Tag Archives: Gibb River Road

August 31, Part 2

After lunch, we headed off on foot. It was a bit more than an hour to the gorge. Our route was challenging, but it took us through increasingly exotic, rugged scenery, with astonishing and often glorious views.

Each steep climb...

Each steep climb…

...led to a great view.

…led to a great view.


With the temperature over 100˚ again, the steep climbs and drops seemed more arduous than they might have seemed at a lower temperature, but each climb was well rewarded—with the final reward for the toughest descent being Manning Gorge, a spectacular slash in the red rocks with wide, incredibly clear pools running along the bottom of the gorge, connected by tumbles of water and short rapids.
manningrivergorge1 manningrivergorge2-alt
We changed into our swimsuits and were in the cool water in minutes. A short swim to the worn, black rocks at the far end of the central pool and a scramble over the rocks, and we reached another pool, where a waterfall spilled over the cliff high above us. We swam across the pool and under the falls and stood on the ledge behind the descending water, looking out at the red walls and pandanus and brilliant water. Standing directly under the falling water, I drank the sweet water as it came over the edge. Everything about it was magic.

We were in no hurry to leave, but eventually we had to—too far to hike to not leave while we still had some energy—and some daylight. When we got back to the point where we’d entered the water, I dressed quickly and then retrieved my camera gear and took photos of the gorge (though, alas, not of the area farther up, with the waterfall). I also photographed a water monitor (a lizard) that was sunning on the rocks nearby. Then we refilled our water bottles from the clear stream and began the long hike back.

Monitor lizard

Monitor lizard


The hike back was made even more beautiful by the lowering sun. The red of distant cliffs was highlighted. Everything was thrown into sharper relief. The late sun picked out the trunks of what appeared to be young boab trees. I was torn between the desire to stop and photograph everything and the very real need to get back before sunset, since the steep climbs and balancing on rocks across streams would be impossible in the dark.
manning-hikeback
Back in camp, we prepared for the evening, trading our hiking boots for flip flops, putting the billy on to boil for tea, and slapping on mosquito repellent (always the down side of water—no mozzies when there’s no water). Then, we all settled in for another amiable, star-lit evening. (I’ve been pleased to see the Southern Cross every night on this trip, and shooting stars on several nights, so stars have definitely been one of the joys after sunset.)

As I have discovered other places I’ve wandered, being far from civilization does not always mean quiet. There is no sound of civilization, but the tree frogs, bats, and owls made it a surprisingly noisy night. But it was still wonderful to lie on the warm ground, no tent between me and the sky, gazing up at the brilliant star show overhead.

3 Comments

Filed under Australia, Geography, Nature, Travel

Trip 3:Wednesday, August 30 Part 1

I awoke a few times during the night and, looking up at the stars and tree branches, I felt completely alone and removed from the world. It’s as if even the tent is a reminder of civilization, and peeling away that last layer made me feel completely free.

Dawn was beautiful and cool and musical. This area seems so beautiful this morning, though it is not really an area one would identify as beautiful. It’s just so perfectly removed from everything.

We rolled up our swags and gathered around the fire for tea and breakfast. I was warming my cup of tea over the fire when Shirley said, “Isn’t this when you miss your microwave?” Somehow, that intrusion of civilization, even just spoken, induced something between panic and melancholy in me. The thought of being anywhere other than the middle of nowhere, sleeping under the stars, seemed horrifying at that moment. I don’t know if it’s Australia I love so much, or this lifestyle, or if the two are so interwoven in my mind that there’s no way to separate them, but right now this is the only place I want to be. Anyway, I reminded myself, with gratitude, that I have five more days out here. (And yes, I do know that I would not survive for long in the wilderness, and that to a certain extent the wilderness would be less attractive if it weren’t balanced by “the real world,” but it’s where I need to be right now.)

We packed our gear and headed back down from the plateau, returning to King Edward River to pick up the trailer we’d left behind.

We hadn’t gotten much farther along when a loud thump got John’s attention, and we stopped to find a nut missing from the trailer hitch. Most of the group went in search of the missing piece, and we were stopped for a while. The nut was never found, but John and Don worked diligently to jury-rig an alternative.

Enforced Stop

Enforced Stop


About an hour later, we were on our way again, retracing the miles back to the Gibb River Rd. Green parrots, galahs, and butcherbirds accompanied us as we drove. Wonderful. We drove straight through to Drysdale Station, were we stopped for lunch. Here, John was able to buy a new nut and bolt for the trailer and got it repaired. (It is not unusual for people out this way to stock all sorts of things for repairing vehicles—though one would want to make sure to not drive out here in something rare and exotic—pick something common, and you’ll always be able to find parts.) We were soon back on the road—have to make up for lost time, to get to our evening destination (don’t think these are roads one would want to negotiate in the dark).

3 Comments

Filed under Australia, Nature, Thoughts, Travel