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
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 Centre.
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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
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.
Carnarvon National Park
Via Rollerston, Qld 4702Tel (07) 4982 4555