Murchison River Gorge - Day 4

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A New Day Dawns

It was a beautiful morning when we broke camp, with clear skies, and an absolutely still, mirror-like river. It felt a little chilly at first since the river still lay deep in the gorge's shadow, but I didn't really notice it too much with the delightful twittering and the chirping of the birds that surrounded me. The Sun left the gorge basking in its warm radiance as it rose higher in the sky, dispelling any chills that still remained. This soft, almost lateral sunlight helped to accentuate the shapes of the rocks and boulders, with their long shadows, the light reflecting off the pools of water, causing the algae in the water to seem to almost glow with a green sheen and bringing out a little shimmer in the sandstone.

Morning Dawns

The Gorge

Spiderwebs were ubiquitous here, strung up with delicate precision between the huge boulders and glinting in the sun. Despite their prevalence, I don't think that I ever got tired of looking at them, and couldn't help stopping to admire the work that was put in, almost each and every time. Some of the spiderwebs were enormous, easily over a metre in length; the spiders, on the other hand, were tiny in comparison, an almost indiscernible dot hidden within the filaments.

As I walked, my peripheral vision would occasionally catch the silver flash of a fish jumping out of the water trying to catch a hovering insect, but each time my head swung around to look, only tiny ripples remained. The breeze would also pick up every now and then, leaving little ripples in the water that glimmered in the light, and when it did I would always wonder if I had really seen those little flashes of silver at all...

The Gorge

The Gorge

Next : Murchison River Gorge – Day 4 - Little Z (Part 2)

Murchison River Gorge Index

Murchison River Gorge Index

Little Z-Bend

At the 4.2 km mark, the grass seemed a lot healthier, greener somehow. As I rounded a large boulder, I saw the trickle of a small waterfall above rocks that were stained with black algae, and felt the air laden with moisture. Small, 'tall sundews' (Drosera auriculata) lined the bottom of those black rocks, appearing almost dainty-like, but harbouring a malicious intent: these tiny, carnivorous herbs use sticky fluid on their tentacles to capture small insects, before the enzymes in the fluid partially dissolve the body to provide them with nutrients.


Peculiar Tree

We came upon a peculiar dead tree [note: the foliage in the image belongs to the trees behind] approximately 500 metres from the waterfall. The tree sprouted out of a round depression that was filled with murky, algae-filled water. I was fascinated by the whole scene - wondering what had happened to the tree, and how a depression like that had come about.

The gorge opened up with vast expanses of boulders at the 5.5 km mark. The river broadened out and the water became a lot calmer; the huge overhangs on the West bank, and the imposing cliffs that surrounded the area made everything seem majestic. This was it - the Little Z-Bend.

360 Panorama

Little Z

The gorge seemed to fluctuate over time. The walls would close in on us, often to the point where traversing was required, and cause everything to go deathly silent; the gorge would then open up, and the familiar sounds of trickling water and twittering birds would return. The cliffs however, would always soar up and around us, and the contrast always remained - the green, frilly algae in the terraces underwater and the azure skies, with the deep red and orange sandstone.

Looking closer, one would be able to see all sorts of stories written in the rocks - from fossilised tidal patters and curlicue patterns made by tiny clam shells, to unexplained shapes such as the huge almost perfect semi-circle. There were also the ubiquitous spiders of course, and they came in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Ubiquitous Spiders

The largest spider that I saw was a huge female Australian golden orb weaver spider (Nephila edulis) - the name referring to the golden colour of the strong silk that it weaves, so strong in fact that it can ensnare small birds. This species is one of the largest spiders that can be found in Australia, and this specimen had a torso that was easily 5cm across and had a swollen abdomen, one that was most likely filled with eggs.

This species shows pronounced sexual dimorphism - the phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species, such as body size, morphology, and ornamentation - with the large females staying upside down in the center of the web and the much smaller males on the outskirts. The female has also been known to kill and eat the male after mating, and considering that the Nephila spiders are also considered a delicacy in New Guinea, this genus must be tasty indeed!

Golden Orb Weaving Spider

Sexual dimorphism of the Australian golden orb weaver spider (Nephila edulis)--the male is on the left whilst the much bigger female is on the right


Golden Orb Weaving Spider

Next : Murchison River Gorge – Day 4 - Little Z (Part 3)

Murchison River Gorge Index

Murchison River Gorge Index

Setting Up Camp

We decided to stop for camp just before the Z-Bend. We crossed the river to the East bank and found an area that was flat and sheltered enough to set up camp. The camp ended up being perfect for my Hennessy Hammock, as I was able to loop my tree-protector around a large pillar that had a multitude of bands running through it, and then string the ridge line of my hammock across to a young River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). The ground underneath my hammock was decorated with patterns, swirls, and ripples; and the river water was fresh and invigorating.

The Gorge


The warm afternoon sun left me feeling a little weary however, especially after the day's walk, but the cool breeze that would occasionally waft through kept me comfortable. I was left entertained by the songs of birds chirping and twittering away without a worry in the world - that it until the sounds of a hunting kestrel (Falco sp.) were added to the medley.

The clear, azure sky that lay above me was an indication of the brilliant, starry night that lay ahead.

The Delta Aquarids

The Delta Aquarids

Hammock with the Milky Way as a backdrop

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats


Download file: Murchison River Gorge – Day 4.gpx

Next : Murchison River Gorge – Day 5 - 4-Ways

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