The great walk
18 November 10
It turns out that our 7 kilometre trek yesterday was just a warm-up for the great nine-hour, 14km walk we embarked on today. We saw the most beautiful spaces in Queensland, and rain made the trek challenging. But at least we didn’t lose any small children along the way!
We soon realised that the trek wouldn’t be as easy as yesterday. After a night of rain, the stepping stones across the creek were completely covered. We sat down and took our shoes off to cross the water. We could still step on the stones, but the current was constantly trying to push us off their safety.
Because we had previously been to the Moss Garden, we skipped seeing it again and headed to the next attraction in the gorge — a natural rock chamber where 60-metre-high cliff walls create exception acoustics.
On our way to Ward’s Canyon we had several more creek crossings. It wasn’t very difficult to cross on the submerged stones, but putting shoes on multiple feet on the far bank made the process quite laborious. Our way to the canyon was up a series of steep steps, and we ended up leaving one of our backpacks at the bottom so we wouldn’t have to carry it all the way.
One excellent thing about travelling is that you get to meet so many interesting people. While resting at Ward’s Canyon, we talked to a number of people who came in and heard about their stories of crossing the desert and travelling the world.
Whenever we met someone today, our first topic of conversation was always footwear. We compared notes on what shoes were the best footware because of all the wet creek crossings and congratulated those who had chosen wisely.
During this trip, I’ve been using an Ergo baby carrier that a friend has lent me. It’s been a really comfortable way to carry Delaney for long walks, and I’ve become a fan.
The Art Gallery
The Art Gallery on the Carnarvon Great Walk is a 62-metre-long overhang of sandstone cliff where Indigenous Australians have been leaving their marks for thousands of years. It’s considered one of the best sites of ancient stencils in Australia. There are so many pictures — artists have covered over each other’s work with little regard for previous works.
I’m not a big fan of Australian Indigenous artwork. I find it too primitive and can’t truly appreciate it as much more than ancient graffiti. In the Carnarvon National Park, many of the motifs inscribed in the rock are vulvas, which speaks to me of testosterone-fuelled boy-men who only have one thing on their mind!
It was still raining when we had to start walking back so we decided to completely remove our shoes, and I carried them in a spare bag we had brought with us. Soon after we started, David also strapped Calista to his front with our Baby Bjorn carrier, so we were loaded up like pack mules.
So barefoot, we headed out in a little train. Aisha and Brioni held onto the back of my baby carrier because I didn’t have hands left to hold onto them, and otherwise they (especially Brioni) would lag far behind. Although the two girls had raincoats, the rest of us were not properly dressed for the chilly rain. It could have been a miserable walk, but we kept our spirits up by singing and playing word games.
Aisha and Brioni like to play “What would you rather?” — where I ask them to state their preference between two things. Oftentimes my mind drifted towards food — “Which would you rather: yellow spaghetti or green mashed potatoes?” or sunnier days — “Which would you rather: flowers in a vase or flowers in a garden?”.
When we finally made the last crossing of Carnarvon Creek at 6pm, it was with great relief because the sky was darkening. We quickly made our way to the coin-operated hot shower where we spent a small fortune getting warm and clean in a communal fashion.
It was too dark, wet and chilly to try to drive anywhere, so we ended up crashing for the night in the car park (where camping is forbidden out of school holidays). In the morning, the warden came around to talk to us, but he sympathised with our plight and let us off just with a warning.
After experiencing the beauty of the Carnarvon Gorge, I can fully understand why it’s considered a must-see park of Australia. The natural treasures on display are much more splendid in person. We’re so pleased we were able to take our children along with us, even though it was a very long way! David and I were awed by each point of interest and if you’re ever in Australia and enjoy the great outdoors, you should definitely make it a priority to visit!