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Rolleston & Carnarvon Gorge

26th to 29th August

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Up and off as previous days, not much to pack up again as not fully set up. Another fairly boring drive just 240km today. We drove through Emerald, refueled and then on to the road to Rolleston, stopping for a quick look at the only other town on the route – Springsure. A walk up and down the main street dealt with that, and then we were back in the car arriving at Rolleston around 1pm. We’d stayed here before, and it really is a one-horse town, but Pete seemed to like it a lot, so we thought we would add it to this itinerary! After setting up quickly we went for a walk around the “town”. It was a busy Saturday afternoon! (see photo). There has been an improvement since we were here before though, they now have a cute coffee and cake cart that has set up in the park, so of course we had to support local business. A walk to the airstrip, cemetery and down the main street took about 20 mins – we walked slowly – then popped in to the pub to look at the menu for dinner. Pete had a beer and a chat with the barman/barmaid – we weren’t sure!


We went back for dinner around 7pm – it was OK, fun watching the locals and other visitors although only about 25 people in the whole place. We spent a bit of time trying to work out if the lovely friendly person who served us both times was male or female – we are thinking female but still not quite sure…..

Pete was determined to stay awake into the night as his UK rugby league team was playing in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, and kick off was at midnight our time. I was long asleep by then and I awoke at 12.30am to his snoring, so assumed he had not made it! The good news was that they won, so one happy chappy!

We had planned on driving down to Roma next, about 280km, however I remembered that I’d seen an advert for a new campsite that had opened this year on the top of an escarpment overlooking Carnarvon Gorge National Park. We had a look at the details and decided to change our two nights in Roma to just one, and stop in at Sandstone Park. We’d been to Carnarvon Gorge on our big trip, and had a lovely time there, doing one of their guided walks for a day, and then some of the smaller ones. We’d stayed at the campsite down near the gorge, so this one would be different. They had no power or water, and fires were allowed, so we decided to go for our last bit of wilderness camping. The turn off to Carnarvon Gorge is 60km south of Rolleston, and then 40km from there. Last time we came the last part was a rough dirt and gravel road, and nw it is all bitumen so much better.

It was an easy journey and we arrived to check in at 11.30am, and were met by two little dogs. They came running out of the reception hut and were very cute. We checked in and were given a little information pack and direction to the camping area 2km down the road. What a great place! It is overlooking the escarpment as promised, on the top of a hill so has 360 degree views. The sites are massive – you could easily get four caravans on each – and we had the pick of the sites as hardly anyone was there. We set up and cooked a nice fresh lunch, eating it overlooking the amazing view. We quickly re-thought the next step of our journey and decided to stay another night here, it’s really beautiful.

So we went back to the reception area and booked in for another night, before heading down to the information centre for the national park to work out the walks we were going to do. We booked in to do the night walk on Monday, and chose the walk we would do on our own in the morning along the lower gorge. We also went to the daily talk at 4.30pm to learn about the flora and fauna, walks available, and other general information on the history and the location. Then it was time to go back and enjoy the sunset and light the fire – bliss…..


So on Monday we packed our lunch, dug out all the walking gear and set off for our bushwalk in the lower gorge area. It’s really beautiful and unspoilt, mainly because the area is so dense in vegetation and has never been logged. Whilst there are many other remote area that were explored and settled, this was just too rugged, so everything is mature and natural. The whole national park is 3000 square km, so the actual gorge area we visited is such a small part of it. We did a guided walk last time we were here for a full day, and it was lovely to go back and see some of those spots again.


We walked through gum trees, thick rainforest areas, on stepping stones across creeks, up and down many steps and into two of the key points of interest – the Amphitheatre and Moss Garden. The amphitheatre is a 60M deep secret chamber hidden inside the gorge walls, gouged out from the rock by running water. It has towering stone walls and a natural skylight which creates an amazing atmosphere within. We climbed up the steep metal stairs, then walked through the small crack in the rock into the chamber. There were four other people in there when we got there, but they soon left and we were there on our own. You can almost feel the silence. Pete stood against one of the walls and sang the national anthems of both UK and Australia, and the acoustics were brilliant.


The Moss Garden is accessed off the main track, up and down various steps in the bush track and over the creek. The track is through many ferns, and at the end there is a small waterfall tumbling over a rock ledge into a little pool. Water drips constantly from the sandstone and sustains a lush, green carpet of mosses and ferns. It was really cool in there as there is a canopy of large trees overhead, and we had our lunch there.


From there it was about 3km back, and we were hot and tired by the time we got to the creek. We had a lovely surprise on the way back when an echidna walked across our path. We took our boots off and sat on the stepping stones with our feet in the icy cold water – it really was freezing, but so refreshing!


It was a lovely walk, about 10km, and we were ready for a cold drink so popped into the Wilderness Lodge to grab one on the way back. I’m a bit ashamed to say that we then went back to the caravan and had a nana nap – poor old buggers! We felt much better after that, a shower and an early dinner.

Then it was time to go back to the Ranger station where all the walks start. We’d booked on the night safari tour at 7.30pm, and arrived at the designated starting point to find we were the only people there. Pretty quickly a car pulled up and Michelle our guide got out. She told us we were having a private tour as we were the only ones booked! She equipped us with binoculars, and explained that she would use a red torch to spot the animals and we could use our own head torches for when we are walking around, but to turn them off when not walking. It was absolutely pitch black, and very peaceful. She walked us through the trees and shone her big red torch upwards to spot sugar gliders. She was so knowledgeable and passionate about everything and answered all our questions. We knew nothing about sugar gliders – they are very cute looking nocturnal marsupials that live in the tall trees. They feed off the nectar of blossoms and bugs that live under the bark. Apparently there are five species in this area, and during the tour we saw two. They are surprisingly big, considering they fly, or glide, between trees. The biggest one we saw was a Great Glider, that was 2ft tall. They look a bit like a possum when they are walking on the branches, and have thick bushy tails. When you see their underside, you can see the web of skin between their limbs, which looks like their body when on their feet. Unfortunately we didn’t see them in full flight, they were too busy eating, but we did catch one landing. At one point early in the tour, Michelle was spotting with the red torch, and saw something so ran towards the tree. We both followed, looking up in the tree and I ran smack in to a gate that I hadn’t seen – ouch. I bashed my right knee and then the top of the gate across both thighs. I wanted to cry, but just carried on, it was so painful. I also felt really silly……… More bruises!

After an hour or so we went down to the creek to see if we could see any platypus. It was so different in the dark, and we saw cane toads and frogs but no platypus. We went back and saw more gliders. Michelle was great, answering all our questions. We left there about 9ish, and were really chilly by then.

The whole day had been fab, such a lovely experience, (apart from the connection with the gate). We were so pleased that we had decided to pop in again on the way past.

Posted by Capes Crusaders 03:22 Archived in Australia

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