Carnarvon Gorge

Wow Carnarvon Gorge, you did not disappoint! Carnarvon Gorge is stunning.

We left our lovely quiet little camp site at the Dakota Air Crash Memorial and traveled into Carnarvon Gorge National Park. On the way we passed the Helicopter Flight Centre, the entrance to Sandstone Park Campground, the entrance to Takarakka Bush Retreat and finally, just before the park, the Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge.

We arrived at the car park of the National Park and found a flat spot to park the MH. We put the fridge on gas so it would stay cold while we were away on our walk. About 300 metres from the car park is the Visitors Centre. This centre is usually unmanned, except in school holidays, but houses displays of the history, flora and fauna on Carnarvon Gorge. There were quite a few animal specimens in jars and I always find them very creepy for some reason.

Outside the visitors centre are a few storyboards displaying maps of the gorge and the various walks, how long they are and what you can expect to see there. The walks are graded for difficulty. As we are not experienced bush walkers we opted for the Grade 3 track. This is for people with some bushwalking experience and is suited to most ages and fitness levels.

The main gorge walking track is 9.7km long and winds its way, criss-crossing Carnarvon Creek until it reaches Big Bend. From there the graded track system ends and the remote hiking trail begins. Branching off the Main Track are side tracks including the Nature Trail, Boolimba Bluff, Moss Garden, Amphitheatre, Wards Canyon, Art Gallery, Cathedral Cave, Boowinda Gorge and finally Big Bend. From Art Gallery the track becomes a Grade 4 track for experienced bushwalkers so most people end their walk at Art Gallery before turning around and making their way back.

Our first walk into the gorge saw us walk to Ampitheatre. This is an 8.6km round trip. Wow. The gorge is truly an oasis. It feels like you are stepping back in time to when the mega fauna roamed the land. Carnarvon Creek runs through the gorge and on either side are the high sandstone and limestone cliffs, some over 200 metres high. It is cool down in the gorge as the tree canopy and the high cliffs keep the temperature down. The track crosses the creek many times and you need to be quite nimble to cross on the stepping stones.

The fauna is spectacular with huge cycads, some as tall as a house, and tall cabbage palms and the usual eucalyptus providing the canopy. The ground cover is reedy grasses and ferns. I’d never seen so many cycads in one place and they all looked amazingly healthy.

The track is a mix of flat, packed, sandy track with occasional steps made from stone. Where the track crosses the creek you have to be careful as you have to walk across the round pebbles and boulders.

We made it to Ampitheatre and here you have to scale a metal staircase ladder up into the chasm. The ladder is probably about 10m high. Wow. Once you get to the top you walk though the chasm with tall cliffs on either side, at this point the chasm is only about a metre wide, and then it opens out into a wide chamber with towering 60m cliffs all around. It is very serene in there. A great spot for some quiet reflection, that is until a school group of Year 9 students arrived and totally spoilt the atmosphere! They were all very well behaved and polite but a large group of teenagers really don’t know how to be quiet so we ate our sandwiches and left them to it.

There is only one way back to the carpark and that is back along the main track. Lots of people were walking the track and we saw people of all ages.

After our long walk we left the Gorge and traveled back along the tar road to Takarakka Bush Retreat. We were booked in for 3 nights at Takarakka. Takarakka Bush Retreat is situated on private land just out of the park and it is a large bush park. As we drove in in the late afternoon a mob of very cute wallabies were munching on grass along the side of the road.

The Reception Centre is in the middle of the park and we were quickly checked in. They had given us a large drive through site opposite the amenities block. We noticed a sign as we entered reception that they do a spit roast 2 course dinner for $20 pp. We thought that sounded really good so paid for that. There is a little bar near Reception that is open from 4-6 each night. At 5pm each day a video presentation is shown on a big screen in the bar area. The presentation is all about Takarakka and Carnarvon Gorge.

The spit roast dinner was to be served at the tables on the deck later that evening.

Takarakka has a variety of accomodation options including powered and unpowered camp sites, studio cabins, a cottage and a couple of ensuite cabins and safari tents, some of which have ensuites.

The Reception Centre is also a General Store and stocks basic grocery items and a range of souvenirs. The park has three amenities blocks, camp kitchens and a few campfires. Fires are only allowed in the permanent fire pits.

There are a couple of nature walks as well. One goes upwards to a lookout and the other follows the creek where you might be lucky to spy a platypus.

We quickly set up camp on our very large site and I took advantage of power and water to do some washing. We met our neighbours Greg and Deb who are from Tasmania. They are on their shakedown trip in their new off-road van. It is all set up for off-grid camping and even has a composting toilet. You do meet interesting people traveling.

Around 4.30pm we packed up our plates, bowls, & cutlery and some drinks and wandered down to the bar so we could be settled in to watch the 5pm presentation. The video was very professionally done and showed all the different walks you can go in the Gorge. A friendly wallaby wandered amongst the tables. He wasn’t the least afraid of any of the humans.

We met a lovely young couple from Brisbane who were sitting behind us. Tony & Clare were both originally from Taiwan but they’ve lived in Australia for 12 years. They are traveling in their caravan and they love it although they have to store it at Tony’s parents place in Brisbane as their place is only on a 400sqm block. They asked about where we lived and Clare was amazed that we live on 6 acres and have a 3 acre garden. They only have a courtyard!

At 6pm we looked and found a little table up on the deck reserved for us. You have to bring your own plates, bowl & cutlery and when dinner is announced you line up at the end of the deck in front of the old caravan that has been turned into a servery. Dinner was roast beef, potatoes, pumpkin, peas and gravy followed by rhubarb crumble or chocolate brownie and cream. It was delicious AND I didn’t have to cook!

We wandered back through the bush to the MH and we were all settled into bed by 8pm. I think I was asleep by 8.10pm.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s