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!

Kangaroos at Carnarvon, November 2010
Many kangaroos and wallabies hang out around the camping areas at Carnarvon Gorge. We loved getting close to this mummy and joey.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
Our walk took us down the main gorge of Carnarvon Creek with detours up several side gorges to discover some of the most beautiful spots in Queensland.

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.

Crossing Carnarvon Creek, November 2010
We carried Calista over the water, but asked the other girls to walk across. David or I had to make multiple trips across each crossing to escort Aisha and Brioni as the water was quite strong.

Amphitheatre

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.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
As we got close to the cliffs, the sheer face of the rock rose high above us. The sandstone is beautiful with its horizontal strata lines.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
The mouth to the amphitheatre is high up in the cliff. I can't imagine how it was discovered in the first place!

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
We walked over pools of stagnant water to reach the main rock cavern.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
The amphitheatre is open to the sky, and rain and light promotes plant growth. In flash floods, the whole cavern fills with water and swirls around violently before it rushes out the cracks in the side.

Ward’s Canyon

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.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
Sections of the rock were coloured russet by minerals in the water.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
The proliferation of tree ferns and king ferns made us feel like we'd stepped into the set of a dinosaur movie.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
We enjoyed a long stop at the canyon, enjoying the beauty of the place and sheltering from the rain which we could see was falling outside.

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.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
I carried Dell on my back throughout this walk and covered her head to protect her from the rain.

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.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
When we left the canyon, it was still raining, and it rained for most of the rest of our walk.

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!

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
Other engravings testify of more recent visitors and raise issues of artistic value. At what point is this inscription from 1952 going to be considered as valuable as the Indigenous artwork beside it?

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
Many stencils were of emu tracks, hands and boomerangs.

Carnarvon Gorge, November 2010
We stopped at the Art Gallery to dry out and have a proper snack before making the long 7km trek back to our truck.

Heading back

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.

Camping at Carnarvon National Park, November 2010
The next day, after a *very* good night's sleep, we woke to beautiful sunny skies at the beautiful Carnarvon Gorge!

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!