STORYTIME | HOW I GOT US LOST IN THE CENTRAL QUEENSLAND BUSH

STORYTIME | HOW I GOT US LOST IN THE CENTRAL QUEENSLAND BUSH

Here I go again, digging up repressed memories in order to put a little bit more about the type of person I am onto the Internet. Why do I do this?

It’s story time again! I haven’t gone into the details about this particular tale to anyone before, really, but it is travel related, and THAT’S WHAT THIS BLOG IS ALL ABOUT! As most of my readers know, I went on another road trip with my family in 2016 to the central Queensland Bush; Rockhampton and Carnarvon Gorge particularly. Before I explain anything more, let me point out that this was probably the biggest flop of a trip my family and I have ever taken; mostly everything just went to shit from the moment we left Rockhampton. But here’s the plot twist; guess who planned absolutely everything to do with this trip? Yep, me.

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I set out the arrival and departure dates, I chose the places we visited, I booked the accommodation, I booked the activities we did, and I even traced out the particular routes and roads we would take; and this is where shit hit the fan.

Our first three days in Rockhampton we’re perfectly smooth sailing. Our accommodation was alright, the weather was nice, the activities booked we’re enjoyable, and we overall had a great time. After the three days in Rockhampton the plan was to get back on the road again and head to Carnarvon Gorge; a beautiful national park situated in the middle of the Central Queensland Bush.

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We left Rockhampton at 7:30am, caravan loaded- oh, and by the way, it’s probably the right time to mention that the caravan we had was not an off-road caravan, i’ll get to this later- bags packed, and us people were strapped into our people mover. Dad was the driver, Mum was in the passenger seat, and my brother, sister and I were loaded into the backseats. I had put the caravan park location for Carnarvon Gorge into the GPS and was confident that we would get there in four and a half hours.

My plan- as supported by the GPS- was to drive 117 kilometres (1 hour and 20 minutes) along the Capricorn Highway out of Rockhampton until we reached a small locality called Duaringa. Once we hit Duaringa, we would turn left off of the Capricorn Highway onto a road called Fitzroy Developmental Road and continue down this road for 103 kilometres (1 hour and 5 minutes) until we hit another small town called Bauhinia. We would turn right at Bauhinia and drive for 74 kilometres (45 minutes) to Rolleston and from Rolleston we would make our way 60 kilometres (35 minutes) down to Rewan.

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Now, I knew that from Rewan to the caravan park we would encounter around 11 kilometres of dirt road. I made my parents aware of this and did the research and found that conditions were good enough along this dirt road for any vehicle or caravan- whether off-road or not- to travel along. The GPS also made it aware that there was a dirt road because it gave me an alert saying ‘dirt roads are along your route’ after I entered in our destination address.

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Remember that this was the plan. Now, this is what actually happened…

We left Rockhampton, drove 117 kilometres down the Capricorn Highway to Duaringa and turned off at Fitzroy Developmental Road. At around 60 kilometres down this road, my whole family and I realised that the road was getting quite shitty, and the terrain was very dodgy; but being the Australian bush, this isn’t uncommon, shitty roads are inevitable.

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Fast forward another five kilometres, we ran into a little problem, well massive problem actually, the road turned to red dirt.

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What’s so bad about that, Racquel? It’s just a dirt road?

Remember how I said the caravan we had was not off-road? That was an issue. And you know what made this issue even worse? It wasn’t even our caravan. We borrowed it from my Uncle. Being weary, we made our way around five kilometres, very slowly, down this dirt road before we saw a car coming the other direction and Dad desperately put his hand out the window, trying to make this car pull over, so we could ask how long the road went for. The kindest lady answered with “another 20 or so kilometres”.

Fuck.

I was so screwed, this was my fault. Dad had a rage. In his rage, himself and every other family member of mine were asking me questions. “What’s the name of this road, Racquel?” was one question. In my head, it clicked, the road was called ‘Fitzroy DEVELOPMENTAL road”; you are a fucking idiot, Racquel. Hestintantly, I answered ‘Fitzroy Developmental Road’, and there it went. “The name’s pretty explanatory isn’t it Racquel?” was something along the lines of what my Dad said.

Wait, there’s more.

“Didn’t the GPS tell you this Racquel?!”. And another clicked in my head. The GPS warning about dirt roads along this route was actually pointing towards this dirt road, not the 11 kilometre one at Rewan. I explained this and, more yelling occurred. We decided to turn around and travel the 65 kilometres back to Duaringa and find another way to get to Carnarvon Gorge before dark.

I was on the brink of tears. This was all my fault. Two simple, obvious occurances happened that I was completely oblivious to. We had just spent two hours driving, only to turn around and drive another hour back and only be 117 kilometres out of Rockhampton. I think my family saw how upset I was despite me trying to hide my crying face and red, watery eyes against the car window, behind sunglasses, because they ended apologising and saying something like “we shouldn’t have let you organise all this alone, we should have helped you”, and this made me feel a little bit better.

So what did we do? From Duaringa, we continued along the Capricorn Highway for 155 kilometres (1 hour and 40 minutes) through Dingo, Bluff, Blackwater (where we stopped for some much needed McDonalds) and Comet to a city centre of the Queensland Bush, a town called Emerald. From Emerald we travelled 140 kilometres (1 hour and 30 minutes) south through Springsure to Rolleston. At Rolleston we stopped to get bread and milk and some souvenirs as this was the last town with shopping facilities before hitting Injune (which is around 130 kilometres south from Carnarvon Gorge National Park).

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At around 5:00pm we finally set up camp at Carnarvon Gorge, and it was the most satisfying, least stressful part of my day. Carnarvon Gorge was actually beautiful though, and we had a fab time. That was the story of how I got us completely lost in the Central Australian Bush.

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Racquel Hardie
Racquel Hardie

A twenty-something Aussie girl with a love for exploring this world and telling her stories.

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