Kennedy Range, Rain and a postponement of plans (Week 10).

Saturday, Jun 15, 2013 at 18:52

Member-Heather MG NSW

Monday June 10th.
We were both out of bed by 6.30am and set out on the short drive to the Sunrise Viewing Area to watch when the rocky Range turned orange in the light of the suns first rays, and for me to take photographs. The wind was very cool and we tried to take shelter behind any available rocks while we waited for the sun to appear, but it wasn’t too pleasant. The discomfort and drive were soon forgotten and camera and phone were suddenly useful as the rocks glowed deep orange and our bodies produced long stick like shadows.
Then it was back to the camp for breakfast and to organise ourselves for the walks to Drapers and Temple Gorges, both rated 4 and each two kms return and two hours. We did them comfortably in less than 3 hours with lots of time for me to stop, photograph and admire views, rock formations and colours, also a small but beautiful grasshopper which I managed to photograph reasonably successfully.
The day seemed cooler than the previous and a light wind kept us comfortable, especially as we had the awning to shelter under as the sun shifted towards the west. The same wind has increased late in the evening, becoming blustery and shaking the van about the time we are trying to sleep, and I have had to use my earplugs to block it out. John still won’t be persuaded to try them and said ‘what if I don’t hear the smoke alarm?’ when I last suggested it.
Barb and Darrel arrived around midday and parked close to us, as we suspected they would because there was a big flattish space. We left them to get set up, having gotten reacquainted, and then it was time for lunch. The afternoon was whiled away under our awning, the four of us catching up on the past fortnights activities and campsites. Then later in the afternoon we took our chairs and joined the other campers around the communal campfire, to talk about travels and other stuff…road conditions, places, kids and the like. It was around 7pm when we wandered back to the van to cook dinner and have our first shower in three days. Following that, it was an episode of ‘The Wire’ by which time we were the only people awake, as usual! I had warned the other campers that the language coming from our van would be from the DVD and not us if they heard anything, however we don’t have any base in the sound and have it low, also using the subtitles because of John’s poor hearing!
Wednesday 11th June
Once again the night cooled enough for us to sleep comfortably. The four of us were ready to walk to the Escarpment by around 8am, to escape the worst of the heat, and we set out together. Barb doesn’t do much walking but we assured her that if she took her time, she would find it worth the effort to get to the top, and we were proved right. For John and I, it was a leisurely walk and lovely to be back up the top and looking down on the campground and the flat plains of the Lyon River. Today there were interesting clouds around to break up the intense blue sky, and we joked about the possibility of rain and its implications. With almost every footstep on the walk up and back, we found more fossils but with little knowledge we had fun guessing what they might have once been.
After chatting briefly to Maureen and James, the campground hosts, we set out to drive to Honeycomb Gorge which John and I remembered as an impressive place. The walk from the car park is 600 metres return so even in heat, it is easily do-able. Unless there is a figure in the photograph, it is impossible to understand the scale and size of the place, so we posed for a few pics before I took the camera and climbed a short way up to each side of the Gorge. With the sun directly on the honeycomb formations in the gorge walls, it was a good time of day to see it.

By the time we returned to the vans it was late morning and very warm with little breeze to fan us. The temperature inside reached almost 30 degrees despite me pulling roof blinds and curtains to shade us. John lay on the bed during the afternoon with the fan cooling him, but I was happy and comfortable enough under the awning, both of us reading. The cloud cover increased which brought some relief late in the day.
We were informed that after visiting the station owners close by, the hosts were told that rain is expected in the next couple of days, and that we may have to wait here until the roads reopen if indeed the weather forecasters are correct. John and I are in no hurry to go anywhere except Mt Augustus so there’s not much point in us worrying! And rain means that we have extra water so that is a good thing!
Once again we sat around the campfire area although tonight none of us bothered to light it. I had prepared and cooked our meal of chicken and pasta over the gas cooker outside so we returned well after dark to sit and eat that outside.
About the time we turned off the light, 9.30 maybe, the first shower was drumming away on the roof. Always keen to collect water, we put one of the 20 litre tubs out and then shut roof hatches, adjusted windows etc and tried to sleep with rain and gusts of wind audible. Later in the night when we checked, the tub was full of dirty looking water which hopefully will settle and become clear. Whatever, it will be useful to wash up and for other stuff if necessary. The second tub replaced it and by morning was half full of clear water.
Wednesday 12th June.
A dark, grey, cloudy morning with intermittent light showers and a cooler temperature greeted us. A couple of men, father and son we think, in a camper trailer, with identical missing front teeth, were up around 6 talking loudly. I would suspect that they will pack up and try to get out of here before there’s any news about roads, but we think there may have been adequate rain to close them for a short time at least. John and I will definitely be spending another night here, maybe three or four….not sure about Barb and Darrel who paid up until tomorrow morning. For the two of us, it is a far more pleasant place to be than in a crowded van park on the coast somewhere.
With no hurry to go anywhere I baked some banana muffins which were well received by Barb and also Maureen, the host who does not have an oven and is here for a month. It was mid morning before we ventured out to re walk to Temple Gorge, and we wore our waterproof jackets in case it continued to shower. The colours of the rocks seemed intensified in the wet, and small pools of terracotta coloured water lay in any depressions. It was to me just so beautiful. I happily occupied myself with taking more photos and for a short time we took shelter under an overhang while a shower passed.
Today we also ventured up the shorter left hand walk and there were even more spectacular places with intensely deep red and crimson coloured, honeycomb weathered rock walls, breathtakingly beautiful in the wet. We took our time and it was lunch time when we returned to the campground.
The roads are closed and more rain is expected late tomorrow so we may have to make a decision in the morning about whether we continue towards Mt Augustus, stay here, or return to Gascoyne Junction while we can.
We spent the afternoon reading, talking with Barb, and Darrel who is getting stir crazy with ‘nothing to do’. Later, with just the four of us campers and the hosts, we sat around the fire and shared stories before returning to our vans to prepare and eat our meals.
A tiny frog hopped onto our awning matt and was almost trodden on in the dark while we were cleaning up after dinner. I photographed him and we are now trying to identify him as he seemed to appear out of the red sandy earth. Maybe he is a burrowing frog of some kind.
Thursday June 13th.
I was out of bed before daylight once again and it was clear skies.
Around sunrise a mist rolled in between the range peaks and created some fabulous photos in the first warm light of the day. We discussed to possibility of just packing up and heading out to Mt Augustus however were talked out of it by James who suggested we go back to wait in Gascoyne Junction for 24 hours. With further rain forecast we had to agree that it was probably the right thing to do, but it was very tempting with the sun shining.
Barb and Darrel were ready long before us as we had so much to pack up so we bid them farewell and joked about either seeing them in a day or so, or just before we go into Cape Range on 25th June.
The trip back to the Junction was event free, although there were a couple of slippery patches close to the gas pipeline place. John drove cautiously with 4WD high engaged and we had no difficulty anywhere but we did hope we weren’t creating any new or deeper wheel tracks.
We visited the Community Resource centre then parked in the grounds of the Pavilion/sportsground after first checking with workmen that we would not be in the way. My damp washing was placed on our clothesline and soon dried. I took a short walk back to the Community Resoource Centre and placed a donation in the RFDS tin, also bought a copy of a Local Cookbook and thanked the staff for allowing us to wait 24 hours in the town.
John didn’t feel like going anywhere, and was happy to read all afternoon, however I picked up the camera and had a walk to the river and across the causeways and floodways, taking some lovely photos of reflections in the water and of the threatening cloud formations and colours in the sky. It seemed certain that the forecast rain would soon dump on us and foil our plans!
I kneaded dough and baked us a pizza for dinner, both of us had a long hot shower in the bathroom at the Pavilion and before we went to sleep the rain had begun, and I made sure that windows were closed so we wouldn’t get any water inside.
Friday 14th June.
Waking to rain, sheets of water on the ground and leaden skies, we knew we would not be driving on any dirt roads today. We took our time getting out of bed and packing up and before we left the phone signal, I booked us back into the Wintersun Tourist park in the same site we had previously occupied, for two nights. We drove through water at several flood ways and the clay pans which were red on our trip out just a few days ago now appeared more like small lakes. It was an interesting drive to see it so wet and we took it slowly. John kindly stopped for me to take a few photos.
The caravan park with dirt roads which were being watered to keep the dust down last week were now muddy and sticky with tyre tracks. We were parked and all set up within half an hour and found the others just across from us. Barb was kind of relieved as she thought the dirt road from the Kennedy Range to Gascoyne Junction was pretty scary and she had wondered whether we were ok getting out!
After lunch, because John wanted a paper, we drove into Woolworths and ended up shopping again! I’m not sure why when we had planned not to be near a supermarket again until next weekend but it is so hard to resist the urge to buy, when it is there! We stocked up on all the essentials…vanilla bean gelato, 85% Lindt chocolate, my favourite Lavazza brand decaf and gold coffee for when unpowered…. Anyway then I had to pack it all away and try to fit everything in the fridge and freezer and once again we can probably last three weeks should we need to!
The weather cleared as the afternoon wore on. I did two loads of washing to hang out tomorrow as I am confident it will be fine and sunny and I will be able to hang it out not long after daylight.
I did enjoy some nespresso coffees, double strength, to celebrate having power, also put my electric toothbrush on to charge as it had almost run out of battery since we last had power 8 days before.
The laptop was set up in its usual place on one corner of the table and the wi fi connected and soon I was happily getting in touch with everyone again and getting news from home.
John was blissfully happy to be able to watch two games of Rugby league on TV which kept him busy for four hours. I tried one of the recipes from my cookbook bought in Gascoyne Junction for dinner, a biryani with lamb, and steamed vegetables in the microwave. Apart from being a bit too heavy handed with the curry powder, it was delicious.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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