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Friday, July 17, 2009

Carnarvon Gorge

Last time we came to Carnarvon we met some people who had just camped up at Battleship Spur – about 650 metres above the gorge floor. They had spectacular photos of the sunset and we have talked about going up there ever since. We ended up deciding not to camp up there, but do it in a day trip. We left for the 30km walk just before daylight (6:30am) and made it back just before dark (around 5:45pm). Sunset photos would have been nicer, but we were definitely pleased we decided not to carry heavier packs up the steep gullies and along the sides of spurs!

Four days later and we were back walking in the dark, this time at 5:30am to see the sunrise from Boolimba Bluff (a bit over 3km, and maybe around 350-400m elevation). There was a spectacular pre-dawn orange cloud display just before we got to the lookout. Once the sun rose there were a lot more pinks. Our knees are looking forward to no more mountain climbing for a while!

Other photos from the gorge:

Here are the promised photos from the Gem Fields…

As the moon rose the sun set – stunning.

Learning the finer points of jiggling the willoughby and identifying sapphires.

Bush mechanics seem to run in the family – Dazz's brother trying to find the short in his trailer lights!

There were rainbow lorikeets morning and afternoon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A loose towbar and an oil change inside the van

Yes, it’s been a while, but we’re back to car stories. Our simple trip of 800kms up to the Gem Fields was quite an adventure. A few loose bolts on the towbar had been tightened before we left, and one of them was even replaced with a fatter bolt. Unfortunately the nut on the fatter bolt decided it didn’t want to stay tight, so it kept being tightened at regular intervals along the trip.

We came across half of our camping companions at Rolleston where they were just finishing off washing inches of mud from their vans after coming out of Carnarvon Gorge. They all left for Emerald and we set about checking everything, debating whether to have an early lunch before continuing.

As I looked inside I noticed what seemed to be a corner of the dish drainer in the cupboard in the top of the bench. ‘Funny,’ I thought, ‘the dish drainer is still in its place.’ As I scanned for what was out of place I noticed that the rack on the wall that holds the oil and salt was no longer on the wall. After travelling to Tasmania and back with no problem it had decided that the Dawson Highway was too rough and detached. As I put my hand in the open-topped cupboard to return things to their proper place my hand soaked in vegetable oil. Great…

I went outside to let Dazz know that I’d be a while cleaning up (it had leaked over the top of all the containers of flour, rice, pasta, etc. and along the shelf to the next cupboards and some empty containers, and into the cutlery tray). As I pronounced my misfortune I noticed he had the bumper bar off – the bolt he’d bought an hour earlier would need to be fitted as another had snapped.

So while I proceeded to wash just about every plastic container in my caravan in hot soapie water, he took the car around the corner to a garage and had the towbar welded to the chassis in a few spots, added the new bolt, and a lock nut to the other bolt.

There were no other dramas for the rest of the trip, and we arrived at Graves Hill (Sapphire) just before dark, meeting up with the rest of the party.

We’ve had a great week and a half with family and friends (my sister & family for half a week, Dazz’s brother & family and next door neighbours). The kids sifted through piles of small stuff and found quite a few small sapphires & zircons (i.e. match head size!) and the big kids have found some slightly bigger stuff. I also found my first sapphire out specking, but I’m mostly just here for the camping. Mum & Dad have just arrived for a few days, and then we’re off to Carnarvon Gorge. The photos are still all on the camera, but I’ll put some up on the blog next time.