Turn Back Time: Porcupine Gorge, NW Queensland

My last post was about a recent walk in the rain through lush subtropical rainforests in mountainous country. This week I’m dragging you back 15 years  in time to Porcupine Gorge, a walk my young family did in hot, dry open country, 1500 km north-west of Brisbane.

Porcupine Gorge map

First, a little background. In 1999, we left a 70 000 acre property in north west New South Wales to live in a tiny community between Mt Isa and Townsville. This was one of several moves we would make to  rural areas of Queensland.

Three main things stood out about the location:

(1) It was hot.

(2) It was hot and

(3) It was hot.

The average summer maximum temperature was 36 degrees Celsius but sometimes we’d have weeks of daily maximums well above 40C. The average winter maximum was 25C and on the June day we ventured to Porcupine Gorge about 150km from our home it made it to 32C.

This is how flat the countryside looked in all directions.

savannah grassland - NW Queensland

Luckily we lived in a high set house with steps otherwise the kids would have forgotten how to walk on hills.  Riding a bike on the deserted flat roads was a breeze and for thrills we’d head out over the railway tracks to the old cemetery. It must have been a very rare cold day in this shot for them to be wearing warm clothes, although after living there, 20C felt cold.

bike riding - NW Queensland

A couple of poddy (orphaned) lambs were given to us by local landowners which helped make up for the horses, sheep, cattle, goats and poultry we’d left behind.

pet lambs

It was here that our family increased with the addition of Rosie, a tiny scruffy puppy, the runt of a litter of 12.  Yesterday we said goodbye to her for the last time. Sixteen years is a good innings for a canine.  She shared in our adventures  and gave us many giggles. She was a constant companion for my youngest child and also helped to make up for the loss of leaving our other animals behind in New South Wales.  You can read about the life we left behind in The Five Year Adventure.

Rosie andTough Cookie

Unlike Mt Tamborine rainforest from my last post,  in this region  most of the yearly rainfall occurred in the space of just a few weeks. When it did rain, it was from monsoonal activity north which flooded the usually dry Flinders River. This seemed to be the highlight of the year and locals would drive down to the river several times a day to check on its progress. I often thought I’d make a fortune with a suitably placed pie van.

Here my children learned of the dangers of camping in dry river beds. Seeing bare ground turn into a raging torrent within hours is a memory they won’t forget easily. Don’t do it folks! For the rest of the year the skies were clear. Here’s my son doing a rare spot of fishing when the Flinders River was full.

Flinders River fishing

One year we travelled east to Townsville on the coast for a specialist medical appointment and while there our car broke down.  Thanks to our RACQ roadside insurance we were given free accommodation in a motel room while the car was being fixed.

Usually this would have been a fantastic treat, however a cyclone hovering close to the coast changed direction and crossed  near us, cutting power and causing widespread flooding. My partner’s job involved extensive travel, meaning the three children rarely saw him so at least they got some “quality” time with their father shut away for a few days inside a dark motel room without electricity…

Our car survived the onslaught but mechanics had left the windows rolled down and the carpet and seats were saturated. After experiencing the torrential rain of a cyclone, arriving back home to a 40C parched landscape and shrivelled pot plants was odd.

Why have I rambled so much about our life there instead of talking about the walk? Well, back then I had a cheap instamatic film camera and I was more concerned with stopping my kids flying off cliffs than taking photos of tree bark. There are few photos to share and what I do have are heat damaged. How times change!

Due to having “parent brain” at that time my memories of Porcupine Gorge are unclear.  I recall  the snacks I  packed, wishing I had the stamina of kids and  how sore I felt.  For more details I had to ask my daughter, Tough Cookie.  She was only 5 years old back then so her impression was very kid-focused. She remembers being annoyed by how slow her parents were as she wanted to get back home in time for the next episode of an exciting TV series, and her older brother scaring her with tales of huge crocodiles that might live in deep waterholes at the base of the gorge.  (They don’t.)

Porcupine Gorge - Queensland 2

For more information I needed to consult Dr Google.  You may wonder why I don’t publish blog posts often. One of the main reasons is my tendency to get distracted by researching a walk.  In the case of Porcupine Gorge I spent hours reading stories about the area.

 One report talked about the response of authorities and white settlers to the killing of a mailman and the spearing of a horse by Aboriginal people. Police and local settlers surprised and trapped an Aboriginal group on a spur overlooking the precipitous east side of Prairie Gorge. The Indigenous people had the choice of jumping to their deaths or being shot. All were shot.  Indigenous custodians of  the land in this region actively fought against the activities of settlers who were taking away their only means of survival in a harsh climate.

Eventually, displacement,  introduced disease and violence led to a rapid decline in the Aboriginal population of this region and the survivors were forcibly removed to reserves.  Today, it is a testimony to the strength and resilience of the Indigenous population that they still survive.  I did not have this local knowledge when I took my family to Porcupine Gorge and I would like to belatedly thank the traditional custodians, the Yirendali Aboriginal people for allowing me to enjoy the stark beauty of the land.

Porcupine Gorge lookout is about 60km north of the tiny township of Hughenden.  A further 11km along is a basic camping area and the beginning of the Pyramid Track. The distance of the track is only 2.4km return but this is deceptive as it is only the distance to the bottom of the gorge and back to the carpark. It doesn’t include explorations of the base of the gorge and you should add another few kilometres to this distance.

porcupine-gorge-Queensland

The descent is fairly steep making the walk back, hot and tiring. I read on one site that there are over 900 steps cut into the side of the gorge so if you have dodgy knees you may find it a challenge. We did the walk in winter and still managed to arrive at our car red-faced and sweat-soaked. It was worth the effort though to see what has been dubbed by some as a mini Grand Canyon.  Despite the heat, the waterholes were freezing cold.

This is what we did when we reached the bottom.  There wasn’t much talking going on.

Carnarvon Gorge People resting in shade - Queensland

Porcupine Gorge National Park covers 5410ha and includes the flat grasslands and woodlands surrounding  25km of Porcupine  Creek. If you are a geology fan, you’ll love this place.  In ancient times, a major river system flowed in the area. This is evidenced by a grey coloured rock called Blantyre Sandstone found on the bottom of the gorge. It is being eroded away into interesting shapes by the action of water, sand particles and wind.

Porcupine Gorge rock pools - Queensland

On top of the Blantyre Sandstone lies other kinds of sandstone containing layers of siltstone, claystone and shale formed from sedimentary deposits of an inland sea and  enormous underground forces.

Porcupine Gorge cliff - Queensland

At the top of the gorge lies a thin basalt cap, the result of lava flow from surrounding volcanoes. Porcupine Gorge is the result of this layer being worn through by Porcupine Creek, part of the Flinders River system. Once the basalt was eroded, the softer sandstone below was more rapidly eroded than the surrounding hard basalt. This is why the gorge is deep rather than wide.

A unique feature of Porcupine Gorge, and probably the most photographed, is The Pyramid.  It’s a formation jutting out from the gorge base and made of flat-bedded brown Blantyre sandstone with equally inclined sides.  It may not be as impressive as the Egyptian pyramids but at least it wasn’t made by the hardship of others.

Porcupine Gorge The Pyramid - Queensland

Near the pyramid lie waterholes, some crystal clear, others bright red.

Porcupine - Gorge - red-pools - Queensland

Porcupine Gorge creek - Queensland

Despite the heat, my energetic children enjoyed exploring the base of the gorge.  I look back at their smiling faces with fondness and also surprise at how quickly time has passed. These children are now all at university and in their 20s.  Sometimes it can seem like parenting young children is a marathon event but when it’s over, it feels like it’s passed far too quickly.

kids-under-ledge-porcupine-gorge- Queensland

Geological processes are happening all the time. They can be slow or  rapid and mirror what  happens in our own lives. Relationships can slowly erode or build up. Sudden events such as death, illness or natural disasters can turn our world upside-down. People can be like rock layers; hard on the surface like a basalt layer but underneath softer like sandstone. Rough rocks can contain hidden gems.  Forces in life can slowly wear us down until we crack or they can polish us so that we shine.  Technology can  change dramatically in one generation, but attitudes such as racism and sexism can take generations.

All this pondering about time reminded me of the beautiful song, Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, a favourite of someone close to me who has passed away. As he sings, sometimes “Time can go by so slowly, and time can do so much.”

I told you that researching these blog posts distracts me! There are so many aspects of the natural world that can bring out the philosopher in us if we have enough time to ponder them. Perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t do this too often though, as nothing practical would be achieved!

Thank you for reading  what has been an indulgence of waffling this time.  The next post will be describing a walk at Wivanhoe Hill where I discovered how to bring on heatstroke. It’s a lesson for anyone as stubborn as me. I somehow managed to take 800 photographs so it may take my indecisive mind a while to compile and then there are always the other distractions…

For more information about Porcupine Gorge, please check the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Site here.

86 thoughts on “Turn Back Time: Porcupine Gorge, NW Queensland

  1. Sorry for your loss. But it sounds like she had a good life. I hope Xena lives that long healthy and happy. It was nice to hear about old stories and seeing old pics. I would’ve liked to see an old photo of you too! 🙂 Our lives were so different before Dr Google…

    • Thank you! Rosie had a very long, healthy and happy life and even when she became blind and deaf, still enjoyed many activities up until the last few days. We have many great memories of our time with her.
      I actually tried finding some pics of myself but with only one camera (and me being the one who took the shots) and no mobile phone cameras back then, I couldn’t find any suitable ones. I think there are only 5 over a period of two years. I just didn’t think about it at the time, I guess. Yes, life was very different before Dr Google! 🙂

  2. I haven’t heard of Porcupine Gorge so it was great to read about it Jane. It sounds, yes, very hot but also fascinating. I particularly like the pyramid and it makes me wonder what significance it and the surrounding waterholes had for the Indigenous custodians. Like you, my photo reservoir from pre-digital times is quite slim. Back when we had precious film and had to pay for its development, I was more discerning with what I chose to photograph and usually took longer to set up the photo. Digital photography has made us very ‘snap happy’ and while it’s a wonderful luxury to enjoy, sometimes I face the same dilemma with decisions about which photos to select! 🙂

    • Thanks, Gail! Unlike most places I walk in SE Queensland, I was unable to find anything about the Indigenous views about the area. I’m sure the waterholes must have had significance, being one of the only sources of water in a vast dry area. Accounts of giant creatures could well have been about the huge dinosaurs and marine creatures from the inland sea. At Richmond, further along, is a large marine fossil museum and many giant skeletons have been found in the region. I hope other people are able to find more information. I could only find accounts written by Europeans and of course some of the horrible history of what was done to Indigenous people. The pyramid is much more impressive in real life. Unfortunately my photos are very heat damaged. I remember only having a 24 film that day I think and being more concerned about the family’s needs. Yes, when I was a young teen it would take me a few months to use up a whole film. Every photo was carefully thought out. Now I’m spoilt and take far too many photos really! I’ve made some work for myself taking 800 shots from my Wivanhoe walk! I am terrible at choosing shots. In a way this post was a relief as I could only share what I had! Thanks for your thoughts, Gail. Always appreciated. 🙂

  3. Beautiful blog, Jane. I know exactly how you feel about time passing too quickly as your little ones grow. How wonderful to go back and remember them as young ones. And it’s great to think about these two time scales – the human and the geological – side by side. It’s timely you posting this in the same few days when there’s a “scandal” in the newspapers about universities teaching the arrival of Europeans as invasion. So many of us White Australians are ignorant of the violence of the past, either wilfully so or thanks to the way the education system (and white historians) ignored it for long! So good (though awful) to be reminded of the battles indigenous people fought to protect themselves and their land. Thanks for an absorbing post.

    • Thanks very much, Nic! If one reads accurate accounts of colonisation there is no doubt that this land was invaded. I was oblivious to this fact until I took a university subject as a young woman. I’ll always be grateful to those guest speakers and academics who taught us the truth. As I child I was given a sanitised version and we focused mainly on certain types of artwork. Sadly there is still a dearth of truth about this topic in schools today. When we lived in this region my children witnessed racism and were targeted because they chose to be friends with Indigenous children. It was a good learning experience for them though as they now have a greater understanding of the situation and I hope are kinder adults because of it.
      Yes, the more I read about geological processes, the more I thought about how they are similar to what happens in our human lives. I found myself going off in all sorts of directions really. I’m pleased you appreciated my musings! I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while but when our dog died last night, I thought it was the right time. Now that my children are adults and our last pet has passed away, a chapter has closed. Thanks for sharing your own thoughts. I appreciate the support, especially about the Indigenous content. I really don’t think I share much that is controversial in my posts but when it is published I realise from some of the anonymous comments that it’s not well received! 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Susan. I’m disappointed I didn’t have any good quality photographs to showcase such a beautiful location, but I hoped there would be something of interest in the post anyway. I will be back to the usual format in the next post. 🙂

  4. Hi Jane, Porcupine Gorge – what a fascinating place to explore. You did well to undertake the excursion with your young children when at least one had different priorities! Perhaps looking at the photographs and reflecting on your memories of that day was a bit surreal – so much has happened since then and with the march of technology, 15 years may seem like a world and age away.
    I am sorry to learn you attract the attention of trolls from time to time. It is disappointing that people can use technology to be malicious.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Porcupine Gorge is a special place and I’m glad you enjoyed what I could share about it. I would like to return one day and take my time to appreciate the wildlife at sunrise and sunset. We didn’t see any about that day, although I was probably so focused on the heat that I wouldn’t have noticed if there were! It’s always interesting to find out my children’s memories of places we visited years ago. The memories of a parent and a child can differ so much.
      Thanks very much for reading and for your supportive words. 🙂

  5. A most interesting, real and heart sharing post Jane! You have done it tough in many ways, and you are an intrepid survivor as a result, far more courageous than most women would ever be. It is lovely the way you included your children in your hikes, as you continue to do at times now. I agree with you and understand the wrongs that were done to the original inhabitants as some of my dearest friends were aboriginal, I say were because I no longer live in the country areas. They were poisoned, diseased, enslaved, pushed off cliffs and hunted down and shot, I was shown where these events happened and the elders still share the stories, which sadly helps to fire up the younger generation to carry anger and unforgiveness. yet they were kind and helpful most of the time when they were shown the same care, because they did not own the land but shared it. It was the bloody minded British that made land ownership their goal to exploit the land and everyone on it. Having travelled Britain last year, I learnt so much about my heritage and what they did to my ancestors. We recently watched the old TV series again “Against the Wind” and it makes you angry to see what they did to the convicts. Strangely enough John English passed away while we were watching it. Thanks for your human and honest sharing Jane, it is appreciated. Have a great week my friend:-)

    • Thank you for your supportive words. I would have liked to do more exploring when the children were young, but the heat often prevented us from longer adventures. Carrying enough water was always a problem. Also, there were many areas we couldn’t access as we never had a 4WD.
      It is very interesting how land ownership is viewed. In the short time since white settlement, we’ve caused huge environmental damage that our Indigenous population didn’t do as custodians for 1000s of years. I think the anger and frustration that is still felt by Indigenous people today is understandable. There is still racism in our society and there are still many injustices that need to be addressed. By covering up the past and trying to pretend it never happened, we don’t help people to heal. Acknowledgement and a real commitment to righting the wrongs is a step forward. Closing the gap in health care and education are examples. I live in a region where we see the results of racism against Indigenous people and refugees today. My daughter was horrified by the attitudes of some of her fellow students within her health degree. Things have improved greatly and I am hopeful that they will keep improving. You make a good point about the brutality of the British back then. At the same time they were calling the Indigenous population, savages! Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I appreciate it! Kind wishes. 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed this walk back in time–and the quality of the old photographs seemed to fit. We are so spoiled by digital photography now it’s easy to forget how cumbersome and expensive it was to deal with film. And, as you say, when you have young children, photography is not a priority. Despite all that, you captured this place and particular outing beautifully. Thanks for sharing it. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss of Rosie. No matter how old our dogs are, it’s always such a hole when they are gone.

    • I’m glad you appreciate my dodgy photos! Thanks! Yes, it’s amazing how different photography was back then. We didn’t have phone cameras either. There will be much more documented for future generations although I wonder if some will regret this. Back in the olden days the wild exploits of our youth could be forgotten or kept a bit secret. In the future it won’t be so easy! 😉 I would have liked to have better shots to share of the Gorge as it really is quite special. One day I may return.
      I had to have my other two dogs put down at age 14 and 15. It’s never easy. I feel thankful that at least we can alleviate their suffering. She will definitely be missed. Thanks for your kind words. Best wishes. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the link to the song~I’m enjoying it right now. I have always loved this song but it is true, at the age I am now it is especially poignant. How do cute little children turn into 20-somethings in an eye-blink like that? No fair. This was a touching post, Jane.

    • Thanks, Melissa. I’m pleased you like the song. It’s an oldie but beautiful and stands the test of time. It still manages to bring a tear to the eye.
      As I’ve heard others say, maybe we need to put a brick on the kids’ heads to stop them growing up so fast! It goes so quickly. I’m happy to see them living their own lives now too though. They’ve got the world ahead of them to explore and I can take pleasure in that. Best wishes. 🙂

  8. I had to interrupt myself in your comment box. It was necessary to double check in your blog menu, to look after your book publications.
    You always make me laugh and wonder.
    When are you publishing your book, Jane?
    Thank you for sharing ❤
    Hanna

    • Thanks, Hanna! I’ve actually been slowly working on a few writing projects. One or two will eventually turn into books. Whether they ever get published and read is another matter. 🙂
      I’m glad you get some enjoyment out of my dodgy writing. It’s always a pleasure to read your words and view your beautiful photos. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

  9. Thank you for sharing these old memories of a strange and exotic place! I don’t think that I’d be able to handle the miles of nothingness or the heat. The Porcupine Gorge would be an interesting place to visit though, in the winter.

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your dog. 😦 I’ll probably never have another dog even though I love them, I can’t bear to lose another.

    • Thanks very much, Jerry. I must say that living in that region was a challenge. It was often far too hot to spend extended time outdoors being very active. I found that aspect quite difficult as being outside really helps me mentally. I am generally happier living in a cooler and wetter environment now. In saying that, I would still love to revisit Porcupine Gorge and take more shots. It would be beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
      I found the loss of Rosie much more difficult than losing other pets. She was a real companion and certainly a big part of my daily routine. I won’t be getting another dog either. Kind wishes. 🙂

  10. Hi Jane, another wonderful post! I don’t know how you keep doing it. This one has me selfishly pondering a couple of things. Firstly it takes me back to a few bush walks in NSW where I was always fascinated by the wind and rain shaped sand stone. I found myself looking for creatures in the rock pools and usually found some. Secondly, I grew up in a fairly rural (but not remote) area which is where I shaped my love of nature. Today I am based in NYC and it troubles me that my 3 year-old does not get to roam in nature on a daily basis. It troubles me that I don’t, either! Your kids look like they had a real immersion in the natural world and that area around Townsville is a stunning place to get that immersion! I must get back to the wild at some stage. Thanks for sharing another chapter of your life.

    • Hi David,
      I’m pleased this post has given you some pleasant memories of your own explorations. I love the way sandstone is carved by the elements and can spend hours in a place taking shots these days. I’d love to be able and go back and take some better shots to share with others. It’s a special place.
      It may seem like my children were constantly adventuring but for much of the time out there, we were closeted indoors from the intense heat and there weren’t many places close by to explore. While your son may not be out in nature every day, I am sure when you get the opportunity you take him out. Kids are pretty happy in a local park and they have great imaginations. It’s just not possible for many kids to be outdoors in the wild daily. I am sure your son gains great benefit from your own love of nature and must enjoy your beautiful photographs. There were some things my kids missed out on by being isolated that your son will have access to in NYC, such as learning to play any musical instrument he wants. I do hope though that you and he will have the opportunities you desire for more outside adventure. My eldest son lived in a city until he was 4 and then we moved to the outback. Who knows where you may end up one day! Thanks very much for appreciating my words and pictures. Best wishes! 🙂

  11. Hi Jane,

    Every time I see a new post from you in my reader feed I can’t stop by doing a mini-fist-pump, to quote that hideous advert that I dearly hope you guys Down Under have been spared (but that I can’t shake off my head nonetheless).

    I really enjoyed your waffling, and as usual Australia is deeply fascinating. 36C as a daily maximum would make headline news over in Italy, and indeed it does often, I can’t think about 40C over prolonged period. Hope at least it’s a dry heat!

    When did that horrendous massacre of the Aboriginals take place? I read some very troubling excerpts from Bill Bryson about them, and I wonder what’s their situation nowadays…

    I’m looking forward to read about your next adventure!

    Fabrizio

    • Hi Fabrizio,
      Haha…I’m not sure which particular ad you are referring to but there is plenty of fist-pumping on TV and in real life here these days. You made me laugh. Thanks! Yes, it was dry heat which is more tolerable than humidity. It’s not fantastic on the skin though and I aged more in those areas.
      The incident I described is one of many massacres that occurred in Australia. The Aboriginal population was decimated by the actions of white invaders. It is a terrible history which some don’t like to admit to. However, it is one we need to own up to if healing can take place and injustices made right. Indigenous people today have a decreased average lifespan, higher rates of certain diseases and social and economic inequality. Without knowing the true history of how this has come about, people tend to blame individuals rather than the systems that have led to this. Racism still exists in this country in a variety of forms. While some like to clump Aboriginal people into one “tribe” they come from many nations that existed in Australia and spoke many languages. The situation has improved greatly but more still needs to be done.
      Thanks very much for your enthusiasm and encouragement! I will try not to disappoint you. Best wishes! 🙂

  12. 800 shots eh? No wonder you are taking your time to think about them. I would break down and cry at the very thought. Your trip in today’s post has made me feel very hot which is welcome on a chilly night.

    • Thanks, Tom! Yes, I’ve made a lot of unnecessary work for myself. The thing is many are multiple shots of the same thing and so in the end I won’t have many more different things to share than usual. I don’t trust that a photo won’t be blurry as my hands are a little shaky these days. Then I sit in front of the screen and agonise over which one is the clearest. It’s silly really! I think the heat was affecting my judgement on the day too. Usually, I manage to keep it down to a couple of hundred, which is still too many. I’m glad my trip 15 years ago was able to warm you up. I hope you have some pleasant weather soon. Best wishes. 🙂

  13. Hi Jane.

    Writing this in a coffee shop via phone (dumbphone I think). Your blog works extremely well on phone actually, not sure if you’ve tried it.

    Another lovely, thoughtful, engaging post – you should never again use terms like ‘waffle’ or ‘dodgy’ in any of your posts or comments ever again (lol, I think I use those terms too though).

    Very sorry to hear about Rosie, she sounds like she was a great companion for everyone.

    Re numbers of photos, I think we just have to accept it as a necessary part of digital photography and find our own ‘workflows” for sorting and editing. I just photographed a friend’s afternoon wedding, 3pm to 7pm, and took 1680 photos (insert horrified emoticon). The editing down to about 350 shots took far longer than the photography . Have you tried Lightroom?

    Cheers and all the best … keep writing and taking photos! Rob

    • Hi Rob,
      I’m flattered that you’d try reading my blog from a phone! It was a long one this time and I thought it would strain the eyes in such a small format. After you said it works well on a phone, I checked my daughter’s fancy one (mine is an old flip-top thing) and I was surprised how it looks. Thanks for letting me know! I’d thought about changing the theme but I’m concerned that it will stuff up the way the photos appear. I probably won’t bother now.
      Thanks for those kind words about my writing. It’s always a little nerve-wracking when posting something a bit more reflective/personal. It’s hard to be objective about what will interest others and what is boring waffle. I will try to take your advice and eliminate dodgy and waffle from the text in future. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
      Haha…that is a large number of shots, but I must say that if I felt responsible for photographing someone’s special day, I think I’d be taking that number and more! These shots are just for my blog and I’m already taking 100s. I’m still not shooting in RAW (although I have the option with this camera), partly because of storage space. I’ve never used Lightroom. The most I’ve done is cropped and adjusted the contrast and brightness in Gimp if the shots are a bit blurry or too washed out. My camera has a vivid setting which I use sometimes when my camera doesn’t want to capture the intensity of the colours I see. It looks a bit oversaturated then though. I will have to look at buying another external hard drive as I only have a small laptop so I can try mucking about with RAW shots. The trouble is the laptop screen is quite poor and editing may produce something that looks terrible on a large good quality screen. I guess most people use their phones though so it probably doesn’t matter that much anyway! Thanks for all your valuable feedback, Rob. I appreciate the time and thought you put into it. Have fun with the wedding shots! Best wishes. 🙂

  14. Fascinating narrative, Jane. I kept thinking over and over as I read, what it must have been like there a thousand or so years ago when the indigenous folks were the only visitors and custodians.

    • Thanks, Terry! It was a strange time out there in many ways. We were quite isolated from family and friends. It would be different now in the age of fast Internet and Skype. I can’t seem to go on any hikes these days without wondering, like you, what it would have been like before European settlement. It’s only been a little over 200 years since the first fleet arrived, loaded with convicts. I’m very conscious of the fact that it is because of the dispossession of Aboriginal people that I have a home here now. My ancestors would probably have been killed in the World Wars if they hadn’t migrated to Australia about 100 years ago. Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts. It’s a very different landscape to where you live! 🙂

  15. Re: “I often thought I’d make a fortune with a suitably placed pie van.” Lines at post offices over here are often longer than they need be (e.g. five positions at the counter but only two open, and one of the two workers off on what seemed a three-month expedition to the back of the building). Many a time while waiting in one of those lines I had the thought that someone should open a business selling food and drink to the captive masses.

    • Oh dear, your post office queues sound as bad as some of ours. Post offices are used to pay a variety of bills which has added to the workload of staff here. Centrelink queues (for unemployed people and others requiring pension forms filled out and interviews) are probably the worst though. They probably aren’t the clientele who could afford food/coffee from our entrepreneurial activities though. I’d be tempted to give it away free in that situation. 🙂

  16. And speaking of ancient times, we recently watched a series of videos about the history of life on earth. One of the things we learned was that Australia was once attached to Antarctica. From your description of the area you visited as hot, hot, and hot, you may wish Australia were still attached to Antarctica. You’d need only one name, Antarctistralia.

    • Yes, it’s fascinating to think Australia was once attached to Antarctica. There are living reminders of that time in the form of Antarctic Beech trees that grow in the rainforest around Springbrook and also Binna Burra. I think I have pictures of some in my post about the Warrie Circuit. Quite amazing really. I think I may struggle with the cold temps of Antarctistralia! 🙂

    • Thanks, Steve! I wasn’t sure how old the original version was. I’m thankful that you do the research or have life experience you can share. I must look up the original hit and listen to it. The Righteous Brothers version was the favourite of a loved one. I remember it most though from when it was played in the movie “Ghost.” 🙂

      • It’s a coincidence that the song appeared in two movies that popularized it. If you follow the first link in my comment you can listen to the Al Hibbler version. I think most people alive now know only the Righteous Brothers version. I did my bit of research to see who wrote the song because all too often the songwriters don’t get any credit. The results of most Internet searches for a song make it seem as if the singer who popularized it created the song, which is usually not the case,

        • Yes, that’s true. It’s quite funny to me now that my kids’ generation are hearing new versions of songs from the 80s (when I was a teen) and thinking they are the first/original version. They don’t necessarily believe me at first when I tell them it’s been done before. Now I know how generations before me felt! 🙂

  17. My travels have taken me to Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns, but I haven’t been able to get that far inland in that area, unfortunately. I hope future travels might permit that. Such an endlessly fascinating country. Thanks for delving back into your pre-digital archives for us–I love to do that, too!

    • The coastline up that way is beautiful and of course there is the Great Barrier Reef, which sadly is suffering terrible coral bleaching. There is a lot of very flat, barren country west of Townsville but there is also a stark beauty in it and of course the horizon is beautiful at sunrise and sunset. The outback starry skies are so much better than in the city. I hope you do get a chance for more exploration in that area. Photo archives can be a lot of fun to look through. Thanks very much for reading and commenting. Best wishes. 🙂

      • I’ve tried to get out to the GBR from Townsville twice, but both attempts were foiled by nasty weather. Some day for sure! I completely agree with your exuberance about the outback night sky and the sunrises and -sets. I long for another visit!

  18. Hey Jane, you know how to pull at the heart strings that’s for sure! I really enjoyed reading of your time in the deep north and particularly your visit to Porcupine Gorge, we must have gone very close to crossing paths over the years I think. My memories of Porcupine Gorge are of the red dusty camp and of swimming in a waterhole with the Pyramid Rock near by. I loved your retro photos too, technology has moved forward in leaps and bounds but there is a certain warmth to these old shots I think. Our history with our indigenous people and their culture is certainly nothing to be proud of, even this week Murdoch’s Sydney tabloid was disputing the fact that we had dispossessed them, for f#@ks sake it hard to believe that some people are still in denial. 800 photos from one walk, WOW!
    Cheers Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      Yep, given your travels we may have even said hello to each other in the past! 🙂 I am pretty sure when we visited Porcupine Gorge the road out there was unsealed, potholed and corrugated. That’s all changed now though. I remember one long drop smelly loo and no water to wash our hands with. We had to use some of our precious drinking water. I assume there might be a small tank there now. The waterholes were ice-cold when we went there in June. The winter night temps can drop down to O degrees C and the rock would help keep the water cold. The waterholes would be much more inviting in summer I expect and much desired after the hot walk!
      I really love looking at old photos. I agree, there seems more character to them. Maybe it’s just that I am getting old and like the nostalgia!
      I saw the whole kerfuffle about some universities teaching invasion rather than discovery. I think that a lot of the denial is to do with fear of their happy Australian bubble being burst. It’s the truth though and there is plenty of evidence to support it, hey? It’s very frustrating to me and I’m not even an Indigenous person. Yeah, 800 pics is a bit much. I actually went back there today and explored the spillway section…another extra 100 or so shots! I get a bit obsessed.
      Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts, Kevin. It’s much appreciated. Best wishes! 🙂

  19. Hi Jane! I am so sorry your pet dog has died. I grew up with dogs and know how wonderful they can be as companions. When I got married the first time we got cats as they were easier to look after while working full time. When the last one died about 16 years ago I decided I couldn’t cope with the sadness of losing any more so we are pet free now. We had a couple of goldfish that lived for ten years and three giant African land-snails that lasted for about seven years but you can’t get too close to them (though I still managed to get a bit tearful with those which surprised the family!)
    I can relate to ‘parent brain’ memory deficit! My husband is always amazed when I can’t remember certain trips or holidays we had when the girls were younger. All I can recall are the upset stomachs, asthma attacks and other similar incidents. Good things too, like meals which proved popular and a child’s positive reaction to a new activity. I remember a really wet and miserable day on a holiday near the England/Wales border. Elinor, who was about 3 years old at the time, had been moaning and crying for hours as we wandered about the town of Hay-on-Wye. We decided to drive up into the hills and visit a Neolithic burial chamber called Arthur’s Stone. The rain stopped as we drove up and the clouds started to lift but the really amazing thing was Elinor’s reaction to the burial chamber. She was transformed and began dancing around it and singing. It was a really atmospheric place and I am sure she had picked up some ancient vibrations from the place. This place was a special holy place for the indigenous people of Britain and only now, thousands of years later are we affording these places the respect they are due. Those original people, like those in Australia, respected the land and didn’t ravage it. Of course, they were driven out eventually and their successors were driven out too. The word ‘Welsh’ means foreigner or slave and Wales is where the Celts were driven by the Anglo-Saxons. There are very few places in this world where there are still indigenous peoples. Why are they still being hounded out of their rightful places?
    I am so glad you have written about your visit to Porcupine Gorge and your memories of your children when they were small. Time goes by so quickly as we care for our children. They suddenly become grown up and we look about as though we have awakened from a long (tiring!) sleep and find we have grown middle-aged and most of our early hopes and dreams have come to nothing. We have our children though, and they are worth more than dreams and aspirations. I apologise for this long waffle! I hope you are having a good weekend. Best wishes, Clare x

    • You describe those parenting feelings so well, Clare! Your words, “we look about as though we have awakened from a long (tiring!) sleep and find we have grown middle-aged and most of our early hopes and dreams have come to nothing” are what many women have felt I expect. My partner’s job and the locations we lived meant I was more like a sole parent for years and back then, the women tended to take on board all the practicalities of parenting anyway – are they hungry, cold, tired etc? I seem to remember the planning for a long trip being tiring enough! I often thought afterwards that I needed a holiday to recover from my holiday! My children are amazed by my lack of memory for certain events back then. I remember the illnesses, the accidents, the foods I prepared and so on though.
      Thanks very much for recounting Elinor’s change in behaviour at the burial chamber. Now you’ve got me intrigued by the place. I must remember to try to check it out it if I ever manage to visit the region.
      Thanks also for your local information and your thoughts about the treatment of Indigenous people. I had no idea that “Welsh” means foreigner and the background of it. It is saddening the way we’ve decimated many Indigenous populations and also damaged the environment of their land.
      Unless I need a dog for protection as an elderly person, I probably won’t get another pet either. I was fairly practical about what needed to be done on farms with animals (although we never took pleasure in killing) but as I age I find I am becoming more sensitive to death. I thought I would become “tougher” but alas it seems to be the reverse. My son had pet African snails and was quite attached to them. When one died he was a bit distressed, so I don’t think you are silly for feeling some loss over them.
      Thanks very much for your thoughtful response, Clare. If that’s called “waffling” I would gladly listen to it or read it all day. Have a wonderful Sunday. Best wishes. x

  20. I truly enjoyed this post of yours. Pictures and memories from the past are so special. But I was so sorry to hear about your loss. My Sissy had a growth removed a few weeks ago and it felt like a part of me was missing while she was gone. It’s always so hard to lose a much loved pet. I suspect that Sissy will be my last, too, but she’s only 7 so should be with me for a good while yet.

    • Thanks very much for your understanding words. Rosie was such a funny and affectionate little dog and also surprisingly hardy. It was sad to see her deteriorate and in pain at the end and difficult to feel responsible for the final decision, but it was best for her. We will certainly miss her! As I wrote in my response to Clare, I seem to be more affected by loss as I get older. I thought it would be the other way around. I do hope you are finally feeling a lot better from your horrible bug! It’s put you out of action for a while now. Very frustrating for you! Kind wishes. x

      • Jane, very sorry to hear about Rosie (I brushed over that in my earlier comment), they are great friends and bring a lot of affection and laughs to our lives.

        I really like the range of thoughtful, interesting people you get commenting on your blog posts!

        Cheers

        • Thanks very much, Rob. 🙂 Yes, I am very thankful to have such a lovely group of followers to interact with. They are a wonderful group of people. It has made blogging a pleasure. I hope you are well. 🙂

  21. Sorry to heat about your departed dog :/

    Lovely pictures of a very interesting area, especially the gorge. It looks like a great place to explore!

    • Thanks, Rob! I hope to return to the gorge one day and explore it properly. I expect it would be beautiful at sunrise and sunset when it’s cooler and the birds and animals are drawn to the waterholes. It was too hot when we were down in the gorge (middle of the day) to see much wildlife. Have a great week. Good to hear from you! 🙂

  22. Hello, Jane, always enjoy tagging along on your adventures. Reading about the freezing water at the bottom of the Gorge reminded me of a long ago rafting trip at the Grand Canyon. Ah, to turn back time! Have a wonderful week.

    • Hi John, sorry I was late to reply. Interesting that you should mention rafting as I’ve just been on a kayaking adventure with my little brother on the Brisbane River today. I hadn’t kayaked for 30 years! It was fantastic fun although a little nerve-wracking at one point. The Grand Canyon is such an amazing place. Much more impressive than our gorges here. I’m glad it brought back some memories for you. Thanks very much for being such an encouraging support right from the start of my blogging. I do appreciate it. Have a great week too! 🙂

  23. Hello Jane. I’m so sorry to be commenting so late! I’m already feeling terrible that I haven’t managed to thank you for the last email correspondence. Where does time go? I’ll tell ya… here, the gardening, weeding, mowing, tree trimming, fence building and chick raising has gone full-throttle!! I can’t tell if I’m coming or going most days! What a wonderful memory even if you call if waffling – I loved your story! I think the photographs are just fine. It represents the way it was back then, and we were happy for those “instamatic” cameras. My mother owned several and she was so good to take photographs of us kids often. Of course like you, there were very few with her in the picture! I’m sorry about Rosie, and it sounds like she had a truly wonderful life. I have three old Japanese Chin, one that isn’t doing so well. These will be my last dogs. I hope to have some grand travel and hiking adventures one of these days when I don’t have so many animals – both domestic and wild – to care for! Perhaps we will meet one day.. I’d love that! What good laughs we might have! 😀

    • Hi Lori. No need to apologise! There is no need for you to comment every time either. 🙂 It’s only a blog. I know how incredibly busy you must be with springtime activities. My life on the farm was pretty hectic. City life is much quieter in many ways. I remember reading about your old Japanese Chin and how poor one’s health is. I remember at the time thinking they are enough work on their own, let alone all your other farm and wild animals! This is the first time in 23 years I don’t have a single pet or wild creature to care for. It’s a strange feeling but it’s also left me realising that I now have the opportunity to travel away for extended periods…maybe even overseas, if I can raise the funds. I would love to try some long hikes with you in the US. I hope we do get to meet one day. I am sure we’d have a fantastic time. Thanks very much for taking the time out of your crazy busy life to read and comment. Stay well, my friend. 🙂

      • I look forward to having more freedom to travel. All of the really great hiking spots in the US are really west of here in the mountains of the Northwest or the Southwest regions. The Midwest (where I live) is not so exciting, but we have a few spots just a few hours away. When I was younger I camped a lot (my first husband and I had little money) and hiked the Northwestern National Parks extensively. The states of Wyoming and Montana were fantastic! And of course FD has family in California, Oregon and Washington – so much to see when on visits with them. But alas, right now the dogs keep me here… And now baby chicks to raise, and wildlife occasionally. It’s a good life, but I’ll be ready to see the world one day soon!

        You can bet yer socks you and I will meet one day!!! 🙂

        • Wow, sounds like you’ve had more camping experience and hiking adventures than me in your early days! I’d love to see those national parks. Yes, our creatures do make travel tricky, if not impossible. Looking forward to meeting up with you one day for sure! 😀

  24. Given the choice, I’d probably enjoy visiting this pyramid as much as the more famous ones. 🙂

    You’ve made me recall fondly the hiking trips we took with our kids long ago. They’re in their 20’s too now. Glad to have the memories.

    Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Bill,
      I’m glad you think so and I’m also pleased my post brought back some happy memories for you too. It’s interesting going back through old photograph albums. It often triggers memories of long forgotten conversations and humorous and poignant events. I’ve forgotten so many little things. Thank you for reading and adding your thoughts. It is lovely to hear from you. Best wishes. 🙂

  25. Wow, I love the stark contrast between the rusty red earth and the bright blue sky. Such wonderful photography.

    I love talking with my parents about trips we took when I was a child. It’s so fun to remember things I had forgotten but that others remember.

    • Hi Indy,
      Great to hear from you! Yes, that red earth against the vivid blue sky is very appealing. We used to live out near Bourke which had red sandy soil and spinifex. It was harsh but I loved the landscape. I wrote about it in my post The Five Year Adventure if you want to have a look. It is great to have these albums to look through with my grown up kids. It starts up some interesting discussions! Thanks very much for reading and adding your thoughts. Best wishes! 🙂

    • P.S. Just checked your lovely blog, Indy. Loved your 22nd Feb post about snail mail. I enjoyed having pen pals when I was growing up. Getting handwritten postcards and letters felt more special than emails/texts. I really treasured them and still have my postcard collection. If you send me your address via my contact page, I’ll send you a couple from Australia. 🙂

  26. Wow so beautiful – your thoughts as well as the photos! You have seen and done some amazing things! What rich memories for the children.

    • Thank you very much. It was an interesting life moving from one hot dry place to another. Some good things. Some bad things. Overall I think it was a good experience for the children…I hope! I’m not really game to ask them too many questions about it. 😉 Sorry to take so long to reply. Things haven’t settled down yet with regards to my relative’s health. Best wishes. 🙂

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