After leaving Tamworth we copped a big boondie on the windscreen thrown up by a truck – not much we could do about it on a Friday afternoon so we crossed over the border into Queensland to stay at Goondiwindi overnight. Maybe it was just psychological, but we felt warmer immediately! And the hot mineral pools were delightful.
Headed north to The Gums then west to Surat, where several vans were free camping beside the river – tempting, but we wanted to stay further north in Roma. This is where we joined the “Great Inland Way” route from Sydney to Cooktown. Parts of this road are atrocious and we were forced to slow down to less that 60km/hour in many sections. We have never seen a sealed road in such a deporable condition.
Roma is a lovely old country town with buildings dating back to the 1860s gold rush. It is still an agricultural hub (largest Oz cattle saleyards) and a huge oil and gas hub (the Big Rig is BIG, and there were acres of Toyotas with orange flashing lights and flags at the airport just like the Pilbara).
On to the Carnarvon Gorge which had been recommended by many fellow travellers. We spent 3 lovely days exploring this gorge. The main track is also the first section of a 6-7 day ‘Great Walk’ up to the Great Dividing Range, and several young and fit walking groups were setting off on this.
The lookout provided great views, and a highlight was spotting a platypus early one morning in a nearby pool. We rock-hopped our way up the Mickey Creek Gorge to find a beautiful cool chasm which was so moisture-rich that livistona palms, maidenhair ferns, zamia palms and cycads were all in abundance.
However we were sad that the nature trail at the Discovery centre is full of blackberry and many other weeds – not sure how that works in a national park?? Also there is prickly pear everywhere – we thought that QLD had imported something to kill it all? Maybe it’s a repetition of the cane toad being imported to kill the cane beetle and now it’s taking over the country instead!
Takarakka Bush Resort was a great bush camp, with no TV or mobile reception (but they did have WIFI courtesy of satellite so us i-pad addicts could be found hanging out near the office!) The staff also do a magnificent roast dinner – a great chance to relax with our fellow campers and not have to cook for a night or two.
A little bit of history surprised us on the road into Carnarvon Gorge. There is a memorial on the side of the road to the passengers and crew of a wartime Douglas C47B (civilian version is the DC3) which was broken up in a severe thunderstorm very near the memorial site. It was enroute from Darwin to Brisbane at the time. A very sad story.