Exploring Carnarvon Gorge
If you drive 10 hours north-west from Brisbane, what you'll find will leave you speechless. A true hiker's paradise of massive sandstone walls, hidden gorges, towering trees and crystal clear creeks rise out of the surrounding desert plains. This is the Carnarvon Range, the 'roof' of Queensland. I'll walk you through our recent journey to this incredible location, hopefully inspiring you to make the trip out there yourselves one day.
How To Get There
The easiest way to get to Carnarvon Gorge is from Brisbane. If you're aiming to do it on the same day and get there before dark, make sure to be on the road by 6-7am. Drive west towards Toowoomba, and then on towards Roma. By the time you make it to Roma (approximately 6 hours in), you'll be craving some lunch, so grab a bite to eat and also stock up on food, firewood and especially water as there's no drinking water in the National Park.
Buckle up again, you're almost there. Another hour to Injune (the last place for water and food), then one more hour after that until you're there. You'll notice a change in landscape from dry, barren land to mountain ranges and green trees everywhere.
We went during the school holidays, meaning the campgrounds were packed and booked out, something you should expect for those times of the year when families are out and about. Luckily we managed to get a site at Sandstone Park, about 10 minutes' drive from the visitor centre. The view from this campsite is much better than the National Park campground, as you're up higher and you can see out to the mountain range for a glorious sunrise view. Highly recommended!
For this trip we took the following:
- Explorer 75L Hiking Pack - The biggest pack for a multi-day hike.
- Geo 2P Tent - I love this tent as it's free-standing and easy to put up.
- Travelite 500 Sleeping Bag - The lightest bag that still provides incredible warmth.
- Airlite 5.5 Mat
- Hiking Chair & Table
- 3x Merino Tees - Merino doesn't smell as much when you sweat so good for hot Queensland weather.
- Larapinta Hiking Pants
- 3x Merino Hiking Socks
- Jetboil + 3x Backcountry Cuisines
- Cumulus GORE-TEX® Jacket - Just in case of unforeseen rain.
- Contour Trucker Cap
A proper set-up - the Expedition 2P, the Geo 2P and our favourite lightweight hiking chair (left), and all our gear packed away neatly in the Explorer pack (right). (Images courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
Main Track: Visitor Centre To Big Bend Campsite
Distance: 19.4km return
If there's one walk to do in Carnarvon, it's this one. We decided to camp a couple of nights at Big Bend Campsite, completely out of phone service with only each other's company. We had to haul in all our drinking water, which was about 5L each for the three days. It's a relatively long walk to get out there, but it's 90% flat, following along the base on the gorge the entire way, so don't worry too much about elevation gain. You'll cross Carnarvon Creek over 15 times before you reach the beautiful Big Bend Campsite, with ample opportunities to gaze up at the huge sandstone walls that Carnarvon is famous for.
Pro Tip: This is a great location for bird lovers. Listen out to the various species singing at sunrise, and see how many you can identify.
Crossing the Carnarvon Creek. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
The incredible overhanging walls of Big Bend. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
Setting up camp under the canopy, making ourselves at home. We'd be camped here for two nights. (Images courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
Micky Creek Track: Warrumbah Gorge
Distance: 2km return + additional exploring the further into the gorge you go
For that proper 'gorge' feel with walls you can touch with your arms wide open, this is the walk for you. Start from the Micky Creek trailhead and follow the wide path for about 1km until the track comes to a Y intersection. Go left, and this is where the real adventure starts. You'll be rock-hopping, climbing over logs, crossing bodies of water and best of all, blown away by the height of the gorge and it's beautiful acoustics. Spend a couple of hours here, going as far up the gorge as you can.
Pro Tip: Pack a headlamp as it gets really dark even in the middle of the day.
There is plenty to explore throughout Warrumbah Gorge, a short trek from Micky Creek trailhead. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
The walls are within reach throughout various sections of Warrumbah Gorge, giving you that mixed feeling of explorer's excitement and claustrophobic uneasiness. (Images courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
Boowinda Gorge: The Jewel Of Carnarvon's Gorges
Distance: As far as you want (but the turn-off to Boowinda Gorge is 9.2km along the Main gorge track)
By far the prettiest, most photogenic gorge is Boowinda Gorge. Located 500 metres from Big Bend Campsite, there's no designated path, rather you just rock-hop up the creek floor of Boowinda Gorge until you come across these seemingly endless beautiful overhanging, symmetrical walls that twist and turn for almost 1km. Be prepared to be lost for words.
There is plenty on offer for the photographer in a location like this. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
With its winding twists and turns, Boowinda Gorge is an explorer's paradise. (Images courtesy of Harrison Candlin)