23.9.2012 to 1.10.2012

We planned this trip with Barry and Kerry and Jeff and Tanya (Aunty Flo’s boys!) when we caught up with them at Aunty Flo’s 80th birthday party in March of this year.

We were going to “rough it” in our camper trailer, but in the meantime had upgraded from the Coromal Pop-Top to a full van with on board shower and toilet. Of course, this meant we had to give the van it’s first run!

We planned to spend our first night together at Roma. We were the last to arrive, just in time for happy hour! Had a great time catching up.

Set off early the next morning, via Injune. We hadn’t been on this road before, so the scenery was new to us. Very dry country, badly needed some good rain. Fields of golden barley, rugged ranges in the distance. Turned into the road to the Takarakka Bush Resort, what a rough road this was. About 40 klms of stony corrugation. Anyway, arrived shaken (but not stirred!) and set up camp.

Lots of people, vans, camper trailers and tents, lots of kids, it being the school holidays. But plenty of room to move, no-one was camped on top of each other.  A great spot, lots of trees, and of course, birds. This “twitcher” was in her element.

Our first full day, we did the Mickey Creek Walk. Felt good to get the boots on and do some serious hiking. The creek wound it’s way passed high cliffs, tall gums, cycads and palms. After a couple of hours exploring, we stopped in at the Visitor Center to get some info on the main Gorge walk, did another small nature walk, then found our way to the Rock Pool. Too bad we didn’t bring our togs. The water looked very inviting.

Up early the next day, cool and cloudy, a good day for our trek into the Gorge. Looking forward to a good 14 klm plus hike, the plan being to make our way to the end and then visit the different side gorges on our way back. So hiking up steps and down slopes, crossing the creek via stepping stones, and plenty of rest stops along the way, we finally found ourselves at the Art Gallery. This is a significant Aboriginal site, featuring stencil work and carvings.

Next stop, Ward’s Canyon, way up in a side gorge, lots of steps here but well worth the effort. Giant King ferns, waterfalls and mossy rocks. Cool and peaceful. Down again and on to The Amphitheatre. Max and I piked on this one as you had to climb ladders to get there, not my cup of tea. Barry and Jeff and Tanya made the effort and were duly rewarded. Next stop The Moss Garden, another hike into a side gorge. Well named, with massive rocks covered in moss, lichens and ferns, bubbling streams and waterfalls. Just beautiful.

Ready to make our way back to camp now, very tired, a slow walk back to the Visitor Center. Exhausted is probably a better word! Really dragging our feet by now. Could’nt wait to get the boots off. But all in all a great day, with spectacular scenery all the way. Well worth the aches and pains afterwards. Early night for us all.

A good night’s sleep, then enjoyed a full Aussie breakfast, with all the trimmings. A couple of short walks today, to complete our stay at Carnarvon Gorge. Baloon Cave, to view some more Aboriginal stencils. Then , after morning tea, on to the Lookout, an easy walk up the hill in the van park, and spectacular views overlooking the Gorge. There is another Lookout even more amazing, but there are about 1000 steps up to this one (no joke), diehard hikers only! Lazed around for the rest of the day, pikelets and jam and cream and Billy tea for afternoon tea. Before we knew it, time for Happy Hour – or two!!

Next day and time to leave the Gorge, and on to Rolleston for a morning tea stop and fuel. Well, we had the morning tea but no fuel! The diesel pump was out of action until who knew when. Decided to make our way to Springsure on what fuel we had and get as far as we could. Pulled up about 40 klms out of Springsure. Jeff and Tanya waited with us while Barry and Kerry drove to Springsure to pick up the fuel. They were back in about an hour. On our way again, with a stop at Springsure for lunch. Then Emerald to stock up on supplies. Big town, very busy. Had a thought to stay at Emerald, but as we wanted to have a look at the nearby sapphire fossicking area, we decided to move on to Anakie. Found the only van park, a bit rough, but we were almost in the middle of nowhere. Settled in and then had tea at the pub next door. Very handy!

Max and I had decided on an early night, and were sound asleep when the commotion started. There was an old chap living in a pretty decrepit old van next to our camp and what we heard were calls for the fire brigade and ambulance. Jeff and Tanya and Barry and Kerry were still up, thank goodness, because if it wasn’t for their quick thinking there would have been a very different outcome. They saw the glow of fire and heard the cries for help from the old man. Barry managed to get the back window open and started hosing down the flames, Jeff trying with all his might to get the door open. Long story short, the old man was out of the van and off to hospital. Luckily there was a doctor staying in the park, and the publican was a bush nurse. Police arrived, also scene of crime officers, to rule out foul play. Barry and Jeff had to give statements. Heard he had 15 to 20% burns. He was about 85 years old and only skin and bone. Ended up being flown to Brisbane.

The fire was put down to smoking in bed, and there were no smoke alarms. How that was allowed to happen, who knows. Finally got to bed around midnight, a very scary night. Fate seems to have taken a hand here, we first thought to stay in Emerald, then changed our minds. Had a choice of two sites and picked the one next to the old van!

Anyway, set off next morning to visit Sapphire and Rubyvale. Had a bit of a look around, but since the season was nearing it’s end, not a great deal to do. A few shops were open, but the jewellery way out of our price range. Turned out to be a very hot day, not good for fossicking through a bucket of wash looking for that elusive sapphire. Best visited in the cooler months. Countryside interesting, though, with great mounds of old mullock heaps and rusted old trucks and machinery  everywhere. Easy to see the hive of activity here in the old days. Back at camp, time to set up the TV to watch the AFL Grand Final. Nibbles and drinks, comfy chairs and a win by our old home town Sydney. Can it get any better? Threatening a storm which didn’t eventuate, lots of birds to keep us entertained – galahs, lorikeets, apostle birds.

Next day Sunday, and time to head home. Took the road via Theodore, stopped in at the Dawson Coal Mine Observation Platform, but no activity here. Not like the last time Max and I came through. Trucks coming and going everywhere then. On to Taroom and an overnight stop. No power or water, but only $10 for the night, with good amenities. NRL Grand Final this time. Tea under the stars, and a beautiful full moon.

Last day on the road, morning tea at Dalby then lunch at Oakey. Parted company here, Jeff and Tanya and Barry and Kerry on to Ipswich to visit Jeff’s daughter, Michaela. Made plans to catch up for lunch at our place the next day. However, only Barry and Kerry could make it. Good to be able to enjoy each other’s company for a bit longer. Had a great time on this trip, lots of laughs, Barry and Jeff both have the  Chant dry wit!