CARNARVON GORGE (QLD): Day Hike Guide

Carnarvon Gorge is truly spectacular!! From the occasional-walker to the overnight-hiker, there is something for everyone. 

Carnarvon Creek winds through towering sandstone cliffs for some 30 kms and you will be in awe of the sheer size of these walls when you wander along the track. 

The walk will have you hiking through a lush green forest full of plant and animal life. 

Rock hopping over Carnarvon Creek many times will keep you on your toes… and hopefully your shoes stay dry.

Once you reach the side tracks and go off to explore deep into the gorge you will be amazed at what lies ahead… stunning waterfalls, side gorges, lookouts and ancient aboriginal rock art.

WHERE IS IT?

Carnarvon Gorge is located within Carnarvon National Park, around 700kms north west of Brisbane in Queensland.

Click on map to open in Google Maps.

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WALKING TRACKS

There are 12 different sites within the Carnarvon National Park to visit and we explored nine of them.  The other three sites, Cathedral Cave, Boowinda Gorge and Big Bend, were another 10 kms return and a bit far for our kids’ awesome little legs.

The main walking track is 19.4 kms return which is to Big Bend and back to the Visitor Centre.  Our furthest point was the Art Gallery which is 10.8 km return to the Visitor Centre.

If you are a super hiker you can tackle the Carnarvon Great Walk which covers 87 kms over a period of 6-7 days!

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As always it depends on your level of fitness as to how hard or easy you rate this track.  Our suggestion is that you start out early and take things at your own pace.  Research the walks and plan your days to get the most out of your time depending on your fitness level.  We are a fairly fit family and really enjoyed this walk and didn’t think it was too hard.  Our kids are 6 & 9 and did an amazing job conquering the amount of kilometres and exploring we did!

The main track is fairly flat and well maintained.  You will come up against some steps along the way but nothing too strenuous.  There are also many times you will cross Carnarvon Creek in which you rock hop on large stepping stones. 

The tracks off the main trail to the various sites are fairly short but this is when your legs will get a workout with many having steep steps and inclines to challenge you but the effort is well worth it!!

THE IMPORTANT BITS…

  • The Visitor Information Centre is where the main track commences.  You can pick up a Discovery Guide which provides a map and details of all the areas you can explore. 
  • Toilets are located at the Visitor Information Centre.
  • There are drop toilets located at the entrance to the Moss Garden trail and Big Bend.
  • No water or food available once you start on the walking tracks so take your own in.
  • No rubbish disposal so take out what you take in!
  • The main advice you are given before setting off is to go to the furthest point you are walking first and work your way back.  
  • You are best to start out early and take it at your own pace.
  • Wear suitable closed in footwear.
  • Some of the areas are quite cold so a jumper is advisable.
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We stayed in the area for four nights so this allowed us to break the hiking up into three days.  This is how we did it…

OUR 3 DAY ITINERARY 

DAY 1 

We covered around 18 kms on the first day… over 26,000 steps in around 5 hours – our little people are amazing!!

As this was our first day we tackled the longer walks and hiked out to the ART GALLERY first and then back via WARDS CANYON, AMPHITHEATRE and MOSS GARDEN.

We packed a picnic lunch and stopped at the seats at the entrance to the Moss Garden trail before making our way back to the Visitor Centre.

ART GALLERY (10.8 km return from the Visitor Centre)

There are over 2000 displays of aboriginal rock art to appreciate on this 62 metre long sandstone wall.

WARDS CANYON (9.2 km return from the Visitor Centre)

Once back on the main track from the Art Gallery it was time to head back towards the Visitor Centre.  Next on the list was Wards Canyon.

A short steep walk up some stairs and you enter a stunning side gorge showcasing the worlds largest tree ferns.  There is a waterfall around halfway up as well.

AMPHITHEATRE (8.6 km return from the Visitor Centre)

400 metres from the main track you come to a set of grid mesh stairs which lead into a mind blowing area!  The sandstone walls are huge and stand around 60 metres high!  An amazing place to stand!! 

Here is a short video that attempts to capture the sheer size and beauty of the Amphitheatre.

MOSS GARDEN (7 km return from the Visitor Centre)

A beautiful moss garden complete with a small waterfall.  You can see the water constantly dripping from the sandstone walls onto the moss covered walls.

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DAY 2

We hiked around 10 kms to see more of Carnarvon Gorge’s beauty on Day 2 and tackled Boolimba Bluff, the Nature Trail and the Rock Pool.

BOOLIMBA BLUFF (6.4 km return from the Visitor Centre)

We started from the Information Centre and walked 1 km along to the start of the Boolimba Bluff trail.

Boolimba Bluff is the main lookout at Carnarvon and stands around 200 metres about the level of the creek bed.

The 4.4 km return trail has around 960 stairs to conquer but they get you up through the trees to take in the incredible views of the Bluff!

Looking up from the start of the track to our destination!!

The view from the top is stunning and worth all those stairs!!

We could actually see our campground and caravan from the top!! I took a pic through the binoculars… can you see it in the middle of the clearing?!

Here’s a video that shows you what you are up for once you get to the steep section of this hike.

NATURE TRAIL (1.5 km return from the Visitor Centre)

This trail is near the start of the main track.  It is a 1.5 km circuit on flat ground with a creek crossing at the end.  We side stepped onto this one when coming back from Boolimba Bluff.  A little uneventful compared to the rest of the walks but still a nice trail.

We spotted an echidna on the way back to the car too!  It’s such a great experience for the kids to see these cute little guys out in their natural environment.

ROCK POOL (600m return from the Rock Pool car park)

This is an easy 600m return walk down to a rock pool and creek. This is the only designated swimming hole in the gorge. 

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DAY 3

Our third and final day of hiking in Carnarvon Gorge was meant to be the easiest… however we found ourselves going further than the end of the formed tracks and scrambling over rocks and logs and spider climbing through the gorge over some water. So much fun!!

BALOON CAVE (1 km return from the Baloon Cave car park)

This trail is an easy 1km return walk to the cave.  The cave also has aboriginal rock art to view.

MICKEY CREEK & WARRUMBAH GORGE (3 km return from the Mickey Creek car park)

This trail is around 3kms return. At the end of both these trails there are signs that state… “end of formed tracks”. You can proceed further into the gorge at both points but these tracks are not maintained so you continue at your own risk… it’s great fun though!

MICKEY CREEK

After the end of the formed track sign…  this involves some rock hopping and scrambling and we had to turn into spider monkeys to get through some of it!

WARRUMBAH GORGE

WHERE WE STAYED?

We enjoyed a peaceful and very picturesque four night stay at Sandstone Park.  Check out more information on this campground here!

So that’s a wrap!  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Carnarvon Gorge and highly recommend you put it on your bucket list!

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