A COOL OASIS OF POOLS IN A DEEP CANYON
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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JOURNEY: Cloncurry to Julia Creek- 140 kms
Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden to Porcupine Gorge NP- 378kms
WEATHER: Hot dry and sunny. Mid 30's by day
Around 12 degrees overnight.
After leaving Cloncurry, a neat friendly town and the pleasant Oasis Van Park $22pn we were soon driving through the pale yellow grassy plains of outback cattle country.
Julia Creek has done a lot to encourage the tourist. the award winning information centre has movies and photographs, depicting life in the area, both today and historically. The town is impeccably neat and we settled ourselves in the green "Peter Dawes Park" for lunch and coffee. We met the very gregarious local, Steven and his deaf young puppy blue/red heeler, as well as a single senior woman travelling around Australia in her van. Love to hear their stories!!
Julia Creek is assisting in rescuing the tiny nocturnal marsupial, thought extinct until 1992- the dunnart. Special enclosures have been erected and a breeding program is in place! Good on you lot!
We found our way to the free camp by the river just out of town- no facilities and you need to be a self contained motorhome or van to get permission to camp there. There were about 20 vans etc there and it was an attractive grassy paddock not too far from the road and trainline but the traffic noise was not too bad.
Sadly the area was infested with feral cats and Sheila and our neighbour rescued a bird from a very persistant cat who braved the shallow water to get the waterbird. Apparently the council is making efforts to control them but not too successfully!
After leaving Julia Creek at 10.30, already close to 30 degrees we took to the Flinders Highway again with our destination set at a free camp near Hughenden. We had originally hoped to camp at Porcupine Gorge National park but the DERM site on the internet warned of 36 kms of rough dirt road to access the park.
Sheila inquired at the Hughenden Information Centre and the very knowledgeable attendant explained that there was just 6 kms of gravel and that the Kennedy Development Road was sound and we could easily make the 70km journey to the campground by late afternoon!
So off we went direct north to the park- the road was a bit scary in places where road works had created some confusing detours and the shoulders were soft and riddled with stones that could break a windscreen. We were lucky to miss the road trains both in and out of the park!
We located the last of the motorhome sites unoccupied and hoped that noone had booked it online! We discovered later that the sites with a red sign were for online reservations and the ones with the beige signs were for self registration- happily we were in a beige site. A caravan had to relocate from a red site to a beige site when an online reservation vehicle turned up.
Queensland National parks has a bit of PR work to do on their campground booking systems.
On to more positive considerations- this is a lovely destination. Just below the sparsely wooded grassy flat land is a beautiful oasis in a deep canyon through which the Porcupine Creek runs and impacts. There is no indication of this "little grand canyon" until you reach the edge and see the creek winding its way over rocks and coloured sandstone amongst quite thick and green vegetation.
We trekked the 1.5kms to the bottom of the gorge and were rewarded with cooler temperatures and a lovely rock hopping adventure to the Pyramid which is a striking formation worn away by water.
You feel far removed from the dry woodlands above. We noticed quite a few visitors pulling in at the day use area to visit the gorge- well worth the effort.
This is a beautiful national park, maybe a bit too hot in the summer but quite comfortable now, although by midday you needed the shade to soften the sun's heat.
The night sky was spectacular- so dark and starry and the sun up and down turned the sky pink and red. We loved the rufous bettong, little marsupials so bold as they scavenged for food at night.
Recommend this impressive place and don't forget to visit the lookout 11kms south as you leave the park- you get to see the full scope of the gorge. Camping is $5.30 pp ppn.