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Carnarvon Great Walk

Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government

Carnarvon Great Walk

Walking No Walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (natural) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping

Legend

Walking No walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (natural) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping
World Heritage Area

Experience a bold and striking landscape of towering sandstone cliffs, sweeping tablelands and shaded side gorges on this adventurous multi-day hike.

Park alerts
For those up to the challenge, the Carnarvon Great Walk is a fanastic way to experience the best of this park.
For those up to the challenge, the Carnarvon Great Walk is a fanastic way to experience the best of this park. Adam Creed © Queensland Government
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Park Carnarvon
Traditional Owners Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

Set within the highlands of the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt—and linking the Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffat sections of the park—this is a walking adventure not to be missed.

Load up your pack and explore the far reaches of this amazing countryside. Over 6–7 days you’ll travel through the gorge, and up and around the plateaus, spurs and ridgelines that form Central Queensland’s highest country. Sleep under the stars at walkers’ camps along the track, deep in the heartland of the park.

This rugged walk will test your strength and stamina so you’ll need to have some experience in overnight walking and be totally self-sufficient.

At a glance

Distance: 87km circuit (the same start and finish point, but the traveller doesn’t return along the same path).
Time suggested: Allow 7 days walking time.
Grade:
Journey type: Walk

See below for detailed track notes for the Great Walk starting from and returning to Carnarvon Gorge.

R1 Carnarvon Gorge visitor area to Big Bend walkers’ camp

Distance: 9.7km
Time suggested: Allow 3–4hrs walking time, longer if you visit the side gorges
Grade: Grade 4 walking track

From the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area, the Great Walk heads along the Main gorge track, following the winding course of Carnarvon Creek up the ever-narrowing gorge. The main walking track is mostly flat, although side-branches involve steeper sections. Surrounded by towering cliffs of Precipice Sandstone, Carnarvon Creek is a cool and green oasis compared to later, more elevated, stages of the Great Walk. Carnarvon fan palms, ancient cycads, flowering shrubs and gum trees line the creek, while narrow side-gorges provide a protected environment where remnant rainforest survives. Side-branches from the main track lead to a range of sites, including the Moss Garden, Ward’s Canyon, the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave. The Aboriginal rock art adorning the sandstone walls at the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave includes some of the best-known and finest rock imagery in Australia. This first section of the Great Walk ends at Big Bend—also the end of the gorge’s main walking track.

R2 Big Bend walkers’ camp to Gadd’s walkers’ camp

Distance: 14.8km
Time suggested: Allow 6–7hrs walking time
Grade: Grade 5 walking track

From Big Bend, the Great Walk leads through the narrow, boulder-lined Boowinda Gorge before heading steeply up and out of Carnarvon Gorge towards Battleship Spur. Ascending over 600m in 4km, the walk to Battleship leads along narrow ridges and across rocky scree slopes towards the basalt-capped top of the Great Dividing Range. At over 1000m above sea level, the Battleship Spur lookout provides sensational views back over Carnarvon Gorge and further east. From here, the trail heads across grassy plateaus and down the western side of the Great Divide into the Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park. This is the headwaters of the Maranoa River—itself part of the Murray-Darling catchment. Gadd’s walkers’ camp is situated near the site of an old stockyard—for many years stockmen camped here when this area was a highlands cattle run.

R3 Gadd’s walkers’ camp to West Branch walkers’ camp

Distance: 15.8km
Time suggested: Allow 5–6hrs walking time
Grade: Grade 5 walking track

From Gadd’s walkers’ camp, the trail leads uphill, heading along a narrow-side branch of the Maranoa River for 6km before leading steeply up onto the plateau and the Great Dividing Range once more. There are great views back over Carnarvon Gorge, and also to the south-west a little further on. From here the track heads south-west, before leading steeply down a ridgeline into Boot Creek, from where the basalt-capped peak of Mount Moffatt can be seen beyond the rolling hills with their cover of yellow grass and waves of silver-leafed ironbark. The landscape on the western side of the Great Dividing Range is less dramatic than Carnarvon Gorge, but equally as interesting. Here, the Maranoa River has eroded broad valleys from the soft, more elevated layers of sandstone. Descending into Boot Creek, the track heads down one of these sandy valleys and eventually over a suspension bridge across the west branch of the Maranoa River and into the West Branch walkers’ camp. Water is available here, and toilets are a short distance away.

R4 West Branch walkers’ camp to Consuelo camping zone

Distance: 17.3km
Time suggested: Allow 6–7hrs walking time
Grade: Grade 5 walking track

This is the longest section of the Great Walk. From West Branch the trail climbs steadily uphill again, leading onto the Consuelo Tableland, and crosses the crest of the Great Dividing Range, which heads away in a north-westerly direction. There are great views of the western mountain ranges and Mount Moffatt. A cool change from the open rugged country you have just passed through, the Consuelo Tableland has deep, fertile basalt soils—remnants of the Buckland Volcano’s basalt flows. The deep soils and cool, moist conditions support a tall woodland/open forest of silvertop stringybark and Sydney blue gum, with patches of rough-barked apple. Swathes of kangaroo grass, blady grass and at times, bracken fern cover the ground. Macrozamia (cycads) are common here, in places reaching as much as six metres in height. The track leads through a very tall open forest consisting almost entirely of majestic silvertop stringybark. Known as the Mahogany Forest, this is one of the area’s best examples of this forest type. The trail passes close to the southern edge of the plateau, through small pockets of casuarinas where the sound of red-tailed black cockatoos may be heard from high above. The Consuelo Tableland reaches a height of 1232m above sea level at a point just to the south of the Great Walk trail. You are now walking across the 'Roof of Queensland', the most elevated part of the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt and one of the highest places in Queensland.

R5 Consuelo camping zone to Cabbage Tree camping zone

Distance: 13.8km
Time suggested: Allow 3–4hrs walking time
Grade: Grade 5 walking track

Consuelo camping zone has been a place where people have camped for many years under the shelter of Queensland blue gums and rough-barked apple trees. A series of springs—including Foley’s, Ferntree and Heavenly springs—are hidden along the tableland. These water points were known to Aboriginal people and the stockmen who followed. This section of the Great Walk is a gradual south-east descent along the top of the Consuelo Tableland. The track will lead you through an area of grass trees with towering flower spikes, with casuarina forest on your right. From Consuelo camping zone the trail heads through tall open forest. This area is frequently burnt, with the varied undergrowth reflecting this—carpets of bracken fern indicate recent burns, while unburnt areas have an understorey dominated by acacias.

R6 Cabbage Tree camping zone to Carnarvon Gorge visitor area

Distance: 15.3km
Time suggested: Allow 5–6hrs walking time
Grade: Grade 5 walking track

The last leg of the Great Walk skirts the eastern edge of the Consuelo Tableland and heads back down into the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area. After several kilometres of walking the tableland narrows, and the trail leads close to the northern edge of the plateau, from where there are views north to Mount Acland (Black Alley Peak), a remnant of basalt rising from the sandstone of Black Alley Ridge. The trail descends steeply to the south from the tableland, down onto a broad, lower plateau known as Jimmy’s Shelf. You are following the trail once used by stockmen to travel between the plateau and the lower country. After several kilometres heading south, the trail climbs several steep ridges and crosses deep gullies before heading up Demon’s Ridge. Passing within view of the large rock formation known as the Devil’s Signpost, the trail leads south again, with the imposing Bulknaoo Cliffs looming overhead. A 700m side track leads to the Boolimba Bluff Lookout, with views over the mouth of Carnarvon Gorge. From here, the trail descends through spotted gum woodland to Carnarvon Creek. There are steps, steep sections including one very steep section with 300m of steps and short ladders.

Getting there and getting around

Carnarvon Great Walk is in Carnarvon National Park in central Queensland's Sandstone Wilderness, about 720km north-west of Brisbane and 400km west of Gladstone. The Carnarvon Great Walk links the Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections of the park.

  • You can access the Carnarvon Great Walk from the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area, 5.9km by unsealed road from the park entrance in the Carnarvon Gorge section, or the West Branch camping area, 25km from the park entrance in the Mount Moffat section of the park.
  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

Parking

Park at Carnarvon Gorge visitor area and West Branch camping area trail heads. There is no vehicle access to any walkers' camps or camping zones along the walk.

Fuel and supplies

Carnarvon Gorge

  • The nearest fuel and supplies 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 Injune and Rolleston.

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

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

When to visit

Opening hours

Carnarvon Great Walk is open 24 hours a day.

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.

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.

Tourism information

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.

  • This area is remote and isolated. Accidents have happened, even to experienced bushwalkers.
  • See the Bureau of Meteorology for weather conditions and forecasts.
  • Rangers carry out planned hazard-reduction burning in the area, so check for updates on fire danger and scheduled burns before you go.
  • Purchase a copy of the Carnarvon Great Walk Topographic Map to help you plan your walk.
  • 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.
  • As part of planning your walk, complete this bushwalking advice form (PDF, 66.5KB) . Give a copy of this form 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.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Camping

  • Watch your head. High winds cause branches to fall. Walkers' camps may be closed temporarily in very windy conditions.
  • 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.
  • Do not feed wildlife as some animals can quickly become reliant on human food and become aggressive. Keep food hidden in your pack or tent.
  • 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.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Open fires

  • Open fires are not permitted in any camps along the Carnarvon Gorge Great Walk.
  • Open fires are permitted at West Branch camping area, trailhead for the Great Walk. 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.
  • Use a fuel stove or the gas barbecues provided at Carnarvon Gorge visitor area, trailhead for the Great Walk.
  • 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.. Bring a sealable container for rubbish and take all recyclables and rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Do not bury or leave rubbish. This includes cigarette butts, which do not decompose.

Walking

  • Take the Carnarvon Great Walk topographic map, a compass and a GPS. Stay on marked tracks and trails. Check your map regularly to mark your progress against features. Do not push too hard—stop to make camp well before dark or before bad weather and keep your group together, especially towards the end of the day.
  • If someone becomes ill or if difficult weather sets in, make camp and wait for conditions to improve or for help to arrive. Know your group and its limitations and change your plans as necessary.
  • If you think you are lost, sit down and stay calm. Use the map and compass or GPS. Do not continue travelling until you know where you are. If you are lost, stay in one place and wait for help to arrive.
  • Water levels in the area's creeks can rise very quickly during rain. Do not cross creeks during floods or after heavy rain. If caught during a flash flood, stay on high ground and wait until the waters have receded. Continue your walk only when you can safely cross the creeks.
  • You may encounter wild dogs, dingoes or horses. Do not encourage, excite or coax them in any way. Occasionally, stallions can be threatened by people and may become aggressive. In such situations stay calm and move away.
  • If you encounter a snake, calmly walk away without disturbing it. Some snakes are more active at night, so always use a torch, wear shoes and watch where you walk. Ensure that you are familiar with first aid for snake bite.
  • Read be wildlife aware for important information about dangerous animals and plants.

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

Emergencies

  • Have an emergency plan and be prepared with a first aid kit and a practical working knowledge of basic first aid. The nearest hospitals are at Roma, Injune and Mitchell.
  • There is no mobile phone coverage along the walk however satellite phones can be used.
  • If you have an Personal Locator Beacon(PLB), it should only be activated in a serious emergency situation, when there is no alternative way to raise assistance.
  • Bushfires can occur without warning. Be aware of, and prepared for, the dangers.
  • Read safety during extreme weather for important information about what to do during floods, bushfires and cyclones.

Restricted access

There are restricted access areas at cultural and natural heritage sites throughout the Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections of Carnarvon National Park.

Last updated: 22 March 2018
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