Platypus & Pancakes

Carnarvon Gorge

Carnarvon Gorge is the farthest west that we’ve traveled so far. It’s about an 9 hour drive from Brisbane and we had to stop for a night in a small town called Injune which is self proclaimed to be the “gateway to the gorge”. The long drive and the very cold evening in Injune were all worth it. Carnarvon Gorge is not the largest gorge in the area, but the by far the most accessible. We set up camp in a caravan park called Takarakka. The accommodations included hot showers (woot!), camping kitchen (basically a place to do dishes), AND a platypus viewing area. After setting up shop we decided to take a walk around camp to see what’s what and then we stumble upon a mob of eastern grey kangaroos. Unfortunately, neither Christina nor I had a camera on us, so this animal sighting was for the personal memory banks. After seeing our first Marsupials I was eager to go on a walk that suggested hikers might see a swamp wallaby if lucky. The hike is called Mickey’s Creek and is unsuspecting at first, but turns into a beautiful walk if you take the right path. One of the most memorable parts of the hike was the cacophony of birds high in the eucalyptus. Every now and then you would catch a glimpse of a king parrot, but not much else. But the thing that made this hike so amazing was a side track called Warrumbuh Gorge. The gorge begins as a wide opening with steep cliffs on either side and quickly closes in as the hiker goes deeper into the gorge. There is a small creek running in the middle causing us to scramble from bank to narrowing bank to keep dry.

Christina

Paul being a cave spider
Paul being a cave spider

On our drive back we stopped at another short walk, which truly was not that memorable except that as we returned to the car we saw a very timid swamp wallaby close to the path. Again we set off for camp, but were stopped again by spotting another Eastern Grey Kangaroo and this time it was a single female who had a joey in her pouch. Christina was very excited and we stopped to take photos. This was just the first day.

Eastern grey kangaroo with joey in pouch!

The next day Christina got up early and braved the frosty morning air to look for platypus at our Caravan parks viewing area (I was much too tired to rise with her). Much to her delight, and mine once I forced myself out of bed, we saw our first platypus! Well, technically multiple for Christina and singular for me.

Platypus!

After breakfast we packed our bags and we head out on a 14km hike. The gorge has several off shoot tracks that are really the main attraction for most hikers and the first four are the most visited.

Christina crossing the river

The first attraction along the track is called Moss Garden, named for the moss that hangs off of the sandstone cliffs. If you didn’t know, sandstone is extremely porous and so rain water continuously gets filtered through the many layers until it reaches an opening and flows out the side of a cliff or into a stream (this takes thousands of years). The water comes out when it hits the shale rock layer, where the plants can then use it. The effect produces some extremely stunning scenery.

Moss Gardens
Moss Gardens

The next stop is called Amphitheater. This feature was created by one large sandstone boulder getting stuck between two sandstone cliffs, water running down either side and eroding the boulder (and spinning it in place) until the boulder is gone leaving a large hole between two cliffs. The amphitheater is only accessible by climbing several flights of narrow iron stairs.

Paul climbing the stairs into the natural Amphitheater
Paul climbing the stairs into the natural Amphitheater

The third stop for us is called Art Gallery, named for the aboriginal art that has been preserved in the sandstone rock. Most of the art is of stenciled hands, boomerangs, clubs/hand axes, and other various items.

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The fourth and last stop off the main track was on our way back to the car. It is called Ward’s Gorge. This side trek was the steepest by far, but extremely rewarding once we got the the top. The highlights of Ward’s Gorge are the steep sandstone cliffs that are about 3 meters at the narrowest and 7 meters at it’s widest and the small creek that created the gorge. In the creek are a multitude of blood red and orange colored rocks many of them covered in green moss creating a beautiful scenery.

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Back at camp we met some more friends:

Swamp wallaby
Swamp wallaby
Swamp wallabies fighting. Two minutes later they were happily grooming each other.
Swamp wallabies fighting. Two minutes later they were happily grooming each other.

The next morning we decided to get up early again to see more platypus and we were not disappointed. This time Christina had her camera and got a few good clips of a platypus swimming in the creek below. To celebrate we decided to try our hand at making pancakes. Not too surprisingly, they turned out delicious! Christina is quite the wizz’ at whipping up pancakes in a pinch. Tragically, we were not able to enjoy these tasty morsels with maple syrup because up until that point we had only found Golden Syrup in stores (we’re not quite sure what Golden Syrup is made from and are a little afraid to find out). We had to settle for just strawberry jam and butter. Not a terrible compromise.

At the base of Eungella National Park we spent the night at Platypus Bushcamp. We stopped here on a whim, but it turned out to be one of the best places we’ve camped at so far! The bushcamp is run by the long bearded, aged, hermit of a man named simply Wazza. He lives on the property and does most of the maintenance himself, but occasionally has people stay with him to help out. Wazza has a pet white cockatoo named Rocky, who can be quite talkative. The property is itself is quite stunning. It’s set along a rushing river, has it’s own swimming hole, hot showers (open to the rainforest), toilets, and is one of those places were you could see yourself staying for awhile if you had the chance. Unfortunately, we had reservations for the next night so we had to leave this jungle paradise.

 

Eungella National Park

Eungella Valley through the sky window
Eungella Valley through the sky window

When traveling one always seems to learn certain lessons along the way. Not all of the are universal, but all of them are useful. The lesson we learned at our next stop was two fold, you don’t always have to book accommodations ahead of time and things aren’t always as far as they look on a map.

We arrived at our next destination, Fern Flat, ready to do a little bit of backpacking. When we saw the sign for our campsite and the sign read 500m away I was, to say the least, a little disappointed. I was expecting a little bit further of a walk, but no worries, we’d still be packing in all of our food and water so it would be a mini backpacking adventure. Nope, turns out that we could drive our car right to the campsite. No backpacking. But again, not all was lost.

Campsite near the platypus-infested creek :)
Campsite near the platypus-infested creek 🙂

Fern Flat turned out to be an amazing place for viewing platypus. We saw a least three different platypus on three separate occasions! We felt very spoiled by the end of our stay.

 

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