Friday, 7 June 2013

Queenslands Hidden Secrets: Carnarvon Gorge

Carnarvon Gorge from within.

By Ryan Pearson
I had a few days off this week so I borrowed my parents Winnebago, and trekked as far west as I've been in Australia to the fabled Carnarvon Gorge. This place is a wonderland of flora and fauna and natural history dating back thousands of years. It's a hidden, ancient secret amidst Queenslands semi-arid west that harbours an amazing diversity of species from a variety of much wetter habitats than the surrounds suggest. In fact, the planned walks encompass such a variety of habitats that it almost feels like you're walking through a number of exhibits in the worlds largest museum. Here's a break-down of the park with a lot of pictures along the way...

The people in the know recommend spending a good three days in the park to really appreciate everything, but we were short on time so we did basically everything in one day. This meant about 25km of walking, 22 river crossings, and a few short climbs into each 'exhibit'. First stop for us was the Moss Gardens which is a hidden oasis up in one of the gorge walls. Here you can see a mini waterfall and walls lined with thick and flourishing mosses in the deepests greens imaginable.

A wider view of the main exhibit at the moss Garden.
The next place we visited was everyone's favourite stop of the day... the Amphitheatre. Here you enter a thin crack in the rock face of the gorge, and after about a 20m walk emerge into a giant chamber within the gorge itself. It's pretty steep getting up to the entry but the park management have installed ladders/steps to help everyone get there. This place is truly amazing.
The entrance to the Amphitheatre.

A small stream surrounded by greenery runs through the middle of the chamber.

Looking back through the (box) gap of the Amphitheatre entrance.

Adm takes in the serenity within the Amphitheatre.

Wide angle view of the entire Amphitheatre chamber.
We then trekked about another 4km upstream to a place called catherdral cave which shows off some of the history of the place through the ancient aboriginal artwork all over the cave wall here. 
Some of the indigenous artwork on the cave wall within Catherdal Cave.
After this we entered Boowinda Gorge which is a narrow winding gorge that runs for ages... it was quite a cool place but we didn't make it to the end because we were running short on time by this stage, and worried about getting back to the car while it was still light. It's definitely on the list to explore further on the next trip there.
A solitary tree grows from the cobbles at the mouth of Boowinda Gorge.

After this we made a quick stop at Big Bend camping ground... a place where you can camp year round if you're game enough to carry all of your gear the 9.5km up to the area. This is definitely our plan for the next trip. Big Bend was our turning around point so we started moving as quickly as our tired legs would allow back down the hill. We only had time for a very quick stop at the Art Gallery, another location of extravagent indigenous artwork, and then a short stop in another magical place called Ward's Canyon. I really wish we had more time to spend here because it is truly an interesting little micro ecosystem. It is filled with King Ferns, which, outside of Carnarvon Gorge, are not found anywhere within 250,000 square kilometres! Amazing!
Some of the King Ferns within Ward's Canyon.
After this we walked (a little zombie like) back to the motorhome and drove back down to the camp site at Takarakka Bush Resort for a beer, and to rest our weary bodies. In all, it's a place that I would recommend to anyone and I can't wait to go back for a longer stay.

We even glimpsed a platypus near the camp site and saw a bunch of native birds and wildlife along the way including Emus, Brolgas, Bustards, Kangaroos, and Wallabies. To finish off, here's a lot more pics from random locations along the walk... enjoy.

Bush paparazzi.

Adm and the Giant Gorge.

Another angle of the Moss Garden

Adm's punishment for all of the pollution he's caused throughout his life... Nature Jail.


Tanya Maudsley said...

Hi Ryan,
Great blog, love your photography.
I'm having a painting made for my friend's birthday who lives near the Carnarvon Gorge. I haven't seen any other photos that capture the beauty of the area as well as yours. Would it be ok for the artist to use your Moss Garden photo as a reference?
Look forward to hearing from you soon,

Ryan Pearson said...

Hi Tanya,

Thanks for your message. I'm more than happy for your artist to use my image as inspiration. Please send me a photo of the finished product.


Tanya Maudsley said...

Thanks Ryan!
Much appreciated, I'll let you know when it's finished.
Hope you have a great day.

Cheers, Tanya