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Friday, August 4, 2017

Blackbutt and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, QLD.

Parked up at Blackbutt Showgrounds.
Blackbutt is a great place to take a break while on a road trip. The Blackbutt Wood-Fired Bakery is deservedly famous for its pies and other goodies. Two doors down, Les Muller Park park is a convenient spot to consume your bakery purchases as it has picnic facilities, a playground, amenities and a Visitor Information Centre. 

Blackbutt is situated on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT). On our latest road trip we decided to stay at the Blackbutt Showgrounds so that we could walk a section of the BVRT. The showgrounds has great amenities with clean hot showers. We loved the quirky way they have used up a variety of tiles in the amenities block. Jacky Winters were numerous about the grounds.

The self-registry station makes paying easy.                           Inside the amenities block.

Jacky Winter

Former World number one tennis player, Roy Emerson was born in Blackbutt. The Roy Emerson Museum and the entry to the rail trail are conveniently located just before the entry to the showgrounds. Grey-crowned Babblers were about; inspecting the newly planted gardens.


Statue of Roy Emerson.

Grey-headed Babbler.
Historic railway station: Blackbutt on one side and Nukku on the other.

Blackbutt to Nukku Road section of the BVRT: approximately 8 km return. This section is also part of the Ogilvie Trail which is a loop of 12 km. We picked up a brochure from the Information Centre in Blackbutt and set off on foot shortly after setting up our van. The rail trail is also suitable for horse riding and cycling. The great thing about rail trails is that they are mostly flat and any rises tend to be gradual. The first part of the walk runs parallel to the D'Aguilar Highway but is pleasantly shady and is home to a great variety of small woodland birds. 


Double-barred Finch.

Superb Fairy-wren and Red-backed Fairy-wren




















The walk opened up into farmland and we progressed through several gates before returning the way we had come.


Stock Control gates on the BVRT

Horses watching us go by.

We only had time to walk one small section of the rail trail but we will definitely come back to the area to walk or ride on more sections of the trail. 


Bird List: Grey-crowned Babbler, Nankeen Kestrel, Galah, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Torresian Crow, Australian Wood Duck, Superb Fairy-wren, Variegated Fairy-wren, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Double-barred Finch, Red-browed Finch, Lewin's Honeyeater, Jacky Winter, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Masked Lapwing, Noisy Miner, Crested Pigeon, Welcome Swallow, Yellow Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Weebill, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rock Pool Walk and Nature Trail, Carnarvon National Park, QLD.

Rock Pool
One of the things we liked about the Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area was the easy access to walking trails. The rear of the campground has access to both the Rock Pool Walk and the Nature Trail.

Rock Pool Walk: Class 3 walk. Less than 4 km return from the campground or 600 m return from the Rock Pool Car Park. There are picnic tables and toilets between the car park and the rock pool. As we were camping in the camp ground we chose to do the longer walk. Rather than just offer access to the only area that swimming is allowed at Carnarvon Gorge this is a very pleasant walk in it's own right. The vegetation is distinctive and the wildlife is abundant.


Carnarvon Fan Palms
Ripe cone of a Macrozamia moorei

Swamp Wallaby

One of the ears of this Eastern Grey Kangaroo was torn almost in half. 

Pretty-face (Whiptail) Wallaby

Striated Pardalote and Red-browed Finch.

An idyllic spot for a swim at the Rook Pool.


The Nature Trail: Class 3, 1.5 km loop walk.
Starting at either the Visitor Information Centre or the campground this is a pleasant walk exploring Carnarvon Creek. 


Carnarvon Creek

Someone had been producing a little ochre, creek-side. Red, orange and yellow ochre pigments are found at Carnarvon.

Scarlet Percher

Sun basking Turtles in Carnarvon Creek. Kreffts Turtle, left and Saw-shelled Turtle, right.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Baloon Cave, Micky Creek Gorge and Warrumbah Gorge Walks, Carnarvon National Park, QLD.



Baloon Cave:
From the Baloon Cave Car Park: Class 2, 1 km return walk. The formed path is suitable for strollers and may be suitable for wheelchairs with assistance. Evidence of stone axe making and stencil art can be seen at Baloon Cave.


Close up of Baloon Cave 

Stencil art at Baloon Cave.

Swamp Wallaby, Baloon Cave Walk.

Micky Creek Gorge and Warrumbah Gorge Walk:
Class 3 Walk. From the Micky Creek Car Park 3 km return plus an additional 400 m return to the end of the formed path into Warrumbah Gorge. The walks can be extended by exploring past the formed walks at Micky Creek and Warrumbah Gorge.


Mickey Creek
The branch to Warrumbah Gorge
Looking up in Warrumbah Gorge.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Carnarvon Gorge Walk, Carnarvon National Park, QLD.

A section of the Art Gallery, Carnarvon Gorge.
I have been recovering from an injured shoulder and broken ankle so we decided not to attempt to walk to the end of the gorge which, including side trips, is about 22 km return. Instead we chose the popular option of walking to the Art Gallery and returning from there with side trips to Wards Canyon, the Amphitheater and the Moss Garden. I have been doing intensive physio for three months with the goal of being able to come to Carnarvon National Park and complete this walk. My biggest concerns were the creek crossings, due to my ankle, and the ladders to the Amphitheater, due to my shoulder which still has very restricted movement.

Carnarvon Gorge via Moss Garden, Art Gallery, Wards Canyon and the Amphitheater. Class 3, 14 km return. Approximately 5 hours.

We set out early after a wet night and walked into the gorge while the sheer sandstone cliffs were shrouded in mist. The conditions were pleasant for walking but the glare and mist weren't so good for photography. 


A misty morning in Carnarvon Gorge.
There are lots of creek crossings on this walk and each side trip seems to have its own creek crossing to negotiate. The first creek crossing is the easiest but to my relief I found them all manageable. I did take a hiking pole as a precaution.


Water crossing in the mist at Carnarvon Gorge.
It seemed like we had the gorge to ourselves although we could see the prints of one person walking in front of us. A rather large dog/dingo had also been out for an early morning stroll. Sadly, there was quite extensive damage along the gorge caused by feral pigs.


I don't have small feet and neither does this dog/dingo.
Moss Garden.
When we arrived at the sign for the turn off to the Moss Garden we changed our plan and decided to go to the Moss Garden first. We could see that the only person in front of us had continued on so we figured that it was our only chance to see one of the attractions with no one else about. I was pretty sure we wouldn't make it to the Art Gallery before we got passed from behind by faster moving hikers. Our new plan worked perfectly and as anticipated we were later passed by a group of people before arriving at the Art Gallery.


Moss Garden

Art Gallery.
The Art Gallery is a special place and we spent some time there taking in the rock paintings. The artwork is very well preserved and a platform allows for easy and up close viewing. We were mortified to see that people had scratched their names into the rock and even over some of the art! A practice that seems to have been particularly prevalent in the 1950's. Cameras, and hopefully better cultural awareness, help to prevent vandalism at the site today.


Entry to the Art Gallery
Platforms allow easy viewing of the Art Gallery.
A section of the Art Gallery.

Wards Canyon.
Wards Canyon was the surprise of the day. There are quite a few steps on the way up to a waterfall and many people seem to turn around here and return to the main gorge track. However, we highly recommend continuing along the canyon as far as possible to see the amazing red covered rocks in the creek and the world's largest fern, the King Fern.


Wards Canyon.
End of Wards Canyon. King Ferns ( Angiopteris evecta), left.

Amphitheater.
Before arriving I wasn't sure if I would be able to go to the Amphitheater because the entry is described as having "ladders" and depending on the design I thought I might have difficulty getting down them. It turned out that the ladders are more like steep stairs and have good hand rails so I had no problem going up. Going down again was more of a challenge and I had a little queue of people waiting below for me to finish my slow but sure descent.


That doesn't look too hard.
Inside the Amphitheater looking back to the entrance.
Inside the Amphitheater.
Looking up through the natural skylight.

As we had gone to the Moss Garden on our way in, it was a simple task to walk back to the campground. We took six hours to do the five hour walk which is pretty normal for us as we like to take our time and tend to look around more than the average hiker. We also returned feeling fairly fresh which is more than can be said for some of the returning walkers. We saw a number of children on the track with their families and they all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves despite the length of the walk.

If you are feeling inspired to do a longer walk the Carnarvon Great Walk is a Class 3/4/5, 87 km walk, done over 6/7 days.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area, Carnarvon National Park, QLD.

Carnarvon Creek, Carnarvon Gorge.
The Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area is only open in the Queensland school holidays during Easter, winter and spring. We booked a site in January for the July school holidays and are glad that we did. The campground is very pleasant and most of the walks can be accessed without driving to the trail-heads. I will cover the walks in separate posts. We were also glad that there were camp hosts at the campground. As we approached the campground we were rather aggressively passed by a camper trailer who then pulled into the campground in front of us. As they didn't have a permit they were turned away, however, without hosts on site I'm pretty sure we would have found our booked site taken as there were hopeful people arriving all the time without permits.

View in front of our campsite.

We remembered to bring $1 coins and were able to enjoy hot showers in the main amenities block.

The second amenities block has pit toilets.
The most common birds in the campground were Pied Currawongs, Laughing Kookaburras and Rainbow Lorikeets. 
Laughing Kookaburra
Pied Currawong
Macrozamia palms are a feature in the campground and surrounding gorge area. Zamia are well known as being toxic to cows and dogs so we were surprised to see an Eastern Grey Kangaroo eating the ripe cones which had fallen to the ground. The same kangaroo came back every afternoon to nibble at the bright orange fruit without any apparent side affects.


Eastern Grey Kangaroo eating the ripe cones from a Macrozamia moorei

We were able to sit at the back of our camp site in the afternoons and watch wildlife to our hearts content.

View from the back of our camp site.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Pretty-face Wallabies
Australian King Parrots

Details for Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area:
Where: 243 km north of Roma and 240 km south of Emerald.
Access: Most of the road into the campground has now been sealed. The road is subject to flooding and can be closed in wet weather.
When: This campground is only open three times a year in the Easter, winter and spring Queensland school holidays.
Bookings and Fees: Bookings available up to 12 months in advance. Book online or by phone before arriving as the campground gets booked out. (Camp hosts and rangers do not make bookings for you.) Five night maximum stay. Standard Queensland National Park Fees. $6.15 per adult. Please cancel your booking if you aren't going to turn up so that others get the chance to camp.
Sites: Numbered, defined, flat grass sites. Most sites are shady.
Type of Rig: Tent camping beside your vehicle and camper trailers. No caravans.
Facilities: Main amenities block has flush toilets, showers ($1 coin for hot water). Second amenities block has pit toilets. Picnic tables. Scattered taps (boil water before use). No WiFi or phone reception in the campground. No bins. Access to most walks without driving.
Prohibitions: No fires. No pets. No drones. No generators. Some smoking restrictions. 
Of Interest: Outstanding destination of natural and cultural environment. Aboriginal sacred places, art and history. Rare fauna. Wildlife.
Supplies: No fuel. Some basic supplies at Takaraka. Fresh food and vege truck at Takaraka on Mondays (check for latest information).
Cautions: Advisable to book up to a year in advance. Remember $1 coins for hot showers. Read the shower instructions carefully or you will end up loosing your coin and getting a cold shower. Many of the walks require crossing creeks. Many of the walks have numerous steps and some have ladders. Nearest hospital with full time doctor is 111 km away in Injune. Last stops for fuel are Injune and Rolleston.
Day Use Area: Tables, electric BBQ's, non-potable water taps, toilets. 
Information Centre: Open 8 am to 4.30 pm. Displays and information boards. Brochures for Carnarvon Gorge are available (no other brochures for surrounding national parks). The desk was not staffed on any of my frequent visits to the centre. Free WiFi available in the vicinity during opening hours. Inside power point. No phone reception. Public phone box outside.
Parking: Free. There are parking areas for all the walks. The main parking area has a designated area for caravans.
Other places to camp: Sandstone Park (allows dogs), Takaraka Bush Resort. 
Accommodation: Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge and Takaraka Bush Resort.

Wildlife (seen by us over 4 days): Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus parryi), Pretty-faced Wallaby (Macropus parryi), Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), Kreffts River Turtle (Emydura  krefftii), Saw-shelled Turtle (Elseya latisternum). Dragonflies.

Bird List: Pacific Wood Duck, Little Pied Cormorant, Dusky Moorhen, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian King Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-throated Treecreeper, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Striated Pardalote, White-browed Scrubwren, Weebill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Lewin's Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Australian Raven, White-winged Chough, Apostlebird, Red-browed Finch, Silvereye, Welcome Swallow. Emu were seen on the drive in and the drive out of Carnarvon Gorge.