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Sat 26 May, 2018 5:56 am
Carnarvon Gorge trip, May 2018
This walk had been under consideration for quite a few years. The fact I had never tried a qld walk and it’s sheer remoteness both appealed. A few false starts including booking too late on one occasion meant the walk was now even more enticing.
The first thing one realises when travelling to the gorge is its remoteness. Between Roma to the south and Emerald to the north, it is some 800 kms west of Brisbane.
It took me over 9 hours to drive to the gorge, after being caught in Brisbane’s peak and buying cooking gas at the last minute.
The drive west, passed through Toowoomba, a country town to rival Ballarat and possibly Geelong in size. Once through though, the road heads west into agricultural land - mostly cotton farms.
It wasn’t till late afternoon when I slowed into Roma, with another 200 kms remaining. The endless roadworks had slowed me somewhat.
North of Roma the landscape turns to bushland and rolling hills, but I couldn’t escape the damn roadworks. Stopped at a red light for 10 minutes in the middle of the bush and with the Takarakka Lodge reception closing at 6pm I was, by this time, ready to just charge through.
As the light dimmed Bright ocre red beams struck the evening clouds on the horizon to the west, highlighting the mountain range I was slowly moving toward.
The road dropped sharply into a valley while twisting around rocky outcrops. Large brown rocks dotted the roadside and growing larger as I approached. One monolith moved onto the road!! *&%$#!. cattle!! Really hard to spot in the fading light and more so through an insect encrusted windscreen. Slowing down I weaved through the “cow rocks,” my presence and the vehicle not bothering them in the slightest.
After passing many more animals - including a pair of wallabies standing on the roadside as if they were waiting for a bus - I entered Takarakka Lodge. Missed the office by six minutes but thankfully they had left an envelope with booking details. I had been looking forward to a cold beer but this was not to be.
Takarakka lodge is well stocked with general supplies but don’t expect to buy screw bottle gas. They do sell metho though. It is a pretty place and very popular with caravanners. I was told cheaper camping was available back a few Kay’s but my tent site only cost 20 or so dollars.
The next morning was sunny and still. Roos welcomed me at the empty Carnarvon Gorge reserve ( camping pre booked and only open school and public holidays )
The walk through the gorge is very popular and I pushed through a full bus load of old folk as they decided whether to ford the first stream.
The gorge is heavily wooded to start and the track twists through woodland and around rocky outcrops, making for some interesting walking.
The first attraction is a 650 metre detour to the ‘Moss Garden’. It was a quiet and dark cavern with a small stream falling to the lychen covered rocks below. Very tranquil and worth the walk.
There are similar detours further on including the, Amphitheatre, Wards Canyon, Art Gallery and Carhedral Cave. The latter two attractions with some well preserved indigenous rock art. ( also some more recent contributions from visitors who feel the need to advertise their visit. I wonder if they will call graffiti the carbon age rock art ? )
The amphitheatre was visually stunning. A steep staircase leads to a narrow path through a crevice in the rock. A few metres later it opens up to a cavernous, well, cavern. Apparently classical musicians used to lug their instruments into this open cave and play to audiences. It would have sounded amazing.
The first day was over mid afternoon, with only 10 kms walked plus side trips. Allow 6 hours at a leisurely pace.
Big Bend is a flat and shaded camp on the inside of a bend in the gorge. A beautifully cool waterhole was great on the legs. The towering sandstone wall is just the other side of the river and being a gorge, light is lost very early. There are good composting toilets and a picnic table.
Total time 6 hours
The second day’s feature is a 600 metre steep climb to Battleship Spur. To start the climb the walker needs to backtrack down Carnarvon gorge and turn right into Booinda Gorge- far narrower and darker than Carnarvon. This was an awesome start to the day, the gorge narrowing and snaking through the sandstone, large basalt rocks litter the floor and tree trunks piled like matchsticks against immovable boulders are an indication of the ferocity of this canyon in flood-thankfully completely dry.
A collection or tarns and orange trail arrows mark the start of the ascent. Immediately the track starts with a rock scramble through a crevice - quite okay for the fit walker but definitely not for the tourist bus hordes !!
Soon the track reaches a flat area with a sign, warning the ill prepared to turn back. This stops day trippers walking through to Gadds camp, but seems strange as the Battleship Spur is a good, albeit long day walk.
The climb to battleship took the best part of 4 hours. Very steep and very long. Staircases avoid anything too treacherous but be prepared for a slog, especially with a full pack and a day’s water.
Battleship Spur is a slight detour off the main trail and a great place for lunch. Epic views of Carnarvon Gorge are laid out like a map below.
The remaining 10 kms to Gadds camp is mostly overgrown single track through grassland and cycads. The undulating track disappeared several times and a few more track markers could help. The grass is so dense, one can be 10 metres from the track and not see it.
Arrived at Gadds Camp at 4:30.
Gadds camp consists of a good long drop toilet a shelter and an underground rainwater tank with 2 hand pumps - makes a lot of sense - no one can leave the tap on and empty the tank and the water is kept away from sunlight. Great idea.
Total time 8 hours
Walking time - forgot.
The day is a 15.8 km walk on 4wd trail and single track, with a steep climb in the first 7 kms, once past Angelina Creek.
The vegetation is a mixture of eucalyptus and cycads loosely dispersed through grassland. Once atop the first climb, there are great views east across the Carnarvon creek gorge, 300 metres below. A good place for morning tea.
After a few more kms the trail leaves the 4wd track with a well marked left turn and onto single track.
The track undulates and descends into the Boot Creek valley where dry iron bark eucalyptus replaces the greener Cycad grasslands.
The West Branch Walkers camp is across a suspension bridge and is a 500 metre detour off the main track. This campsite is 200 metres from a drive in campsite, if you have the need to beg a grey nomad for a beer !! It is a very quiet spot with only one camper there on my walk.
Total walking time 4 h 45 m total time 6 hours.
Sun 03 Jun, 2018 12:03 am
WOW Loving this report and pics. Having just dont the Gold Coast great walk. End of day 2 and start of days 3 is a climb up stairs the height of a 100 storey building. How would this compare to Battleship spur?
Sun 03 Jun, 2018 11:38 am
The climb to Battleship spur is about 600 M in 4 kms. So it is steep. The first 500M is a rock scramble, then a short repreive and up, up, up a narrow track. Quite safe but just steep and long. It took me 4 hours from Big bend camp to Battleship spur.
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