On a recent camping trip to Queensland, I only had a few things on my ‘must do’ list and one of these was Carnarvon Gorge. I was surprised with how few people I spoke to had been to this place that looked spectacular on Google images. Then I realised that it is over 700 km from Brisbane which would deter many Brisbane locals and 400 km inland from Gladstone making a big detour for coast loving tourists.
I would put Carnarvon Gorge high on my list of spectacular places to visit.
Some may be deterred by the ‘touristy’ aspect, but I have always taken the view that these places are popular for a reason. When we were there just before a school holiday period it had definitely attracted what I would call non-bushwalker travellers. The park was full of grey nomads, families on a big lap and one school group.
I’m sure google maps will point you there but the concern that I had before heading there was all around 18 km of dirt road leading to the gorge that included some river crossings. First I can say that the road was well graded we did this comfortably in my little Honda Jazz. I might have been more concerned if there had been more rain before we went in. We checked the road condition before heading in, something I would recommend, especially for a normal car travellers. This may not be a concern moving forward as we were told that they were starting sealing this road in August 2016. I wonder if this will increase the number of visitors?
So if your question is do I need to be super fit to do this, then the answer is no. You do have to have a sense of adventure and be willing to cross many rivers and creeks but you can certainly take your time and do it at your own pace. I would wear walking shoes or boots but most people did the walk-in normal runners.
How long to stay?
We stayed three nights which was a nice amount. That involved two days to hike so we covered some of the smaller hikes on day one and then did the lower gorge area on day two. It didn’t feel too rushed and allowed a couple of nights chatting with fellow travellers. If I was to do it again, maybe with companions that want to cover all aspects of the park I would definitely extend this stay. Due to the ‘in and out’ walking track that takes you along the gorge floor there are only a limited number of walks available and I suspect with more days you might feel that you have walked the same track a few times.
Where to stay?
Originally I had booked into the National Park campsite, which is only opened in School Holidays. Since we arrived there earlier than planned we instead stayed at the Takarakka Caravan Park. Speaking to some regular campers, the National Park area only has cold showers. I found the environment of Takarakka very welcoming and well resourced and would recommend this to all but the most ‘purist’ campers. They offer a walk briefing each evening on their deck offering advice and reassurances. Roast dinner on the deck twice a week and happy hour at the bar. All very conducive to spend time chatting with fellow travellers.
Everyone that we spoke to from Queensland mentioned how cold the nights were. It can get as low as zero degrees Celsius with the average overnight low in July at 6 degrees. Just make sure that you pack an extra layer, we Victorians didn’t think it was too bad and in fact, I don’t think it was the coldest night in our six-week camping trip to Queensland.
What do do
Bushwalking – have a look at walk maps online.
You might want to factor in an early rise to walk up to Boolimba Bluff to watch the sunrise.
Platypus – Sure there is other wildlife that you can find in the region but this is a location that these little shy creatures can be found with a little local knowledge and some patience.
Stargazing – there is an astronomy tour that I think might be worthwhile.
A highlight of my trip that even included snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and that’s saying something!