The Road Ahead : April May 2009
QLD GREAT ESCAPE TRAVEL + LIFESTYLE It’s so natural, so untouched. It hasn’t been visited by 80,000 tourists a year and I think that’s really special. It’s an unexpected and extraordinary view. Make your way to the lookout at the entry to Lonesome National Park, near Injune, and you’ll gaze down upon a broad valley of verdant grasslands, forests and farms, flanked on either side by towering sandstone cliffs marching off to the horizon. Arcadia Valley is in Central Queensland’s Sandstone Belt, about two hours drive north of Roma. In Greek mythology, Arcadia was a pastoral paradise favoured by the gods. Rowan Peart agrees wholeheartedly with the definition, apart from the small qualification that this particular paradise was won with back-breaking human effort. The young grazier’s father was among the pioneers who cleared the valley of dense brigalow scrub in the 1960s to create viable grazing lands. Like his dad, Rowan is something of a pioneer himself. Two years ago, he opened a farmstay called ‘Arcadia Valley Escape’, enticing travellers heading through to Canarvon Gorge to take the detour off the highway and discover the delights of the valley he calls home. Visitors can settle in at the cottage or homestead. Neither are fi ve-star but they are clean, comfortable and conveniently kitted out with linen, crockery and appliances. The nearest grocery store is an hour away, so you need to bring all your provisions, but Rowan does offer camp oven dinners as a respite to home cooking. He might even fi re up the Car-BQ – a barbie he built from the front end of an old 1930s’ bus. For an additional fee, Rowan will also be your guide.A four-wheel-drive tour takes in the cattle operations on the property but Rowan’s expedition into the mountains is where things really get off the beaten track. “Expedition Range runs along the eastern side of the valley,” Rowan said. “It was named by Ludwig Leichhardt when he came through this area in 1844. And he named Carnarvon Range which borders the valley in the west.” The landscape is remote and ancient. A challenging hike through bushland dotted with rocky outcrops brings you to a sandstone overhang decorated with Aboriginal hand-prints and paintings. “We accidentally discovered this place while fighting bushfires,” Rowan said. “It’s so natural, so untouched. It hasn’t been visited by 80,000 tourists a year and I think that’s really special.” At sunset, the sandstone cliffs glow ochre red and it’s a great time to settle in beside the dam with a drink and a pair of binoculars. Rowan’s built two rustic bird-hides at the water’s edge – the Treehouse and Foxhole. “Last year, a bird-watching group stayed here and, in fi ve days, they’d found 154 different species, which is fantastic.” At the northern end of the valley, there’s another watery haven for winged visitors which is well worth a look: Lake Nuga Nuga. Once a year, its surface erupts in pink and purple water lilies. LEFT: GRAZIER ROWAN PEART WITH CHANNEL 7’S JESSICA SKARRATT. RIGHT, FROM TOP: LAKE NUGA NUGA. VIEWS OF THE VALLEY. MAKES YOUR DAY visit roadahead.com.au MORE INFO APR/MAY 2009 THE ROAD AHEAD 33 ESSENTIAL INFO WATCH: Channel 7 at 5.30pm on Saturday, May 9 as Queensland Weekender’s Jessica Skarratt explores the beautiful Arcadia Valley, in central Queensland. PLAN: Prepare for your trip to central Queensland with RACQ’s trip planner, at racq.com.
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June July 2009