Carnarvon Gorge is a paradise carved from the rugged sandstone range by the passage of water and time. The spectacular gorge carries special significance in Aboriginal mythology and is equally important as an historic geological landmark. Vast rock formations hold fast their secret memories of ancient tribal gatherings. Stencil art, images and symbols of the Aboriginal Dreamtime adorn the various walls in the Gorge.
Carnarvon Gorge is the most visited section of the expansive 298,000 hectare Carnarvon National Park. The inaccessible Consuelo Tableland and Great Dividing Range provide a spectacular backdrop to the Gorge.
The Park is a bird watchers sanctuary with more than 183 bird species recorded. Take an early morning stroll along the Nature Trail and spot platypus diving in the sculptured pools of Carnarvon Creek. An evening walk with a torch may reveal possums, gliders, bandicoots and kangaroos. Hundreds of plant species crowd the fertile gorge which still shelters giant Angiopteris ferns dating back 300 million years. Palms and Cycads, Grass-tress and Eucalyptus, and an abundance of mosses, lichens and other small plants can be found.
Cathedral Cave is one of the most extensive Aboriginal Art Sites within the Gorge. Other locations include Baloon Cave, or a half-day walk to the Art Gallery. Stencils, engraving and freehand drawings adorn the soft sandstone and rock overhangs.
Many short walks from the main gorge track lead to beautiful side gorges and waterfalls. Half day walks will lead to unique sites such as the Moss Garden, Amphitheatre and Ward's Canyon. The Moss Garden is a world of its own. A natural spring constantly pours forth water which, slowly filtering through the sandstone, leaves the rock surface with a myriad of tiny droplets. A carpet of green moss and a magic waterfall looking up into the accessible Violet Gorge make this spot an essential place to visit.
The Amphitheatre is a site which simply must be seen to be believed. Inside the ancient rock wall, hidden behind a narrow crack, millions of years have produced an incredible crevice in which you will feel dwarfed by majesty. It will lift your spirits as well as your voice as the Amphitheatre is well known for its remarkable acoustics. Entering Ward's Canyon you will immediately notice a dramatic drop in temperature. Like stepping into another time you will be surrounded by ancient King Ferns (Angiopteris), the largest fern in the world. There is also the rare moment of sunlight playing on the hidden Aljon Falls, which only happens for about five minutes every day.
'When walking in Carnarvon Gorge National Park, remember that the walk along the way can offer you as much enjoyment as the destination. You'll miss a great deal if you just put your head down and plod along the track. Take the time to sit on a rock or a log by the creek "and let the park come to you". Pause to enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of the bush, and you'll come back refreshed and recreated'.
Carnarvon National Park is a 10-hour bus trip from Brisbane. Weathering over millions of years has molded the landscape of the relatively isolated Mt. Moffat section of this central Queensland park and the 20,000 acres of the adjacent Saddler Springs Education Center.
Cycads such as Macrozamia moorei were common in the grassy understorey. This ancient plant is the symbol for the center. According to information from the Australian National Botanic Gardens, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia used this plant as a food source. "The seeds of these and other cycads are borne in a large cone and have an orange outer coat. They are poisonous, but the Aborigines knew how to treat them to remove the poison, and so take advantage of the large amount of food provided by a single plant. One of the ways was to cook the seed, break it up, and then soak it for up to three weeks in running water. In Western Australia, only the outer red part was eaten, after treatment by washing and burying."
Much of the park area is open woodland on broad undulating hills. The Saddler Springs site (part of a working cattle station) is somewhat more rugged country with a combination of cliffs, gorges, spurs, and springs.
The Tombs are a basaltic covered outcropping of sandstone. The basalt has protected the sandstone from weathering. For the Aborigines, this site had an important spiritual aspect serving as both an initiation and a burial site. It contains fine examples of Aboriginal stencil art done in red, yellow, and white ochres. This special ochre was carried more than 1000 miles by the Aborigines from a site in south Australia. This helped put our bush walk in perspective.
A left hand indicates that the individual has "received" something (often spiritual) at the site, while a right hand indicates that an offering has been made.
Camping is available at the park, prior booking is essential, all campers require permits.
The popular main camping area is beside Carnarvon Creek and showers, toilets and a public telephone
Firewood is not available in the park
Creek water is not suitable for drinking