Getting to Carnarvon Gorge from Mackay, as we did after our visit to Cape Hillsborough, means a long drive up over the range and South through coal mining country, mostly on good roads made for the miners, to Springsure and then down through Rolleston. There’s a choice of accommodation near the Park entrance or, if you’re lucky, near the information centre in the park itself.
Walking the Gorge
There are day walks up the Gorge and back, as far as you can manage and with a choice of side trips, and multi-day hikes. The longest of them takes you up the Gorge to Big Bend, up a side valley to the tablelands, and back down the Boolimba Bluff track to the starting point.
Fit walkers who don’t take too many side trips or spend too long looking at the plants, wildlife and scenery can get to Big Bend and back in a day or less (see the Walking Track map (pdf) from the National Parks site). Those who start late (as we did) and stop often for photos (as we did) might only get to the Amphitheatre (as we did).
The Boolimba Bluff track has a strenuous section but everything else was quite gentle. An odd realisation was that we were walking on beach sand most of the time, as we had been at Cape Hillsborough – the big difference being that the sand was a hundred million years older.
The sandstone highlands extend for hundreds of kilometres through central Queensland, and Carnarvon Gorge is just one of several National Parks between Blackwater, Tambo and Injune (see DES visitor guide – pdf).
On our way back to Townsville we visited Minerva Hills NP to look out over Springsure from Mount Zamia. The geology there is similar: sandstone capped on its highest points with harder volcanic rock. (The last eruptions were 27 – 35 million years ago.) Porcupine Gorge, North of Hughenden, was formed the same way. In each case, cracks in the basalt have opened into gorges or broad valleys, depending on local factors.
We still have so much to explore!