Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Long, hot walk, with unwanted guests

[Kyle]Continuing our journey to the South, we stopped next at Kalbarri National Park, a lower altitude Karijini, this time with yellow sand, rather than red. Once within the boundaries of the park we had about 25km to drive on a corrugated road to our first stop, an overlook, called “Z-Bend”. Turning off the virtually empty road we were shocked to pull into a full parking lot and find 10’s of tour busses, and plenty of camper vans. There were large groups of people everywhere, milling around and waiting for their guide to show them the overlook. We could not believe the crowds. We figured it was because of its proximity to Perth, making it an easy day trip for the tour companies. As we walked to the short trail head we were set upon by swarms of black flies. Fortunately they didn’t seem to bite, but they were inexhaustible in their persistence in buzzing around and in landing on our faces. Further down the trail the flies got worse, until eventually we each had several dozen joining us in our hike. Maryanne had heard about the “Aussie wave”, which we each soon took up, the constant hand waving over the face to dissuade the flies. We persisted to the overlook, which was full from one end to the other with tour groups, but amazingly they soon left and we again had a treasure of a site to ourselves. Despite the stunning views, it was hard to really take in and enjoy it fully as we were so distracted and irritated by the flies. We beat a hasty retreat to the car, and headed for our main focus in the park – a 8km hike from “Nature’s Window”. The hike circles around an ox-bow of the River Murchison, starting from the gorge rim and climbing down to the waters’ edge.

The gorge was spectacular, and after we passed Nature’s Window (a natural arch through which a great gorge vista can be viewed) we had the trail to ourselves, that is except for the flies that joined us. The gorge was a breathtaking vista of sandstone sculpted by wind and water, the rock was made of alternating layers of red and white, giving a striated appearance from the side and circles and swirls from above and below. There were amazing outcrops and overhangs at every turn, adding to the dramatic views. Maryanne even managed to track and successfully spot a red kangaroo, which did its usual trick of vanishing entirely as soon as it hit the bushes and we could never find it again after that. Once the track climbed down to the river’s edge, we followed along sand stone shelves, passed caves and under overhangs for a while, before the trail then gave way to deep soft sand. The sun was high in the sky and there was little shade to be found, and all the while the flies seemed to be harassing us, and inviting their mates to join in the fun. Maryanne and I hardly spoke to each other for the whole hike, not because we weren’t getting along, but because an open mouth was an invitation for half a dozen flies to get sucked in. As it was, several still made it in through my nose, resulting in coughing, spitting, and snorting fits. All the while in our heads we were reminded of Jock’s comment the previous night: “Oh, they aren’t that bad yet”, apparently they get bigger, and more insistent as the season goes on.

Kalbarri National Park

By the end of the hike, the heat, the deep sand and the flies had turned it into an exercise of misery and endurance. Neither of us was looking up at the views any longer, we were just counting the steps to our nice, enclosed, air conditioned, fly free car.

Earlier in the day we had a chuckle at the tourists from the busses wearing face nets. Now, there was nothing in this world we wanted more. Once back in the car the first thing we did after leaving the park was head to the nearest town and buy cold drinks and a face net for Maryanne. {Maryanne: Kyle was convinced there would be no further fly incidents and that he would not need a fly net... convinced he could save a few bucks, but he knew there was no way he could convince me to do the same, and he didn’t even dare try}.

Leaving town, we headed to a rest stop that allows free camping further up the Murchison River. We pulled off the road and once down by the river and around the corner, we saw what must have been 200 other people camping. It took us a while to find a rock free spot to pitch our tent (Everyone else was in an RV). Sure enough getting setup turned out to be a nightmare in a cloud of flies; Maryanne tried hard (apparently) not to look too smug wearing her face net, and free from irritation. On the way into the camp we saw someone sitting in a deck chair eating dinner under her mosquito bed net, not a good sign.

1 comment:

Mommy Dearest said...

Beautiful area, but are you serious that the flies get worse than this later in the season? Misery!