Carnarvon National Park

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Carnarvon Gorge National Park in Queensland
Carnarvon National Park is a walker’s delight Photo: Tourism Queensland

For grey nomads who love to walk, Carnarvon National Park in Queensland’s central highlands is truly a must-hike destination.

Located some 600 kilome­tres northwest of Brisbane, the 298,000-hectare park is packed with spectacular scen­ery, incredible wildlife and some truly amazing examples of Aboriginal art.

At the heart of it all, of course, is Carnarvon Gorge. Carved from white sandstone, the narrow, steep-sided of the gorge is the most visited place in the park … and the sheer beauty of the place explains why. The gorge is the centre­piece of the 20-plus kilome­tres of walking trails which take visitors on a memorable tour of fresh water streams, lush tropical foliage, cascad­ing waterfalls and much, much more.

The main gorge walking track starting from the visitor area is mostly flat and crosses Car­narvon Creek many times as it winds nearly 10 kilometres to the Big Bend camping area. However, there are numerous short side tracks to various at­tractions that do have steeper sections. If you are physically able, these side tours are well worth the effort … so make sure you leave early in the morning if you are planning a round trip.

These side attractions can include a climb up the Boolimba Bluff perched 200 metres above Carnarvon Creek. Spectacular. The Moss Garden is no less impressive. With water dripping con­stantly from the sandstone walls, a lush carpet of mosses and ferns has grown. A little further on, a 600 metre detour from the main track will bring visitors to the awe-inspiring Amphitheatre, a 60-metre deep chamber gouged from the rock by running water.

At Ward’s Canyon, you will come across the world’s larg­est fern, while the sandstone walls of the nearby Art Gal­lery reputedly has more than 2000 Aboriginal engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings.

There is another truly stun­ning display of Aboriginal art at Cathedral Cave, and the Big Bend Camping area at the end of the main track is the per­fect place to rest and recover from the rigours of the walk next to the soothing waters of Carnarvon Creek. There is a composting toilet here and tent camping is allowed.

There is a larger camping area suitable for off-road camper trailers back at the visitor area, but the Queensland Park Service says it’s not suitable for caravans or larger mo­torhomes. In any event, it is only open during the Easter, Winter and Spring Queens­land school holidays.

An alternative is the nearby Takarakka Bush Resort which is set on 100 pictur­esque acres and offers pow­ered sites.

Despite its popularity with visitors, Carnarvon National Park is very much a wilder­ness area and is home to more than 210 bird species, 60 species of mammals, and 90 species of reptiles.

A very special place.

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