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Old 5th March 2018, 07:41   #1
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Smile Our second venture at exploring the Australian Outback

December 2015 saw us make our first venture into the Australian Outback. We started out on Xmas day and saw us make our way past various towns as we set out to explore what life in these places felt like. You could refresh your memory and read about it here :
Our Outback Adventure

2 years later, we were at it again.

The timing of the trip was around the same period, and so was the company. However, Graham had upgraded his ride, and the distinctive bottle green RAV4 made way for a more modern Nissan X-Trail. In many ways it was the ideal upgrade considering his requirements, and i could take credit for the suggestion.

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Old 5th March 2018, 07:48   #2
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Default Re: Our second venture at exploring the Australian Outback

Armed with the experience from the previous venture, we decided not to travel on Xmas day, but rather have a get together with a few other families for a BBQ at our place, and head out on Boxing Day this time.

Our destination was the famous Carnarvon Gorge. Located in Central Queensland, this natural attraction is both a feast to the eyes as well as good workout for the body. We booked accomodation in a retreat called Takarakka Bush Resort.
http://www.takarakka.com.au/


Day 1

We started out on Boxing Day from Brisbane. The route we took was the same one as the last trip to the Outback, which helped bring back memories.

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Needless to say, we stopped at the same McDonalds as last time. Breakfast was done, and we also bought a few nibbles so we wouldnt have to stop as often.

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Our destination for today was Roma, where we had accomodation booked for the night at a motel. The plan was to break the journey of 700+ kms into two so the kids werent tired/bored and also a chance to relax and take it wasy on the drive rather than rush. A relaxed itinerary means there is time to stop, laze and enjoy the surroundings, which is exactly what we did.

We stopped for pics, chance for the kids and passengers to swap cars, and just click pics in general. One of the towns we passed through was Warra, where we found a traveler's rest stop and pulled over.

Reststop at Warra
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There was a model train here which provided an opportunity for some timepass and pics. There was an old fuel pump here too, which is the first time i have seen one of these. Graham spent some time explaining to us how this worked. You always learn something new everyday, and travel provides many such opportunities.

Fuel pump from the yesteryears
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Old 5th March 2018, 08:00   #3
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Default Re: Our second venture at exploring the Australian Outback

After some time here, we hit the roads again. There is just something so alluring about the highway, as you see yourself in perpective with regards to the vast expanse of the world out there.

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It was way past lunch time, and the voices in our stomachs made themselves heard above the cacophony around us. With not many options for food on these desolate highways, it's the fuel stations which come to the rescue. Found one which served some fried stuff and snacks and decided to grab some grub from here.

Done with this, we moved on.

Soon enough the skies were being taken over by dark clouds, which meant that a storm was possibly on its way. Along the way, i found a spot which looked good for a photostop, and decided to pull over.

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The skies played along and made for some good lighting too. It was amazing to see how a warm, sunny day quickly made way for strong winds, and possibility of rain.


Picturesque

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We got back on the highway again.

We got a call from the motel asking us if we were still looking to go ahead with our booking for the night, as it was almost 3:30PM, and we werent in as yet. We replied in the affirmative, and decided to press on a little faster. We knew not what lay before us....
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Old 5th March 2018, 08:07   #4
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One of the proposed attractions for the kids as part of the day's proceedings was the chance to play around in the pool at the motel. Sometimes you gotta play these to them to keep them active, as well as motivated during the journey. With the fading light, this was beginning to look like a missed opportunity. Not to forget the seeming chance of rain which further reduced the possibility. However, we didnt want to disappoint them, and so it was power on, as we pushed ahead to get to Roma before it got too dark.

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The clouds which looked ominous to begin with now began to get really agitated, and soon enough we had huge streaks of lightning and enormous bursts of thunder. It looked very much like the sky short circuiting and while that is not something new to most of us, it looked all the more fascinating yet dangerous when seen in a vast open countryside.

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What we werent prepared for however was the battering of rain that accompanied the thunder and lightning. As if this wasnt enough, there were really strong winds which were blowing across!

As it so happened, in my car i had my wife, as well as the 3 kids. (Incidentally, the kids preferred the Pajero over the X-Trail for the better rear A/C. Score one for the Paj!). The kids were a bit scared to be honest, as i dont think any of us had been right in the midst of such a bad storm outside of the comfort of our homes.

Imagine this. Vast open plains that lay before us, and really strong crosswinds. I mean really strong!

My 2.5 tonne SUV was literally being rocked about, and it took a atrong grip on the steering with opposite force to keep it from going all over the road.

Both my wife and myself kept ourselves composed to avoid the kids reading off our apprehension and getting even more worried. At one point, i showed the kids how strong the winds are by looseing my grip on the steering, and immediately we saw how the Pajero veered itself into the adjoining lane, before i brought it back on track. (Needless to say, i did this after ensuring there was no oncoming traffic or anyone around).

Lightning which seems to be aiming for my car!
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As if the rumble of thunder, streaks of lightning and crazy winds werent enough, add the pounding of rain to the mix. It was so bad we could barely see where we were going! Wipers worked furiously but provided little respite. I turned on the front and rear fog lamps on the Pajero, as i was sure my taillights wouldn't be visible in the downpour.

Pulling over to the side of the road wasn't really an option, as the last thing you want to be doing in open countryside during lightning is be by a tree. We dropped the speeds down to the minimum, but kept going. I couldn't see Graham in my rear view mirror as such, but could see the glimmer of headlights behind me, so i knew he was behind. We had radios with us, which we would use if the need arose, as mobile networks were beginning to get patchy.

Soon enough the effect of the strong winds took their toll on the aging branches on the trees by the road, and flying branches were common! One such flying branch came flying towards us and hit the Pajero with such a loud thud that it scared both us as well as the kids. The sound was from the roof, so i knew its the metal that took the impact. While deep down i feared the worst for my car, i knew i had little choice against mother nature. We carried on.

All i wanted at that point in time was that we make it to the motel quickly, and end this ordeal. It's all fun when we watch a disaster movie or some video, but never when we are the protagonists in one.

Even whilst i was lost in my thoughts, the next branch came flying. This time it was aimed straight for the windshield. There was nothing i could do to swerve at that instant without causing more damage. As we watched, it came and struck the top part of the windshield. This brought back memories of the time when a flying stone on our Ikon windshield caused a major crack, which only grew as we drove down to Kerala from Bangalore.

Having collected myself, i looked at the windshield to see how bad the crack was. Couldn't believe my eyes to see there wasnt one! Wifey n me looked at each other and heaved a sigh of relief.

We continued along. Wifey informed me that as per Google Maps we were just about 9-10 kms from the motel. And as if without warning, and probably a sign that we were tormented enough for the day, the rain stopped. Just like that!

The clouds broke away, and the sun was out.. leaving before us rain drenched roads as we made our way to Roma.

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We reached the motel parking lot, and among the first things Graham and me did was to check our respective cars for external damage. He also had flying branches strike his car during the storm. Thankfully, both of us had nothing bad to report, and heaved a sigh of relief. Last thing we wanted while on the first day of our trip to the Outback was car damage.

He thanked me and said that the only guiding light for him during the crazy rains was the rear fog lamp on the Pajero which stood out like a guiding star.

Anyway, we were glad to have made it safe and proceeded to our rooms at the motel, and as for the kids, the chance to play in the pool. Being summer, and now that the clouds were gone, we had sunlight going late into the evening, which meant happy times for the kids.

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Old 5th March 2018, 08:15   #5
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After relaxing, while the kids enjoyed in the pool, it was time for dinner.

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This was possibly the last chance to dine in style before we head out to the bush. Checked Google and came across this place called 'Royal on Ninety-Nine' which seemed appealing. Packed the kids and off we went.

Kids enjoy themselves at the pool
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Arriving at the desination, we were quite pleased with what we saw, for what was to be a restaurant in Roma. The place was quite hep and contemporary - Not what you would expect in this part of the world. One could be forgiven for thinking they were in one of the cities, as opposed to far out here in Central Queensland. Feasted on some amazing chicken wings in addition to other dishes, while the kids relished the pizza, wnich was really good as well.

Having enjoyed the ambience of the place, as well as the superb food on offer, we felt quite satisfied. It truly felt like a vacation. Got back to the motel, placed the order for room service breakfast the next morning, and hit the bed.

Tomorrow we embark on our journey further inland. We were heading to Carnarvon Gorge.
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Old 5th March 2018, 08:24   #6
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Day 2

Breakfast came right on time, which included a typical English breakfast.
Before we hit the highway, we decided to check out the Big Rig, which is a tourist attraction in Roma, which owes its fame to being a mining town.

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The Information centre was quite informative, and we also saw brochures for the towns we visited on our last trip to the Outback - Mitchel and Charleville.

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There is also a chance to explore the details of the rig, along with a performance, but at $12 per ticket, it didnt seem that enticing to us, and hence decided to give it a miss.

Model structure of the Big Rig
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Kids spent time exploring the other artifacts in the complex, as well as feeding the ducks in the pond beside.

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Remains of an old house within the complex
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At Roma, we stocked up on eggs, sausages, packed food etc which would be our backup as we weren't sure what was on offer in the store at the site.

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Old 5th March 2018, 08:41   #7
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We hit the road, to make our way towards Injune, which was to be the last town before we reached desolate areas.

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Info on the campsite's website mentions to fill fuel from Injune if needed as this was the last source of fuel before Carnarvon. Having filled up from Roma, we continued on.

Country roads.. lead the way!
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Soon enough, we were completely out of cellphone coverage, and the Uniden radio was all we had to communicate amongst ourselves. Quite handy, i must say.

Our only source of communication
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Another pit stop

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We stopped a few times in between, just to have passengers swap cars, driver swaps, and sometime just for the heck of it.

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Old 5th March 2018, 08:56   #8
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One such place we stopped had a rest area decorated with bits from a fighter plane. Graham being a former RAF (Royal Air Force) personnel was quite fascinated and spent quite some time clicking pics and checking it out.

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By now the scenery around us had completely transformed, and we saw huge rocks in the distance which were part of the Carnarvon National Park.

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We reached the Campsite towards the evening and reported to the reception. Here is a link to their website : http://www.takarakka.com.au/

We had booked ourselves the Taka Safari Tents, with the ensuite. While there were some pics on the website, we werent really sure what to expect. After being briefed on the general layout of the place, we were given a map and instructions and proceeded to head towards our respective tents. Having booked together, we had our tents beside each other.

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The tent I had booked was to sleep 3, and so had a double bed, and a single. The tent came with a fridge and pedestal fan included, as well as power points and a basic shelf. Glamping, as they call it.

The outdoor area of the tent has a deck, with a small outdoor table as well as couple of chairs provided.

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Along with the tent you can also book a set of linen, as well as kitchen utlities (plates, spoons, tongs, etc), which we opted for, so as to avoid having to carry all these with us.

The ensuite is a masterpiece in innovation in itself. It is basically a metallic water tank fitted with a door along with a wash basin, flushing toilet and shower facilities.

The ensuite
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This was to be our home for the next few days.

View of the campsite area we were at
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Did i tell you there was no cellphone coverage anywhere around? Yup, not for atleast over a 100 kms from the resort. We were truly in the bush, away from social media, or all form of worldly communication as you know it. The mobile became restricted to just a clock or a camera, however you choose to use it.

We attended a briefing session at the campsite in the evening where we were given a rundown of the various attractions within the Carnarvon National Park, as well as relative difficulties involved in the various tracks on offer.

One of the things you get to experience at such campsites is the freedom from technology. This gives you a chance to go back to basic human ways of socialising, and one such instance is the community kitchen facility within the site. All families use the same cooking facilities available, and it was interesting to see people get to know one another, help out each other, as well as clean up for the next person to use the amenities.

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We got some sausages, eggs, as well as ready to prepare pasta from the convenience store on the premises and proceeded to cook these for dinner. A testament to how hungry we were, the food tasted awesome!

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Tomorrow we set out trekking and exploring.

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Old 5th March 2018, 09:17   #9
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Day 3

Our day started early based on the info we got from the briefing at the bush resort the previous evening. The idea was to cover some of the attractions within the National Park, but taking care not to over exert ourselves considering we were with young kids.

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The important factor to take into consideration was that we had provision and carry along anything we would require during the trip, such as drinking water, food and also to ensure we weren't carrying too much, taking into account the distances we would cover on foot. All distances we were looking at had to factor in the round trip, and not just one-way.

For the first day, we had the following attractions in mind:
1.) Moss Garden
2.) Amphitheatre
3.) Ward's Canyon
4.) Art Gallery

The round trip including all these would be about 14kms. We decided we would try as much as can, and then if the going got too tough, we just turn around.

We started early from the camp, about 6AM or so, more to avoid having to walk in the hot sun as much as possible. The initial part of the walk was relatively flat, but you could feel the gradient climb, as pounds of sweat began emanating from the sweat glands.

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Part of the trek included water crossings, where you stepped across on carefully placed boulders, taking care not to fall over. If not done right, this is indeed a possibility.

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We stopped for breaks in between, taking in sips of water, taking care not to finish up all our stock too soon.

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Soon enough, we were at Moss Garden, and it was beautiful.

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The highlight of the Moss Garden is the perennial dripping of water from the rocks above, a phenomenon resulting from the water seeping through the pores of the rocks and making their way downwards. This supports green moss, ferns and also a small waterfall.

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The water around made for an ambience that was really peaceful and cool. A few pics later, we were off.

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Old 5th March 2018, 09:25   #10
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Next on the agenda was the Amphitheatre.

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The Amphitheatre is approxomately 1.5 kms from the Moss Garden turn off from the main trail. What was most admirable about this place is the spectacle it presented before us.

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The Amphitheatre is carved out of running water, and what makes it special is the effect of the acoustics owing to the sound bouncing off the rocks within the chamber. It opens up into a massive hall like area after passing through a narrow channel between rock walls. Getting to this tunnel is possible by climbing a staircase which is quite steep in itself, and almost vertical in some parts of the climb.

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A bench for the weary
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Old 5th March 2018, 09:35   #11
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Making our way back to the main trail from the Amphitheatre, we had an option to visit the next place on the trail, which was Ward's Canyon. However, we decided to head to the Art Gallery first, which would be the farthest we would foray on today's walk, and then depending on the energy levels decide on whether to head to Ward's Canyon or not.

The Art Gallery is a place of historical significance to the Aboriginal communities of Bidjara and Karingbal. The symbols depicted on the rocks are various stories from the ancestors of these communities and quite revered.

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While the scene itself was quite interesting, i wasnt sure i felt it to be what i had imagined it to be. I've seen works of Aboriginal art in some of the places i've visted in Australia, which is probably what i imagined something of that sort. Anyway, we spent some time admiring the scene, paid homage to the sancitity of the place and moved on.

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Old 5th March 2018, 09:48   #12
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Ward's Canyon

The way to Ward's Canyon involved a steep climb via stairs and boulders, but once we got up there, it felt worth it.

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Encompassed between huge rocks on both sides, it felt like a chamber. The temperature also felt a lot more cooler and the water bodies around added to the same.

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Ward's Canyon also provided some good photo opportunities, which Graham was only more than happy to take advantage of.

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We spent quite some time here, the cooler surroundings and ferns doing their part in ensuring we stayed longer.

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By this time, the kids were quite tired and hunger called too. Knowing that we had a long way to get back to the camp, we decided to head back to base for lunch. The return walk was quite uneventful, save for the bright sun shining down on us, sapping us of energy.

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Water Crossings - Watch your step!
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We managed with the water we carried along, and were only too happy to get back to the comfort of our cars with the Aircon blowing away with all its might to cool us down.

Zapped by the heat, we felt tired to do anything at all. Lunch comprised of quick pasta in alfredo sauce, some canned Tuna, and cup noodles, all of which got devoured faster than it took to make them.

We spent the rest of the day lazing around in the camp, watching the little wallabies as they roamed around near our tents, walking around the camp, as well as socializing around the community kitchen.

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Old 5th March 2018, 09:59   #13
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Day 4

The next morning we decided to check out the Mickey Creek Gorge. This was situated off a different track, and hence a different parking lot. The initial part of the trail was through a forest, and the tree cover helped protect us from the ravages of the sun.

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The last step of the climb was steep, but thankfully wasnt too much. What lay before us was a narrow gorge, shouldered by huge rocks on both sides. As we ventured inwards, it got darker, and there was water collected in there, which made some of the rocks we used as stepping stones really slippery.

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The kids seemed more adventurous, and ventured deeper into the abyss. One had to be careful not to fall into the water in here, as some of the stones and rocks we used to get across were tricky.

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At one point, one of the kids spotted a snake, which went its way, but made it all the more reason for me not to venture further in.

As we waited around, other families too joined us. Some adventurous ones followed the path taken by the kids, others were happy to just stand around where we were and click pics.

We made our way back to parking lot, and decided to check out the Rock Pool, which seemed like a major attraction. Interestingly, i realise i dont have any pics clicked at the rock pool. Possibly because we were quite famished at that point, and the hot sun was having its effect on me as well.

The kids wanted to play in the rock pool, but we assured them that they could play longer in the creek adjoining the resort, which would be more fun. They agreed, and we made our way back to the resort for lunch and siesta.

In the evening the kids spent time playing in the creek which adjoined the resort.

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Old 5th March 2018, 10:09   #14
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Day 5

One of the highlights of the Cararvon National Park trail is the Bulimba Bluff. It is classified as extremely steep, and recommended only for the fit. The Bulimba Bluff is off the main trail which we had done on the first day of our trek. This meant that if we wanted to cover this, we had to retrace quite a bit of the track that we had covered on day 3, as well as the additional climb to get to the place.

Bulimba Bluff was recommended by our camp guide, as well as the material we were provided. It was best to visit here during sunrise, as it offered a bird's eye view of a large part of the National Park. Just covering the Bulimba Bluff in itself is a 6.4kms return trip, not to forget the extremely steep climb.

We discussed this among our group, and Graham's family decided to opt out, keeping the kids in mind. The younger one especially was quite tired out from all the walking that we had done over the last 2 days, and refused to have any more of it. Also, to catch the sunrise, it would mean that we needed to start from the resort around 3:30AM or so, and cover the entire distance to get to the top. No child's play, this!

Between my wife and myself, we decided we would give this a shot. Worst case, we turn back.

The next morning we woke up really early, groggy eyed and tired. However, we were determined to make it to the pre-decided time of departure from the resort. Got our daughter ready and off we went.

It was pitch dark in the resort and we had to use our mobiles for light. Made it to the car, and quick trip to the parking lot of the trail. It's amazing how something that seemed familiar during the day looks totally different in pitch darkness.

We thought we were crazy to be up here this early. However, we saw one other car in the parking lot before us, and realised we werent the only ones. Soon enough, other cars too pulled up, and light from various people's torches could be seen in the distance, moving around like little fireflies in the distance. We didnt know about such a trek, so had no torches with us, and relied on the torches on our respective mobiles.

The initial part of the trek went quick, till we got to the trail leading to the Bulimba Bljuff. We imagined this would be a steep climb towards the end of the trail, but no! It was full on! Right from after the turn off, the ascent began. It wasted no time in proving why this was classified as a steep category track.

You have been warned!
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Hearts were pounding away, while we scampered up the slopes with the little light that a phone torch could provide. At times we stopped to catch our breath, while sweat drenched our clothing as the sweat glands went into overdrive. This surely was not for the faint hearted, and we had our 8 year old along for the climb.

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We passed a mother and daughter duo, where the daughter was waiting for her mother (easily in her 50s or 60s) to catch up, and waved us to carry on.

The last phase of the climb was almost vertical. At times it felt literally like we were rock climbing. At one point my daughter almost gave up and said she wasnt going anymore. Took some motivational talk and then she was back in it again. Off we went.

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We finally made it to the top. We expected that after climbing to the top, we would have before us a scene that we couldnt take our eyes off. Instead, what lay ahead of us was a path. Appaerntly, we still had to cover over 800m before we got anywhere near the sights that were promised. Grudgingly, we trudged on. It felt like forever, and we were truly tired.

The path meandered and made its way to the viewpoint finally. Now, it was surely worth it.
Considering the time it took us to make our way up there, sunrise was in process. Yet, the view was mesmerizing!

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Interestingly enough, there were quite some people there before us, who were all youngsters part of a group. Apparently, one guy proposed to his girlfriend up there, and they were quite upbeat about it. They showed us the ring, and i helped them with a group pic to commemorate the occassion.

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We spent some time here admiring the beauty of nature - the rays of the sun as they slowly lit up the gorge, and the greenery which seemed to feel more vibrant as they were kissed by the golden rays.

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After a while we decided to head back, as it was getting warmer, and also we had to cover all this distance to get back, and then pack, as we were leaving camp today.

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Pics of the track clicked during descent. Note the fall on the side
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Somehow the walk felt longer as we returned, but the sense of accomplishment in us helped us find untapped energy to complete the return to the car park.

Screenshot from Health app on iOS showing how much we had covered that morning
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The drive back to the resort was uneventful, save for the lingering feeling of the ardous task ahead of us, which was to pack up, tired as we were.

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A short break and some food later, we started packing, as we had to vacate the tents no later than 10:30AM. Graham and family took a little longer, but once done we headed to the reception, completed the checkout formalities and were off.

Bye-bye Takarakka Bush Resort!

Last edited by benbsb29 : 5th March 2018 at 11:21.
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Old 5th March 2018, 10:23   #15
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We crossed a small water stream exiting the resort, and turned left to get back to the main road. Right would lead us back to Carnarvon Gorge, which turned out to be quite exciting and adventurous than we expected.

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The route to get back to the main highway to Injune was quite beautiful. We made our way across plains surrounded by fields on both sides, and mountains in the distance. On one side we were flanked by the Gorge which stood there majestic in all its glory.

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Clouds looked like streamers in the blue sky. The blue sky, along with the vast expanse of greenery was quite pleasing to the eyes. The road itself was quite smooth and the kilometers were quick.

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Once in a while we had cattle crossing the road, fenced in by the fences and rumble strips in the road to avoid making their way into adjoining farms.

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We finally made our way to the main highway, and proceeded to Injune.

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Our destination was the same motel we stayed at Roma when we were driving up to Carnarvon. We loved the place as well as the service and hospitality, and there was no reason to look elsewhere.

Having grabbed some lunch around Injune, we reached the motel in Roma. Needless to say, the kids dashed to the pool faster than we could say Yes, and spent most of the evening playing in the water while the adults sat by the pool over a few refreshments, just catching up. It also meant we were back in mobile coverage area, which meant time to catch up on social media and other mundane stuff! LOL!

Dinner was once again a default choice at the Royal on 99, as we immensely enjoyed the ambiance there the last time. We had some great food and drinks there and then returned back to motel to relax. Tomorrow we drive back to Brisbane.

Last edited by benbsb29 : 5th March 2018 at 10:28.
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