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Discover Carnarvon Gorge
carnarvon gorgeWhen it comes to Queensland's natural wonders, Carnarvon Gorge is sure to be near the top of the list. As one of the country's most hidden treasures, there is an endless smorgasbord of natural attractions in every direction you travel here. If you begin your journey here in Brisbane, the easiest route to take is via Roma and Injune. This will take you about nine hours but the drive is well worth it. Alternatively, it is half the distance south west from Rockhampton, for those who don't want to endure sitting down for too long.

Takarakka Bush Resort is an ideal place to stay and offers excellent facilities, including a convenience store. It is also central to all the great walks, making it ideal for bush walkers. The grounds and surrounds are fantastic for a stroll, with the Platypus Pool just around the corner and the nearby lookout a perfect location to absorb the cliff sunset. Kangaroos and wallabies are locals here, as well as the occasional prickly echidna, allowing for a wildlife experience all on its own. The Information Centre nearby also doubles as a starting point for many of the walks and is great place to accustom yourself with the gorge's best regions.

The best time to visit is between March and October, when temperatures are mild. However, it cab get very cold at nights so be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes. The summer months bring 40 degree temperatures during the day so the waterholes are an ideal way to escape the heat, especially if there has been a lot of rainfall. The gorge is so large that you can easily feel like the only person in the world once you get off the beaten track onto some of the longer walks. Be careful not to get lost because this gorge can consume you and capture you unexpectedly.

This truly is an ‘oasis in the desert!’ The biggest attraction is the Gorge itself, and avid bushwalkers will enjoy the many walks that wind through and past its majestic cliffs. These walks are clearly signposted and suits most levels of fitness, assuring there is something here for everyone. The Rock Pool walk is a favourite, and takes only around an hour to complete. It comes to an end in a shady rest area and pool surrounded by ferns and casuarina trees. If you’re lucky you may even see a platypus or two.

The Moss Gardens take a few hours to do a return trip, but your reward is an incredible display of silky moss, ferns and rich undergrowth. The rock walls seem to tower overhead with a canopy of palms, ferns and everything green. Truly spectacular!

The Nature Trail, taking only an hour return, is another of the more popular trails. It can best be enjoyed at dusk or dawn as you will be able to capture the wildlife, colours and beautiful scenery along Carnarvon Creek at its best. The Boolimba Bluff Walk will take you up the majestic cliffs of the gorge and reward you with panoramic views of the valleys below. Be sure to bring your camer and be prepared for a lot of steps and ladders. It is well worth the trek for such incredible scenery of the gorge at its best.

A popular favourite with visitors is the Amphitheatre, which is only accessible via a sturdy ladder leaning into its sixty metre chamber. Once you are inside it is hard to believe that such an impressive attraction has been formed by the sheer force of running water.

If your time here is limited, the best thing to do is a plan a day trip that will combine a number of walks. The Aboriginal Art gallery, Ward’s Canyon, Amphitheatre and Moss Gardens can all be joined together and will give you a tasty bite of the gorge. The walks have been designed so that a number of them branch off the main walking track. For flora and fauna lovers, a visit to Ward’s Canyon is another must do with the world’s largest fern proudly on display. Another great idea is to pack a picnic lunch and hike to the Devil’s signpost or The Ranch for the day? The tracks are easily marked but not used as frequently which means you often have the wilderness all to yourself. Another adventure option is to walk the entire length of Carnarvon Gorge. This is an overnight experience which needs some planning but is worth every minute of amazing scenery. Carnarvon is also a haven for birdwatchers, with wedge tailed eagles, peregrine falcons, rainbow lorikeets, king parrots and kookaburras all happy to call this unique place home. Dusk is prticularly noisy, with a host of birds singing to each other around the campgrounds. The owls and tawny frogmouths come alive at night, making for a unique birdlife experience.

Carnarvon Gorge is so diverse that you need to spend at least three days to a week here to truly experience its true beauty. The drive here alone will reward you with some of our country's best landscapes and the oasis that you will be rewarded with will please anyone. Once you visit you will beg to come back again and again.

Christine Barton

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