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Carnarvon Gorge to Caloundra

...back to civilisation!

semi-overcast 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

On our only full day in the Gorge, we had a look at Baloon Cave which was a bit disappointing, nothing like the Aboriginal art that I had seen in other caves many years ago. We carried on from there to Rock Pool where many people were enjoying themselves in the pools - quite tempting but we had not brought our cossies with us. Had a chat to the Ranger at the Information Centre and found him very easy to chat with and a fount of knowledge. Back to the cottage to cool down and watch blue-faced honeyeaters in the albizzia flowers outside - delightful.


In the afternoon, when it had cooled down a little, we took off again and walked through forest, some of which had been burned in a fairly recent fire, down by Mickey Creek to the point where it flows from a gorge which joins the Warrumbah Gorge and were surprised to find a lovely hyacinth orchid on the track. We then decided to head into Mickey Gorge which started to test my newish hip out. It held up well but we then came across some boulders which would have required me to risk dislocating my hip to negotiate, so Judith went on alone and reached a part where she could easily touch both walls. On her way in she passed a bloke coming out and when I chatted with him, it turned out that he had worked at the Oasis only a few years before my stay in 1986, so he was able to remind me of things that I had forgotten about.


We left our noisy neighbours, the flying foxes, behind at Takarakka Resort (not sure what this name means but would guess at Aboriginal origins) and again, we stopped at Rolleston where we enjoyed more good bird watching. From there to Rockhampton, the drive was through very varied scenery - brigalow country with acacia sp. being predominant, more bottle trees, an open-cast coal mine and farming areas (cattle and cotton). We were amused to enter Banana Shire but enjoyed a lunch break at the Dawson River Rest Area near Moura. The shire gets its name from the first township in the area and this in turn was named not for the fruit but because it is the burial site of a "huge dun-coloured bullock named 'Banana'." (Thanks Wikipedia for that bit of trivia!). Moura is also almost directly on the 150 degree meridian and just outside the town they have put up two boulders with holes in and when you align the holes, that's where the meridian crosses the Dawson Highway!


Again I turn to and quote from Wikipedia for the origins of the name of our overnight stop in Rockhampton: "In January 1854, the New South Wales Government proclaimed two new districts: Port Curtis and Leichhardt (roughly today's Fitzroy Region), and the Archer brothers returned in August 1855 to set up their pastoral run at Gracemere. The Fitzroy River provided a convenient waterway for shipping of supplies and produce, and the Archer brothers constructed a wool shed just downstream of a bar of rocks which prevented further upstream navigation from the coast. These rocks were incorporated with the traditional English term for a village, and the name "Rockhampton" was first coined by Charles Archer and the local Commissioner from Crown Lands, William Wiseman." On our way out of the City, we stopped at the Spire which marks the Tropic of Capricorn as we were returning to sub-tropical areas after a good long spell going 'troppo'!


The Bruce Highway was painful with seemingly endless roadworks and the countryside became less interesting, although there were a few attractive stands of forest. We had a coffee break at Mt Larcom and bought some pies which we had that evening, some of the best we have ever tasted, so we thoroughly recommend Mt Larcom Cafe! While relaxing with our coffee, we watched a few oversize loads passed by, carrying huge mining machinery. We discussed the route at this stage and on the basis of the roadworks and oversize vehicles, we decided to divert through Gladstone in the hope of avoiding at least some of the roadwork. On the way in we passed some very long trains loaded with coal for shipment and then, as we drove through the suburbs, we came across Reg Tanna Park. It is nor big but we took quite some time to get round as there were many birds and other critters which we decided needed to be looked at though a viewfinder.


On our one full day in Bundaberg, the weather was not as kind as we have been used to but we made the best of breaks to explore the Botanic Gardens which were excellent and especially so when we found a lake with an island in the middle which was swarming with birds nesting. There were also more water dragons than we have seen anywhere else. Progress was quite slow! Rain drove us into the cafe then we braved the wet to dash over the road to the Museum which was absolutely absorbing, crammed full of so much interesting stuff.


Having become 'museumed' out, we headed over the Burnett River (I had never realised how many lovely rivers Australia has on the east coast - not decrying the Swan of course!). We found the Bundaberg Barrel where we had a tour through a little 'museum' which told the story of ginger beer before tasting the 18 varieties of 'fizz' that they produce. Neither of us could recall tasting ginger beer before but are now devoted fans. Some of the 18 flavours were excellent, others for different tastes! We bought a selection including some of their special Spicy Christmas Ginger Beer.

I had hoped to visit the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation and his former home from England which had been shipped out brick by brick and rebuilt! However, when we got back to the Botanic Gardens, we found that they had closed so had to be satisfied with exterior views of the house. Nothing for it but to have another look at the birds! This time we took Jet Set for an outing - he was a bit worried by the water and the dragons, a bit of a wimp.


On leaving Bundaberg we headed west towards GinGin where we had heard of some mystery craters! Just before reaching the town we found a sign inviting us to see the mystery craters. It was a fairly damp and dismal day but we decided to have a look and there were indeed 35 craters (probably more to be uncovered). Several theories have been offered for their origin but none is certain. It seems that the craters are very deep and have been filled with silt and red ochre is quite evenly distributed. My own guess is that the rock was boiling at some stage (this would possibly account for the even spread of ochre) and that bubbles formed and remained as voids when the rocks cooled - or something like that! Anyway, an interesting side trip.


We then hit some rather heavy rain (we have been very lucky with weather general thus far) which meant that we had to concentrate on driving rather than photography but we did note that sugar plantations gave way to some lovely sub-tropical forest before we reached Caloundra where our friends Barry & Shirley were waiting for us in their lovely unit. Barry was Judith's employer when we lived in Brisbane and we have always kept in touch.


Barry managed to persuade Judith to try to park our LC in his garage but as the vehicle came up the slope, the back of the awning holder jammed against the roof of the garage! I then found that I could, painfully, deflate the tyres but could not re-inflate them as the gadget I had bought from AutoBarn in Perth had wrong fittings! The RAC wouldn't come out to deflate the tyres but the following morning, I deflated the tyres and the RAC came out to re-inflate them. We then parked across the road! In the interim, we enjoyed the lovely views from the unit with plenty of birdlife. Barry & Shirley enjoy 'brain games' and introduced us to Sequence which we played regularly over the next few days!

Posted by SteveJD 02:49 Archived in Australia

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Jetset looks very much at home in your pocket Steve.

The photos are stunning as always, and your blog just makes one want to be there with you, but able to see everything through your eyes.

by Lorraine Wilson

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