Cobbold Gorge – bespoken beauty in the remote Queensland

Cobbold Gorge - View from the Glass Bridge

Nestled far away from civilisation in the rugged wilderness of North Queensland, Cobbold Gorge is regarded as the most secluded gorge in Queensland. Though not as big as other known gorges in Australia, such as Karijini National Park or the Kings Canyon, it offers a unique charm and picturesque beauty of Australian outback.

This narrow gorge is made of rugged sandstone formations and has 30-meter cliffs that close down at the bottom to just 2 meters in some places.

The best and only way to admire its beauty is via the guided tour. The tour has to be booked and due to the short season, we recommend doing it in advance. If you drive there without booking you may be disappointed.

In addition to exploring the breathtaking gorge, there is plenty other activities, including bushwalking, birdwatching, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, scenic flights, and mountain biking.

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Whether it’s a peaceful paddle down the river, an exhilarating mountain bike ride through rugged terrain, or a scenic flight over the stunning landscape, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this remarkable destination.

But first, you have to get here via some dirt road of the Queensland outback.

Cobbold Gorge Glass Bridge
Cobbold Gorge Glass Bridge

How to get to Cobbold Gorge

Located in the Etheridge Shire, this remote destination is a popular attraction in the Gulf Savannah region, offering visitors an unforgettable experience.

Getting to Cobbold Gorge requires some planning and effort, but the journey is well worth it. To reach this secluded destination, visitors can choose to drive from Cairns or Normanton, with both routes offering stunning scenery along the way.

The journey to Cobbold Gorge is an adventure in itself, with a scenic drive through the stunning outback landscapes, passing through charming towns like Georgetown and stopping for a meal at the iconic Goldfields Hotel.

Cobbold Gorge is located in the heart of the Savannah Region on the working cattle property and owned by The Terry family.

The best access to the gorge from the north is via the Gulf Developmental Highway and then by 85 km sealed road. The final stretch of the journey is a 6km unsealed Forsayth road leading to the gorge, which can take around 30-45 minutes to navigate.

Going from the south can be done by following Kennedy Developmental Road (coming from Hughenden or Lynd Highway (coming from Charter Towers). Both roads are sealed.

Note that the final 46 km from Forsayth is an unsealed part.

For those who prefer not to drive, there are also guided tours available that depart from Cairns and provide transportation to the gorge. The drive from Cairns to Cobbold Gorge is approximately 520 kilometers, and depending on the route taken and any stops along the way, it can take between 7-9 hours to drive.

Cobbold Gorge Road Conditions

Apart from the various unsealed sections, the road conditions are generally good. You can expect some corrugations on the way, but the dirt roads are graded frequently.

If you come at the beginning or at the end of the season (May, October), you may get some rain that can make the roads unpassable, so before coming always check the weather forecast.

About Cobbold Gorge

It is a narrow, steep-sided gorge that was formed over millions of years by the erosion of ancient sandstone rock formations. The sandstone is characterised by its reddish-brown color and its distinctive layering, which is visible in the walls of the gorge.

The gorge is approximately 30 meters high and 6 meters wide at its narrowest point, and is surrounded by the rugged and ancient rock formations of the Constance Range.

The gorge is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna, including the rare freshwater crocodile, which is considered a living fossil.

Cobbold Gorge Tour

Due to the fragile ecosystem of the gorge, access to the gorge is by guided tour only. These guided tours provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding of the geological, ecological, and cultural significance of the gorge, making it a truly enriching experience.

The gorge tour is the main attraction of everyone’s visit. The tour starts from the main reception where everybody gets on the bus that drives to the gorge. Usually, there are two groups going to the gorge.

The first group does the gorge escarpment walk while the second group is in the boat down in the gorge.

The tour lasts three hours. The guides are very knowledgeable providing all information about the gorge and its geology plus some other interesting stories related to the area.

The loop walk goes via the recently added Glass Bridge, where you can admire the gorge from the top.

After the walk, it is time for the boat cruise and to enjoy the gorge from the inside. If you are lucky you may spot freshwater crocodiles.

Cobbold Gorge Camping

There is a variety of camping options to suit all rigs. You can choose between caravan sites, power sites with ensuite or just unpowered sites. The camping facilities are friendly and well-equipped, offering visitors a comfortable and memorable experience.

The campground is well shaded with big trees and fire rigs are placed around.

The campsite at Cobbold Gorge is solar-powered and uses sustainable practices to reduce its impact on the environment.

Cobbold Gorge cultural significance

Cobbold Gorge holds significant cultural importance for the local Indigenous people, particularly the Waanyi and Kalkadoon people. The gorge and surrounding area are part of their ancestral lands, with rich cultural and spiritual connections to the land and waterways.

The Waanyi people have been instrumental in developing the tourism industry in the area, sharing their knowledge and cultural heritage with visitors through guided tours and cultural experiences.

The gorge was known to the local Indigenous people long before the arrival of European explorers and was an important site for ceremonial and cultural activities.

The first European to explore the area was Frederick Walker’s stockman, William Cobbold, who stumbled upon the gorge in 1882. The gorge was named after him in recognition of his role in the exploration of the region.

In the early 1900s, the area around Cobbold Gorge was opened up for pastoralism and mining, and the Goldfields Hotel was established as a stopover point for travelers passing through the region.

Cobbold Gorge Walks

There are four walking tracks in Cobbold Gorge. If you brought your bike you can use them on all tracks except Dell’s Lookout. Note you have to ride in the opposite direction on the bike.

All walking tracks start from a gate to the left of the workshop. Go through the gate, cross the creek and you see a sign with a map.

Russel’s Lookout (4.5 km return)

Out of all walks, this walk is marked as grade 3 difficulty, perhaps due to the steep incline to the summit of the hill at the end of the walk. The first half though is easy up to the intersection where you can turn to Diggers Track.

At the end of the track, you can admire Cobbold Gorge Village from the distance and the sandstone outcrops.

Russel's Lookout
Russel’s Lookout

Diggers Track (2.5 km return)

Short loop walk that was named after Simon Terry’s first horse. The walk goes along Bond’s Creek, then crosses the road and goes back to the village.

The Loop (5 km return)

After leaving the board, follow Russel’s Lookout walk up to the intersection where you turn left to The Loop walk. It is possible to shorten the walk by turning right into Diggers Track before the main road or extend it by following Diggers Track after the road (see map for details).

Dell’s Lookout (2 km return)

Named after Gaye Terry’s first horse. This short walk goes along Bond’s Creek. On the right, you pass a rocky gorge that has water all year round. It is a perfect place for bird watching. Later the track turns left to later meet the road that leads back to the village.

Cobbold Gorge Map – Walks and Bike Tracks

Cobbold Gorge Map - Walks and Bike Tracks
Cobbold Gorge Map – Walks and Bike Tracks

Can you take caravan to Cobbold Gorge

Yes, you can bring a caravan. Before coming through, check road conditions as you will be coming via some dirt roads.

Can I bring my dog to Cobbold Gorge

Yes, dogs are permitted but they have to be on a leash all the time. Obviously, you cannot take the dog on the Cobbold Gorge tour but you can enjoy its presents during the bushwalking.

Are there crocodiles in Cobbold Gorge

Yes, but only freshwater crocodiles. They are called Johnstone River Crocodiles.

Johnstone River Crocodile
Johnstone River Crocodile

Can you go to Cobbold Gorge without a tour

Unfortunately, you cannot visit Cobbold Gorge by yourself. Access to the gorge is by an organised tour. The gorge owners ensure minimal disturbance to the wildlife and the gorge itself.

Please book early as the season is short and the gorge is very popular.

What else to do around Cobbold Gorge

Agate Creek Fossicking Area

If you are a fossicking enthusiast, Agness Creek Fossicking Area is a must to visit. It is a world-renowned site, south of Forsayth, where you can find a variety of multicoloured agates.

Find out more about Agate Creek.

Agates
Agates

Copperfield Gorge in Einsleigh

After visiting Cobbold Gorge, drive through Einsleigh to see a smaller Copperfield Gorge. Located only 300 meters from the pub the gorge offers a sandy beach and rugged lava cliffs.

Copperfield Gorge was formed after the river eroded a channel through basalt laid down by the ancient lava flow.

Summary

A trip to Cobbold Gorge is a must-see destination for anyone traveling in North Queensland.

With its remote location, stunning scenery, and range of activities on offer, it’s no wonder that Cobbold Gorge is considered a hidden gem of the region.

Whether exploring the natural wonder through guided tours, camping, or other activities, visitors are sure to be left in awe of the breathtaking beauty of the gorge.

With a commitment to preserving the fragile ecosystem and cultural significance of the area, Cobbold Gorge is a prime example of sustainable tourism that benefits both visitors and the environment.

A trip to Cobbold Gorge offers a chance to connect with nature in a way that is both rewarding and unforgettable.


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GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

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Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

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Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

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