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A Guide to Visiting Carnarvon Gorge


What's in this Guide?


Carnarvon Gorge is a breathtaking natural wonder located in Queensland, Australia, and it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive tourist destinations in the region. This ancient gorge boasts spectacular sandstone cliffs, deep gorges, and cascading waterfalls that offer visitors an unforgettable experience.


In this guide, we'll show you everything you need to know about visiting Carnarvon Gorge, including how to get there, the best time to visit, and the different hiking trails you can take. And who better to get these tips from than our guides who grew up in the area?


Walking across Carnarvon Creek

Photo Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland


HOW TO GET TO CARNARVON GORGE


Carnarvon Gorge is located in the Central Queensland Highlands, approximately 720 km northwest of Brisbane. The most common way to get to Carnarvon Gorge is by car. The main access point is via the town of Injune, which is located approximately 155km from the gorge. From Injune, take the Carnarvon Highway north for approximately 112km, and then turn left onto the sealed road at the Carnarvon Gorge National Park sign. Follow the signs for another 45 km to the park entrance. The road is now sealed the whole way in. Caution is advised during the wet season, due to Carnarvon Creek flooding during rain events.


THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CARNARVON GORGE


The best time to visit Carnarvon Gorge is during the cooler months, from April to September. The temperatures during this time are more comfortable for hiking and exploring the gorge. The summer months (October to March) can be very hot and humid, which can make hiking more challenging. Additionally, some of the trails may be closed due to flooding during the wet season (December to March). If you do find yourself visiting during the hotter months, the Rock Pool is the ideal swimming spot to cool down at the end of the day. Please note that the Rock Pool is the only spot you can swim in the National Park.


GUIDED TOUR OR NO GUIDED TOUR?


We may be a bit biased, but we really think that visiting Carnarvon Gorge with a tour guide is an entirely different experience. But it all depends on what what you want from your visit to the Gorge.


A professional guide is not just someone who helps you find your way around the park, as there are maps available that do just that. Our guides are accredited Savannah Guides, which means that they are storytellers, science communicators, cultural liaisons, conservationists, history buffs, and thought provokers. A guides job is to facilitate a deeper connection with people and place. So, if you have a thirst for knowledge and a passion for natural and cultural history, a guided tour would ensure you get the most out of your visit.

Click the link below to book a tour.


HIKING IN CARNARVON GORGE


Carnarvon Gorge offers a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging multi-day hikes. We separate the hikes into 3 main categories, Lower Gorge Section, Upper Gorge Section, and Other Trails.


Lower Gorge Section


This is a 14 km return walk that takes you through the lower section of Carnarvon Gorge. The trail takes you past stunning rock formations, ancient Aboriginal rock art, remnant rainforests, and beautiful waterfalls. The lower gorge includes the major sites of the Art Gallery, Ward's Canyon, Amphitheatre, and Moss Gardens.

This is a full-day walk with a moderate level of fitness required. You may ask why you should do this part of the gorge on a guided tour; our expert local guides help you connect on a deeper level with the ancient stories of the gorge, from its geological origins to the rare and elusive flora and fauna that many other visitors miss, as well as the deep histories of human visitation in the gorge.


The Four Main Lower Gorge Sites That You Must See


Moss Garden

Admiring the beauty of the Moss Garden

The Moss Garden is the most visited site in Carnarvon Gorge, because of its natural beauty generated by the ever present springs, likely the most productive in the whole gorge. These springs have kept the largest remnant rainforest in the gorge thriving for millennia. It is a site that must be seen while visiting the gorge.


Amphitheatre

Arguably the most impressive geological structure seen in any of the major sites in Carnarvon Gorge, the Amphitheatre is a site not to be missed, with its towering walls and adventurous entrance. The amphitheatre has been carved out by water and wind in a very unique way, that is something that needs to be seen to be believed.



Ward's Canyon


Entrance to Ward's Canyon. With the sun beaming into the stunning oasis.

Ward's Canyon is the home of the incredibly rare King Ferns (Angiopterus evecta). The very survival of these ancient relics of the past is a testament to the gorges' ability to act as a refuge for flora and fauna that has since disappeared from the surrounding landscape. Showing us a glimpse of the flora in which much of Queensland was once covered, Ward's Canyon is like stepping back in time. It has plenty of seating to enjoy your hard earned rest, and is a perfect spot to stop for lunch while you take in your surroundings.


Art Gallery


The Art Gallery is not so much a gallery of art, but an incredibly important ceremonial site of the Bidjara and Karingbal people that lived in this area for millennia. It is a site not to be visited lightly, but with utmost respect for the thousands of years of gatherings that happened in this very spot. It hosts one of the most impressive collections of aboriginal rock art found in the country, from impressive stencil art, freehand paintings, to engravings. Visiting Carnarvon Gorge without visiting the Art Gallery is like visiting Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids. There are some interpretive signs at this site, but if you truly want to gain a deeper understanding of this special place, it is important to visit with a guide.




Some Tips

  • If you are visiting these four main sites in a day, we suggest visiting the furthest destination first (Art Gallery) and then working your way back to the others.

  • The best spot to stop for lunch is Ward's Canyon, especially on those warmer days.


Upper Gorge Section


The Upper Gorge Section includes the Big Bend, Boowinda Gorge, and Cathedral Cave. A high level of fitness is required to complete this walk, especially if you are planning to do it in one day. There is a bush camp at the Big Bend if you choose to stay the night in the gorge (camping permit required through QPWS).


Big Bend


The Big Bend is, as the name suggests, a big bend in Carnarvon Creek. It is a beautiful spot where the water hugs a large sandstone cliff. There are toilets available and a small tent camping area. The walk to big bend is stunning, with many great spots to see the true beauty of the gorge in large open areas where you will be surrounded by cliffs. There are many creek crossings to get there which require very good balance and a high level of fitness. These crossings are much harder to maintain for the park rangers, so there may be instances where taking your shoes off to go through the water is necessary.



Boowinda Gorge

Boowinda Gorge is a long, winding and narrow gorge that has been carved out by water and wind over millennia. The entrance is only 50m past Cathedral cave, and the gorge extends for around 4km. Many visitors only go in about a few hundred meters, but if you wish to go further you must ensure you are well prepared and have good balance and high level of fitness, as it gets more and more difficult to continue.


Cathedral Cave

The Cathedral cave is another significant aboriginal rock art site of the Bidjara and Karingbal people. This site has been visited by countless people for ceremony and gatherings over millennia. It is a site like no other in the region, with a large overhang that keeps the rock art protected. For those making it up this far into the gorge, it is a site worth visiting, and really taking in. There are informative signs to ensure you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the people who once gathered here and the deep spiritual meanings of the rock art.



Boolimba Bluff

Admiring the view from Boolimba Bluff in Carnarvon Gorge.

This is a challenging 6.4 km return hike that takes you to the top of Boolimba Bluff, which offers stunning views of Carnarvon Gorge and the surrounding area.

A moderate level of fitness is required for this walk. Allow 3 hours.




Mickey Creek & Warrumbah Gorge


Embark on a thrilling rock-hopping adventure as you venture into a narrow side gorge following the creek, and enter a different world. 3km return walk.

While you are in Mickey Creek, make sure to also visit Warrumbah Gorge, which is just off the track. This is a great walk for those that want to see one of the most spectacular parts of the area on a shorter walk. Allow 1.5 hours.


Nature Trail


This is the shortest walk in the Carnarvon Gorge, giving you a snapshot of the unique flora and fauna that make it their home. There is a chance to see a platypus in the creek if you visit in the early or late hours of the day.

Allow 1 hour. 1.5km loop.

Platypus swimming in Carnarvon Creek.

Platypus in Carnarvon Creek - Photo Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland


Big Bend Track


This is a 20km return walk that takes you to Big Bend, a beautiful section of the Carnarvon Gorge where you can relax by the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery. While you are visiting the Big Bend, it is also highly recommended to visit the Cathedral Cave and Boowinda Gorge. Allow a full day, and leave early if you want to have time to explore.


Walking Track Map


A map of the walking tracks in Carnarvon Gorge.


CAMPING & ACCOMMODATION IN CARNARVON GORGE


There is a diverse range of accommodation options located conveniently close to the gorge, with something to suit every type of traveller. Whether you prefer air-conditioned cabins, spacious caravan sites, cozy tent sites, or something in between, you're sure to find the perfect option for your stay.

During the peak season (April to October), it's important to book your accommodation well in advance to avoid disappointment. So, make sure to plan ahead and secure your booking to guarantee a comfortable and enjoyable stay in this breathtaking area.


The accommodation providers closest to the gorge are:


Breeze Holiday Park (Formerly Takarakka Bush Resort)

Breeze Holiday Park offers a range of accommodation options, including cabins, glamping tents, and powered and unpowered campsites.


The Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area (National Park)

Only open during school holidays in peak season. The Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area offers basic facilities and unpowered sites only.


Sandstone Park (Unpowered Caravan Sites)

This is a new caravan park with spectacular views of the Carnarvon Ranges. It is also pet-friendly. Self contained camping only, although they do have toilets available.


Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge

Offering accommodation in the form of safari-style cabins. There is now a restaurant open for breakfast and dinner.


 


Mobile Phone Service

Please be aware that the local phone reception is extremely limited. The National Park Visitors Centre has a Telstra phone available for use, and there is a small Optus tower near the accommodation. However, during peak times when the gorge is busy, it may be difficult to obtain reception.


Nearest Fuel Stations

There is unfortunately no fuel available at Carnarvon Gorge. The nearest fuel station is located in Rolleston which is 108km to the north. Alternatively there is fuel available in Injune which is 155km to the south.


Food Options

The closest place to get groceries is Spar in Injune. Please note they are only open weekdays and until 1pm on Saturdays. Larger shopping centres are available in Roma, or Emerald.

Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge has recently announced they will be re-opening their restaurant for breakfast and dinner from the 26th March, 2024. Breeze Holiday Park is also also opening a cafe in 2024. Generally it is best to ensure you have plenty of food with you when you visit the gorge just in case there is none available locally here.




A vehicle making its way by road to Carnarvon Gorge.

Photo Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland


FINAL THOUGHTS


Carnarvon Gorge is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Queensland, Australia. The stunning natural beauty of the gorge, combined with the variety of hiking trails and camping options, make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Make sure to plan ahead and book your camping spot well in advance, and don't forget to bring your camera!


Keep in mind that we have guided tours available of the main sites of Carnarvon Gorge. What sets our guided tour apart from other ways of exploring the gorge is the expert knowledge and guidance of our local guides. With their deep understanding of the area's geological origins and rare flora and fauna, they'll help you connect with the gorge on a much deeper level, enriching your experience of this ancient landscape.

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