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6 Shhh! Don’t Wake the Babies!

As part of Becky’s April Bright Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. I’ve opened the archives to January 2020 to share our 19 day trip to USA. Join me on a pictorial travelogue of the best and brightest of our pre-pandemic adventures in California and Nevada! The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word bright. Look for #brightsquare.

We were up bright and early to see this raft of sea otters in Morro Bay Harbor.

The mothers and babies were gathered together in the sheltered waterway, seemingly oblivious to the spectators on the dock. Sea otters have no blubber and rely on their thick fur to stay warm. It may have been a cool and cloudy morning, but they floated serenely on their backs like sunbathers, hoping to soak up any heat from the sun. 

2 Where Monarchs Gather

As part of Becky’s April Bright Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B, I’ve opened the archives to January 2020 to share our 19 day trip to USA. Join me on a pictorial travelogue of the best and brightest of our pre-pandemic adventures in California and Nevada! The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word bright. Look for #brightsquare.

From November to February, thousands of orange Monarch butterflies gather in a sheltered grove at Pismo Beach on the Central California coast. They’ve travelled up to 2,000 miles, from as far north as Canada, to see out the winter.

We watched for ages as the brightly coloured butterflies clustered in the tall eucalypts and Monterey cypress trees, only leaving to feed on nectar from nearby flowering plants. 

Where There is Water

Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020

The main track at Carnarvon Gorge is 9.7 kilometres one way. With several sets of steps, many creek crossings and some gradual inclines, the track is classed as Grade 3/4 and is suitable for bushwalkers with some experience. Nine side tracks off the main track lead to the scenic wonders of the gorge. The walk to the Moss Garden begins 2.8 kilometres from the Visitor Centre.

Its location in central Queensland means Carnarvon Gorge is surrounded by a landscape often severely affected by drought. Inside the gorge, where water is abundant, it’s a different matter. And where there is water there is life, especially in the Moss Garden.

Hidden away in the depths of Violet Gorge, the Moss Garden is reached by a 650 metre walking track off the main track.

Like all the walks in Carnarvon Gorge, there are creek crossings and steps to negotiate. The bright green foliage of fan palms and tree ferns spreads out on either side of the track – it’s noticeably cooler in the shade.

Further into the gorge the open forest is replaced by remnant rainforest. Lianas loop from tree to tree and the roots of strangler figs take hold wherever they can. 

The track rises steeply away from the creek and the gorge narrows until the sandstone walls on either side almost touch. 

A boardwalk replaces the sandy path for the last few metres. Even though the sound of running water is ever present in most of the park, here it dominates. Water tumbles over a small waterfall, filling a round pool before flowing away down the creek. More water drips constantly from the sandstone walls of the canyon. It comes from a natural spring high above and filters through the sandstone. 

The permanent supply of slowly filtered water supports a micro climate of mosses and ferns which cover the stone like a thick green carpet. 

Dozens of dragonflies add jewel colours to the green of the Moss Garden. They skim across the surface of the waterhole and up over the mossy rocks, stopping for just a few seconds before taking off again. 

Where there is water, there’s always life. 

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

Getting Back to Nature

Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 

The main track at Carnarvon Gorge is 9.7 kilometres one way. With several sets of steps, many creek crossings and some gradual inclines, the track is classed as Grade 3/4 and is suitable for bushwalkers with some experience. Nine side tracks off the main track begin at various distances along the main track. The Nature Trail is the first side track and starts just past the Visitor Centre. 

When a walking track is called The Nature Trail, we would expect to see plenty of natural wonders. The trail at Carnarvon Gorge delivers all that and more!

The level track winds through open eucalypt forest beside the creek for 1.5 kilometres, beginning and ending at the main track.

The path crosses Carnarvon Creek in two places, with large flat stepping stones linking each bank.

The towering walls of sandstone on either side of the gorge create a magnificent backdrop for the creek and the bushland.

In some sections the bush gives way to stands of bushfire blackened Carnarvon fan palms. Primitive cycads, little changed in appearance since the time when dinosaurs grazed on them, grow beside the track. Both plants are endemic to this central Queensland region.

Delicate wildflowers bring splashes of colour to the bush. 

An eastern snake-necked tortoise enjoys the sun on a rock in the middle of the creek

and a pretty-faced wallaby, used to human visitors, watches with fearless curiosity. 

Bird calls fill the forest and, although they can be heard, the small birds stay hidden. Larger birds are easier to spot in the trees or close to the water. 

While the little birds are shy, the insects are not. Several types of butterfly move from one plant to the next, taking time to rest at each one. Around the creek, dragonflies dart like tiny jet planes, never resting for longer than a few seconds. 

Part way along the track, movement in amongst the fan palms catches our attention. Hundreds of Euploea climena butterflies flutter around the trees. Dozens more are clustered on the underside of the palm fronds – only moving when a gust of wind shakes them loose. 

It’s a display only nature could put on.

Joining Jude for Life in Colour – Yellow and  Jo for Monday Walks

An All Australian Line Up

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #31

With at least 210 different types of birds and 54 species of native mammals living within the national park, sightings of Australia’s unique animals at Carnarvon Gorge are guaranteed. We’ve seen some, like the eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, cockatoos and kookaburras many times before but seeing them again is always a joy.

eastern grey kangaroo

swamp wallaby

sulphur crested cockatoo

kookaburra

But sightings of echidnas and platypuses in the wild are rare and we’d only ever seen either once before outside of a zoo or wildlife park. Imagine our excitement when this echidna came strolling right by our camp sight. It was intent on searching for food and wasn’t at all bothered by our presence.

echidna

Several platypuses live in the section of Carnarvon Creek which flows through the Takarakka campground. A viewing platform set well back from the creek allows campers to watch from a distance as the platypuses emerge from their burrows at dawn and dusk. The fading light of early evening meant our photos didn’t turn out well, but the experience of watching these elusive little creatures in their native habitat was a highlight of our week at the gorge.

platypus

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp

Ganging Up

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #29

Dozens of tiny red-browed finches call the bush around Carnarvon Creek home. They move at lightning speed, landing for a few seconds on the creek bank before flitting away again. They may be small, but when they gather in a flock you can hear them before you see them.

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp

Resting Up

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #28

Butterflies rest for a just few seconds before taking off again.

Clearwing Swallowtail

Euploea climena

Common Brown

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp

Up Early

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #22

To avoid the heat of the day we began our first walk into the gorge not long after dawn. This whiptail wallaby, ready for breakfast, had the same idea.

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp

Uprising!

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #15

These locals have decided the directions don’t apply to them. 

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp

Uprooted

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #14

Trees in the bush don’t go to waste when they come down in a storm.

They might create a natural bridge over a waterway.

They often play host to other plants or provide a home for small creatures.

They might also become part of nature’s highway!

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp