We arrived at Blackdown Tablelands, just in time for morning smoko (tea). Yaddamen Dhina, the Horseshoe Lookout, has a picnic area, bathrooms with running water and flush toilets (a wonderful thing, I assure you), and a glorious view. So, after munching on some delicious pumpkin bread and other delightful treats, we all walked the couple of meters to see the view. I was lucky enough to snag Baby D, and carry him down to see his first big view, on his first hike. I don’t think he was very impressed. So, we passed him around, as we looked off into the distance.
The last time I was at Blackdown, I was at the Horseshoe Lookout at sunset, so you couldn’t see as far. Also, the previous time, I had only been in Australia for two months, so I will still just as amazed by the eucalyptus trees, on the drive up, and just about everything else. This time, I’ve been here five months, and I’ve gotten used to some of these normal things.
When we’d had our fill of the view, we drove up to Munall (Mimosa) campground, where we decided to set up our tents, before doing anything else. It was a nice warm day, but there was a strong breeze (it helped keep the bugs away), so even after we’d staked the tents down, we threw our swags into it, to make sure it didn’t achieve liftoff while we were away.
After a stop at the toilets… oh, remember I said we love flush toilets? Well, the ones at the campground were a cross between drop toilets and flush. It had a handle we had to pull back and forth, and it made a flushing noise, but I think the only thing that went into it were some “oh-so-good-for-the-environment” type of chemicals, not water. Perhaps the flushing mechanism was just to make us feel better, and didn’t actually do anything. I’m not sure. Anyway, we were grateful for whatever kind we could get, as there are no showers at this campground. But the ones at the Horseshoe were definitely better.
On a “short” pre-lunch bushwalk, we started off on the Mook Mook (Officer’s Pocket) Trail, which led us through an area that I’d been to, back in July. But there’s been very little rain since then, so the rock pools were quite cool looking, but were a bit stagnant. Water was going downstream, but nothing like the waters that went through in the early winter.
After checking the depth of the pools and looking at all the cool rock formations, we reached our first big cliff (which I won’t go NEAR the edge of), and then took a detour. Our fearless leader, Andrew, has been here any number of times, so we often found ourselves leaving the trail. I’m happy to do so, as long as someone knows where they’re going. My sense of direction isn’t that great, when I’m in the woods.
I give full props to Sam and Loz, who hiked over all the same trail as the rest of us, carrying their Baby D. He slept through some of it, so he missed all the excitement of climbing up and downhill, until we finally came out below the aforementioned cliff.
We continued to follow the stream, as it meandered over the rock face, occasionally filling up a pool, which required us to take a slightly precarious trip around it. Not that we wandered near cliff edges, we just didn’t want to fall into any pools and get our shoes wet. We would have a day and a half at Blackdown, I certainly didn’t want sopping wet sneakers for the whole of it.
At long last, we arrived at some very large cliffs, and took a breather. The size of some of the rocks which are NOT part of the cliff… it just amazed me. I scrambled all around the area, taking pictures of everything, but still avoiding the edge. I’m fine with heights, as long as there’s a railing to hang onto. Approaching a cliff edge like that, I always think of how, in a dream, I might just fall from a ledge like that. But then, you can always wake up. These cliffs? Not so much. If you fall from here, you will wake up in heaven… or at least, you’ll wake up in many pieces, and extreme pain. I don’t like that thought at all (The falling or the many pieces part, I mean. Waking up in heaven would be fine, as long as I don’t have to fall, first.).
We headed back from our “short” walk, which had really turned into quite a big one. Arriving at the campground, we got lunch together, and sat down to enjoy it. Over the weekend, we found that we had to be careful of our food, because kookaburras and black (with some white) currawongs would gather round, ready to get any scrap available. And they weren’t always waiting for us to drop food, either. Some of us lost parts of sandwiches, and pieces of bacon (from breakfast), as they’d fly in and snatch it from anyone who wasn’t paying attention.
After lunch, and time to sit, chat, and rest up, we took the trail to Gudda Gumoo (Rainbow Waters). I thought we were headed for Rainbow Falls, as all of us had our swimsuits (togs) on, but at the top of the stairs, Andrew led us up a different path, to the rock pools above the falls.
At the rock pools, there were two main pools in the rock, that really looked like big puddles, but it turned out that they were extremely deep, and you could jump into them from the ledges. The top one, I found out, wasn’t as deep as the next one, so you had to jump straight down, in order to keep from scraping an underwater ledge.
I admit it, I stayed standing on the edge for quite a while. Please understand, it LOOKS higher, when you’re actually in position to jump. And it’s been a long time since I did any type of cliff jumping. Also, I remember well, and it still holds true, that the first jump is ALWAYS the hardest. So, yes, I stayed there for quite a while. Oh, and this was after I’d eased my way slowly into the lower pool, because the water was frigid, and I don’t do well at jumping into cold water. I’ve never liked “getting it over with”, by leaping in. So, I slowly got all wet, and then I climbed up to make the big jump.
The lower pool, though, is deep enough to dive into, so several of the guys were doing that. And that one also has a small side hole, that you can go through, and come out in a different spot. I kept going under, trying to find that hole, as it was only about a meter or less below the surface, but I couldn’t see it (yes, I opened my eyes underwater), and it was just freaky, trying to swim into and up a hole, if you can’t see where you’re going.
Before the afternoon got too far along, we headed back up the trail, and climbed down the stairs to the Rainbow Falls. Several people went climbing down the rocks, into the gorge, but I had arrived late, with several people, so we just hung out near the falls. And I did eventually manage to get around to the other side of the falls, but traversing the rocks, and going through the water was a bit tricky, as I was trying to keep my camera dry.
Eventually, we headed back to camp, and got things going for dinner. It was just about dark by then, so most of dinner had to be prepared by lantern. But both kinds of curry were delicious, so it was worth the wait. Then, Andrew used the leftover rice to make rice pudding. Yes, everything was cooked on the campfire. These guys are pros!
Since it was after dark, I switched to my Canon PowerShot, which is easier to use at nighttime… that, and I was tired of carrying my Nikon around. Rather than use the flash, I like to use the Canon to take camp-by-firelight pics with the ISO 3200 setting. And then I started having fun, using that setting to take pics of the fire itself, which I think look really neat.
Then, after much chatting, sharing stories, and me trying to explain what s’mores are (How do you explain this to someone, if they don’t know what a graham cracker is? I’ll have to cover it in another post), we went to bed. I was so tired that I went right to sleep, which is great, because I don’t usually sleep well when I’m camping.