Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park Capricorn | Outback Queensland

Photo © Queensland Government

Like to become a campground host?

The department is seeking volunteers to act as campground hosts at Carnarvon Gorge section, Carnarvon National Park over the Queensland school holidays.

Things to do

    Sunset above Boolimba Bluff, from the visitor area. Photo: Michael O'Connor © Queensland Government

    Sunset above Boolimba Bluff, from the visitor area. Photo: Michael O'Connor © Queensland Government

    Camping and accommodation

    Camping

    Camping in the national park visitor area is available during the Easter, June-July and September-October Queensland school holidays. Big Bend camping area, reached by a 19.4km return walk, is open all year.

    For all camping within the park, camping permits are required and fees apply.

    Commercial Tour Operators and Education Groups cannot book any campsite within the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area. Other accommodation is available just outside the national park.

    • Find out more about camping areas.
    • Book your camp site online.
    • If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.
    • There is Wi-Fi available at the Carnarvon National Park Visitor Information Centre though all camp bookings need to be made well in advance and prior to arriving on-site due to limited sites available.

    Other accommodation

    Commercially operated camp sites and holiday accommodation is available just outside the national park all year round at Takarakka Bush Resort and seasonally at Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge and Sandstone Park.

    For more information see the tourism information links.

    If you’re a Commercial Tour Operator or an Education Group and are wanting to experience what the Gorge has to offer, a Commercial Activity Permit or Organised Event Permit is required. Application and further information on permits can be found below:

    The main walking track crosses Carnarvon Creek many times. Photo: Adam Creed © Queensland Government

    The main walking track crosses Carnarvon Creek many times. Photo: Adam Creed © Queensland Government

    Walking

    Take a walk at Carnarvon Gorge and explore the natural beauty of this rugged wilderness. A minimum of three days is recommended to walk the tracks, explore side gorges and visit Aboriginal art sites. All tracks are fully signposted and lead either from the main access road to the park visitor centre, or from the main walking track that starts in the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area. To make the most of your time and to help plan your walking adventure simply download the Carnarvon Gorge walking track map (PDF, 338.2KB) and Carnarvon Gorge Walk Planner (PDF, 166.7KB) .

    Carnarvon National Park's walking tracks have been graded to help you select a walk that matches your bushwalking experience and fitness. Take time to read these class descriptions before walking in the park.

    Key to track standards

    The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each track is graded according to its most difficult section, other sections may be easier.

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track

    • Gently sloping, well-defined track, usually with slight inclines or few to many steps.
    • Steep sections occur.
    • Caution needed on creek crossings, ladders and steps.
    • Reasonable level of fitness and ankle-supporting footwear required.

    Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 track

    • May be extensively overgrown; hazards such as fallen trees and rocks likely to be present.
    • Caution needed on creek crossings, cliff edges and naturally-occurring lookouts.
    • Moderate level of fitness required.
    • Ankle-supporting footwear strongly recommended.

    Short walks—from parking areas along the road into the park

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Mickey Creek Gorge—3km return (1.5 hours)

    Wander along Mickey Creek and into narrow side gorges where the walking track becomes a rock-hopping adventure. Swamp wallabies are often seen resting here. Rocky sections of this track are slippery and caution is needed on creek crossings. The formed track ends 1.5km from the Mickey Creek car park.

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Rock Pool—600m return (30 minutes)

    The Rock Pool has been carved from the bed of Carnarvon Creek by the turbulent water of past floods. Rest in the shade of fig and casuarina trees and watch for platypus and turtles. The picnic area includes toilets and picnic tables. This is the only place in Carnarvon Gorge designated for swimming. If swimming, please do not jump or dive into the pool.

    Short walks—from the visitor area

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Nature trail—1.5km return (1 hour)

    This short stroll along the shady banks of Carnarvon Creek provides a snapshot of the plant life on the gorge floor. You can see turtles basking in the sun, and if you're quiet enough you may see the elusive platypus. Dusk and dawn provide the best opportunities for watching wildlife.

    Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 track: Boolimba Bluff—6.4km return (2–3 hours)

    Discover what lies above the cliff line and gaze out to distant ranges at Boolimba Bluff, which towers 200m above Carnarvon Creek. This is the only formed lookout track from the gorge. No other track passes through such a diversity of habitats. Early morning is the best time for this walk. The track involves steps, steep sections and one very steep section with 300m of steps and short ladders.

    Main gorge walking track

    The main gorge walking track crosses Carnarvon Creek many times as it winds the 9.7km from the visitor centre to Big Bend. Side-tracks from the main gorge track lead to a range of sites. The track is mostly flat, although the side-tracks involve steeper sections.

    The featured sites on side-tracks can be combined to create one-day walks. For example, the Moss Garden, Amphitheatre, Ward's Canyon and the Art Gallery sites can be visited on a 14km return one-day walk.

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Moss Garden—7km return (2–3 hours)

    Water drips constantly from the sandstone walls of the Moss Garden, supporting a lush carpet of mosses, ferns and liverworts. Beneath tree ferns straining for sunlight, a small waterfall tumbles over a rock ledge into an icy pool.

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Amphitheatre—8.6km return (3–4 hours)

    Hidden inside the walls of the gorge is a 60m deep chamber, gouged from the rock by running water. This is a place for quiet contemplation—the towering sandstone walls and natural skylight create an awe-inspiring atmosphere within.

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Wards Canyon—9.2km return (3–4 hours)

    Wards Canyon is a cool place to visit on a hot day. It is home to the world's largest fern; the king fern Angiopteris evecta. These impressive green 'dinosaurs' have strong links with the ancient flora of Gondwanan origin. A short, steep rise up through spotted gums leads to the lower falls and then further into the shaded canyon.

    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 track: Art Gallery—10.8km return (3–4 hours)

    Over two thousand engravings, ochre stencils and freehand paintings adorn the 62m-long sandstone walls of this significant Aboriginal site. The Art Gallery contains one of the best examples of stencil art in Australia.

    Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 track: Cathedral Cave—18.2km return (5–6 hours)

    This massive, wind-eroded overhang sheltered Aboriginal people for thousands of years. A panorama of rock art reflects the rich cultural life of those who gathered here.

    Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 track: Boowinda Gorge—18.4km return (5–6 hours)

    Rock-hop into this sculpted side-gorge, 100m upstream of Cathedral Cave. The first kilometre of this boulder-strewn gorge is the most spectacular.

    Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 track: Big Bend camping area—19.4km return (7–8 hours)

    A natural pool in Carnarvon Creek lies in an elbow of the gorge beneath looming sandstone walls. Rest here in the shade of large spotted gums and watch catfish and turtles swim in the tranquil waters of the upper reaches of Carnarvon Creek. A composting toilet and picnic table is located here.

    Remote walking

    Carnarvon National Park offers some spectacular and challenging remote walking. The sandstone wilderness can be hazardous for inexperienced or poorly prepared walkers. Accidents have happened, even to experienced bushwalkers, a high level of physical fitness and navigational skills are essential. Nature can be unpredictable—storms, fires and floods can happen in a flash. Plan to walk safely and be responsible.

    Walkers should familiarise themselves with the area before attempting an extended walk and check the Park alerts section of this website for current information on tracks and conditions.

    Remote walking is only advised in the cooler weather, usually March to October. Walking during summer can be very hazardous due to high temperatures and lack of surface water.

    Complete a bushwalking advice form (PDF, 173.3KB) to help with your remote walking preparations.  Give a copy of this form to a responsible person and make sure that they know your exact route and when you expect to return. If you change your plans, tell them.  Contact them when you return. Have an emergency plan in place if you fail to contact them by an agreed time. If you are overdue or potentially lost, your nominated contact should report this to the Queensland Police Service (phone Triple Zero 000). The police will organise rescue procedures.

    Carnarvon Gorge offers a rich mosaic of natural beauty and cultural mystique. To help protect this unique landscape remote area walking groups must be no larger than 6 people. All bushwalkers are expected to walk softly and follow the minimal impact bushwalking and bush camping practices.

    Contact us for assistance with route advice and other detailed information. It is recommended that you contact the rangers at Carnarvon Gorge at least 10 days prior to your walk to let them know your plans and to check on current conditions. Permits are required for all remote overnight camping.

    Refer to staying safe for more information on safe walking in the gorge.

    The Carnarvon Great Walk is an 87km remote circuit walk that leads up and out of Carnarvon Gorge and across the rugged plateaus and valleys of the Consuelo Tableland and the Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park. Permits and campsite bookings are required. The Great Walk is only seasonally available from 1 March through to and including 31 October every year.

    Picnic and day-use areas

    At the entrance to Carnarvon Gorge main walking track system, a large, grassy picnic area is set among towering eucalypts and fan palms. Wheelchair-accessible tables and gas barbecues are available. Tap-water is also available (treat all drinking water before consumption). Parking is provided for buses, cars and includes allocated wheelchair-accessible spaces.

    Explore the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Information Centre, open from 8am to 4pm seven days a week. You will find answers to all your questions about visiting the gorge and learn about its landscapes, plants, animals and cultural history.

    Viewing wildlife

    Opportunities for birdwatching are plentiful, with over 173 bird species inhabiting or visiting the park. A night walk with a torch can reveal gliders, possums and bush stone-curlews.

    Catch a glimpse of platypus and other creek life on an early morning or twilight stroll along the 1km Nature Trail. See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Carnarvon Gorge's diverse wildlife.

    Other things to do

    Visitors can swim at the Rock Pool only. Please supervise children and do not dive or jump into the water. To protect the Carnarvon Creek's delicate aquatic ecology, swimming is not permitted in other sections of the creek. Sunscreens, deodorants and insect repellents can degrade water quality, affecting sensitive habitat for turtles, frogs and platypus.