Up at 6am and after a shower and a breakfast I was out of there. My dislike for Gladstone is a little irrational, it’s obviously an important town to central Queensland industry wise, but it looks like the town planners aren’t very interested in making it pretty in the CBD. An exception to that is the Marina, which is pretty but it’s not like a hangout spot or anything. I decided to go up to the lookout and see if there was anything I missed but all I saw was an airport and railway line that carved their way in to landscape. Gladstone you have nothing here for me!
Today I took the road less travelled to Monto. It seems like most people go out to Biloela and then down to Monto, but I turned off just outside Calliope and took a road that wasn’t bad but also had no one on it. There were a few small towns along the way and I stopped to talk to a few cows and take some photos. Once I got to Many Peaks the road turned to gravel and I got to experience driving on a THING I am unfamiliar with. Took it easy, didn’t do the 100kms advertised and learnt how the car handles. Sometimes I think all this knowledge about the right way to do things makes for less interesting stories. is it better to come out alive but with a story that consists of “I did everything right”, then to do something wrong and roll a car but survive? I know what the smart answer is, but why is it that the not so smart people have all the best stories dammit! Digression aside, the road was not gravel when I drove up the windy steep incline to get up the mountain, so when I got to the top I pulled in to a lay away and ate watermelon pieces that I had bought the day before at fingersmith. It was so quiet and peaceful I felt I was the only person left on earth. Not a single car passed by either the entire time I was there.
Arriving in Monto I parked in the middle of town and visited the toilet and information centre. I replenished my supplies of water, fruit and pasta salad for a suprisingly inexpensive shop at the IGA in town, had time to twitter I was still alive then headed out to Cania Gorge. The gorge is about 28kms out of town from Monto and there is a caravan park at the bottom where all the walks start from. There is also a caravan park at the dam which has all mod cons, but I chose to stay near the walks. The park is run by a dutch couple who were very friendly and their camp kitchen is the best I’ve seen yet (although they do need to supply dishwashing detergent to make it perfect). No ice for sale though. I arrived just in time to take part in the Melbourne Cup sweep so I bought in for two dollars and read and slept for an hour until they pulled out the names. I got Ice Chariot so I sat around in the kitchen for the hour or so listening to them chat and watch the horses get introduced. Once again I was the youngest person there, but I kept quiet mostly as they all seemed pretty chatty and didn’t need another voice. After the race was over and my horse came god knows where, we all felt good for Bart Cummings then I left for a swim.
I was expected the pool to be as warm as in Gladstone, but I guess since it has a shade cloth plus only really gets full sun in the middle of the day it was beautiful and refreshing. A few others had had the same idea so I think by the end there was about 8 of us in there – no kids thank god. You really do have to lower your personal space and communicate in these places, so if you are looking not to see people on camping trips and you stay in caravan parks it isn’t going to happen. I’ve spoken to less people staying in hotels in Hong Kong than I have in this park in Cania Gorge. Not complaining though, all the people were pretty friendly.
After the swim I put on my walking gear and headed off for one of the walks. Just before I headed off the sweeps organiser suggested a different walk to the one I was going on and since he’d been on them all (except the 22kms one, which another old guy had just done that day, returning back in time for the cup) I took his advice and went on it. It was a 900m walk to the picnic spot where my walk was leaving from and I passed a bunch of dosy cows eating grass. Once the real walk started it seemed pretty easy but then turned in to a mass of steps. I was guzzling water and puffing and spluttering my way up to the dragon cave which took me about 40 minutes to get there. At the top I sat and rested for a while, resenting the fact that I had come all this way to see some black lines in the cave that didn’t look remotely like a dragon when a wallaby jumped up. I frightened it a little since I went to stand up at the same time it arrived so it jumped a little way away, but stayed long enough for me to take a picture. I didn’t mind the cave so much after that.
The next part of the walk took me up more stairs to get to the gorge lookout. I promised myself half a mars bar when I got to the top, but by the time I got there the bar was so melted I had to eat it all. At the top I was kind of annoyed and jaded because this sort of view I’d seen all over Queensland before and wasn’t enamoured of it. It made me wonder whether I was just being rude or bitter as to why I didn’t appreciate it which then made me wonder if I’ve seen enough of the ausralian outback landscape and need something new to look at. Down the stairs I thought I’d better see the Bloodwood Cave as well, so went and sat in the cave there too feeling like “yep, anoother cave”. After that I was happy because it was all downhill from there. At the bottom I found another wallaby feeding and it looked like it had a baby too (not that I saw it from the front – only a heavy pouch from the back). It too posed for a picture and didn’t seem too perturbed that I was so close. At the picnic camp I tried to fill the water bottle but there was no drinking water left. Had to walk the rest of the way empty. A cow was wondering around mooing on the other side of the road to where all the other cows were and while I was yelling at it to come back cause they were all over here I saw a kangaroos head pop up out of the long grass and look at me. It was across the road so neither of us were worried so I took another photo. The wildlife were so obliging here.
Back at camp I went for another swim solo to refresh myself then had a chat with the neighbours and made dinner in the kitchen. A bunch of moths had all hatched that day and were swarming the lights in the kitchen, getting in my clothes and on my empty plate. The others said that they weren’t there the night before so maybe the heat had brought them out. I chatted with some people asking about where to stay tomorrow night and then we bitched about McCain who had come on tv and then discussed the interest rate cut. It was interesting to hear other peoples opinions about it since it impacted the self funded retirees in a negative way. I’ve only ever understood interest rate cuts to be a good thing for the people I know, so I was surprised to find out it’s not.
After dinner I remade my bed and sat and read for a while. Cania Gorge Tourist retreat has been the friendliest park I’ve been to on this trip, but I can’t be sure if that was the Melbourne Cup’s influence.
Map of Destinations: