Carnarvon Gorge / by Ethan Astall

Just a short 7 hours drive down the road, We tore in and arrived at Carnarvon gorge, the drive takes you through various mining towns with not much more to claim then the local watering hole and points of interest such as “COLD BEER, INTERNET, COMFORTABLE BED”. Driving through the western Queensland outback playing the old game of overly enthusiastic highway Salutes to oncoming drivers, until suddenly the nothingness roads leads to walls of ranges and national parks, in a place where the land goes as far as the eye can see...and maybe even further with binoculars. With the moon settling in for the night, we pulled up in the visitors centre to look at the hikes through the gorge only to find the camp ground is only open in school holidays, the info centre had shut for the day so we figured we’d be able to hide a giant white hi ace in the dark of the night without too much trouble.

We heated up some frozen dinner (thanks for pre loading us on departure Elo’s mum) by 7 pm we’d settled in ready for an early night but of course RANGER DANGER a man dressed in his finest mutton chops and casual weekend attire rolls in in his trusty outback steed of a Ute - unable to make appropriate eye contact but insists to tell us we cannot camp in that spot, despite there being nowhere else to camp for 40 kms or so... with Ethan trying to sweet talk the ranger into turning a blind eye this night and attempting to wrangle argument to lack of available camp grounds and spending money to which “mutton chops” then insisted to progress to say “well you’re on holidays, you got money”... continuing on to “that van need petrol” (continue to the pain stakingly obvious) “petrol cost money.” And with the swift realisation there was no sweet talking this flamin galah, we kicked up the red dust of the car park and headed out of the gorge to return at sunrise without a hefty fine.

We headed for a spot Etho saw on the way in soon to be found to be the smack bang in the middle of a cows slumber club with 50 little beady eyes looking angry we had ruined their ambience of the Milky Way. Morning came back around - we survived the cows plotting vengeance and headed back to the gorge to tackle the main track while the sun rose. We opted for the 20km return main track as it leaves from the visitors centre and manages to wind you passed just about every unreal turn off within the gorges walls, each of which view will leave you saying “ya kidding”, the “amphitheatre” is about 4km into the hike and winds you up into an empty rock cascade that’s been gradually washed away by flooding waters - it makes for the ultimate echo if you enjoy your own voice but will leave you speechless anyway. Continuing on the track, you’ll also pass the art gallery which holds cultural indigenous paintings and cathedral cave - similar to art gallery. From here, you continue on the trek rock hopping across many creek beds and walking beneath hundred year old cycads, eucs and palms. Such an incredible hike and worth the trek inland to see it if your on the coast.

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