|A section of the Art Gallery, Carnarvon Gorge.|
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.|
|Water crossing in the mist at Carnarvon Gorge.|
|I don't have small feet and neither does this dog/dingo.|
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.
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 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.
|End of Wards Canyon. King Ferns ( Angiopteris evecta), left.|
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.