Sandstone wilderness: Queensland’s Carnarvon Gorge
LOCATED 300km inland from Rockhampton, it’s one of the Sunshine State’s most spectacular natural features, a 30km-long chasm slicing through rugged basalt-capped hills. White cliffs rise up 200m above Carnarvon Creek, a welcome oasis in the dry outback that rushes along carrying perch and platypus, and is a rich food source for sharp-eyed kingfishers and kookaburras.
Carnarvon Gorge is also a place of enormous historic value. Venture into its many side gorges and you’ll find places of great spiritual significance to the local Bidjara and Karingbal people, with superb Aboriginal art sites displaying sophisticated stencil techniques.
Flora and fauna are the other shining stars of the gorge. Carnarvon fan palms are only found here, and Sydney blue gums, once widespread across the mainland but now mostly confined to New South Wales, prosper in its microclimate. Five glider species call this spot home and local nature guides guarantee sightings on night safari tours. The gorge is also full of echidnas, rufous bettongs, eastern grey kangaroos and pretty-faced and swamp wallabies, as well as freshwater turtles, fish, snakes, goannas and more than 170 species of bird.
Read more tips for embarking on the Carnarvon Gorge multi-day hike in Issue 142 of Australian Geographic out now.