There isn’t much between Townsville and Emerald, so I’m skipping that bit. Although we did meet an interesting character when we stopped for the night by the road halfway. We started setting up a fire, and Doug pulls up asking if he can join us – safety in numbers he said. We shared cheese, salad and stories and had a lovely evening.
We’ve met lots of great people who have similar interests in offroading and travelling. Colleen and Clive from Hervey Bay, and Wendy and Sandy from Townsville among them.
It so easy to strike up a conversation – you just ask, where are you off to, or where are you from, and it goes on from there. People say hi when they walk past in the caravan parks. It’s a refreshing change from the general lack of acknowledgement when walking in Sydney.
Once we reached Emerald, we went out to see the Sapphire Gemfields and although we weren’t interested in doing any fossicking ourselves, I managed to score a couple of rings set with parti sapphires. These are stones with different colours in them rather than a single colour, and the stones in Sapphire and Rubyvale where most of the mining is done, are mainly yellow through to green and blue. I also learnt that rubies are actually red sapphires, although they don’t have them here.
After leaving Emerald, we headed to the Carnarvon Gorge. We stayed at a camping ground with limited facilities but the most amazing views all around.
There were quite a few animal sitings along the road on the way, both native and domestic including an emu and her chicks, a kangaroo and her joey and plenty of cattle crossing the road where there are no fences.
Mark’s pet name for me is George. So when we arrived at Carnarvon Gorge, he couldn’t help himself when he realised that George is in the Gorge!
We were only semi-prepared for the walking involved. When I saw the sign that said it was 19.4km return on the main track, with many side caverns to enter and see different formations, I was a bit perturbed. Knowing Mark’s need to ‘get to the end’ of whatever adventure he starts, I knew this was going to be a tough day for me. And I wasn’t wrong, however it was worth every long, and extremely painful step!
The side caverns we went into were the Moss Garden with its beautiful hanging greenery, the Art Gallery with its indigenous art sharing the stories of their ancestors, and the Cathedral Cave with its huge overhanging rock and art. There were at least 5 or 6 more side caverns, but my feet and hips had had enough! We’ll be back one day to see the rest.
The walk back was quicker than going in, but I was so glad to see the motorhome at the end. I spent the evening massaging my aching muscles. The next day we went to the Rockpool, just outside the Gorge for a swim. Well actually, for a quick dip. It was cooold!
Now we are in Roma, famous for its stock saleyards and its bottle trees. No stock sales on so here is the biggest bottle tree, after I was attacked by a magpie which drew blood on my cheek. Bloody magpies!
We are travelling south via the inland roads much faster than we travelled north along the coast, mainly because there’s a long way between major towns and points of interest. Having to be back in Sydney by 7th October for Yom Kippur and other family events will be easier than we thought, so we might be doing more of the outback in September than we thought.