Everyone knows that Uluru is the world’s biggest rock, right? Well, not according to the people over in this part of the world who say it’s Mt Augustus, about 6 hours inland from Carnarvon. We’ve tried to Google ‘world’s biggest rock’ to sort it out but basically it’s all very unclear and depends on what you call a rock, and how you measure it, etc. In fact, according to Wikipedia ‘the claim does not originate from the geological literature, nor is substantiated by any other scholarly research’.
Regardless of all that, a number of people had recommended Mt Augustus to us so we decided to go and have a look. It is a very impressive mountain rising out of the surrounding plains, although it certainly looks and feels less like a ‘rock’ and more like a normal mountain with plenty of trees and shrubs growing all over it.
It was a long drive from Carnarvon, taking us 1.5 days, although that did mean we got to stay at Gascoyne Junction on the way where the pub had great food – the best pub meal we’ve had yet.
Mt Augustus NP is very small, covering just the mountain itself and there are no camping areas so we had to camp at the nearby Mt Augustus Tourist Park, a basic caravan park run on a nearby station. The views of Mt Augstus from the campsite were spectacular, particularly at sunset.
There are a number of walks around Mt Augustus, with the main one being the 12km (return) walk to the summit. We dutifully listened to the lecture delivered to us by the manager at the caravan park about leaving ‘at sparrow’s fart’, taking heaps of water and suggesting we really should do an easier walk. We headed off the next morning and it wasn’t as bad as the manager, and the brochure, made out but it was still a reasonably tough walk and the kids did really well.
On the way up we followed the easier of two trails to the summit, called the Summit Trail. The track was mostly well defined but it was steep in parts, rising a total of 650m over 6km. The views were beautiful all the way up.
At the top we found a picnic table, a rather ugly cairn and a geocache. Again, the views over the surrounding plains were great. We had an early lunch and spent over an hour just generally enjoying the view.
On the way down we followed the same track for most of the way but then took the alternative Gully Track which follows a dry, rocky creek bed. That track involved a lot of rock scrambling which was fun for everyone and a good distraction from walking for the kids. The views looking down the creek bed were spectacular.
We got back to the car at about 3.00pm having left at 7.00am and everyone was suitably tired so it was back to camp for ice creams and relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.
The following day we drove the scenic loop drive around the base of Mt Augustus which is about 45km. There’s a number of stops along the way including scenic lookouts and some Aboriginal petroglyphs. The highlight of the day was another, shorter and much easier walk, to Edney’s Lookout. The walk was only about 6km return which much less climbing than the previous day. The terrain though was much rockier with less vegetation and the views from the lookout were, in some ways, better than from the summit.