Saturday, July 21, 2012

Carnarvon Gorge

Where were we?

OK Surat and an overnight at the Fisherman's Club free campsite on the banks on the Balonne River.
A quiet enough night, disturbed only by the periodic detonation of the pneumatic air-canon across the river at the grain storage facility. Clearly on some sort of automatic operation it discharged regularly – a weired Australian country town version of the town hall clock, chiming away the hours. Why it needs to operate at night when all sensible birds are asleep remains a mystery. Perhaps the local owls have developed a taste for grain? Or the cockatoos have developed night vision?

Anyway – early departure delayed by the now familiar “wet tent syndrome”. This time caused by the copious dew. Finally on the road with Roma our destination for morning coffee. After a brief stop at the Roma visitors centre where we were briefed by Ann on all things to do with Carnarvon Gorge, we discovered the 'Bakearoma' coffee/bakery, and Donna – one of the staff – who asked – “What you riding”? “Motorcycle says I.” “I know that!” she snorts, “What kind?”

Turns out she and her husband are fellow bikers and when she found out that Marco & Ursala were from NZ, she sat down for a good chin-wag.

After coffee and a vanilla slice – mmmmm, I finally managed to drag the others away from Donna and we hit the road north via Injune for a fuel stop. As we approached the turn off for Carnarvon Gorge, the country side changed and we had good riding through some sandstone country – hinting at what was to come.

The turn off to Carnarvon is about 110 km north of Injune, and the sandstone escarpment that the gorge is part of looms all along the western horizon.

Good sealed approach road for the first 30 km in to the national park, lots of mad cows wandering about, particularly over blind rises. Care was needed and taken. The last 12 km into the camp ground were fun. Hard rutted mud, full of pot-holes, interspersed with creek-crossings both with and without concrete causeways. Fun was had by all. I took the standing on the pegs and blasting away approach. Which resulted in being splattered with muddy water at regular intervals. Still – I found it easer to keep up a good pace and weave my way around the worst of the obstacles. Marco & Ursala opted for a more conservative approach, and arrived at the campground a few minutes after me – not quite as mud splattered. I took may metaphorical hat off to Ursala for coping so well with the conditions! It was not an easy ride on a street bike.

Good campsite, a free slide show put on by the park rangers, hot showers, good food, wine and early to bed. Tomorrow (Saturday) it will be up to the gorge proper and some walking and site-seeing!

Saturday – 21st

Carnarvon Gorge - “Rest Day”

A rest day from riding (apart from the 4km from the campsite to the park visitors centre), but not a rest day – 12 km walking up the gorge.

Wonderful. Spectacular. Stunning. These are just words. Carnarvon Gorge is without doubt one of the most spectacular natural formations I've visited. Truly amazing. So – a day's great walking. Have a look at the pictures.

Back at camp by 4pm – a couple of beers, hot shower and another good meal.
Now we have to decide where we go tomorrow!

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