Saturday 5 May: Hiking in Carnarvon Gorge

Author: Mr A

Location: Carnarvon Gorge, Qld Highlands

The dawn broke over this spectacular landscape, and after a quick cuppa (of course), we were off and at ’em. It was only a short drive to the trail head and we were walking by 7.30 am, determined to do most of our hike in the cool of the early to mid morning.We had decided to repeat the walk we did when we came here years ago, the “recommended” medium distance hike of 14.5km (9 miles) which took in several of the major sites in the Gorge. We were pleased to be ahead of the crowds, we remembered on our last trip it was pretty frenetic. This time there were very few people around, and the sounds of the birds and the water cascading over the rocks the only noises to break the early morning stillness.We hopped over the first water crossings, the views down the watercourse with the sandstone walls towering imposingly in the background were amazing. This is a special place, and we’re so glad it is being looked after well.

We briskly hiked up as far as what’s called the Art Gallery.A spectacular display of aboriginal stencil art dating back to…well take your pick really…the estimates vary here but these have been carbon dated back twenty thousand years at least. The initial simplicity of the paintings belies the complexity of the messages they contain, would be my summary. The information boards tell a sketchy story of what the art work would mean to those who painted it, and the countless generations of aboriginals who came after. It’s such a spine tingling experience standing looking at artwork that predates almost any other in the world.

The gorge shows signs of habitation for over 20,000 years, quite “recent” compared to the 50,000 year dating of artefacts such as the axe head found in Arnhem Land and recently dated using a range of new techniques that have ever increasing reliability. If you’re interested in this field then sign up for the free newsletter “SAPIENS”, which has all the latest anthropological research and discoveries in it.

We started to retrace our steps back down the gorge and then took another side path to Ward’s Canyon named after a couple of brothers who were possum hunters and used the gorge to base themselves in. Guess their surname… this cool gorge contains central Queensland’s last stand of King Ferns.From here, we continued back to another diversion, taking us to what’s called the Amphitheatre. You need to climb up some ladders into a narrow cave, which then widens out into this massive…well..natural amphitheatre. We were the only people in there and the brooding silence off the massive walls was quite something.We enjoyed lunch on the banks of Carnarvon Creek before continuing back.So back at the car, with legs feeling the kilometres and 35 flights of stairs equaivelent, I realised I was not hiking fit!

Mrs A soon put a spring back in our stride with mixing some damper dough which I then baked in the Weber. Then it was Thai chicken green curry, still with so many fresh veg that we had brought in Bundaberg.

We slept well after watching the moon rise over the landscape…just magical.

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