Being back in the office after two and a half months of holiday in the US proved to be testing. This was off the back of 14 months without leave so it was one extreme to the other… and back again. Australia’s newborn utility solar industry, where I had been carving out my niche, was about to fall on its face and a slight shift in career choice was on the cards. My last post in that role was in Central Queensland – Bileola. Having deleted 3 artful descriptions of the town, let’s just say I wouldn’t take a job there. It is surrounded by some nice Queensland countryside on the plus side. Well, mostly wheat fields but they can be quite a fun subject. It’s also one of the most proximate rural centres to Carnarvon Gorge, a place I’d wanted to visit for some time. At a mere 300 km away, I was closer than I’d ever been (it’s 600 km from Brisbane).
I had no camping gear with me so it had to be a day trip. Drive 300 km in the early hours of the morning, hike up to the rim (Boolimba Bluff) of the gorge for sunrise, do the 23+ km round trip walk to Big Bend, drive home in time for dinner with a colleague. The corner stone of this plan was my rental Ford Falcon XR6 and the 4 pack of energy drinks on the passenger seat. The neat thing about Carnarvon Gorge is that it’s basically a lush pocket of remnant rain forest plonked in the middle of harsh, unaccommodating surroundings – a bit like Zion National Park in Utah. This makes for a dull drive on some impossibly straight roads. At 3 am, with not another vehicle on the road, it was the fear of a sleepless kangaroo throwing itself in front of me that kept me alert.
I didn’t encounter a single ‘roo before sunrise which I deemed a good result. I hadn’t reached the National Park by sunrise though, meaning part 1 was off the cards. I stopped by another wheat field as the sun rose and grabbed a few shots. The wildlife free run continued until well into the park boundaries when the first kangaroo of the day pinned his ears back, tucked his head down and darted out from my right hand side, disappearing completely from view under the line of the car bonnet. With no wish to share his seemingly sealed fate, I held my line and hoped he wouldn’t destroy the drivetrain. Unbelievably there was nothing and an outline escaped into my peripheries. The road became winding, conveniently curtailing my speed from here on in.
The gorge provides a great walk, with side canyons and formations like The Ampitheatre and Moss Garden, as well as some of the best examples of Aboriginal stencil art. As a destination for walking, I can only recommend it. As a destination for photography… I just couldn’t seem to get excited. Sunrise at Boolimba Bluff seems to be the signature shot of the park and I had missed it! The plan for next time will have to involve camping – probably at Big Bend if not on the course of the 87 km Great Walk – and some twilight, moonlight and sunrise shots.
One other redeeming feature springs to mind – I saw a platypus in the wild. Until you’ve set out to do this, you can’t appreciate how hard it is. They are shy and expertly elusive. By the time you’ve spotted one, it has been well aware of your presence for some time and will dart back to its burrow hidden under the water line on the bank. It goes without saying there are no photos.
A slight anticlimax here, but it had to be faithful to the day. In general, for story telling purposes, the blog section is going to see photos that the website gallery won’t. Check out the gallery above. Put Carnarvon Gorge on your list.