Sunday, 5 April 2099

Behind the Blogger



I grew up in an environment where it was very hard not to develop a deep love for the outdoors. Home, where I spent the first 22 years of my life, backed onto a 571 ha State Forest. There wasn't a week go by that didn't involve bushwalking or a BMX ride through parts of it. It also made a handy shortcut on the days we had to make our own way to school.

My parents were avid campers and most school holidays would involve getting all 4 kids into the back of an 80 series Land Cruiser and finding a new camping spot in the tranquillity of the bush or heading to an old favourite. Beach spots, amongst other families to play with, seemed to happen often as well... I think that was Mum and Dads way of getting us out of their hair so they could have a holiday too! If it wasn't camping we were heading away to the lake for water skiing or off touring to one of Australia's many natural attractions. There wasn't such a thing as a 'stay at home' holiday.

As I grew so did my love for the outdoors. By my teenage years I had already begun doing many multi-day hikes trough the National Parks and Forests of South-East Queensland. When I was old enough I got into 4wding to explore even more. With the love of water and exploring new locations it didn't take much of a jump for me to get keen on Scuba diving. It quickly became another passion vying for time.

I started recording trip journals for some of the adventures, mostly as a memory and a way or organise photos. I never really enjoyed writing as a kid, much preferred building a camp fire or getting dirty, though now I like being able to go back and relive what I've done. The mistakes that turn into lessons, the highlights of trips going perfect to plan and the excitement finding that new direction when things don't.

If you're looking for ideas on where to go on your next adventure, or simply want to share in one of mine, read on!

For what I generally take on my local treks you can check out my pack list on the LighterPack website. I'll generally include a separate list for any significant trips.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Diving - 2021 10 - Lady Musgrave Pontoon


Thursday afternoon Jeremy and I took off for Bundy. I took first driving shift as he still had a few Zoom meetings to do on the way up. We made decent time and got to Bundy just after 6 to meet most of the other divers for Pub dinner. $15 Reef & Beef for a decent steak 300g Rump. 

Day 1

Early ish to bed and it felt like nothing before the 540 alarm (Alan D telling us to wake up...) Off for a coffee and a quick bite before heading to the Port to jump on out transfer boat. There was a few other groups on the way out, including a school group. We wrangled one in to take a group shot of us and made great time on the way to Lady Musgrave. Certainly a lot faster and more comfortable than the ~9hr Barge ride I'm use to! We're staying with 'Lady Musgrave Experience' who have a floating hotel "The Pontoon" out in the Musgrave Island lagoon.  


We transferred to the dive boat and left the crowd behind on the pontoon. When packing my gear for the trip I realised that I only had 1 of my Lycra Dive Socks, I must have left the other behind on a previous trip. They make it a lot easier to don a wet wetsuit, but I thought I could survive a few days... Over to Fairfax for the first dive, nice reef slope and good vis. Second into the water near Manta Bommies for some bigger current. Saw the largest Spotted Eagle Ray I have ever seen (sadly didn't get a pic) and a Manta Ray with about a billion Remora.


Back to the pontoon for lunch and to say goodbye to the day trippers. Nice wraps and salad for a late lunch and then we made ourselves at home downstairs on the underwater beds.


Beautiful pink sunset and then 4 of us (5 + Madi the Dive Guide) jumped in for a night dive. I definitely felt the feet more without the socks, and they don't slip into the wetsuit legs anywhere near as easy. Just inside the Lagoon so probably not the most exciting one I have been on. Still nice to see a Giant Green Moray and a cool little flat worm. 






Pizza for dinner but it wasn't long before everyone, tired from the early start and long day, turned in. With the outside underwater lights off at night the downstairs room was pitch black. Good for sleeping but a little eerie.  

Day 2

Was up early at 5am and first inline for coffee. They were just turning everything on and heating the water and steamer up. About mid way through the coffee orders they ran out of reserve power and had to resort to the has stove for boiling water.  

After everyone was functional with caffeine we loaded the dive boat up for a single dive (had to double check a few underfilled tanks) and after a short (40 min) delay we headed out at 7:40am towards the South side of the outer Lagoon wall. Putting on the Wetsuit last night was a pain but luckily Grahame had an extra pair of dive socks he very generously let me use (Champion! Thanks Man) them which made my morning a lot easier.  

The goal was to dive 'The Caves' (mostly shelf overhangs but some with decent depth into the wall) but we dropped a little west of the marks and found reef instead. Some good reef though and as soon as we dropped a huge beehive coral with a cool pipe fish on it. Rest of the dive was ok with the usual Nudi, Turtle, fish etc.     



Back to the Pontoon and we had a good ~4 hours break. There was a few divers from the day trip boat so they took out the dive boat for a double allowing us time to relax a bit. Sadly all the day trip things had already commenced, so there wasn't a chance for us to hop on the Island tour or Glass bottom boat.  Another good lunch before gearing up for the arvo dives.   




Over to Hoskyn Island, a new site for me. 2nd dive of the day on the reef with beautiful coral and bommie structure. Under a huge bommie was a White Tip Reef shark sharing a hole with what looked like a pregnant Tawny Nurse Shark.  


Dive #3 was close by on a pretty well defined reef wall. A lot of life and some good Nudi and Flat worms. We drifted with the current for a while before it turned. A few of the crew pressed on into the current, while others took the easy route (I took the easy route) and turned around with the tide.  




3 went out for a Twilight Entrance Channel "Superman" dive but the rest opted for a hot shower and a cold drink. Dinner of Sheppard Pie was ok, very generous serving size. It came out still in the 'Tuck Shop' foil tray. It wasn't long before bed beckoned and everyone turned in.  

Day 3

A later start today, Coffee machine pre-warmed and ready for the few early risers. 7am breakfast for an 8am departure... so not much later than yesterday...  We took out dive site locations from Diver 1 this time to guarantee a dive on the caves. Alex popped the marks into his Navionics and dropped us directly on top of a cave.  



I was pretty lucky and the first in, leaving it pretty tidy. After another 3 or so people though and a silt bomb had exploded and filled the cave with fine silt. A good drift for the rest of the dive, many many overhangs.   


Back onto the pontoon and a bit of a wait until we could get enough full tanks. They don't have a compressor on the Pontoon, just banks, so limited fills. They have to wait for the day boat (with a compressor) to fill tanks/banks.  

While we were waiting it was almost lunch, so we had some a bit early before heading out to Bolt Reef for an afternoon double. The first dive looked a little underwhelming at the start but about mid way we started reaching some cool gutters/Slot canyons. Afternoon was a shallower dive on a flatter reef. We managed to fine a few things but a Yellow Spotted Moray was probably the best of it...  



Back on the pontoon and Jnr, Snr, Chi and Coralie went in for a night dive. The rest of us headed downstairs to the Observatory to watch them float about.  Another filling dinner (Burrito Wraps) and a few beers before another early bed.  



Day 4

We weren't due to be in a rush this morning but due to the light of the Sunrise and typical Diver/Boat nature there was a few of us already stirring at 5:30. Lisa (the Hostie from the last few days) had finished her shift and returned to shore with yesterdays Day Trip passengers. That meant that the Coffee machine was cold again and there was a bit of a wait for all us addicts. I can't really remember what time we left as the plan changed back and forth a half dozen times.   

Destination today was Fairfax Island to dive the Caves Wall. A particularly favoured site by many of us who have dived the area before. They were happy with our group and diving so the DM stayed behind on the Pontoon to attend to other duties and it was just us and the Skipper on the boat. With a gentle current it was a nice dive and with the Club GPS location and Alex Navigating we dropped directly on one of the caves. Was a bit crowded with 18 divers hanging about but there were a few others along the way too that people could explore.   





Second dive of the day, and last of the trip, was over the North western side of Fairfax, Coralie and I tried to find the site we knew as Jacksons Bommie, however without the GPS Location it proved too difficult. We dropped a little shallow, ~6-7m, where most of the group stayed. Only Jeremy and I seemed to make the swim to deeper waters, hitting ~14m. We managed to find some good structure and a reef slope with plenty of rocks and overhangs to explore and enjoy. Reports back from the shallower divers didn't seem to be as exciting. Will be good to be back here next year, camping with the club, and having all the GPS marks.  




On the Pontoon it was time to rinse Dive gear and get it as dry as possible before stuffing it into bags. We had already (mostly) cleared out our dry gear from our beds which were stripped and waiting to be locked back into their overhead positions. Another lunch made up of Chicken wraps, Miso Soup and a few varieties of salad (exact same lunch for the 4th day in a row.) I liked the food, despite it being the same all 4 days. I definitely didn't go hungry.  

We had until 2:30 to have our gear on the transfer boat back, which was brought forward to 2pm, but still plenty of time to get everything sorted. Gear was still damp, but that's to be expected at the end of any trip unless you have a full day to dry it. We all loaded up and then launched off for the ride home. Mostly smooth ride home, some tried to snooze in preparation for the drive home others kept busy with cards. About 1/2 way back we had Phone service again so the phones came out too after an enjoyable break from connectivity.  

Alex took an amazing photo from his drone; 

Back on land we were quick to unload, say good byes and head off in our respective directions. Some were staying up in Bundy for the night, others started the drive home. Jeremy and I got going and had a very brief stop just north of Gympie for dinner. We met a few of our fellow travellers but were barely there long enough to wolf down a pie before continuing on. We made it to my place just before 10pm (Jeremy had another ~25min to home) to unload in the rain... one last chance to get wet on a dive trip...  

The gear would have to wait until Wednesday. Luckily I had the day off to recover and take care of some house keeping.   

Overall I felt like the Pontoon stay was a good trip. There's definitely some teething issues to be worked out, which was to be expected when we were one of the first groups and it's only been there 3 weeks. I think if they could solve the few little issues that we noticed they could have an amazing setup. I think the system we have when Camping over there works really really well for our Club and sets a hard standard to live up too. Plus, I do love my camping...  

Of course with a great group of divers and friends it's always a fun trip. Thanks very much to Nelly and Jnr for all the organisation!

Friday, 23 July 2021

Hiking - 2021 07 - Brisbane Valley Rail Trail


With the world still mostly locked out by Covid travel restrictions something in our own backyard seemed like a good idea. This trail has been in the back of my mind for a while so it seemed like a suitable time to head out and see what its like.  

The BVRT follows a disused railway line starting from Yarraman which lies 150km North West of Brisbane, as the crow flies. It then winds South East down towards Ipswich.  With the twists and turns it winds up just over 161km. Due to a more gentle grade and being well maintained (and very close to towns) its also quite popular with mountain bikers.  

To make it a bit more interesting I've invited my Mum along who has been interested in doing it too. Anyone that knows her will know that she doesn't really slow down. She's active in walking groups and, honestly, hikes more than me! Usually they're shorter bushwalks in a local forest though, not a multi day with a pack on :o  

Pack looking pretty full with 2 sets of Shelter/bed gear inside it :o 

To help things along I'll be carrying the bulk of her gear. Luckily I have a few spares to share... something that runs in the family... Kitted out with my partners pack, her clothes, a mug and day snacks I'll carry her tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, FAK and kitchen gear. I'll be under my hoochie so hopefully its not too windy! It shouldn't be too bad weight wise on me as I'll have hardly any food, which is usually the bulk of the pack weight. With towns every day and ample supplies we'll stock up as we go along. Coming in at just over 12kg it's about as heavy as it would be with 3-4 days of food anyway.

Day 0
On the final pack I realised I had left my wide brim hat in my work ute (locked in a work compound) so I grabbed a cap to see me through. I imagine the trail will be a little exposed in parts so j would have preferred way hat... Sunscreen will have to suffice.

Dad has kindly offered to drive us up to Yarraman and after some home made pizzas for lunch and a shakedown (to make sure mum didn't pack too many spare clothes...) we set off just after 2 and were at the Yarraman caravan park by 430. To get settled in we did the loop around the farm adjacent, a nice little 2km with beautiful sunset.  



Day 1
Woke in the cabin about 6:50 and had breakfast before dad dropped us down to the official start of trail.
Its a pretty easy trail to hike, maintained for mountain bikes. Easy grade and pretty wide. We were making good time, about 4.5km an hour.  We dropped in and out of shade but most of the trail is fairly exposed. Good place for a wide brim hat...  

We rolled into Blackbutt by 1230 and stopped at a park shelter for lunch. Famous bakery here, so of course we had to get some pies. The host at Yarraman Campground warned us that a worker might be sick at Benarken so we also picked up a salad roll that could serve us for dinner.  

While waiting on the rolls mum had the pies on the counter and another couple thought they were theirs! So we had some mystery pies. Spaghetti for me and steak and onion for mum (glad I didn't get that one.)  



The afternoon 5k fell really quickly and we were mostly setup at Benarkin just past 3pm. There is a cool breeze but the sun is still warm sordid the feel the need to pull out the thermals just yet. 

Mum was planning to have a shower but they were out of order  the little General Store was open though and did really nice cheese and ham toasties. Said that the showers had been out for at least 6 weeks. Coin operated power points $1 lasted at least 2 hours.  

We didn't make it much past 6 before we were in bed and despite a but of a buffer from the highway the noise travelled well in the cold air. Earplugs recommended.

Day 2
Woke up to a lot of dew on the tent & tarp. Went to wipe some off and it was icy! I knew it was cold but it didn't feel that cold. Mum has my -5°c bag so she was toasty warm. Bit if a late sun rise and a slowish pack to get away at 810am. According to my thermometer we got down to 1.1°c over night.    

Just as we were leaving one of the nomads strikes up a conversation, been in QLD for 5 months and was meant to be heading back but delayed his return. With the packs at the ready though we had to cut the convo short and get going.  



The first dozen k out of Benarkim are pretty shaded by tall trees and a cool breeze that came and went was a bit chilly but overall a good temp. About 9km along there was the old rail camp with some tables and a toilet making a good spot for smoko.  

Pushing onto Linville the trail became rocky and hard underfoot. Much different from leaf little and rainforest duff I was use to. By Linville we both were feeling in on the bottom of our feet and were glad for a rest. 



There was another free camp here, with plenty or caravans, a pub, and a small General Store. Toilets and an outside (cold water) shower. We passed.  Another 7km to Moore, on and off rocky sections, which was camp for the night. Free power, which was good to charge mums phone (she has a lot of friends to keep in contact with!) We were also able to vid call back home and check in. 

We enjoyed a nice dinner at the cafe and then another early turn in. A bit closer to the main drag (~30 meters away...) here so earplugs a must.


Day 3
No frost this morning which was a plus, but there was already a cool breeze. Breaking camp at 815 it was a hundred meters back to link into the trail and off we went. Embarking on the longest day of our trek and mums longest ever days distance. Just on 27km (or so we thought.)   

We're both now really feeling the hard gravelly surface as we walk. Sore feet and arches for us both. The breeze had changed to wind and was quite cold even in the sun. Often blowing us sideways. We welcomed Harlin when we arrived. Just short of 1/2 way for the day. The restaurant at the servo provided good shelter from the wind and decent food, but there was also a BVRT worker interested in a hikers perspective, while offering a history of his own.   



Back on trail after Harlin you take a dog leg over a hill, they mustn't have got permission for the rail corridor in the area as once we re-joined you could clearly see where it previously traversed. A bit further along we reached the Yimbun Tunnel, which was a nice reprieve from wind. Though even inside the tunnel was a rocky surface. I had begun to 'collect' rocks in my shoes. I think I averaged one stuck in a shoe every 3 or so kilometres. 



Through the tunnel we picked another spot out of the wind for a break. 21km down, 6 to go.... Seems the official distance was a bit short here... We had started to really feel it at the 25km mark but knew it was only another 2 so pushed on. Quite a few riders now passing us in the late afternoon getting to town.  

When 27km rolled over on the watch we still had a bit to go., at least another kilometre by the nav on the phone. We made it slowly into town, quite slower for the last km... Mum went to the Pharmacy for some voltaren and fresh blister packs and we decided to treat ourselves (and hide from the wind) in the pub for the night.  

Very busy as there was also a large (~20 strong) cycling group but they squeezed us in. Dinner took a while but was fantastic. Through the conversation of the riders even some of them were finding this section fairly rough, with at least 1 of them deciding to take a day off. Shortly after dinner we retired to the room to do some blister care for mum and then turned in to sleep off a very long days hiking.  

Well done mum!

Day 4
We were already feeling the long day behind us on the rocky surface when we woke up. Packed up and went downstairs for breakfast, a nice spread to chose from so I took raisin toast and Nutra Grain for me. Picked up a piece of fruit for lunch on the way out.  

Stopped into the IGA for some more sunscreen and got chatting to a local about the trail. Lamenting how rocky it was. We were told the next section was "recently redone" and "really good" however I think they had a cycle mindset, not hiking.  

It was recently redone alright. With gravel road base. Compacted and rolled. After another 12km of rocky road walking we made it to a shelter for lunch. Mum is up to 5 blisters now... on just her left foot!  No blisters for me but my feet certainly feel like they've been pummelled.


Despite a few good vistas there wasn't too much to see on the lowlands today. A bull with big horns was about the highlight so far. After another 7km of the same we finally made it to Esk. Just shy of town though we saw a hawk swoop down and snatch a rodent out of a field and fly off to enjoy it's lunch. 

When we had finally settled at camp we made the call that we weren't enjoying the walk on a rough road and decided to call our Trail Angel (Dad) and arrange a lift home in the morning. We enjoyed a nice shower and soaked our feet in the Spa for a little while, unfortunately it wasn't what I would call 'warm' but at least it wasn't cold. I went off into town (only ~700m return) to buy us some Thai for dinner and we enjoyed sitting by the communal fire place in the campground. A couple Caravanning from Vic and a young family up from the Gold Coast were making use of the fire and supplying wood which allowed us to enjoy the warmth before turning into bed.  




Day 5 
No real rush to pack up but we had still broken camp by 730am. Up to the camp kitchen (fully decked out with BBQ's and even Pizza Ovens) to eat some breakfast (Anzac Biscuits and Dried Apricots.) We had arranged meeting dad in the centre town park at 9-930am, so of course we went over at 845, because we knew he would be early... Just as we were waiting to cross the road into the park we saw dad drive up to the park. Good timing! 

A relatively smooth ride home (traffic wise) and most of the day left over to clean gear and dry off the tent and tarp from the morning dew.   

Overall I think the BVRT would be a pretty decent Bike-Packing trail, but I wouldn't personally recommend it for hiking. For hikers, Yarraman to Linville (or maybe only ~10km out of Benarken) was really good, but the rest of the trail will wear on your feet pretty quickly. Everyone in all the towns were great though. Very friendly towns!   

Friday, 9 April 2021

Hiking - 2021 04 - Carnarvon Great Walk

1st April.

We had a bit of a false start with another Covid lockdown in Brisbane throwing a spanner in the works. Unfortunately a friend due to come down from Cairns had to postpone in the uncertainty too.  
Luckily there was some good news early Thursday morning and according to the Premier 'Easter is good to go!' We still had a few loose ends to sort out before we could head off though and eventually left Brisbane just before 430pm.  

Traffic was a little heavy on the motorway but as soon as we passed Ipswich it was open roads. Takong the new Toowoomba bypass saves a bit of time and we made Dalby for dinner just after 7. 

Quick bite before getting back on the road, destination for tonight was a free camp at Judds Lagoon. Some 60km shy of Roma we arrived at a reasonable time to 6 or so other groups, with 2 coming in just as we went to bed. 

2nd April.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089553473

Early start as I was keen to get to Carnarvon Gorge. Judds Lagoon looked pretty good in the morning light, water seemed a little low though.  

Stopped off at Roma for fuel and breakfast, not the best vegetarian options out here with everything closed for good Friday (I had a sneaky sausage roll) so we pressed on.  

Making it to the main Carnarvon visitor centre by 11 we had some wraps for lunch, rearranged our packs (which were significantly laden with 6 days of food...) officially starting the great walk at 12!

The Gorge was as beautiful as I remember from when my parents brought us here (many many years ago) one could even say that its Gorgeous. It wasn't long before we were engulfed by the towering walls of the Gorge and hit the first side trail to the Amphitheatre.  

There was a tour group with a guide telling a story but luckily before long they suggested 30 seconds of silence so we could actually enjoy the Amphitheatre. I was keen to move on but my hiking buddy thankfully convinced me to hold off and less than 5 min later we had the whole thing to ourselves. 

Onto the next side trail a really nice slot canyon with bright red rock and crystal clear water and then onto one of the best places in Australia to see Aboriginal Artwork, the aptly named "Art Gallery"  


From there (and a few more creek crossings) there was The Cathedral for some more art and then shortly after camp. Was a little busy at camp with 12 people but there was enough space and some good company for afternoon snacks. Was dark for dinner and we were in bed soon after. Nice cool temp, but not cold enough to reach for a jacket at dinner.

3rd April. 
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089553606
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089553795

A relaxed morning putting together gear but once we were away is was only a few hundred meters until we were in an amazing slot canyon. We followed this amazing canyon for a few k before shooting up out a small cutting.  Loose river rock under foot made the journey a little slow.

It was a steep climb out requiring a little bit of scrambling and a lot of breaks. Once out of the canyon the uphill didn't relent. Not as steep but many many stairs. All in all over 700m elevation gain in a fairly short distance. We pushed onto Battleship Spur for lunch and the view was spectacular.

From there is was another 10.3km until camp. The grass on the plateau has made full use of the recent rain. We were wading through a sea of lush green waist high grass for most of the remaining distance. 

Only 6 others at camp tonight and a pair of big underground water tanks to collect from. Had a good chat with a couple from Townsville who saw Emus on trail today! Will have to keep a keen eye out tomorrow. 

4th April.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089554300

We got a few showers over night so the tent was a bit wet. After a quick wipe off it didn't take too long to dry. We were second out of camp this morning but the first were heading counter clockwise so first on trail. 

Low cloud handing about made it misty. A few very like sprinkles just to keep things damp. Waist high grass again but this time laden with droplets. A bit harder pushing through them and shoes, socks and shorts were soon drenched. We were told the view from the top of the climb (still steep, but less than half the elevation of yesterday) was amazing, will have to take their word for it.  

Spot the trail? It's right in front of you!

With the thick grass we lost the trail a few times. There was a footpad most if the way again but it was easily obscured. Luckily we had a good general sense of direction and it usually wasn't too far between trail markers. 

As everything was wet we only stopped for 2 short breaks on suitable rocky seats.
 Making good time we rolled into camp just after 1pm. Still overcast and threatening showers, but we got away with very light sprinkles for the rest of the afternoon. It was a good chance to do some laundry but without the sun things weren't drying too well.

5th April.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089554878

Big day today so we got up early and got a fairly efficient start. It's just over 17km to camp but there's a lookout via a 5km detour I thought was worth doing.  A few more showers last night and a misty morning meant another sea of wet grass. Shoes lasted maybe 1km before they were soaking wet. 

We were making pretty good time when we reached the junction for the lookout. We decided to press on for lunch, as at the time I thought it was just 1.5k... At the 1.5km mark there was a big hill to go down so I had to double check the map... 2.5km... woops. We were glad for the break. Side note: Peawaddy Gorge lookout isn't that impressive...  

The walk back to the trail was really beautiful as a mist had set in over the Mahogany Forest. Lush green grass, but a wide trail so we didn't have to push through it. 

Not long down the trail I spotted 3 emu but they bolted off and I barely caught a blur. I was in front and my buddy missed them, felt bad after dragging her down the side trail for a lacklustre lookout. Luckily though only a few hundred meters more until we saw a mother and her 2 kids, they hung around for a while too.  

Lots of pig damage along the trail for the last few days and today we finally saw one of the beasts that cause it. A fairly small one compared to how big I know they can get.  

At camp we were greeted by another pair of hikers we've shared camps with. The other couple had done a double day today, so it was just the 4 of us now. Nice shelter and underground water again. There was a fire drum too and the other pair decided to make use of it, no complaints from us. It took a while with the damp wood, but they persisted and we were very glad for it! Just at bed time it started to spit again might be in for another wet morning...

6th April.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089555249

Spitting on and off all night long indeed made for a soggy morning. Inside the tent has managed to stay 99% dry though which is good. Short day today too, just over 13km so it meant a sleep in and casual pack-up. Just as we were set to get going my hiking buddy tinged their back :o!  

A few stretches and laying flat for a while, plus an ibuprofen, and they were able to walk at least. It was a gentle track along (or parallel to) a fire trail, mostly down hill. The walking movement seemed to help but we also had to stop at about the 6k mark for some feet care. 2 blisters on the toes for them. Three days with constant wet feet/socks/boots are really hard on the feet.  

Despite our woes we still made it into camp well before 2 and were able to relax under the shelter. We even got a 5min grace in the misty rain to setup the tent! An inquisitive wallaby kept us company most of the afternoon as well. 

We could get 1/2 a bar of Telstra service at camp and were able to check the weather, only 10% chance of rain tomorrow... when cleaning up after dinner we even managed to catch a glimpse of 1 star, before cloud cover quickly hid it from view again. By 730pm I was already in my sleeping bag, ready to dream of a sunny morning...  

7th April.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089555926

Dreams didn't come true and it was yet another misty morning. There was a hint of the sun wanting to poke through after breakfast so we left the tent up for just a bit longer. It didn't get dry but close enough and we made tracks about 930.  

About 30min later the was enough sunlight to cast a shadow! Grass lining the track was still wet, as were our shoes from it... A few steep decent today but with the clouds parting some great views.  

As we were nearing Boolimba Bluff a small, tiny, cloud decided to sit right over us and let loose. Nothing like a sun shower to cool us off just as we were almost dry...  luckily it didn't last long and we were soon at the lookout. Amazing views, just as I had remembered them. 


There was still a bit to go before we were done though, and down lots and lots of stairs... also how I remembered them. Great landscape on the way down to distract from the feet feeling every step. 

We got to camp and checked in with the camp hosts before quickly throwing up the tent and dashing off in the car to Takaraka (just outside Carnarvon) to buy a sneaky ice cream. Loads of signs at the entrance saying "Guests Only!" or some variation but we hit the afternoon rush, and must have looked the part, and they served us without any questions. A cold beer each and an ice-cream was a very welcome treat after 6 long days!

After we had the chance to wind down, as short as that was, it was time to go off in hunt of a Platypus. The short 1.2k nature trail winds along the creek and offered a few different viewing locations. We found a spot and were quietly waiting, as other people came and went. Standing still for all of 30 seconds, then walking off through grass and talking then wondering why they didn't see anything... 

Luckily they didn't last long and we got down to just 4 of us there so we were able to see at least 2, possibly 3, surface a few times before ducking back under. Failing light and small glimpses didn't allow for any good photos though. 

It was dark on the walk back to camp and we came across quite a lot of frog life hopping along the path. At camp I setup the shower shelter and we boiled some water to have a wash down. Was nice to feel at least a little bit clean... 


8th April.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5089552625

Pancakes with Nutella for breakfast before our last packup. My feet were really sore walking around camp so we took a look and I had 2 blisters! Same place on each foot, just on the ball -  at the base of the middle toe. All that elevation loss yesterday with soaking shoes and wet socks! I try to leave blisters to heal themselves but these were causing quite a bit of pressure so I got the needle out to make a small hole and drain them. 

While it was almost time to head home there was one last thing to do. The Moss Garden, a side trail on the main gorge walk, was closed when we started. ~500m off trail of you hit it on the way but a nice short 7km return from the campground for us instead. Not wanting to leave the hike incomplete we ducked in after packing up and it was definitely worth it! 

After returning to the car it felt soo good to take off the wet shoes knowing I didn't need to wear another pair for at least 3 and a half days. The drive to Roma went pretty smooth. No real holdups at all. We hit up a pub for lunch the had a quick stop at Roma's Largest Bottle Tree, easily viewed though the car window, and continued on. 

Another relatively smooth drive for the rest of the trip home. Pulling into the driveway around 8pm. All the wet gear strewn across the patio and hiking clothes soaking in hot water (which immediately turned brown...) before a quick bite for dinner and a well earned shower!  

Another Great! Walk done and dusted. 

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