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Murchison River Gorge - Day 2

Murchison River Gorge Index

The Gorge


It must have rained throughout the night as the air felt moisture-laden as we packed up camp that morning. After a while, the sun peaked out from the clouds and the warm rays seemed to sweep away any residue of the lingering morning dew that was left. It didn't take long for the remaining clouds to dissipate, leaving a clear azure sky in their wake, perfectly reflected in the mirror-like water of the still river.

The Gorge We set off at 08:20, continuing Northwards on our way along the riverbank. Not too soon after, I noticed a bevy of black swans (Cygnus atratus) floating silently on the river keeping a close eye on us as we passed by. The bands in the rock seemed to have gotten more pronounced here - black, grey, orange, red, and brown fissures tracing elaborate patterns both in the rockface and on the ground, the latter mixed with patches of earth and the occasional tracks of feral goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) and dogs.

The Gorge

After passing a gauge station (with winches and load bearers) of some sort at the 1.87 km mark, fields of boulders began to materialise ahead of us. There was plenty of boulder hopping from then on, being the most efficient way to navigate through the maze of immovable, ageless rocks. The cliffs seemed to have a life of their own - receding and reappearing on our right, then disappearing once again before reappearing across the river on our left - it seemed almost coy-like, the cliffs were curious about us but too shy to come over to shake our hands.

I found myself constantly being left spellbound by the layers and layers, the patterns, all the cracks and the fissures, all of which indicated the unbelievable age of the earth - the huge timescales involved to always remain unfathomable to creatures such as us who's existence occupies just a tiny, insignificant blip in time.

The Gorge

The Gorge

After walking for approximately 5km, we decided to stop by some pools of water to replenish our supply. The water was clear and (as expected) had a briny tang to it. To my surprise however, it wasn't too unpleasant to drink. The pools did have green algae lining the rocks though, so all of us made sure to treat the water prior to consumption (using the Sawyer Mini Water Filter and the Steripen Adventurer Water Purifier) in order to minimise the chances of any ill-effects - think deadly Cyanobacteria (Phylum: Cyanobacteria)!


Lingering Death


The morbid thoughts of death ended up lingering for a little while longer, for soon after we came upon a tribe of feral goats (Capra aegagrus hircus), numbering about seven perhaps, perched atop the cliff and bleating whilst looking down upon us. These feral goats have managed to displace the Black-footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale lateralis) from the area by occupying their shelters and consuming their food sources. There is good news however, as the park authorities currently have plans to reintroduce the Rock Wallaby via a program called 'Western Shield' that involves captive breeding and relocation. As soon as I passed the goats, I noticed the broad wings and the diamond-shaped tail of a Wedge-tail Eagle (Aquila audax) soaring and circling high above. The combination of the two should have made me realise that something was amiss, but I only ended up linking the two events in retrospect. Just as I was rounding a large boulder, I noticed a juvenile goat lying on its side with its neck twisted at an impossible angle, most likely caused by a fall from the cliff above. The goat was making gurgling sounds and was coughing up blood. I considered putting it out of its misery then, but at that stage it would have been dead within minutes.

Life is but a wink of eternity...

Next : Murchison River Gorge – Day 2 - Onwards (Part 2)

Murchison River Gorge Index

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