30 July: Stopover in Roma ….
We were very sad to leave our little dream cottage, but excited to be heading on the next part of the adventure. After a chat with Deb & Pete, we bid our farewells and hit the road.
The road was pretty busy, especially with campers, large cars and even larger lorries (road trains). Other than stopping at Miles to fill up with petrol and eat our tuna sandwiches in the memorial gardens, there was nothing much else to report. Approximately 90km east of Roma, we were greeted with the sign “Welcome to Outback Queensland” – just in case the sight of the rugged and harsh bushlands hadn’t been enough to let us know. Before checking in to the Roma Central Motel, our stopover for the night, we popped into Bakearoma in the middle of town for a coffee.
On our way to one of the local pubs, The Commonwealth, for dinner, we took a detour to the biggest bottle tree in Roma. There are a lot of bottle trees all over town but this one had a particularly large girth. We also spotted the avenue of bottle trees planted in commemoration of those who fought in WW1. After a large plate of pork ribs, we returned to the motel, had a cup of tea and went to bed.
31 July: Carnarvon Gorge ….
Whilst Roma had been a stopover, Takarakka Bush Resort at Carnarvon Gorge was a destination! We were looking forward to some long hikes through the gorge. We needed fuel for the next few days, so decided to head to Bakearoma again – this time we paired the coffee with bacon & egg rolls. And they were quite something! We were both full!! We also stocked up on some breads for the next few days as we were going to be in the middle of nowhere.
The change in scenery and vegetation along the Warrego Highway surprised us both, as did the ridiculously large number of dead kangaroos along the side of the road and in the middle. As we got closer to the gorge, we experienced the most significant change as the vast fields were replaced by large rock faces.
We arrived at the visitor centre at the Carnarvon Gorge National Park about half an hour before we could check into our accommodation, so decided to munch our lunch (whilst making sure the Kookaburras didn’t steal it). The centre itself was closed – had been since 25 March – as was the huge Wilderness Lodge nearby. Little wonder we had struggled to find accommodation in the area. Even at Takarakka, the tents we stayed in were one of the few types of accommodation open other than the campsites. Glad to be supporting those that are trying to get going in the mist of Covid.
As we had a few hours before dark, we decided to do a short hike along a creek and into a gorge – the end bit got narrower and narrower until one could almost stretch out and touch both sides. There were two young guys with as drone – it’s amazing how much noise they make, particularly when echoing around a gorge. Back at camp, we took a quick walk up to one of the lookout just behind our tent – fun but nothing exciting.
As we had no cooking facilities, dinner was from a couple of cans. We considered asking the people in the tent next door for some hot water for tea – we could hear the whistle blowing on their kettle.
1 August: Carnarvon Gorge ….
After a better night’s sleep than expected – we’d managed to keep warm with thermals, 2 duvets each and socks – we were ready for a day of hiking. After some fruit cake for breakfast, we drove to the visitors centre, the starting point for most of the hikes. Soon after 8am we were on our way,
There is only one walking trail within the gorge, so it’s juts a matter of how far along that track one wishes to go. On the way back, there are options to visit as many of the side tracks as one chooses. Each trail goes up from the main track and to a very different scenery based on the microclimate.
We had chosen to go as far as the Art Gallery, where the track becomes a little less maintained. However, as we arrived there a little earlier than expected, we went a couple of kms further, making our way along the river bed in a number of places. WE then turned around and started backtracking to the various scenic paths.
The Art Gallery gains its name from the well-preserved Aboriginal art on the steep cliff. It was probably the easiest of the excursions, with an easy climb. Ward’s Canyon, Walter’s favourite, had us passing a small waterfall before entering the canyon through red rock. The canyon itself was full of ferns, in particular the King Fern which is typically found at the coast.
The Amphitheatre required some climbing up metal ladders but when presented when the cone formation of the rock face, we understood the name. The Moss Garden was something out of a fairytale, with droplets falling from the green rocks.
Boolimba Bluff is a walk of the main track in the gorge but is regarded as a separate walk given it is much longer. We decided to do this on the way out before it became to hot. Whilst there were close to 1000 stairs and a few metal ladders, it wasn’t nearly as challenging as expected and the views were worth every step.
The bird life in the gorge was amazing, with the calls echoing around the cliffs, particularly in one area.
We were glad to have a shower in our outdoor bathroom / dunny before relaxing over an early dinner. Walter packed the car – most of the stuff anyway – all ready for a long drive to Longreach.