Our first stop this morning was the Visitors Centre in the National Park. We armed ourselves with a map of the walks, our backpacks filled with water and food supplies and our eco walking sticks. We were lucky to find one a past traveller had left by our campsite and Glenn found a second. Another tip is that previous walkers leave theirs at the start of the walking trail so you might be lucky to reuse one if you forget. They are most useful for the creek crossings. The main Gorge walk is 19.4 km return but all of the walks leave from the same starting point next to the Visitors Centre and then branch off this main path. It is suggested that you head out to the furthest point and then do the off shoot walks as you wish on the return journey. We decided to heed this advice.
We headed out just on 9am and it was a little cloudy but luckily not too hot, so it was short sleeves and no jumpers to be carried. Almost as soon as you leave the Visitors Centre is the first creek crossings. This one is on nice large stones so not too hard to cross.
But immediately it was uphill along a trail with some sandstone stairs cut in. We soon learnt that it was up and down all along the trail and whilst in most areas you could see the creek bed, at times you are quite a way from it. There are signs everywhere of the bushfires of last year but the regrowth thanks to the rain is almost two feet tall. It is also very lush at present from the rains and creek flooding of a couple of weeks ago but that also means there is more water in the creek crossings.
We reached the first walk off shoot to the Moss Garden t about 10:30 so 3.5 km in 1 1/2 hours. At least we knew how long it would take us to get back from here. There are a couple of seats here and the only amenities for the whole walk so we made it a short morning tea stop before continuing. The Art Gallery is 10.8 km return so we had 2.3 km to get there, less than what we had already walked. Sounds ok but add in five more creek crossings and it takes longer than you think. Also depends on your fitness levels.
The views around you are picturesque and all around you are the walls of the Gorge. We didn’t make any stops until we reached the exit point for the Art Gallery and I have the proof that I got there.
There is a welcoming sign from the people of the Bidjara and Karingbal Aboriginal people and as you climb through a rock opening you step back in time, and into their ancient culture, viewing a spectacular display of Aboriginal rock art.
The purpose built decking and seating provides protection for a 62m-long sandstone wall featuring 2000 engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings adorning the sandstone walls. This is one of Australia’s finest examples of stencil art. See if you can find boomerangs, hands, feet, stone axes, shields, nets and an assortment of animal tracks in the photos I took.
After a break and a snack here we returned to the main track to start our return journey and discover the other walking tracks.