Our morning was spent in restful contemplation of what to tackle next and our decision led us to an assault on Boolimba Bluff. This was to involve a 200 metre vertical climb over 3.5 km. Gog and Pa set off full of hope they might be able to ascend to the summit as the view was reputed to be worth the effort. I had severe doubts that at nearly 70, it was within their range.
Commencing at 11:30 am, after an early lunch, the first half a kilometre teased and stretched the sinews, muscles and limbs which had been telling us of the day before. We turned off the main track soon after the first creek crossing and almost immediately began the ascent. The first 100 metres was a reasonably steep grade of earth track and some stone. The vegetation was predominantly eucalypts, cabbage palms and zamias and during this part of the walk we spotted a zamia in early flower. The bud was green, with spiked sections which obviously peel back to eventually reveal the orange fruit inside.
The cabbage palm is so named because early settlers used the new growth on the palm as a substitute
cabbage, as part of their attempts to adapt to the local available food sources.
The following kilometre was a more gradual climb as we traveled around the base of the vertical, white cliffs marking the steepest sections of the ascent. The pathway took us to a narrow chasm which reverted to a very steep climb over specifically placed stone steps and in places, steel ladders. This section of 300 metres, took us some time and several rest stops, before the summit was reached.
From a point at the very head of the chasm, the track was virtually flat for 500 metres across the top of the Bluff, to the three lookouts on the southern side - the northern side of the Gorge, itself.
Many people we had passed returning from the top had told us we would earn the view, but we would find the physical payment good value for the optical return. This advice proved to be correct.
Directly opposite the first of lookouts, the top of the Precipice Sandstone is known as the Hell Hole Range. This is further capped by basalt which flowed over the bed of sandstone in the second stage of the geological life of this area. These basalt flows are clearly evident by their flat topped nature and the starkly contrasting dark black colour against the relief of the underlying white sandstone.
Video footage was shot by all parties concerned and afternoon tea was taken on the summit, before our return journey. At the base of the steep section. Pa entertained our party with a version of Barnacle Bill that will reverberate through future generations.
A detour at the end of the walk took us along the Nature Trail in the hope of finding and viewing the
platypus which proliferate in Carnavon Creek. Many others had the same notion and the bulk of the party left for camp in search of a sit down, a cuppa or a cold beer. Those remaining die hards were rewarded by a sighting in a small hole, not far from camp. In the fading light, the shy watery marsupial gave us a display that only sought to tease us and leave us wanting more.
The evening closed in and became quite cold and our sleep did not have it's usual depth, as the
However, cold nights generally lead to clear days and it was this prospect which kept our hopes up as the small hours passed into daylight.