By the time we got to Galvin’s Gorge, we’d been on the Gibb 12 days, and I was getting into it. So many adventures to be had!
After stopping at Galven’s Gorge, we arrived at Manning Gorge campground in mid-afternoon and set up the tent in the heat. It was packed with tour buses and camper trailers, caravans and tents and just three toilets for men and women.
Then, just a few meters from the campsite, we saw why it was so crowded. There was a perfect swimming hole, complete with island rocks. “It looks manmade,” Lee said, “like a resort.” The water was clear and cool and there was a little boat attached to a rope so that you could pull yourself across the river, which the kids did all afternoon.
That evening we dined on chicken Lee had bought at the roadhouse. I looked at the label and noticed that it had been frozen for nearly a year, so I made a curry to mask the freezer-burn, but the texture was similar to an old boot.
We were awoken before dawn by the sounds of heavy snoring. Or maybe cattle? When I zipped open the trailer tent and stepped outside, I realised it was both—the couple next to us snoring loudly (their son slept in a swag outside the caravan) and two cows moaning at each other in the next campsite. Cows are everywhere on the Gibb, originally a “beef road”.
K and I left early to walk to Manning gorge. K pulled us across on the boat and we set off through grasses, past boabs, over rocks and boulders.
As we walked, I taught K the terms “first” and “third-person” and we talked about the advantages and limitations of these different points of view. K, who’s written four stories on this trip (three more than I have) talked about why she chose the POV she did for the various stories. And I figured that was home school for the day.
Soon, we were standing in front of the falls. We’d walked there in just half an hour and it wasn’t crowded yet. We were hot from the walk, which didn’t have any shade, and dove into the massive pool beneath the falls.
A teenage boy did a backflip from the top of the falls into the gorge and I saw K watch with envy. She’s not allowed to go more than a meter under water, or she could lose the rest of hearing.
When the boy came up, I asked how deep he’d gone. “A meter and a half, and I’m 80 kilos.”
“OK,” I said to K, “you won’t go too deep.”
K scrambled up the rocks to the top of the falls. And stood, looking down, terrified. I climbed up behind her.
“You jump first,” she said. I jumped and it reminded me of all the impossibly high rocks my late brother, Mark used to get me to jump off of when I was K’s age. I plunged into the water and turned around to look at K standing anxious on the rock ledge. I counted to three with my fingers and, to my surprise, she held her nose and leapt off the rock, flying through the air. When she came up, she was exultant. “I did it!”
We had lunch on the rocks and another swim and walked back to camp.
That afternoon, we read books in the shade. It was hot. K looked at me, her cheeks red, her hair stringy from the river water, and sighed and said, “I love the Gibb.”