To celebrate Australia Day my friend Steve and I travelled to our favourite wilderness. Arriving early we listened to the dawn chorus and identified all the birds we could by sound. We then walked along what passes for the road and observed the animal tracks and scats to learn more of what passed in the night. We found some Quoll and Koala scats. On full light we headed off for the creek to check for tracks in the sand.
We came across the tracks of the Water Rat and the Brush-tail Possum side by side, had they stopped for a chat? After several hours of exploring unmapped tributaries we became hopelessly lost. This is fairly typical of what happens every time we come here. The old joke “we could die here’ always gets a laugh.
We found some species of plants not previously identified in the area and are content that we have done our bit for science. We snacked on some bush food and suppressed our appetites with smokes.
We observe what we called ‘explodey tree’, a forest giant so impacted by lightning that it literally exploded. Trees are sheared of in all directions, timber shards are imbedded in the ground over 50metres away. The trunk of the tree has exploded and the unsupported branches have fallen in a heap where the trunk used to be. The thought of so much force is a little confounding.
Time to have some fun and look for caves.
Crawling among the sandstone I am once again struck by the extraordinary lithology of the area, at least two types of sandstone and rare basalt intrusions. I know this was also of great interest to the original inhabitants because sandstone, conglomerate, basalt and water are great ingredients for making stone tools. Many people once lived here, the evidence is all around.
As the day was drawing to a close and we needed to find our way out we came across a very large cave. There were bones to photograph so I made my way to the back of the cave. It was then that I saw the artwork. Shaking, I almost reached out and touched it, but then the training kicked in. Observe and record but do not touch. I have never seen a more beautiful man made sight in all my life. It is a gallery, it is enormous, it is ancient, over 15 metres of cupules in at least seven distinct rows, more than 500 individual carvings.
A storm was brewing and it was time to go.
Our research later confirmed that it is indeed ancient and previously unrecorded. An art style that is consistent with a Pleistocene dating, probably more than 10 thousand years old.
As we were leaving Steve had to almost drag me into the car, I was mesmerised by the storm. I saw a bolt of pulse lightning strike the forest and am reminded of explodey tree. Time to go, now.
How better to celebrate Australia Day?
I have tried to find the cave since but have failed, I have the pictures and a rough idea of where but I always get sidetracked, another cave, an odd plant, or obscure geology. Perhaps one day I will die out there…