After Hermansburg we headed back west to loop around through the West MacDonnell Ranges. We stayed at Redbank Gorge camping area for a couple of days, checking out Redbank Gorge on one day and climbing Mt Sonder on the other. Then a day trip to Ormiston Gorge before driving past Ellery Creek Big Hole where we camped at a few years ago and finally a couple of days in Alice Springs.
The truck museum in Alice Springs was interesting. It’s massive. So many trucks, so much reading material. Anyone with a thing for trucks could spend days going through it.
We filled in most of the gaps that we missed the first time we came through the Uluru / Alice Springs area although would have liked to do the east side of Alice and down to Chambers Pillar. But with the desert country getting cold and the Kimberley waterholes nicely filled and flowing fresh from a good wet season, it was prudent we head up the Tanami Track to the warmer areas.
After Townsville we headed towards Wooroonooran National Park via Bowen. On the way we passed by a little shop on the side of the road where we topped up on some fresh veggies and eggs. We also checked out the big mango.
Wooroonooran National Park consist of rainforest and mountains. The tallest mountain in Queensland, Mt Bartle Frere, is in the national park and is the reason for us heading this way – to climb it. First night we stayed in a beautiful camp ground called Henrietta Camp. We walked to the nearby Nandroya Falls in the late afternoon, making a dash back to camp before it got dark.
Next morning we were off to the bush camping site at the base of Mt Bartle Frere (western route via Topaz road). The mountain is around 1600m in elevation and requires a good 12 hours return to summit so we were too late to attempt it the first day we arrived. It requires a very early start to make it back to camp with day light. Actually it’s recommended to spend the night camping on the side of the mountain rather than rushing to make it in one day. We’re not setup for walk in camping so had to do it in a day.
The weather was terrible. It rained the whole time during our trek up and the leeches were out in force. At first we were flicking them off our shoes before they made it up to our legs but after doing that for 6 hours and running behind schedule we stopped less for leech checks and ended up getting many of the suckers attached to us. The climb was tough. Steep, long, tiring, lots of rock scrambling, our shoes were water logged, it drizzled the whole time, the ground was slippery and treaterous and the leeches never stopped. And there was no view from the top. Just cloud cover and rain. That’s what you get for being in a rainforest I suppose. We had no time to look around at the top – we had to race back down and after about 11 hours of non stop climbing we made it back to camp with the light fading. It was a rough climb but still it’s an achievement to do it in such tough conditions.
Mt Ragged in Cape Arid National Park is a 585 meter high mountain roughly 40km from the coast. In preparation of the climb Joe crafted me a hiking stick out of a tree branch using a machete, a large bush knife and a small folding knife. Check out the before and after shots. It also kept him occupied for a day while I watched the entire season of Day Break.
The climb was a tough steep ascent with the track overgrown in parts with thorny scrub. Towards the top we had to hoist ourselves up decent sized rock faces and imagine it wouldn’t be much fun for people who were scared of heights. After lots of whinging on my behalf we made it to the top where we had full mobile phone reception. We used the opportunity to call home. Joe rang his Mum and I had a video chat with my Dad using skype while showing him the amazing views. There was also a wooden box at the top with notebooks full of messages of people who has made it to the top. The way down was as adventurous as the way up with a few bum-slides down some rocks. It was a satisfying climb with a few challenges and a great view from the top.