The photography on this trip is a bit more of a challenge than it usually is. Firstly, we’re hitting the mid-30s on the Centigrade scale. Secondly, because I don’t want to leave my cargo vest containing passport, wallet, sunnies, reading glasses in an unattended car, I have to wear it when the last thing I need is a second layer. The same applies to my 9kg rucksack with all the photographic gear and laptop. I have to heft that on my back, too, and scramble on rocks rounded by an occasionally pounding river, the weight of the rucksack is a little unbalancing. So, Phil offered to ferry me to a car park up the gorge so I didn’t have to carry my the rucksack; I still needed my trusty cargo vest with documents, spare battery and water bottle, though. None of us wanted to leave the car unattended when our Platypus Bush Camp was safer and only about 1km away. The taxi ride left me with about 2.1 kms to walk to the Wheel of Fire (a pool at the end of the path).
Before departing, I tried a spot of bush camp laundry. I had a couple of shirts, socks and several undies to refresh. The basin once again has no plug so I stuffed my socks in the plughole. That enabled me to do a rudimentary job of “plunge, plunge, plunge, squeeeeeze”. We’d seen a wonderful, small manual tumble washing machine for camping. How good would that be? These Aussies have some great camping gear designed for outback living with bugger all facilities. I finished my attempt at laundry and strung my washing line between two trees beside my tent and hoped.
We had a reasonably successful, if quite strenuous morning hunting dragons. There were many more Rockmasters but two more exciting species, if you’re into that sort of thing. One of the more interesting and unusual things, though, was that we got to watch a snake hunting amongst the boulders that strew the gorge river. It seemed unconcerned about our presence but, given the reputation of Ozzie fauna for being venomous, we were circumspect. I doubt this one was venomous but here it is with Frogs Legs for lunch.
Phil had cleverly left a water container secreted in the bushes behind the car park so we could recharge our bottles before the extra kilometre+ back down to Platypus Camp. After a fairly long slog I was cheered to find that my laundry was dry. Yay! Mind you, after being baked for a few hours at 33°C it darn well should be. It smelt fresh, too.
More supplies were required, especially water and Bundaberg ginger beer which seems to be an Aussie institution and rightly so. The lads have got me hooked. It really is a reasonable substitute for the real thing. So, we headed for Finch Hatton and its general store which delivered on both. What they did not deliver on was an explanation as to any link between their little town and Denys Finch-Hatton as portrayed by the wonderful Robert Redford in Out of Africa. In fact, they’d never heard of Denys Finch-Hatton and one guy I asked had never even heard of the movie. WHAT!? You cannot be serious!
Platypus Camp is not named as a tourist gimmick; it really does have two Duck-billed Platypus pools. The best times for observing these curious evolutionary creations are dawn and dusk. The three of us went and sat on the sandy beach beside the pool and waited hopefully. Sure enough, at 18:15 a Platypus began foraging. Just to give the idea of how difficult these things are to capture on pixels, here’s one at a ridiculous ISO 3200 at 1/25 sec and F5.6. Because we are on much the same level as the creature, it’s hardly recognizable. One has to try, though. 🙂