Carnarvon National Park

Darren Jew ©Tourism and Events Queensland

Carnarvon National Park

Delve into a stunning landscape of towering cliffs, colourful gorges, endless views and sites steeped in historic and cultural connections.

Park alerts
Beneath the tree ferns, a small waterfall tumbles over a rock ledge into an icy pool at the Moss Garden.
Beneath the tree ferns, a small waterfall tumbles over a rock ledge into an icy pool at the Moss Garden. Paul Candlin © Queensland Government
View map
Park Carnarvon
Traditional Owner Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

You’ll need at least a week to fully appreciate the beauty and diversity of this park, set deep in the Central Highlands. Walk, drive, hike and camp in the park's four sections and be captivated by the diverse landscapes and rich wildlife of the Sandstone Wilderness.

Spend days immersing yourself in Carnarvon Gorge. Marvel at the vastness of the Amphitheatre, the cool quiet of Mickey Creek Gorge, and the prehistoric life in Ward’s Canyon. Let the world-renowned Art Gallery whisper stories of ancient cultural connections. Climb the gorge walls and watch the pastel-pink dawn tones dance across the creamy sandstone cliffs on the Boolimba Bluff walk.

If adventure is more your style, pack your gear and head out on the 87km Carnarvon Great Walk—an experience not to be missed if you love a challenge.Towering multi-hued cliffs, basalt-crested tablelands, sandstone escarpments and plateaus, cool streams and a colourful mosaic of plant life are waiting to be explored.

Jump in your 4WD and head right into the heart of this country on one of the park’s many scenic drives. In some parts you’ll climb to over 1200m and see amazing sandstone formations, historical sites and unique Aboriginal art sites.

Spend peaceful nights under the star-studded sky at one of the many remote camping areas scattered throughout the park. You’ll be awe-inspired—and never want to leave!

Keep discovering

Top things to see and do

Dargonelly Rock Hole camping area is the largest of Mount Moffatt's camping areas.

Carnarvon's camping areas

See Carnarvon's camping areas.

Enjoy the Aboriginal rock art on the Kookaburra Cave track.

Carnarvon's journeys

See Carnarvon's walks and drives.

Picnic with the kangaroos at the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area.

Carnarvon's attractions

See Carnarvon's day-use areas and information hut.

Getting there and getting around

Carnarvon National Park is in central Queensland's Sandstone Wilderness, about 720km north-west of Brisbane and 400km west of Gladstone. The park has four sections.

Carnarvon Gorge

  • Carnarvon Gorge is half way between Emerald and Roma and is accessible by conventional vehicle in dry weather only.
  • To reach Carnarvon Gorge from Roma, drive 90km north to Injune then a further 160km along the Carnarvon Highway to the Carnarvon Gorge turn-off. If you are travelling from Emerald, drive 65km south to Springsure then 70km east to Rolleston, and a further 61km along the Carnarvon Highway to the Carnarvon Gorge turn-off.  From here, the 45km road to the park entrance is mostly sealed.

Salvator Rosa

  • Salvator Rosa is between Tambo and Springsure and is accessible by 4WD only.
  • To reach Salvator Rosa from Springsure, drive 144km west along the Dawson Developmental Road to the Salvator Rosa turn-off and drive south 50km via Cungelella to the park entrance. From Tambo there are two routes into the park.

    • Drive 42km north of Tambo on the Dawson Developmental Road then turn east towards Springsure and drive 102km to the Salvator Rosa turn-off. Drive south 50km via Cungelella to the park entrance.
    • The second route is for high-clearance 4WDs via the ‘Wilderness Way’. From Tambo, drive 8km south on the Landsborough Highway, then turn east onto Mount Playfair Road (‘Wilderness Way’) and drive about 90km, then turn south at the intersection with Cungelella Road, and travel 30km via Cungelella, to the park entrance.

    Travel can be unexpectedly slow on these unsealed roads. Be aware of bull dust, sand and changing conditions—roads can become impassable after rain. Please respect the rights of property owners and leave all gates as you find them.

Ka Ka Mundi

  • Ka Ka Mundi is 130km south-west of Springsure. 4WDs are recommended.
  • To reach Ka Ka Mundi from Springsure, drive 50km on the Dawson Development Road, then take the Buckland Road to the south and follow signed tracks past Petrona and Tanderra, through Yandaburra, to the park entrance. 4WDs are recommended.

Mount Moffatt

  • Mount Moffatt is 220km north of Mitchell. High-clearance 4WDs are essential to get around the park.
  • To reach Mount Moffatt from Mitchell, drive 220km north on an unsealed road via Womblebank Station. If you are travelling from Injune, drive 160km north-west via Womblebank Station or Westgrove Station. High-clearance 4WDs are recommended and are essential to get around the park. There are no roads from Mount Moffatt direct to the other sections of the park.

Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Road conditions

Carnarvon Gorge

The 45km road to the park is mostly sealed. This road can become impassable after rain as Carnarvon Creek rises rapidly cutting road access.

Salvator Rosa

  • Access roads are unsealed and become impassable after rain. Travel on these roads can be unexpectedly slow. Be aware of bull dust, sand and other changing conditions.
  • Leave all gates as you find them and watch for wildlife and livestock on roads.

Ka Ka Mundi

  • Access roads are unsealed roads and become impassable after rain.
  • Leave all gates as you find them and watch for wildlife and livestock on roads.

Mount Moffatt

  • The access road via Womblebank Station is unsealed and can become impassable after rain.
  • Note that some roads may be closed without prior notice during wet conditions, in the event of wildfires or when rangers are carrying out other management duties.

See traffic and travel information for road and travel conditions.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Fuel and supplies

Carnarvon Gorge

  • Basic supplies are available from Takarakka Bush Resort, 4km by road from the park visitor centre. The nearest fuel is available from Rolleston (106km north) or Injune (111km south). LPG fuel is only available from Emerald (196km north-west) or Roma (201km south).
  • The nearest vehicle and tyre repair facilities are at Roma and Springsure.

Salvator Rosa

The nearest fuel and food supplies are at Springsure (169km) and Tambo (198km or 135km via Mount Playfair Road from the park).

Ka Ka Mundi

The nearest fuel and food supplies are at Springsure (130km), Rolleston (201 km) and Tambo (376km from the park).

Mount Moffatt

Fuel and supplies are available in Mitchell (220km) and Injune (160km) from the park. Allow extra fuel for driving the 100km of park roads as well as the trip back to town.

Wheelchair access

  • The Carnarvon Gorge visitor area has wheelchair-accessible toilets, picnic tables and disability car parking.
  • There are no wheelchair-accessible tracks or facilities in the other sections of Carnarvon National Park.

Camping

Camp under starry skies in the sandstone wilderness and hear the silence of the bush. Choose from a range of camping opportunities. Set up your camper trailer in an established camping area with flushing toilets and drinking water on tap, or walk into a remote walkers' camp on the Carnarvon Great Walk and camp beside a river or spring.

See camping areas

Other accommodation

Walking

Encounter a wild and untamed landscape in this park. Discover spectacular sandstone gorges, lush side-gorges and impressive rock formations. Explore impressive Aboriginal art sites and historic sites and revel in panoramic views that will take your breath away.

Map of walking tracks

Picnicking

Relax over a picnic among towering eucalypts and cabbage palms, savour a sandwich beside a scenic creek or linger over a cuppa at a picnic shelter with stunning views as your backdrop.

Map of picnic tables/facilities

Viewing wildlife

In Carnarvon Gorge opportunities for birdwatching abound! A night walk with a torch can reveal gliders, possums and bush stone-curlews, while you can glimpse platypus on an early morning or twilight stroll along the Nature trail. Belinda Spring in Salvator Rosa is a wildlife watcher's haven. Cool, clear water sheltered by clumps of ferns provide habitat for frogs and fish while larger animals, including egrets and herons, visit the spring for its rich food source. Red-backed fairy-wrens and plum-headed finches hide among the foliage. Mount Moffatt also offers exciting birdwatching experiences with at least 172 species recorded in the park.

Cultural and historic sites

Encounter a rich Aboriginal cultural heritage and colourful history in this park. See some of Australia's finest Aboriginal rock imagery at the Art Gallery, Baloon Cave, Cathedral Cave, Maranoa River and Kookaburra Cave. Hear about stories from days gone by on the Consuelo Tableland drive and discover the park's cattle grazing past at the Mount Moffatt Visitor Information Hut.

Four-wheel driving and scenic driving

Choose your 4WD adventure through the sandstone wilderness. Discover flowing springs and towering sandstone formations, visit historical features and story places, and discover the intriguingly-named 'Roof of Queensland'.

Map of four-wheel drives

Swimming

Swim in the Rock Pool carved from the bed of Carnarvon Creek by the turbulent water of past floods. This is the only place in Carnarvon Gorge where you can swim.

  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Other things to do

  • Explore the visitor centre at the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area for more information about the natural and cultural history of the park.
  • Consider becoming a campground host—help rangers greet visitors and maintain visitor facilities, and in return enjoy free camping. Campground hosts are needed in Carnarvon Gorge during the Queensland school holiday periods. If you like talking to people, love camping, are self-sufficient and equipped to camp in all weather conditions, then campground hosting could be for you! Download the information pack  PDF, 1179.47 KB to find out more!

When to visit

Opening hours

Carnarvon National Park is open 24 hours a day.

  • Sections of the park are occasionally closed for management activities such as planned burns and controlling pest animals. Notification of closures is posted on signs at the park's entrances and on the website.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Seasonal closures

  • The Carnarvon Great Walk is closed from the start of November to the end of February—the hottest time of the year. The track may also be closed at other times during fires or adverse weather conditions, for essential track maintenance or for safety reasons.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Climate and weather

The best time to visit Carnarvon National Park is between April and September. Temperatures in this region vary widely. Summer days can exceed 35°C. In winter, heavy frosts can be expected as temperatures sometimes fall below freezing. Rain mostly falls between December and March. However, storms can occur throughout the year. Many roads are unsealed and impassable after even a small amount of rain and flooding can occur suddenly.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

None. Check with your service provider for more information.

Wi-Fi

Connect to our QldParks wi-fi at the information centre in the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area.

Tourism information

Brochure

Download this brochure and take it with you:

Information provided in this guide is correct at the time of printing. Check park alerts for the latest details.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.
  • Read stay safe and visit with care for important general information about safety, caring for parks and essentials to bring when you visit Queensland’s national parks.

  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Camping

  • Bring warm clothing and camping gear as winter nights can fall below 0°C.
  • When washing cooking equipment, always wash at least 100m from streams. Keep waterways free of all pollutants including soap, detergents, sunscreens and food scraps.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Open fires

  • Open fires are permitted in Mount Moffatt section at Dargonelly Rock Hole, West Branch, Top Moffatt and Rotary Shelter camping areas. You can light fires only in existing fire rings or barbecues provided, except when fire bans or prohibitions apply. Bring your own clean-milled firewood as you can't collect bush wood. We recommend fuel stoves for cooking.
  • Open fires are not permitted in Carnarvon Gorge, Salvator Rosa and Ka Ka Mundi sections.
  • Use a fuel stove or the gas barbecues provided at Carnarvon Gorge visitor area.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Drinking water

Rubbish

  • There are no bins. Take your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Do not bury or leave rubbish. This includes cigarette butts, which do not decompose.

Dump Point

  • If you have a portable toilet, the nearest dump points are at caravan parks at Emerald, Roma, Rolleston and Mitchell.
  • Use toilets if provided.
  • In areas where toilets are not provided, bury faecal matter and toilet paper 15cm deep, 150m away from tracks, camp sites, watercourses and drainage channels. Take disposable nappies and sanitary products out of the park and dispose of them appropriately.

Walking

  • Always take care near cliff edges—sandstone can crumble.
  • Never walk alone, and stay on the tracks unless you are a very experienced and well-equipped bushwalker.
  • Carry adequate fresh water when walking—at least 2L per person.
  • Start longer walks at cooler times of the day to avoid heat exhaustion on hot days. Plan to complete your walk before dark.
  • Bring a topographic map and compass if you plan to do any off-track bushwalking. A GPS is also a valuable aid.
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Remote walking

  • When planning your walk, think about the abilities and limits of the walkers in your group. Bushwalking experience, fitness levels and track conditions are important factors. Bad weather (such as periods of high rainfall or very hot conditions) can make walking more difficult and challenging. Know how much food and water you can carry and match this with the trip's length. Carry extra food and water in case of emergency. The best time to walk is generally May to October.
  • If you are planning on remote hiking off-track, complete this remote bushwalking advice form PDF, 90.7 KB.
  • If you are walking the Great Walk, complete this bushwalking advice form PDF, 66.48 KB.
  • Give a copy of these forms to a responsible person and make sure that they know your exact route and when you expect to return. Contact them when you return. If you change your plans, tell them. Have an emergency plan in place if you fail to contact them by an agreed time. If you are overdue or potentially lost, your nominated contact should report this to the Queensland Police Service (phone Triple Zero 000). The police will organise rescue procedures.
  • We recommend that you contact the Park Rangers at Carnarvon Gorge or Mount Moffatt at least 10 days before your walk to let them know your plans and to find out about current conditions.
  • For remote off-track hiking, you should supply rangers with GPS points of your proposed camping sites and track route.
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Driving

  • Drive carefully at all times. Dirt roads may have gutters, washouts or loose edges (especially after heavy rain). Check local road conditions before visiting the park.
  • If your vehicle breaks down while within the national park, stay with it—a vehicle is much easier to find than a person.
  • Ensure you bring adequate supplies of water, food, fuel, vehicle spares and medical supplies. Roads may become impassable after rain, so ensure you take extra supplies.
  • Tell friends or family where you are going and when you expect to return. If you change your plans inform them.
  • See traffic and travel information for road and travel conditions.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Restricted access

Several sites have areas where access is restricted:

When visiting rock art sites, remember that the art is very fragile and can be permanently damaged by touching-even accidentally. Please enjoy a close look at the rock art while remaining on boardwalks where they are provided.

Natural environment

Carnarvon Gorge

Recognised nationally for its outstanding natural and cultural values, Carnarvon Gorge protects unique and significant plants and animals—many of them relics of cooler, wetter times. Permanent springwater, cooler temperatures and low levels of direct sunlight provide the conditions that allow remnant rainforest to survive here in the dry central Queensland climate. Carnarvon Creek always flows, even when it hasn't rained for months. Water falling as rain in the high country slowly percolates down through the porous sandstone, eventually meeting an impermeable (waterproof) band of rock known as shale. Unable to continue its journey downwards, the water moves sidewards along the sandstone and escapes through breaks, seeping out at places such as the Moss Garden and at other springs within the gorge. The springs and creeks of the gorge support a mosaic of habitats, home to an enormous diversity of life. Whether you choose to walk the main track or simply relax at the park visitor area, you will have many opportunities to encounter and discover the gorge's plants and animals. Mornings at the gorge are colourful as the sunlight meets the cliffs and a symphony of birdsong fills the air. Kangaroos and wallabies can be found around the picnic area and at night echidnas can be seen strolling about. The call of yellow-bellied gliders, owls and the bush stone curlew are often heard after dark.

Salvator Rosa

Eucalypt woodland and open forest cover most of the park. Fringing frosts of river red gum, poplar box and rough-barked apple trees line the Nogoa River and Louisa Creek. Open forests of silver-leaved ironbark on deeper alluvial soils gradually change to open woodlands of white cypress pine, smooth-barked apple trees and bloodwoods on the sandy ridges away from watercourses. Shallow soils on ridge-tops support forests of gum-topped ironbark, while scattered black cypress pines can be found on exposed rock outcrops. Springs are a special feature of Salvator Rosa. Porous sandstone of the surrounding ranges captures much of the water that enters the Great Artesian Basin. The many springs in the park are sections of exposed aquifer where sandstone layers have eroded. Rare in Inland Queensland, peat bogs at Salvator Rosa have formed over a period of 1000 years. They occur when layers of moss slowly decomposed in the cool spring waters. Made entirely of organic matter, peat burns easily. Underground fires can smoulder in the peat for long periods and thus have reduced the peat bog in size.

Ka Ka Mundi

Grey-green brigalow contrasts with the red clay soils on the undulating eastern plains. Bonewood and softwood scrubs also occur on clay soil. Other soil types support different vegetation—poplar box on clay loams, silver-leaved ironbark on sandy soils, and open grasslands on basalt-derived black soils.

The Great Divide and range country is timbered with stunted eucalypts. Taller ironbarks and 'yellow jackets' also occur with a shrubby wattle understory. Bottle trees emerge above softwood vine scrubs. Several springs seep from foothills and creek beds. These oases, lush with tree ferns and coral ferns, attract many birds including king parrots, figbirds and wompoo fruit-doves. You might slimpse red-necked and swamp wallabies sheltering in thick understorey by day. Look for stocky dark wallaroos around rocky ridges and sandstone outcrops. The grunting calls of koalas can sometimes be heard along the escarpment.

Mount Moffatt

While most of Mount Moffatt is at least 700m above sea level, the north-eastern section of the park rises to even loftier heights. Here, the Consuelo Tableland reaches more than 1000m above sea level. Forming part of the Great Dividing Range, this area is known as the 'Roof of Queensland'. Also called the 'Home of the Rivers', the Consuelo Tableland is the source of several major river systems. On the south-western side of the tableland, water flows along the twin branches of the Maranoa River and into the Murray-Darling catchment. To the east, water travels down steep-sided valleys, including Carnarvon Gorge, into the Comet and Dawson rivers. These join the Fitzroy River, which meets the coast near Rockhampton. The rivers and creeks of Mount Moffatt flow only after heavy rain. However, they do contain a number of near-permanent waterholes, such as Dargonelly Rock Hole. Isolated permanent and ephemeral (temporary) springs also occur throughout the park.

Mount Moffatt is home to more than 750 plant species. The varied landscape and combination of sandy and basalt soils has led to a rich mosaic of diverse and contrasting plant communities. Mount Moffat's wide, sandy valleys are cloaked with open grassy woodlands. Here, the pale salmon-pink trunks of smooth-barked apples Angophora leiocarpa are common, as are dense patches of white cypress Callitris glaucophylla. Scattered among these woodlands are also areas of spinifex grass and heath, where wildflowers abound. Look for these plant communities on the road between the park entrance and the turn-off to the information hut.

Take the circuit walk to The Tombs Rock Art site to enjoy a close look at this colourful woodland. As you cross creek lines on the way to the information hut, or at Dargonelly Rock Hole camping area, you will encounter woodlands dominated by poplar box Eucalyptus populnea (with their rough bark and large round green leaves), fuzzy box (E. conica) and rough-barked apple Angophora floribunda. Scattered alongside the creeks you will also see large forest red gums Eucalyptus tereticornis (with mottled, smooth grey bark and large hollows), silver-leaved ironbark E. melanophloia and the grey gum E. grisea. Spectacular natural grasslands flourish on Marlong Plain. The threatened native thistle Stemmacantha australis lives within this expanse of Queensland bluegrass Dichanthium sericeum. The plain is separated by strips of woodland, dominated by forest red gum and rough-barked apple.

At Brandy Gully, on the way to the Top Moffatt camping area, you can see a stand of mountain coolibah Eucalyptus orgadophila woodland, situated here unusually on an alluvial plain. Small patches of softwood scrub (dry rainforest) flourish in isolated gullies and slopes in areas protected from fire. Two small patches of this dark green forest can be seen on the ridge opposite Lot's Wife. The rolling foothills of the basalt-capped ranges are covered in open woodlands dominated by silver-leaved ironbark and narrow-leaved ironbark E. crebra. These woodlands can be seen near the Top Moffatt camping area or alongside the road into Lethbridge's Pocket (the murder site and the incineration site) after turning off the road to the Consuelo Tableland. Look for the black, deep-fissured bark and broad silver-grey leaves of the silver-leaved ironbark. The deep basalt soils of the Consuelo Tableland support a variety of open forests and tall woodlands. Here, the Mahogany Forest is dominated by the tall and majestic silvertop stringybark Eucalyptus laevopinea. The nearest location for these trees outside Mount Moffatt is on the Queensland/New South Wales border. Beneath these towering trees are found dense swathes of kangaroo grass, blady grass and bracken fern Pteridium esculentum. Large cycads, known as macrozamia Macrozamia moorei, are common in the grassy understorey. Here, they are very tall, sometimes reaching as much as 6m in height. The Sydney blue gum Eucalyptus saligna is a common tree once you travel past the Mahogany Forest. The diverse vegetation communities of Mount Moffatt provide homes for a huge range of animal species. As Mount Moffatt's hidden corners are explored, new species are continually being added to the park's list of recorded fauna.

Fifty-seven types of mammals have been recorded for the park, but most are elusive. They include koalas, northern quolls and echidnas. Seven species of kangaroos and wallabies inhabit the park, with grey kangaroos and red-necked wallabies seen in the open woodlands alongside the creeks. Herbert's rock wallabies move with great agility across the rock faces of the park's escarpments. By night, tiny feathertail gliders as well as sugar, yellow-bellied and greater gliders emerge to feed on blossoms and the sap of eucalypt trees. Bats make up one-third of the park's mammals—18 species have been recorded so far. Mount Moffatt is also home to rare or little-known native mammals such as the northern quoll, the common rock rat and the eastern pebble-mound mouse.

Mount Moffatt is a wonderful place for birdwatching, with at least 172 species recorded. Keep an eye out alongside the roads for squatter pigeons as they search the ground for seeds. Emus wander the woodlands surrounding the creeks on Marlong Plain. Twelve species of parrots and lorikeets and 14 types of honeyeaters can be seen. You may have spotted the wedge-tailed eagle—Australia's largest raptor (bird of prey)—eating carrion along the side of the road on the way to the park. Twelve other species of raptor have also been recorded here.

Of the 69 reptiles found in the park, four (including the tiger snake) are regionally significant and are confined locally to the Consuelo Tableland. Seventeen species of frog call the park home. An enormous diversity of invertebrate creatures is also found at Mount Moffatt. Searches continue to turn up new and fascinating species.

Request a species list to see what plants and animals have been recorded here.

Culture and history

Steadily flowing water has carved this landscape from ancient sandstone. The same water, still flowing from the rock, has drawn people to the Carnarvons for many thousands of years. Aboriginal people have a long and continuing relationship with this dramatic landscape. While visitors to the park usually associate Aboriginal history with the park's rock art sites, the connection for Aboriginal people is with the entire landscape.

A creation story tells of Mundagurra travelling through a once barren landscape to form the cliffs, mountains and rivers systems of the Carnarvons.

For visitors, the richness of Aboriginal culture in the Carnarvons is reflected in the fragile art on sandstone walls. Ochre stencils of tools, weapons, ornaments and ceremonial objects provide an insight into the lives of the land's first people. Carnarvon Gorge is often described by the Traditional Custodians as a place of learning—an area of great spirituality. This land still teaches, with many visitors to the park gaining a new understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture and history. A visit to Carnarvon National Park, and the information centre in Carnarvon Gorge visitor area, will bring new insights and understandings about the cultural significance of the Carnarvons.

Last updated: 07 September 2017
  • Share: