Carnarvon Gorge with Dogs
Vanessa from Chris Vee & Tilly's Big Lap share their adventures to Carnarvon Gorge staying at the incredible Sandstone Park with their dog. Carnarvon Gorge is located in the Southern Brigalow Belt bioregion in Central Queensland (Australia), 593 km northwest of Brisbane. Primarily created by water erosion, Carnarvon Gorge is around 30 kilometres long and six hundred metres deep at the mouth. It is located in Carnarvon National Park and is the most visited feature within the National Park due to the diversity of experiences it contains and the ease with which it can be accessed.
In the months before even arriving at Carnarvon Gorge, we kept hearing “oh you need to visit Carnarvon Gorge….” People kept telling us how spectacular the place was. So as we neared closer, we started to do our research. Where could we stay that’s dog friendly? What activities are there? The best walks available? Best time of year to visit? Amongst other things.
Located half way between Roma and Emerald, it’s a short 40km drive off the A55. The road is sealed all the way and apart from a few cattle grids and narrow sections it’s easy to tow your caravan in to either of the 2 caravan parks or national park campground.
We opted for Sandstone Park for our stay at the gorge. All we can say is wow…… an absolute must whether you have a dog or not. Elevated on one of the plateaus, with uninterrupted 360 degree views across the gorge its literally views forever. Plus only a couple of kilometres outside of the national parks entrance.
Sandstone Park are an up and coming camp site. Each site is huge, you can literally drive into your site and park up sideways, so complete privacy. The sites are level, so no need for too much adjustment to your vans level plus all sites also have their own fire pit.
If you are travelling with your four legged bestie as we were, the camp ground has brand new boarding kennels. So if you wish to house your pet there, if you’re having an extended time exploring the gorge, your fur baby can stay in the clean comfortable kennels.
When we visited it was more or less self sufficient travellers only. There were toilets only, however in the last 12 months the camp ground now have a dump point and potable water. So it makes staying even more appealing.
As you arrive at the park, there are camping spots near the entrance, but we decided to head over to the far end past the office. As there’s not as much passing cars and vans there, so it felt quieter.
As we had Tilly with us we decided to do the shorter walks, as we didn’t want to leave her too long on her own. The walks range between 1km – 20km return walks.
As you arrive at the entrance of the National Park, there is a visitor information centre, where the rangers are a wealth of knowledge. After chatting with these guys and grabbing our map we set off on our chosen walks.
· Nature Trail - 1.5km return. This walk in the main is an easy grade walk. However you have to cross the river twice over stepping stones, so be carful. The path guides you along the rivers edge where you’ll see local fauna and wildlife, if you’re lucky you may even see a timid platypus cruising through the water.
· Rock pool - 600m return. From the car park you’ll be lead down to the rivers edge again to cross some more stepping stones. From here you can see some of the large boulders protruding out of the river. This pool is also a great place to take a dip in the warmer months.
· Mikey Creek - 3km return. This track starts out nice and wide through the trees, but the further you go, the narrower the path becomes. As you near the end of the track you’ll be hopping over rocks and water filled creeks. At some points you’ll be able to reach both arms out and touch the side of the gorge…. Due to location and depth in this part of the gorge, sunlight doesn’t make a long appearance, but this is a welcomed feeling in the warmer months. The path is filled with lush green plants and mosses, amongst local wildlife.
· Baloon cave walk - 2km return (currently closed until further notice). This is probably the easiest of the walks we did. A sealed path from the parking area, leads you through the low lying bushland before reaching the cave itself. Through thousands of years of erosion, a natural overhang has occurred creating a cave like dwelling. Once used as a meeting place for the local aboriginal people, there is some of parks best aboriginal artwork to view in the cave too.
For the more adventurous types there are some great tours available. We really wanted to do the astronomy night tour but due to the weather being overcast, It would’ve been a waste of money. There is also a nighttime safari tour which would be great for young and old alike. Kids will love the thrill of looking for the nocturnal animals which grace the gorge once the sun sets.
We visited Carnarvon Gorge in June, so in our opinion this was a great time to visit and do the walks. Winter daytime temperatures hover in the early 20s dropping to 5 – 7 degrees in the evening. Whereas summer time temperatures average between 35-39 degrees with overnight lows in the late teens.
On a final note, our hot tip would be when visiting any national park is to check the state website before you visit. There is nothing worse than planning a day or weekend way, only to drive out and something is closed. Parks and wildlife pages regularly update their information to let you know if walks and attractions are open and accessible.
For Carnarvon gorge please visit www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/carnarvon-gorge/
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