Day 6: Carnarvon Gorge to Lake Nuga Nuga

Our last day here and we farewell Trish and Bryan. Thanks so much for joining us here – it really made the stay and the walking so much more fun!

That's it Steve! That cleft just ahead.

That’s it Steve! That cleft just ahead.

On the day of the Big Walk we bypassed The Amphitheatre. I knew how amazing this was from my last visit and didn’t want Steve to miss it so we decided to do it before packing up to go (and our drive today wasn’t going to take us long). 10K return to the Amphitheatre. It’s a hidden opening in the rock. To get to it you climb a ladder (several actually) then go through a narrow cleft passage in the rock before it opens out to a beautiful enclosed amphitheatre, with a small spring-fed creek and lots of beautiful ferns.

The view above

The view above

The sky is visible only by looking directly up. With so few people here now we were blessed with seeing more kangaroos on the walk and down at the creek. A beautiful big Eastern Grey male was grazing on the path and let us get within a couple of feet before jumping off. Such a majestic animal.

From inside - the only way in and out.

From inside – the only way in and out.

Click here to view our photos of the Amphitheatre.

Back to camp, packed Arty up and set off to Lake Nuga Nuga.
Lake Nuga Nuga was formed some years ago when the creek outlet was blocked. It flooded quite a lot of land and the existing trees there died. Not sure of the exact size of this lake but it looks to be a few kilometers in diameter and is surrounded by brigalow.

Despite the arid landscape it is starkly beautiful.

Despite the arid landscape it is starkly beautiful.

We’re here to see the bird life, to paddle around the lake in our inflatable kayak and to enjoy a couple of days of solitude, reading, relaxing, and re-organising the drawers now we’ve had time to use them for a few days.
The drive here was delightful with the Carnarvon Ranges to the west and the Expedition National Park ranges to the east. The road from the highway was pretty good – dirt, but well maintained … not surprising when we drove past the massive Santos Pipeline Project base! Once we turned into the Nuga Nuga Road though it deteriorated quickly, and we were warned that if it rained we wouldn’t get out.

Our campsite.

Our campsite.

We drove around and picked the best camping spot – across from a potential island when there’s more water in the lake and with views east and west to the lake (about 50 meters away in each direction). The easterly breeze coming over the lake was beautifully cooling, fortunately, as the temperature on the drive here was 33 – 34. We had the pick of any camp site we wanted, we’re the only ones here.
We did the minimalist setup of Arty – just flipped her open, opened the windows and pulled the awning out from the side of the car, took the chairs out and setup the gas stove. We think this is all we really need the majority of the time – and it took less than 15 mins, and we’re still new at it!
What remained of the afternoon was spent relaxing, enjoying wine o’clock as the sun set over the lake, and watching the birds. Steve has a Night Sky app on his iPad. We had fun identifying the stars and constellations with it before turning in for the night. Bliss!

Day 5: Carnarvon Gorge

This morning we climbed Boolimbah Bluff. Tough climb! But well worth it to look out over the Gorge and surrounds. The purists do this climb to be there at dawn – we weren’t purists but nevertheless left the campsite at 6.30am as the weather was promising to get hotter and hotter – low to mid 30s today. It was a good move.

How's that for a panorama?

How’s that for a panorama?

Other photos from our Boolimbah Bluff climb can be found by clicking here.

The rest of the day we lazed around reading and keeping cool.
That evening we did the Night Safari with Simon. A group of some 12 or so met at dusk and Simon took us over the creek to spot gliders. On the way we saw a platypus !?! (I saw a ripple of water), a couple keel back water snakes, numerous rock frogs, micro bats, and the greater gliders and also the yellow- tail gliders. The gliders really are so cute, and to watch them glide from one gum tree and land, thwock!, on the truck of another gum was pretty amazing. Simon was very knowledgeable about them and brilliant at picking them up in the torch light in mid flight. Still, at $20 per person it was a good days wages for one hour of work!

Day 4 Carnarvon Gorge

Took it easy today. Some footy final or other was on tonight that the boys wanted to see, we needed more gas and Brian needed more ice, so we headed over to Takarakka for the ice and gas and stopped at the Guest House to see if the footy was going to be on at the bar here. Nope – no TV reception out here apparently – two disappointed boys!
There are a few short walks between the camp and Takarakka so we stopped to do them – the Balloon Cave (more aboriginal rock art) and Mickey’s Creek which was a lovely cool walk along a small gorge. This truly is a haven for bushwalkers. We stopped for a swim at the Rock Pool then came back to camp for wine o’clock and it was my turn to cook dinner. I suitably impressed Trish and Bryan with corned meat, potatoes, carrots, and onion cooked in the Dream Pot while we walked. Love my Dream Pot (have I already mentioned that!!).
Trish and I went platypus spotting that evening. Those who know me know that I don’t actually believe in the existence of these mythical creatures – even with vet convincing evidence in zoos (battery-operated I’m sure) I have yet to see one in the wild, despite many hours sitting silently beside gurgling streams. Everyone on the side of the creek opposite to us pointed, gesticulated and took photos but all I saw was a ripple of water! Finished the day with several games of 500 and a ‘little’ red wine. Just how did Bryan manage to get the joker so many times!!

Day 3: Carnarvon Gorge

Trish, Bryan, Steve and Denise - crossing Carnarvon Creed the first of many, many times.

Trish, Bryan, Steve and Denise – crossing Carnarvon Creed the first of many, many times.

Today we all did The Big Walk – all the way to Big Bend, stopping to look at the Cathedral, the Art Gallery, Wards Canyon, and the Moss Gardens on the way back. A total of 23K. The beauty of this gorge just can’t be described – it’s sheer precipice sandstone cliff faces on both sides is truly stunning, changing from morning to night as the sun moves. The Carnarvon Creek wanders the whole length of the gorge with about 20 rock hopping crossings of it to get to the end. It’s clear and fast flowing and mostly quite shallow though there are a few good swimming holes on the way.

More Aboriginal art. Cathedral Cave.

More Aboriginal art. Cathedral Cave.

The Cathedral and the Art Gallery were both important meeting places for aboriginals who performed ceremonies, and created their rock paintings here. These paintings tell their stories. They also buried some of their dead, wrapped in nets, in holes/caves in the sandstone cliff face.

My favourite! See those ferns - they are rare King Ferns, their fronds held up by water pressure, like a fireman's hose.

My favourite! See those ferns – they are rare King Ferns, their fronds held up by water pressure, like a fireman’s hose.

Wards canyon, off to one side was cool, ferny and very pretty. Here are some of the last specimens of King Ferns in this area. The King Fern is notable because it lives close to water because it’s fronds are held up by water pressure, like a fire hose. Interesting! I think this canyon is my favourite part of the Gorge.

So cool, and very pretty.

So cool, and very pretty.

The Moss Gardens are just amazing – the sandstone walls from a certain height are covered in mosses, with many small ferns around too, and a constant trickle of water emerging from the sandstone from the level of the moss. Apparently the water soaks down through the sandstone, from way up top, until it meets a level a shale where the water then moves sideways along this level until it comes out and trickles down the sides of this little gorge making a perfect habitat for mosses. So pretty, and cool, and amazing to think this water may have fallen as rain a long time ago and is only now filtered through and coming out. Love the moss gardens.
Arrived back at camp pretty well knackered. Trish, bless her heart, had volunteered to cook for us all tonight, and we had a delicious meal of ‘pull-apart chicken and beef’ – must get that recipe off her.

Click here to view the photos taken on this wonderful walk.

Day 2: Judd’s Lagoon to Carnarvon National Park

Stopped at Roma to pick up a couple of things we’d forgotten – cutting boards, washing powder! This is a shake down trip for Arty, so not surprising we forgot something. Then on through Injune to the Carnarvon Gorge turnoff. We’d been told by friends that Roma had changed from the quiet country town they used to live in to a mining town, and they were right. Big trucks and white 4WD’s with red flags on poles everywhere. The airport had hundreds of these 4WD’s in the car park for the fly-in fly-out’s I guess. On the road between Roma and Injune the number of trucks was amazing, with maybe 1 in 3 of them being 2 or 3 trailer Road Trains. Lots of road work going on too, so a slow trip.
Stopped at Injune for morning tea. Nice park but couldn’t really drive off the road into it. Visitors information centre was well stocked and friendly helpful staff.
Steve’s big complaint of the trip so far is the Driver Reviver stops. Big signs up for a few km before Miles, just to get there and it was closed, and the same at Injune, only we couldn’t even find where that one was supposed to be.
Saw an emu and camels and, of course, kangaroos along the way.

Arrived at Carnarvon Gorge about 1pm. The road in off the highway is about 45K, with 25K of that on dirt roads which were in pretty good nick. This road is often closed when it rains as you ford the Carnarvon Creek a couple of times. We met our friends Trish and Bryan at the campground where they were already 3/4 setup with a big tent with big tarp cover in the shade of which many a tale was told and vino consumed over the next 4 days. We did the full setup of Arty, including the downstairs annex. This will be the first real trial of the drawer and fridge setup too. In the afternoon we did the Nature Trail walk, just a few K along the creek beside the campsite.
The campground here in the National Park is only open during the Easter and Spring school holidays. The rest of the time you have to camp at Takarakka which is a private campsite about 4-5 K out of the park. We’ve timed our visit to stay here on the last Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Labor Day) of the holidays before it closes on the Tuesday. I could see on the website when booking it that campers were leaving from the Friday with the site just about empty by Monday – suits us perfectly.
The temperature today was in the high 20s with an overnight fall to about 10 – very pleasant!

Day 1: Home to Judds Lagoon

Despite the best of intentions we weren’t all packed up and ready to leave early – but we weren’t far from it. We’d only been back in Australia for two weeks following our great China-Europe adventure, still recovering from jet lag. During those two weeks we outfitted the back of the Pajero with a Drifta drawer system, a fridge slide that drops down and a cargo safety barrier. This we managed between us with a lot of stress and cursing. Tip: if you can get something fitted by a professional, DO!
We both had a fair bit of work to do on our business too. They were busy days!

Excited to be leaving.

Excited to be leaving.

11am we left home, trusting the care of home and business to the very capable hands of our daughter and her husband. West along the d’Aguilar Highway to Nanango, across to Kumbia, Jandowae and Chinchilla, with lunch at Kumbia was the plan. Steve has the Hema maps app on his iPad and we could see lots of country roads, some sealed, some not – ahhhh that’s what I love when we travel, little country roads with hardly any traffic and lots of interesting countryside, little creeks, farmhouses, animals and people to see.

The favous Bottle Trees.

The favous Bottle Trees.

Kumbia is a delightful little town with a lovely shady free camp site in town, clean facilities, BBQ, and power for a donation. Well done Kumbia – I’ll recommend your lovely town to anyone and hope they support your local businesses well. Thank you.

Once back on the highway at Chinchilla we headed for Judd’s Lagoon, just east of Roma for the night’s camp. Another free camp with clean Eco-toilet, shower room (byo water) and lots of area around the lagoon for setting up camp.

Our first night.

Our first night.

Arty (our roof-top tent) was set up quickly, a pleasant walk around the grounds saying hello to folks and back to Arty for a delicious hot tomato, vegetable and chicken casserole cooked to perfection in the Dream Pot while we drove. LOVE my Dream Pot.
The kangaroos and bird life around the lagoon was fantastic, and we were finally serenaded to bed at dusk by the kookaburras, who were, unfortunately the first to wake in the morning too – but hey, I’m not complaining. The magpie song followed and set us off in a happy mood for the day.