See Kennedy Ranges (WA) (BL#48)
Prior to commencing my trip I wrote a list of 100 things I wanted to do, see or experience on my first trip around Australia. They were listed in no particular order and can be found in one of my earlier blogs.
The first one I can tick off is a visit to The Kennedy Range National Park in WA. Situated approx. 60km north of Gascoyne Junction the Kennedy Range is an eroded plateau located on the rim of the Gascoyne River catchment about 160km inland from the coast (Carnarvon). The road in from Gascoyne is dirt and its condition is dependant on the season and when it was last graded. I found it very corrugated and hence I travelled at around 20/25kph for most of the way. A 4WD would have found it a relatively easy drive. Rhonda doesn’t like rough and I like to appease her for if she is not happy then I am not happy.
The Temple Gorge Campground is well laid out with toilets and tables and a communal fire pit. It is requested that any wood be bought in from outside the National Park. It is not suitable for long caravans as the bays are smallish and turning quite tight.
After arriving mid afternoon the rain started at falling at 3pm and didn’t let up until daylight the next morning. After that it was either cloud or sunshine. The rain was probably a blessing as it enabled some of the waterfalls to be flowing and made some of the walks up/across the creek systems “interesting”. The first morning I did the Temple Gorge Trail which was about a 2 hour return trip. A class 3 and 4 walk, I found it quite challenging as it has been probably 40 years since I did any of this type of walking/climbing. Jumping across rocks and pulling myself up on ledges with a backpack on is not easy (at my age). Need to carry plenty of water and as I am on my own I also carry a comprehensive first aid kit and other things for “emergencies”. Of course the walk is well worth the effort with breathtaking views as you traverse the gorge.
The next day I did the Escarpment Trail. This is a class 4 3.4km return walk and even more challenging than yesterdays. But as effort = reward, I was rewarded with the most stunning vistas. Upon finally reaching the summit with relief, I headed for the seat that sits atop near the edge for hikers to contemplate the universe. A wedge-tailed eagle had command view not 10 metres away and perched right on the edge. Here he or she (I didn’t want to be rude and stare) had total view of the valley below and any unsuspecting prey. The sheer beauty and magic cannot possibly be replicated in a photograph and like most things, you need to experience these things first hand to appreciate them for what they are. I feel blessed that I am able to live these experiences first hand.
I was back at camp at 10am after a 7am start. It was a beautiful day until…….until it started raining again at lunchtime. A couple of other campers who left this morning returned and came over to tell me that they had run into the ranger and them being in a small car would not be able to get across the flooding river crossings. The ranger had told them that any other campers would need to leave now or possibly be stuck for up to a week. With that advice I decided to up and go then. I had already decided on doing the remaining 2 walks that I wanted to do the following morning and then head out but this changed my mind quickly. I got back to the Mt Augustus-Gascoyne Junction road without any trouble. A bit boggy in parts but no real problem for me until I reached the Lyons River crossing (see photo). I parked and walked across. It wasn’t too deep for me but it was flowing fast enough for me to err on the side of caution and it looks like I will be stuck here for a few days. It is what it is and I will suck it up but am a little annoyed at the information I had received at the Carnarvon Visitors Centre the day I left to come out here. I was advised that there were no road issues and there was no substantial inclement weather forecast. Mmmm. Whilst I check weather conditions on my phone through BOM, the area, which is a large encompassing area said scattered thunderstorms predicted. Once you get into the park there is no phone reception whatsoever so there are no updates possible.
No point in going back to the park from here as the road will only deteriorate. As with all river systems, its not necessarily the rain we get here but more likely the rain from hundreds of kilometres away that can and does affect the flow.
Next morning at sunrise I was surprised to see the water level had dropped overnight, there having been little rain overnight. I walked across and it was only ankle deep so after waiting a couple of hours I drove across. No problems. Continue on my merry way until 17km out of Gascoyne I find a floodway that looks a bit too wide and deep for me to take any risks. So here I camp all day and overnight. With the road closed I didn’t expect to see anyone for a few days when the next morning a 4WD headed my way. A couple of local men out to have a look see (despite the road being closed to all traffic). Was so glad to see them. With local knowledge they told me the base was solid so I should get through. If I had any problems they would tow me out. So after they headed out to the river crossing and back I headed across with them behind. Got through no problems and they followed me into town and passed me so they could open the gate for me that signified the road was closed. Thanks guys. Appreciated it. I had plenty of water and food so camping in the middle of the road was not the issue but I was grateful to be back on bitumen.
So all in all, The Kennedy Ranges was a great choice to put on my bucket list and a great adventure to tick off first up.