When the silhouette of the sandstone mountain range emerges upon the horizon 60 kilometres away you cannot help but realise the vastness of Carnarvon National Park. With just under an hour left of driving, we were sitting on the edge of our seats like a champagne cork ready to burst.
Before arriving at Takarakka Bush Resort where we would spend two nights camping, we drove along a dirt road that was full of life. Arriving on dusk meant that we were greeted by an abundance of wildlife. We met with herds of cattle, mobs of emus, plain turkeys, kangaroos and even a brolga. It was a spectacular appetiser to the National Park.
To take full advantage of Carnarvon Gorge, most visitors stay a minimum of three days. If you are anything like us though and like to over indulge, exploring all of the trails and more in a whole day plus a sneaky morning hike before departure is ideal.
Binging on a whole tub of ice-cream, at home, in front of the latest blockbuster requires a lot less effort than covering 40km of trails across 12 hours. So, from our experience we will share our tips on how to binge hike through Carnarvon Gorge.
Prepare for the extreme day the night before. Have a minimalist’s approach when it comes to filling your day-pack. We recommend taking a lot of small yet energising snacks as opposed to one big heavy meal because who likes doing anything once in a food coma? Take plenty of water, this is a no brainer really. There are two water streams in the gorge where the water is suitable for drinking. At your own risk of course. Therefore, if you want to keep extra light take this into consideration and bring along an empty filtered water bottle or perhaps just a filtered straw. Lastly, expect the absolute best but prepare for the worst by throwing in a small practical first aid kit.
2) The success or failure of any adventure is your footwear.
Refrain from dusting off the hiking boots and ensure that you have your comfy worn in sneakers.
The gorge is definitely good for the soul but not so much for the feet. Keep in mind that you will be criss-crossing over stepping stones in the boulder strewn river.
3) WAKEY WAKEY EGGS AND BAKEY
Start the day early. No need to be afraid of sleeping through the alarm as the choir of kookaburras will abruptly wake you just as the sun is rising. With a few grunts and squirms we were up, devouring a fuel filled breakfast and on our way to the entrance of the gorge.
As we entered the gorge we could smell adventure in the air. It lingered in the frosty swirls of mist and reflected in the jagged walls of the sandstone cliffs. It echoed through the gorge and up into the sky. Despite being so eager to explore, it is essential to maintain a moderate pace and hike to the furthest point straight away. On the way back venture off on to the side trails where your mind will be blown by the hidden majestical places. Try avoid having long breaks as this can bring on bouts of laziness; keep the momentum going and take regular short breaks instead.
5) WANDER DOWN EVERY TRAIL
After 25km of hiking we wanted nothing more than to go back to camp, relax and have a beer with our neighbouring kangaroo family.But with three side trails remaining we soldiered on. When you feel like giving up, keep on keeping on because every kilometre after will leave you in absolute awe. From aboriginal paintings to narrow moss canyons and waterfalls. There is not one part of the dramatic landscape that cannot be missed. It really is beyond gorge-ous.
Something that will always catch you by surprise. Walking through a winding course enclosed by the striking sandstone escarpment parched dry by the sun and being surround by giant ferns, river oaks and water streams made it easy to lose track of time. There was one trail left, a 6.5km climb up and through the sandstone cliffs. However due to nursing raging blisters and wanting to have a swim at the local swimming hole we called it a day. We used our time wisely and climbed the incredible lookout the next morning before departure. Keeping a close eye on the time throughout the day will definitely allow you to conquer all of the gorge trails in one day.
The geographical location of Carnarvon Gorge itself is amazing and is well worth your time getting there. One would expect to be met with a hot arid, farming type landscape. Which is exactly what you will drive past for many hours on your journey towards Central Western Queensland. However, shielded from the harsh surrounding terrain by huge sandstone cliffs, life was able to flourish in the oasis of this beautiful green gorge. The surreal ambience and diversity of Carnarvon Gorge felt like we were going to encounter a pack of trolls, a herd of dinosaurs or a flutter of fairies and at times all of the above!