We only made three mistakes when we visited Porcupine Gorge National Park in Northern Queensland’s Outback. The wild, natural beauty of this spectacular gorge is a short drive (by outback standards) north of nearby Hughenden – with various points of interest along the way outlined in a self-drive tour guide available from the ‘Flinders Discovery Centre’.
The town of Hughenden will be instantly recognisable to any dinosaur aficionado worth her/his salt as home of ‘Muttaburrasaurus langdoni’ and ‘Hughie’ a life sized skeletal replica in the Centre! The proud ‘dinosaur country’ legacy is kind of unmistakable, given ‘Mutt’ – another unique reminder (and fabulous photo opportunity) in the main street!
But I digress …
The first Porcupine Gorge sighting (above) is from a viewing platform high above the gorge – once you’ve negotiated the car park with camper van couples so clearly overcome by the natural beauty they’ve retired within to experience more of nature’s delights, that is! Well, that was the case during our July 2009 visit!! There’s no gorge walk from this point – it’s purely for your viewing pleasure, with the main day area and camp ground a little further down the road.
For reasons I still can’t really explain, we assumed the 2.4 kilometre (~1.5 miles) return walking trail down the gorge would a) be pretty easy, given its short length (?!) and b) end at the bottom. This was Mistake #1.
So, unfettered by such necessities as food and water (Mistake #2), we tripped lightly down the trail, pausing only to gasp at the amazing views. At the bottom, to our simultaneous delight AND horror, the end of the trail was the beginning of the gorge, and able to be explored both down the rocky river bed, and up to the magnificent ‘pyramid’ formation!
What kind of travellers don’t let little things like absence of food and water and hot sun impede their exploration? Bl**dy idiots, of course!! BUT … the extra 2-3 kilometres we walked along the gorge bed (Mistake #3) was so magnificent we forgot our foolishness. Until it was time to return.
I don’t know how many of those to whom I attributed my VERY frequent stops on the upward trail to ‘admiring the view’ actually believed me. Unfortunately, my beetroot-red face and heart-attack quality puffing and panting were probably a bit of a giveaway … and why are ‘up’ kilometres so much longer than ‘down’ ones??
BUT … I reckon I made many of the much older people who passed me on my tortuous ascent (and humoured my outright lie!) feel so much better about their fitness and abilities.
And with the wonderful benefits of hindsight, we won’t be making those three mistakes again!!