The other QueenslandPosted: August 20, 2012
Not ready to release my grip on the coast, I lobbied for a night at a town renamed in 1970 to a number (once known as Round Hill), to commemorate the second landing by James Cook on the HM Bark Endeavour. Queensland Roads has clearly struggled with references to the tiny coastal village of 1770, variously referring to it as Seventeen Seventy and The Town of 1770, to distinguish its name from the distance it will take to get there. With 300 days of sunshine a year, and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, I marvelled that this relaxed gem of a swimming, fishing, crabbing spot had not yet been plunged into the shadow of a multi-story development. At sunset, people march fitfully down to the beach with their camping chairs and stubbies to witness the earths rotation away from the sun. Armed with a chilly beverage, I elected to enjoy the moment from the perfectly unassuming beachside restaurant deck, and conclude enthusiastically to strangers that this was precisely the kind of deck I always wanted.
We often get our best itinerary inspiration via strangers extolling virtues, or more often grim commentary, or one place or another. Carnarvon Gorge had various warnings about some road closures, as a result of the Queensland floods, but claimed 2WD and caravans could get in, so we would romp in. The mud bath of a road, grey skies and damp surroundings evaporated as soon as a wee echidna crossed our path. A local ranger gathered campers each night around a huge fire, for a chat about the place, its heritage, 20,000 year old Aboriginal rock art, giant ferns (Angiopteris) and tiny orchids. Most of the gorges and spots to walk to lead off from a 22 km return walk up the riverbed with multiple river crossings. The ranger cautioned against doing them all in one day, or even tackling the increasingly trickier rock hopping. I had looked at a 5 day tour (often a good way to plan your own trip). As the words left his mouth, I somehow knew the Team Expresso Tour would knock the lot off by afternoon tea the next day.
I lasted about 34 minutes before the first foot went in the drink. By noon, the meagre provisions had halved to one piece of chocolate and a mandarin, but the magical, other worldly, ancient places we got to see were worth every step Sherpa Tense-ing dragged my tripod, and multiple heavy lenses. By 3pm, we were back at the info centre with plummeting good humour along with our blood sugar, and unspoken expectation that there better be some photography magic in that 25 kilo backpack. Flat light all day told me it would be magical in our minds alone.