Hidden in the rugged ranges of Queensland’s central highlands, 720km by road north-west of Brisbane, Carnarvon Gorge features towering sandstone cliffs, vibrantly coloured side gorges, diverse flora and fauna and Aboriginal rock art.
Just five minutes drive from Carnarvon National Park, Takarakka Bush Resort offers it all: powered and unpowered campsites, permanent tents with and without en-suites, cosy cabins, cottages, and smartly designed studios. If camping, you’ll have access to amenities like bathrooms with hot showers and a store selling fuel, basic groceries, pre-wrapped sandwiches and souvenirs
I stayed a week at Camping Takarakka ground and did all the walks from there. The walks were quite easy and I crossed water three times, almost falling in once when I slipped on the stones. The indigenous rangers at the Information Centre were helpful and knowledgeable and happy to share their knowledge with me.
I stopped along the way to take photos of an echidna waddling along, but a ranger stopped asking if I needed help, and the echidna went into the ground and stayed there
This national park is an outback oasis punctuated by Carnarvon Gorge’s towering sandstone cliffs, prehistoric cycads and more than 2,000 examples of Aboriginal rock art – to name a few of its best assets. Throw in a biosphere home to 173 species of birds, 60 different mammals, 22 kinds of frogs and 90 types of reptiles, and you can see why some 70,000 people visit this 200 million-year-old landscape every year.
Carnarvon National Park is equal parts culturally and ecologically significant, and it’s yours to discover just 268km north of Roma.
If you’ve got a full day to spare, tackle The Big Day Out return trek that runs along the Main Gorge track to the base of the gorge to Big Bend. This walk is a highlights reel of the big-ticket attractions like the lush green Moss Gardens, the soaring Amphitheatre and the Art Gallery.
If you don’t have time to walk the whole park, you can easily return at any point following the route you walked in – or make one of these icons your turnaround mark:
- Moss Garden (7km return from visitor area, or 1.3km return from Main Gorge track): A botanical show of elk horns, tree ferns and a lush carpet of moss
- The Amphitheatre (8.6km return from visitor area or 1.2km return from Main Gorge track): After a steep climb, you’ll be rewarded with a sense of incredible space inside an open-topped cavern
- The Art Gallery (10.8km return from visitor area, or 600m return from Main Gorge track): Discover this cultural site which has more than 2,000 Indigenous engravings, ochre stencils and freehand paintings all along a 62-metre long wall of sandstone
I climbed up to see the Art Gallery. It was a steep climb up the mountain on this very hot day.
The only camping available at the moment is Breeze Holiday Parks – Carnarvon Gorge (formerly Takarakka Bush Resort). The National Park campground at the mouth of Carnarvon Gorge is only open for two week blocks that coincide with the Easter, July and September QLD School Holidays.
All other designated campsites in the National Park are currently closed due to flooding or flood damage
After I slipped on the stones at the foot of the Gallery track, just missed a palm branch falling on me, and got lost trying to cross the river upstream, I asked another hiker who was on his own to walk with me realising it was not a good idea to be walking alone. He seemed terribly scared of me, and looking back, he possibly had a non hiking wife back at camp, so I won’t post a photo of him. It was better with someone, as some of the tracks were quite steep and slippery. The scenery was spectacular, and the rock formations were amazing. The whole hike was incredible and so different.
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