2016 mt surprise reunion travel blog

Ugly - our trusty Ultimate Tour vehicle


Double Arch - light shining through top arch

We squeezed through here

Cobbold Gorge from rocks 30m above

Entering Cobbold Gorge

Looking up 30m to helicopter

Duck Rock - so named because you need to duck

Boats used to navigate Cobbold Gorge

4/6/2016 Saturday

History of Cobbold Gorge:

Robin Hood Station is 330,000 acres. The Clark family first settled here in 1901 and it was owned by the family until Cob Terry purchased it in 1964, and brought his wife and 7 children there to live In 1971. Simon was the youngest. In the early 1990's, Simon and two friends took a small boat to the mouth of Cobbald Creek, paddled up and found Cobbold Gorge. Simon recognised the potential and he and wife Gaye, developed a tourism venture, and so begins Cobbold Gorge Tours.

The Robin Hood Station was split into 4 individually run properties owned by the Terry sons. There are 5 boys in the family, one with a property on the Tablelands, and the other 4 each having share of Robin Hood Station. Cobbold Gorge is part of the Howlong Station owned by Simon & Gaye Terry. In 2009, 4,720 hectare Cobbold Gorge Nature Reserve was established.

Today we're doing the full day Ultimate Outback Adventure tour which is only run during June, July and August, starting at 9am.

As we sat waiting for the tour leader, there were 2 other couples waiting. One man was very loud and opinionated, and wanted anyone within about 200 metres to hear what he was saying. Oh no! said we, hope he's not on our tour. But Oh yes! - he was! The other couple weren't - they were waiting for the morning tour. Bet they heaved a sigh of relief.

We were a little late starting, but as this is the first tour of the season, no doubt they will sort it out as time progresses. We were very fortunate to have two guides on the tour - one being the owner of Cobbold Gorge Tours, Simon Terry, and the other Ron from Atherton, on a refresher course, having started at the end of the season last year. Both were personable men, very friendly and helpful. We started the tour in a 1994 Toyota ute chassis bus called 'Ugly', and it was ugly. And old and tatty inside, but as we discovered, very reliable.

We drove down onto the dry Robertson riverbed, 8m of water when in flood, and along it until we turned off into Agate Creek, another dry riverbed. Our first stop was Daintree's campsite called Cave of Udullum when he surveyed the area in the 1800's and we saw some artefacts and rock art and walked through some beautiful cave and rock areas. When we stopped for morning tea, we fossicked for agates and took what we wanted, as this is all part of Simon Terry's property. Our walk then involved some steep climbs to superb rock formations including 'mushroom rock' and 'double arch' and some beautiful fresh water rock pools including 'fern pool'.

Back on the bus, leaving the riverbed and travelling up some steep tracks till we came to our lunch spot. We carried the table and food etc. to the designated area, and as we passed through a grove of trees, thousands of butterflies left the branches and flew around us. It was magical, and a sight to be seen. These are called Common Crow or Oleander butterfies which have no natural predator, as they eat something (maybe oleanders??) that makes them poisonous to anything that eats them. So they should never be extinct! A lovely fresh salad and fruit was provide for our lunch. We then went for a walk and were shown the depth of a natural spring used by the aboriginals - about 2.5 metres. It was explained how the cattle used to be mustered into Stone Yard Gully with the sandstone cliffs on both sides. More modern methods today!

The tables we set up for morning tea and lunch were left standing where we used them, for the duration of the touring season. No worries about them being stolen!

Time to start our return trip, and we stopped at the grave of pioneer John Corbett who was murdered in 1871. It is unknown who was responsible - aboriginals, Chinese gold miners, or white 'associates'? We also saw a native black orchid, but not in flower.

Before we embarked on our gorge cruise we walked up the cliffs to see it from above. Of course, Ian and Don had seen it from the helicopter yesterday, so Ian didn't bother doing this walk. Small, custom made, flat bottomed boats, virtually silent with electric motors, were our mode of transport for the gorge cruise. From the moment we entered the gorge, we were in awe. We've been through a few gorges over the years, but this takes the cake. It is only 2m wide in some places with 30m high cliffs on both sides, and 500m long. At one point Ron told us to hold our breath - absolute, total silence. It was breathtaking! There are 8 adult Johnstone River freshwater crocodiles in the gorge - 5 females and 2 males, plus one juvenile. When the eggs are laid, the temperature dictates whether they will hatch as males or females, and all are the one sex. There is a low survival rate due to land predators, and then the males also eat the young.

I cannot explain just how special it was to witness this amazing, beautiful part of our country. We will never forget it.

We were rather late getting back from the tour, returning at 5.30pm instead of 4.30. We really did get some bonus time! Our travelling companions Alan and Carol turned out not to be as loud as first expected, although Alan could be quite coarse in what he said, and numerous times Carol told him to be quiet. And sometimes it was hard to get a word in or ask a question, but all in all, a fantastic day.

It was a rush for the showers and be up at the restaurant in time for our 6.30pm dinner reservation. A fine end to a wonderful 4 days at amazing Cobbold Gorge.

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