Happily we were leaving Emerald after one night. We’d eaten in a pub/hotel called the Star and Emerald itself seemed relatively pleasant, especially the botanic garden. It was just the touring camp that seemed crummy – an uninspiring layout with concrete slabs proud of the ground for hardstanding and bugger all in the way of grass in between. We had room for two tents on the not-grass which was reticent to accept tent pegs, and Roy pitched his tent across the concrete slab, the peg loops being positioned just over the edge for the pegs to go into (if you’re lucky) the not-grass. Having smacked my Odoland tent stakes [I just couldn’t resist buying them] into whatever the resilient substrate actually was with a lump of hardwood, I found when I withdrew them, which wasn’t easy either, that they had been honed to the point of making excellent commando offensive weapons.
Much of the morning was spent at the water habitat provided by the Emerald botanic gardens. I couldn’t believe we were there before 07:00. The boys were still searching the river banks at 09:30 and I felt I done a day already. Happily, fairly shortly afterwards [that’s about another hour] it was time to hit a supermarket for a 3-day shop; we were heading into a wild area and would need to take most supplies in with us, we thought. I needed cash, too, and there was supposedly a Westpac ATM at the same mall. I couldn’t find it. A helpful local lady told me there used to be one but it had been taken over by Commonwealth Bank, which I had seen. That also had an ATM but it insisted on charging me A$7.50 to withdraw A$500. Oh well, needs must. I’m beginning to think that with banks charging me to get at my own money, I’ll stop the prepaid currency card and return to cash. Since I needed to add to the kitty, as well, I paid for the shop on the currency card, too. At least that worked.
Our remote destination was Takarakka, our next stop for three nights. The drive was uneventful, save for being interrupted at every spot of water for potential dragonflies. At one, remembering the tent peg problems at Emerald, I took the opportunity to select a handy palm-shaped rock as a hammer substitute. With the temperature hitting 37°C, the dark rock had adsorbed so much heat that I could hardly hold it without burning my palm. Naturally, much of the country here is desiccated but there are still a few sources of water, though some are disappearing. One stop turned up a damselfly that caused whoops of joy from our leader: the Inland Ringtail (Austrolestes aridus).
We arrived at Takarakka and were welcomed by a delightful team of staff. Takarakka is a bush campsite at the beginning of the Carnarvon Gorge which is home to several endemics that Phil is keen to see. I was SO relieved to see not only a well run campsite with very well appointed facilities but an absolutely pleasantly laid out campsite complete with wallabies and kangaroos onsite. Best of all, we had real ground which was happy to accept tent pegs. Second best of all is the fact that Takarakka is a long way from anywhere so the camp shop stocks both cold beer and a small selection of wines. There’s meat and other essentials, too, so if our shopping falls short we’ll be OK.
After the Emerald site I needed my faith in camping to be restored.