Carnarvon Gorge National Park – stunning rocky landscapes & tranquil rock pools

Carnarvon Gorge National Park

Description

Carnarvon Gorge National Park is home to towering cliffs, spectacular views, coloured and lush side gorges. There is a wide variety of plants and animal species like emus, wild pigs, brumbies, wallabies, kangaroos, and goannas.

There are two sections of Carnarvon Gorge National Park: Carnarvon Gorge (this is where the main walk is), and Mount Moffatt.

Carnarvon Creek winds in the middle of the gorge, between high cliffs. The main gorge walk follows the gorge at the bottom, alongside the high cliffs. From the main walk, there are sidewalks that lead to amazing places.

On top of it, you can find Aboriginal art painted on sandstone overhangs like ochre stencils, rock engravings, and freehand paintings. Aboriginal people have a long and continuing connection with the gorge.

If you look for a challenge you can attempt Carnarvon Great Walk which takes between four and six days, depending on your speed and fitness. The walk is a loop that starts and ends at Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Carnarvon Gorge National Park
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Weather

The weather in Carnarvon Gorge National Park could be really harsh in winter or summer. 

Winter is very cold with, on average, 8 nights below zero in July, so if you decide to camp you have to be really prepared with your clothing, and sleeping equipment.

In the summer months, the temperatures reach 35 degrees, so if you go for a long walk, you need to take enough water, a hat, sunscreen, and adequate clothing.

Carnarnon Gorge Average Temperatures and Rainfall
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Jan34Feb32Mar31Apr28May24Jun20Jul20Aug23Sep27Oct30Nov32Dec33Max
Jan20Feb19Mar16Apr12May8Jun5Jul3Aug4Sep9Oct13Nov16Dec19Min
Jan86Feb88Mar63Apr40May31Jun33Jul29Aug25Sep26Oct48Nov71Dec88Rain mm
Jan7Feb7Mar5Apr4May4Jun4Jul4Aug3Sep4Oct6Nov7Dec8Rain days
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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Carnarvon Gorge National Park is between March and May as well as between September and November.

The walking in these months is very pleasant as there is not too cold or too hot. If you consider challenging the Carnarvon Great Walk go in these months.

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Access & how to get there

Carnarvon Gorge Section

The main entrance to Carnarvon Gorge Section is located 152 km north of Injune, 252 km north of Roma or, if you coming from Emerald it is 240 km. For those who live in Brisbane, it is a 720 km drive.

After you take the Carnarvon Gorge turn-off to the west, there is only a 45 km stretch to do by Wyseby Road.

Carnarvon Highway (the road between Roma and Emerald) is fully sealed and Wyseby Road is a good condition bitumen and gravel road. Occasionally, the road may be closed after heavy rain as the creek levels increase rapidly.

The last stop to get fuel or do car repairs is in Rolleston or Injune.

Mount Moffatt Section

The best way to get to the Mount Moffatt section is from Mitchell via Womblebank Station. It is a 220 km drive and after the station, the road is unsealed and may be impassable after rain.

High clearance 4WD is recommended for this section as many attractions are only accessible by 4WD.

Accommodation

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Camping (Carnarvon Gorge Section)

2WD Access
Fire Pit
Toilets
No Power Sites
No Showers
Tent, Camper Site
Caravan Sites
Dogs Allowed and kenels for hire

Located 5 km from Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area and 2 km before the Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge. The road to Sandstone Park is sealed.

The park is pet friendly and kennels are available for hire on a half-daily or daily basis.

2WD Access
No Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent, Camper Site
Caravan Sites
No Dogs Allowed

Located at the doorstep of Carnarvon Gorge National Park, right where the Visitor Area and the start of the main walk are.

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Camping (Carnarvon Great Walk)

There are 5 camping areas in which you can stay only for 2 nights at each camping area. Water is available at all camping areas.

Accessed by walking
No Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent
No Dogs Allowed

Located 10 km away from Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area and can be reached by following the main gorge walk.

This campground is often used as a first night stop by hikers who take the Carnarvon Great Walk.

Gadd’s Walkers’ Camp

Accessed by walking
No Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent
No Dogs Allowed

Located amongst shady ironbarks, 15 km from Big Band Camping Area and 16 km from West Branch Walkers’ Camp.

West Branch Walkers’ Camp

Accessed by walking
No Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent
No Dogs Allowed

Located in open grassy woodland, 16 km from Gadd’s Walkers Camp and 17 km from Consuelo Camping Zone.

It is also possible to start Carnarvon Great Walk from this campground.

Consuelo Camping Zone

Accessed by walking
No Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent
No Dogs Allowed

Located high on the ‘Rooftop of Queensland’, 17 km from West Branch Walkers’ Camp and 14 km from Cabbage Tree Camping Zone.

The campground is placed on the edge of Consuelo Tableland, at 1000 meters above sea level.

Cabbage Tree Camping Zone

Accessed by walking
No Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent
No Dogs Allowed

Located in a eucalypt forest with giant cycads. It is 14 km from Consuelo Camping Zone.

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Camping (Mount Moffatt Section)

Dargonelly Rock Hole Camping Area

4WD Access
Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent, Camper Trailer
Off-Road Caravan Sites
No Dogs Allowed

Large camping ground located at the bank of Marlong Creek. Accessible by high-clearance 4WD. You can even bring your off-road caravan.

Top Moffatt Camping Area

4WD Access
Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent, Camper Trailer
No Dogs Allowed

Located beside the Maranoa River. Nested in a shady woodland with spectacular views.

Rotary Shelter Shed Camping Area

4WD Access
Fires
Toilets
No Showers
Tent
No Dogs Allowed

Located 1000 meters above sea level on the edge of the range with stunning views over the surrounding countryside.

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Caravan Parks/Resorts

2 WD Access
Camp fire
Power Sites
Cafe Shop
Tent & Cabins
No Dogs Allowed

Takarakka Bush Resort is located right at the creek and only a 5-minute drive from the mouth of the gorge.  The resort is open all year round.

They offer various accommodations including studios, cottages, cabins, Taka safari tents, and powered/unpowered camping sites.

If you are lucky you can spot a platypus in the creek.

2 WD Access
Swimming Pool
Camp fire
Power Sites
Cafe Shop
Tent & Cabins
No Dogs Allowed

It is the closest accommodation to the Carnarvon Gorge National Park entrance.

They offer safari-style cabins and a fully licensed restaurant. 

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Walks

Most of the walks in the Carnarvon Gorge Section go off the main gorge walk. All walking distances are calculated from the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area. 

Carnarvon Great Walk starts from The Big Bend where the remote hiking trail begins.

Mickey Creek Gorge Walk

Mickey Creek Gorge walk is located before the entrance to Carnarvon Gorge. This 3 km walk leads you to a narrow side gorge where you can see delicate orchids, lush ferns and brilliant green mosses. 

The sunlight does not penetrate the dense vegetation so you can enjoy the cool surrounding while walking.

Mickey Creek Gorge is a promise to what you can expect from other Carnarvon Gorge walks!

Carnarvon National Park - Mickey Gorge
Carnarvon National Park - Mickey Gorge

Rock Pool Walk

It is a short, 600 meters walk from the Rock Pool car park, and a 3.6 km walk from the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area.

This is where you can have a dip, relax and have a picnic in the shade of fig and casuarina trees. If you are quiet and lucky you may spot a platypus.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Rock Pool
Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Rock Pool

The main gorge walk

The main gorge walk winds at the bottom of the Carnarvon Gorge and ends at the Big Bend.

This 10 km trail is mostly flat, but occasionally you have to step from rock to rock or go across a shallow or dry creek.

There are short, sidewalks that go off the main trail and lead to the most beautiful attractions of the gorge.

It is recommended to start walking very early as it takes time to complete the sidewalks where you want to spend some time and enjoy it for some time.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Main Gorge Walk
Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Main Gorge Walk

Boolimba Bluff

Bulimba Bluff is the shortest route to view Carnarvon Gorge from the top of the cliff.

It is a 6.4 km walk that goes via spotted gum woodland, rainforest scrub, and later ascends sharply where you have to take various steps and ladders to finally get to the top of the cliff.

We recommend doing Boolimba Bluff in the morning and go back to Takarakka Resort. Take proper rest and do one of the short walks in the late afternoon like Takarakka Lookout (short walk accessible from the resort), Rock Pool, or Mickey Creek.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Boolimba Bluff
Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Boolimba Bluff

Moss Garden

Welcome yourself to a little oasis amongst the cliffs. 

This 7 km return walk will get you to a place where water is dripping from the small waterfall over a rock ledge making a lush and green carpet of mosses.

Make sure you stay and relax for a few minutes before venturing into the next attraction.

Amphitheathre

Next on the list, 8.6 km away,  is the Amphitheatre. 

This is where you find 60 meters deep chamber gouged from the rock by running water. The towering walls and the sunlight coming from the ceiling make it a magnificent place!

Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Amphetheatre
Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Entrance to Amphetheatre

Wards Canyon

9.2 km away from the Visitor Area you find Wards Canyon. 

There is a short, steep track to get there, but you will be rewarded with a small waterfall, beautiful side gorge and you find the world’s largest King Fern, that remembers the ancient flora of Gondwanan.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Wards Canyon

Art Gallery

Some tourists get to Carnarvon Gorge to just see the Art Gallery which is accessible by an 11 km return walk.

This spiritual place has over 2000 engravings, ochre stencils, and freehand paintings. They are all located on the 62 meters sandstone wall. 

The Art Gallery represents the best examples of stencil art in Australia.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Art Gallery
Carnarvon Gorge National Park - Art Gallery
Travel Spiced Life

If you want to visit all sidewalk attractions we recommend finishing day one at the Art Gallery and come back to your accommodation. You can walk to the Cathedral Cave and Boowinda gorge the next day by taking a direct route by the main walk.

Cathedral Cave

Located 18 km return walk from the Visitor Area. 

It is a huge eroded shelter, where Aboriginal people lived in the past.

Boowinda Gorge

Located right after the Cathedral Cave, only 100 away.

It is a spectacular gorge with sculpted walls of moss covering sandstone.

The Big Bend - end of the main gorge walk

The Big Bend is a camping area but also a great stop where you can lunch at a picnic table and use the toilet.

Right there, there is a natural pool situated beneath the sandstone cliffs of Carnarvon Gorge. You can watch catfish or turtles swim in the water.

This is normally the last stop for daily walkers. If you want to explore more you have to go beyond The Big Bend and take Carnarvon Great Walk.

Carnarvon Great Walk

It is an 87 km walk that goes in a loop starting from Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area. It is also possible to enter the trail from West Branch Walkers’ Camp.

There are 5 campgrounds located along the trail, on average 12 to 17 km away from each other.

Camping permits are required and fees apply. The permit tag and booking number have to be displayed at your campsite.

Whilst the national parks website says the walk can be completed within 6 to 7 days, the fit walkers can do it within 3 to 4 days.

The natural way of doing this walk is to walk in the morning and stay for a night at each camping area. This way you have enough time to prepare your meal, relax and enjoy the nature in the afternoon.

Download Carnarvon Great Walk topographic map

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Our Experience & Tips

At the end of March, we decided that finally, we need to visit Carnarvon Gorge National Park as we had heard so much about it.

In total we spent 4 days in the gorge, staying at Takarakka Bush Resort. The resort is located around the creek where you can spot platypus (we were not lucky).

We walked every day trying to visit all key places during our stay, and I think we succeeded.

We did not go beyond Wards Canyon, but that’s ok. We will finish it off the next time.

Nell was bravely holding the big water bottle and she never complained. We tried to take it easy and always be back at the resort when the big heat came.

This way we could enjoy the afternoons, either splashing in the creek or going for the Takarakka Lookout.

Nell was very brave and she did not complain
Nell was very brave and she did not complain

We wish we could have more time as we did not go to the Big Bend, Cathedral Cave, and Boowinda Gorge.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park is a magical place as we can recommend it to anybody.

Next time we want to challenge ourselves with Carnarvon Great Walk. Stay tuned!

Marius, Kasha and Nell at the Amphitheater
Marius, Kasha and Nell at the Amphitheater

Have you been to Carnarvon Gorge, maybe you did The Great Walk, please leave a comment below?

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