Cutting down through the Central Highlands of Queensland, 60km south of Rolleston and 40 km down a dirty and dusty track will bring you to a place of uniqueness in this dry and arid climate. A veritable Oasis hidden in the ranges. I’m talking about the wonder of the Carnarvon Gorge.
But just before you enter into the actual National park you’ll firstly pass a humble memorial to the C47B Dakota plane crew that crashed back in 1943. One of many planes that went down during the War in the wild and tumultuous storms that blow out here in the country. It makes me wonder about all the others that went down here and further North. No remains ever to be seen again.
The Carnarvon Gorge itself has been created over the last 27 million years, thanks to the Carnarvon Creek carving a path some 30 kilometres long and down through six hundred metres of stone. Producing a perfect environment for the lush green haven filled with a variety of a Eucalyptus trees, Fan palms, Blue Gum woodlands and silver leaved ironbark, to name but a few.
There’s a multitude of entrances into Carnarvon National Park that you can choose from. Within each section its own natural wonders to venture out to and explore. I was concentrating on the Carnarvon Gorge section for hidden inside this area was a few sights that I was keen to get out and go see for myself.
WHICH WAY DO WE GO??
At the information board I grabbed a photo of the map so I had a good idea of where I was heading to. Roughly 5 km one way was the distance it was going to take me to get out to the Aboriginal rock art wall that I had heard so much about.
It’s safe to say that I’m not much of a hiker but when you’re strolling along this well-worn path, it’s an absolute pleasure to be wandering through the wilderness with just the birds and an occasional hiker to greet you on your way. And it never ceases to impress me the outstanding work that the good folks put into projects like this. The path is super well maintained, most of the steps have been made from the rocks that were found nearby, or the wood is brought all the way in by god knows what means. The stepping stones across the creek crossings have all been strategically placed with decent sized boulders for easy access to the other side. It’s like walking through one huge and overgrown botanical garden.
WAITING FOR THE WET
You can see by the water levels of the creek that it’s due for a good rain. The waterways are so slender, if they haven’t dried up altogether. But the width of the creek and the debris that’s been sent down it from the last rains astounds me as to how much water must come down into this Gorge in the wet season!! How walking through the park would then become impossible!!
All the while these huge sandstone canyons raise up on either side of you, towering upwards to the heavens. Keeping you happily sheltered from the sun by the remains of what once was a rainforest growing within the Gorge.
When I read on the map to allow 3-4 hours one way to reach the rock art I was grateful for having chosen an early start. Leaving at 10am I was hoping to be back by sundown!! But imagine my surprise when I arrived at the site just on midday for a lunch under the sandstone overhang and not another soul around.
Even driving in my car to the Gorge I was grateful for the greener surrounds and cool breezes. For the indigenous people walking over the stifling hot country, this place must have truly felt like a paradise. Their stories of the Rainbow serpent carving through the land to create the Carnarvon Gorge further highlighting the sacredness of this part of Country.
MAGICAL IMAGES FROM A TIME LONG GONE
The rock art that has been created by different tribes over this great land always leaves me humbled. The hands scattered along the wall, reaching to the sky. The weapons proudly displayed. The fish nets meant to mourn the loss of love ones and the Vulva’s carved into the rock to signify times of sacred women’s ceremonies.
When the seasons were right this land was rich in bush tucker for the Bidjara and the Karingbal people. This was a place of gathering, to record information and to pass on the stories to the future generations.
ONTO THE THEATRE
With my energy restored and a deeper love for the land I began the trek back, happier that I had reached this special and sacred place. I detoured off the main track once more to see another wonder worked into the landscape, impressively named the Amphitheatre.
A place where water had sliced a path into the sandstone and eroded the rock within. Leaving a grand chamber that was open to the skies, made accessible by a set of steep stairs and with its own little pond and eco system thriving, protected and high above the floor of the Gorge.
When the winds began to pick up and the sound of thunder was growing close, I quickened my pace back to the car park where TIU (my car) was waiting for me. The storm never came, not while I was there anyhow. I guess it might have just been, as they say in the country, all blow and no show!!
It’s most definitely an effort to get to the Carnarvon Gorge but it’s somewhere that I’m glad I made the trip to see. It was a magical walk through a part of Country that few get the opportunity to venture into.
As for the rest of the park, well, that’s just something i’ll save for the next time. I was heading East now. Slowly making my way back to the Coastal Path where I began my car camping adventure nearly 6 months ago. But first, it was hot and I was looking for a cool spot, it was well time for a stay down by the riverside. Off to the Banana Shire and into the heart of Dawson Country.