot it was our anniversary until FB and Amy and later Esther congratulated us on our five year anniversary.

Our first beach driving was a trip up the Cooloola coast, a 60 k stretch of beach from Noosa to Rainbow Beach.  I was a bit apprehensive about the sand driving but Dick assures me he knows what he’s doing, so we’ll see.  We camped right on the beach, explored Red Canyon and then had a restful afternoon in the van as it was raining.  I finished a book that I’d picked up the day before.  We woke to sunshine but it was short lived and we had a squally, rainy day as we drove up the beach and then did 15 k’s on a single lane 4WD track through the rainforest.   I started driving up the beach and my best decision of the day was to swap drivers before we left the beach. We couldn’t do any of this without a 4WD vehicle.  We got supplies in Rainbow Beach and took the barge/ferry over to Fraser Island for the next leg of our jouney.

 

On the road again—–30 April 2017

 

The proposed route for 2017- heading up the coast north from Sydney

 

 

Dinner with Anne and Mick in Port Macquarie

 

Camping at Black Rocks, the first of many beach camps

Lunch in Noosa with Pamela & Rod

 

Camping in Alan’s driveway (AGAIN!)

 

Celebrating our 5th Anniversay with a beach walk at Noosa North Shore campground

Some sand driving coming up

 

Exploring Red Canyon at Cooloola, Great Sandy NP

Real beach camping, Teewah Beach, Great Sandy NP

 

The view from our window in the van-looks like a picture

 

Driving up the beach

Driving thru the rainforest on a one lane 4WD track

On the barge to Fraser Island- we were first on.

 

The queue waiting for the barge as we approach Fraser Island