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Carnarvon Gorge trip Part 1 – the long drive (17-18 April)

Mum and Dad arrive at 3pm to pick me up from work. I’m ready to go and excited about the days ahead. It’s a long drive to Carnarvon National Park. We estimate 500km (300 miles) but in reality, it ends up being almost 800km (500 miles). It’s a big difference but for now, we’re just heading west to Oakey where Mum’s booked us a campsite for the night. The drive to Oakey is uneventful. We miss the Easter holiday and commuter traffic as we drive the boring and slow Ipswich Motorway and, before I know it, we’re up the top of the range driving through Toowoomba and back down the other side.

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We stay at the tiny but pleasant Oakey Camp Ground. The camp ground is just a mown grass block of land adjoining the local weighbridge and haulage company. We pitch our tents and I enjoy the serenity of my first night under canvas since selling the house. I have brought some packets of Heinz curries with rice that will be easy to cook and suggest we eat them at the picnic tables in the park across the road. It’s already dark so it’s great to have a delicious and easy meal.

I sleep well and am up early. Mum and Dad are still sleeping so I walk through Oakey township, stopping to do some exercises at the Exersite facility. By the time I return, an hour later, it’s getting light so I grab my study books to catch up on what I’ve missed the past couple of months. My parents get up a little later so I put on the billy to boil hot water for their coffees and my hot chocolate. A feed of bacon and eggs follows before we hit the road.

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We stop in Miles for lunch. It’s Good Friday so not much is open but then we see a Fisho parked on the side of the road. Given that prawns are a traditional food that we Queenslanders eat at just about every festive occasion I shouldn’t be surprised to see him parked here hundreds of kilometres from the coast. We buy half a kilo of prawns and stop at a nearby park to enjoy them on bread rolls. It’s wonderful to be eating in a country park surrounded by bottle trees and historic items.

From my place in the back seat of the car, I watch the scenery pass us by. At first we drive through crop fields but, slowly, the landscape changes as we enter the more open beef country where houses are few and far between. It’s a long drive and I use some time to continue catching up on study, sleep and finish reading some books I had saved on my phone.

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It’s about 5pm by the time we arrive at Takaraka Bush Resort. It’s a beautiful bush camp just 5km from the Carnarvon National Park visitor centre. It’s a popular holiday camping destination for families, despite it being in the middle of nowhere. We can select any unpowered site in a certain area. We select a spot under some funny-looking trees (I don’t have enough internet service here to look up the tree names) and settle in for the night.

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