Anyway, not wanting to go but not having come up with a compelling reason to insist on staying, I busied myself with the brochures for our next destination in an attempt to gear myself up mentally
. Then something made me read the Kalbarri brochure again – and there it was – in big, bold letters – the Murchison Gorge! How had something like that slipped from my consciousness? I must admit, I know the answer to that question. Although we said when we got here that we would finally relax for a bit, this section has been anything but relaxing - climbing up and down gorges, trudging along 8km tracks that require agility, no fear of heights and good ladder-climbing skills have been just a few of the challenges we’ve faced over the last six days! Bushwalking is not for the faint-hearted in WA, that’s for sure. None of those flat paths and nicely fenced edges we get everywhere in Victoria, which has been sanitised out of existence – here you get the real deal, take it or leave it! So really, it is hardly surprising that I had forgotten one of the many gorges, cliffs and walks that are compulsory here. By the same token, how had I forgotten THE one I’ve been raving about for the last 20 years since my first visit? Well, that’s explainable, too. Up till now, I had thought that we did "The Loop" when I came here with a bunch of girlfriends in the early 90s. But this morning, when I realised our oversight (and can I just point out in Paddy’s defence, he had not overlooked this walk, just decided not to mention it when he thought I wasn’t going to make it to the end of the 8km marathon two days earlier), it dawned on me that there was no way me and a bunch of fellow 20-somethings had bothered with an 8km hike back then! We would have done exactly what all the Europeans here are doing – grabbed our thongs and a small bottle of water and headed for the trail that offered the most bang for your buck – up here, that’s a quick scramble down to Nature’s Window for the tourist brochure shot, then back in the car for a similarly spectacular lookout at Z-Bend, which plunges straight down to the gorge
. I know we weren’t quite that lazy, I still have vivid memories of rock-hopping and a ladder climb, so this had been playing on my mind since our Loop conquest, as we found neither rocks nor a ladder, so I think this missing part of the jigsaw puzzle must have just swizzled around in my brain, the way the small rocks around here wear down the other rocks until they form great crevasses. Thankfully, it did not take me 450 million years to work out what was going on, and I was able to stall our departure in time. I’m not sure Serge and Dino were too happy with our decision, as the 25km of corrugated road into the national park is a major bone-shaker. Dino toppled off his perch on the dashboard very early in the proceedings here, and has been tucked away sulking in one of the arm rests since Friday.
I was so glad to see the gorge again, though, as my memory had not done this area justice, even though I remembered it being spectacular. It's not really a good enough word, though. It was an amazing little climb, followed by a few hours just clambering on rocks and relaxing on the bigger ones with our feet dangled in the water. The water was clean enough for swimming, but this time we couldn’t be bothered; it was so nice lounging on the rocks, and the descent isn't so hard you need a cool off. The Murchison Gorge really is a geographer’s wet dream, and it offered the hobby photographer plenty of opportunities for playing with knobs and settings, too. The colours and shapes change everywhere you look, and it actually would have been helpful to have someone with us to explain a little more scientifically how this land has developed in such a varied way. We thought we could see evidence of volcanic action, gaseous explosions and all sorts of plate collisions and shifts. In addition, there are the aforementioned rock-swizzled holes in bigger rocks; huge building blocks like something out of the Pantheon; pillars and sculpted pieces that took us right back to Angkor Wat and there are swirls of beautiful rock that look like chewy nougat; as well as a myriad of different fossilised shapes and foliage over which to ponder
Some of the theories we came up with might not stand up in a classroom or a science lab, but we had to make do with them, as the only other creatures we encountered were little skinks who ran around up on their back legs and fish. We fed the little fish the scraps of our ailing hommus, and they were mighty impressed.
So, here we are, back in the "gravel pit" for another night. It's funny that we have ended up staying the longest in one of the least comfortable campsites. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s a bit basic compared to some of the excellent ones we’ve stayed in so far. Never mind, we have had a great time, and tomorrow a new adventure starts. We’re on the lookout for some of those long, white beaches where we can lie and read our books for a few days. If some of the whale sharks want to get up and sunbake with us, they are welcome, but they will have to pay me 60 bucks for the privilege. So far, everyone we talk to raves about swimming with this and that, and how AMAZING it is, but we are not yet convinced. I reckon I will wait till one of the sharks has tested my lifestyle before I start testing his – and paying for the privilege!
Mmm, woke up this morning with a feeling I'd missed or forgotten something vital. The plan was to pack up and move on out of here, but a big part of me was not ready yet; I just couldn’t pinpoint why. It was hot in the tent, so in an unusual gesture, I crawled out of bed early and started getting ready for the day. It hadn’t been a great night – again – as a bunch of hoons had arrived late in the night, not to mention all the axe murderers I hear skulking around in the night. It’s really quite creepy how the night plays with your mind – every person who flip flops past in their thongs seems to stop right outside your tent. How does that happen?