We had been given a 20-minute video presentation about the Carnarvon Gorge when we had arrived at Takarakka. The gorge is up to 1km wide with vertically sheer cliffs. The temperature inside the gorge can be 5°C hotter than outside and outside was forecast to be another 37°C day. Our walk up to The Moss Garden, which is the main dragonfly interest, was going to be a hot one. Start early and finish by midday, was the advice that sounded very sensible to me. Once again, I was going to have to lug my darn cargo vest and camera rucksack with me.
Most of the gorge itself is relatively flat with not much more than a gentle incline as it narrows. Along its length are a number of of side tracks which, starting from the bottom of the main gorge track, all head upwards. Our target was the second of these side shoots, the one up to the so-called Moss Garden.
We arrived at our start point at about 07:30 and began our 2km gentle climb to start of the side arm. We hung a left and relatively soon found our dragonfly habitat which halted progress for some time.
The Moss Garden itself is a dark and relatively cool oasis. What is apparently special about it is the fact that the cliffs are composed of limestone on top. Rain water that fell 1000 years ago filters slowly down through the limestone until it meets an impervious layer and emerges to drip down the remaining cavern walls which are covered in moss. There ain’t no dragonflies up there.
The walk back down at midday was, indeed, bloody hot. I had enough water to keep me going at a gentle pace but was pleased when I spotted the roof of the visitor centre [unmanned]. I really cannot imagine anybody tackling the 24kms it is possible to walk at this time of year. Our 4.5kms round trip was quite enough. We repaired to Takarakka for a well deserved cold beer (or Bundaberg ginger beer for those not indulging in alcohol).
I enjoy the siesta here at Takarakka. It is great that even Phil and the dragonflies consider it too hot to do much. I’m getting hooked on black Dilmah Premium Ceylon Tea. The campsite has a samovar constantly on the go for brews.
I was ready for our early evening spectacle. A couple of years ago there was a serious fire which forced a colony of fruit bats out of their cave further up the gorge. They have taken up residence in part of the Takarakka campsite and the owners, bless them, being wildlife fanatics, have let them stay but have had to close that section of the campsite which has been adopted by the bats. In the early evening, they swarm out to drink and feed. I’d seen them, of course, on our first night but now I was ready for them. Here they are, complete with the moon in shot. The stream of bats continues unabated for a good 10 minutes; it’s quite spectacular. Our host estimates that there are 20,000 of them. You do not want to be beneath 20,000 fruit bats; you must trust me on this.