After saying goodbye to our friends, Russell, Lesley, Byron, George and Scout, when we left Fraser Island our next destination was Carnarvon Gorge. We had an overnight stop to restock in a small town called Gayndah, apparently the orange capital of Queensland. This town has one of the few flying fox cashier systems still functioning – although unfortunately they don’t still actually use it. It is found in the drapery store and we found everyone in this town to be very relaxed and up for a chat.
Anyway, it was after a long drive and being about an hour out of Carnarvon Gorge that I realised I had stuffed up the planning. I think I’d put all my planning efforts into Fraser Island and kind of thought I’d leave the next leg until later, but never got around to it. For anybody who’s interested in going to Carnarvon Gorge here’s what I should have known:
- the campsite in the national park is only open Easter long weekend and winter and spring school holidays – I know, that’s weird, but unfortunately that’s the way it is; and
- if you want to go for an overnight hike you need to book as they only allow 10 overnight hikers a night.
So after a last minute phone call we managed to book in a place called Takarakka, which is caravan park pretending to be something else by calling itself a ‘bush resort’, for two nights. Plans for our first overnight hike were in tatters unfortunately, although the kids didn’t seem all that disappointed. We had hoped to walk up the gorge to a campsite called Big Bend, which is the start of the 6 day Carnarvon Great Walk, but that wasn’t to be. We might just have to come back and do the full walk, it looks like it would be lovely.
Takarakka is basically a caravan park, but it is a very nice one. The camping sites are separate from the caravans/RVs and set amongst lovely ferns. It all feels very prehistoric and the vegetation is a remnant from when the whole area was covered in forests and rivers. We were late booking and the park was very full but the staff were very accommodating and managed to fit us in, although we had to move sites for the second night.
Instead of the overnight hike , we went for a day walk and covered most of the ground we had planned to hike. There is one main walking track which goes up the gorge, with a number of short side trips.
The gorge itself is very impressive, with large sandstone walls either side and lovely forest and a river on the floor of the gorge, but the side trips are the main attractions. We went to: Moss Garden, the Amphitheatre, Ward’s Canyon and the Art Gallery.
All the side trips were good, and quite varied, but the Amphitheatre and the Art Gallery deserve a special mention.
The walk to the Amphitheatre climbs up a series of ladders to a thin walkway into the gorge of the wall, about 1.5m wide. After about 30m that opens out and you find yourself at the bottom of what is basically a very large hole!
The Art Gallery is a long wall of Aboriginal rock art which was very impressive. Most of the art is stencil paintings although there are also quite a number of freehand drawings and even engravings in the sandstone walls.
All up the walk was around 14km and we did it fairly easily in a day. The kids did it with minimal complaints which means they must have found it sufficiently interesting to keep their minds off the walking itself!