Visiting Carnarvon Gorge in Summer has its pros and cons. On the upside, there are fewer visitors to contend with and some of our summer migrants, such as little red flying foxes and dollarbirds, have arrived to breed. On the downside, the weather can be challenging with high maximum temperatures, storms, and local flooding all possible. So how can you enjoy the Gorge and take care of yourselves at the same time? We've got some hot tips to help you do exactly that.
Stay on top of the weather forecast. Forecasts are never 100% accurate, but they are a good place to start. We check the forecasts for Carnarvon Gorge, Rewan (a property just outside the Gorge) and the nearest towns, Rolleston, Injune, and Springsure. One of those forecasts is usually pretty close to what occurs at the Gorge and will help you plan both your itinerary and what to take with you. However, you should always be prepared for the unpredictable, to some degree. Always have a light raincoat, a torch, and a first-aid kit with an emergency blanket for your walks in Summer.
Do the bulk of your walking early! Michelle and I will pack brekky, smoko, yummy track snacks, and hit the walking trails at first light. We'll also plan to get out of the Gorge by lunchtime before the hottest part of the day arrives. The added benefit of this approach is that it avoids the time of day when storms are most likely to develop - in the afternoon when things get hot! The Gorge is not a safe place to be when strong winds and lightning associated with an energetic storm cell pass through.
Walk out as far as you plan to, and visit the side-gorges on the way back. We recommend this no matter what time of year, because it places you in the coolest parts of the landscape during the warmest part of the day. You'll use less water this way, and have the opportunity to cool down by resting in places like Wards Canyon and the Amphitheatre, with their natural air-conditioning. It will also break up the length of time you are exposed to the sun in the open Gorge in between those cool rest stops.
Take more water than you think you'll need. You never know when your party's plans might change due to curiosity, injury, or illness up the track. Having spare water is invaluable if you wind up being exposed to the elements for longer than expected. An alternative is to carry a fuel stove and a billy, for then you can boil the creek water and make it safe to drink if the need arises.
Stick a big verandah on your head and take a neck-cloth. The wider the brim of your hat the better. If you have a bandana or a spare tea-towel, take it along. Moisten it in the creek every time you cross, and whizz it around in the air to cool it before draping it around your neck. This is a great way to take the sting out of a hot day.
Drink small quantities of water frequently as you walk. By matching the rate at which your body is losing water (through sweating) you can greatly reduce the risk of dehydration. An easy way to know you're balancing this well is to monitor the colour of your urine - it should be clear if you are taking enough water in. If it's bright or dark yellow, then you're not drinking enough. Make sure you know how to recognise the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and how to treat them. Heat-related conditions are not things to take lightly and there have already been several rescues this Summer due to walkers being either unprepared for conditions in the Gorge, or unaware of how to deal with heat-related health problems when they arose. Follow this link to Queensland Health's information on heat-related conditions.
We hope some of these tips come in handy for Summer users of Carnarvon Gorge. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!