Tully Gorge had been a blank spot on my mental map for far too long before I decided to visit it last month. All I knew – all that most people know – is that it attracts lots of (mostly young) tourists for white-water rafting. But I’ve been collecting waterfalls along the coast (e.g. Wallaman, Blencoe, Jourama, Behana and Murray) for some time and I had heard of the Tully Falls. And any gorge is worth a look – and I needed a break from the city.
A closer look at the map showed me that the Falls and the Gorge had to be two separate trips, since the Falls are only accessible from Ravenshoe and the Gorge is accessible only from the coast: the two roads both dead-end, one at the top of the falls and the other a couple of kilometres downstream from their foot. The possibility of including the Dalrymple Track in the trip made me opt for the Gorge this time; Jourama and Cardwell were entirely incidental.
So … drive to Tully and turn left, through the town and farmlands (sugar, cattle, and lots of bananas) before entering National Park (actually parks, plural: Koombooloomba NP on the western side of the road, Tully Gorge NP on the eastern side). From here on, the road follows the river quite closely, and I paused for a photo.
The main focus of this post, therefore, is the effect of the monsoonal floods early this year. Townsville was hit hard, but so was Western Queensland. The Flinders River had 50-year floods and was 200 kilometres wide at its peak; and the Flinders, of course runs from the Burra Range and the northern corner of White Mountains National Park through Hughenden to the Gulf, picking up the waters of Porcupine Creek on the way.
White Mountains National Park was named for the pale grey sandstone of its rugged hills and it earns its name even from space, as this satellite image of its North-west corner shows. (The river at top left is the Flinders; this map puts it into context.) The whole of the park is difficult country; easy public access is restricted to the SE corner of it, where the highway between Pentland and Torrens Creek cuts across the park.
This is an illustrated list of places in the vicinity of Porcupine Gorge which are worth a look for one reason or another, intended as a guide to visitors and context for my wildlife photos (still to come). My starting point is the camping ground. Working away from it …
There is a waterhole beside the camping ground access road which attracts quite a lot of bird life.
Turning North towards the Lynd soon takes you over an attractive creek crossing, White Cliffs Creek. It’s an incipient gorge, having cut only a few metres into the white sandstone, and is good for birds and butterflies. Travelling further up the same road takes you through typical savannah country and, eventually, to Undara Lava Tubes, Greenvale and the gemfields.
Getting to Porcupine Gorge from Townsville is easy but takes a while: drive South-west to Hughenden (380 km) and turn right. Drive another 70 km, still on good sealed roads, and you arrive at the Pyramid camping ground overlooking the Gorge. It’s too far for a day trip and a stretch even for a weekend, which is why it’s six years since I have been there. After that trip I promised to write about it but other things intervened so this will be my first real report on the place.
The gorge carved out by Porcupine Creek, a tributary of the Flinders River, over millions of years is more than 100 km long and the National Park encloses and protects a quarter of it.
The camping ground is on level ground on the Western lip of the gorge, offering good views down to the Pyramid. A steep track leads down to the creek and (at this time of year) sandy beaches beside swimming holes, rocky terraces, grevilleas, melaleucas … endless entertainment for anyone willing to explore. Continue reading “Porcupine Gorge National Park”