Self-guided walks – grab your boots & go
The following times are based on the average walker. On all walks, we highly recommend you carry plenty of water and snacks. For most trails, hiking boots aren’t necessary, good sneakers will suffice. During the warmer months, we highly recommend you start walks as early as possible, and to make the walks shorter to avoid being in the gorge during the hottest part of the day.
We recommend a 4 to 6 day stay to walk the tracks, explore side gorges and visit Aboriginal art sites and enjoy the beauty of Carnarvon Gorge. To plan your walking adventures, please download the Carnarvon Gorge Walking Map and brochure before your arrival.
Key to track standards
Carnarvon National Park’s walking tracks have been classified to help you select a walk that matches your bushwalking experience and fitness. Take time to read these class descriptions before walking in the park.
The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each track is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be easier.
Class 2 track
• Easy level track, suitable for all fitness levels—no previous bushwalking experience necessary
• All junctions sign-posted and may include interpretive signs
Class 3 track
• Gently sloping, well-defined track, usually with slight inclines or few to many steps
• Steep sections occur
• Caution needed on creek crossings, ladders and steps
• Reasonable level of fitness and ankle-supporting footwear strongly recommended
Class 4 track
• May be extensively overgrown; hazards such as fallen trees and rocks likely to be present
• Caution needed on creek crossings, cliff edges and naturally-occurring lookouts
• Moderate level of fitness required
• Ankle-supporting footwear required
Short walks from road into the park
Mickey’s Creek Gorge
One of the nicest of all walks in the park, this trail is ideal for those looking for a short walk. After about 1km, you come to a fork in the track. The left-hand fork follows Mickey’s Creek for another 500 metres. A beautiful place, it features small rapids in the creek, tree ferns and high cliffs and swamp wallabies are often seen resting here. The right-hand fork goes to Warrumbah Gorge. One of the most spectacular places in the park, this narrow defile is only metres wide, but some 40 metres deep. It’s a beautiful cool place in warm weather, and in cooler weather, take a jumper just in case! Once you reach the sign which says ‘formed track ends here’, just keep going. After only a hundred metres, the gorge narrows right down to the point where you can touch both sides easily! Just be aware that the creek bed here is very rocky, with rounded stones which can be slippery, so extra caution is needed.
3km return (1.5 hours) Class 3
A deep, natural waterhole, the Rock Pool has been carved from the bed of Carnarvon Creek by the turbulent water of past floods, and it’s the only place in the park that swimming is allowed (if swimming, please do not jump or dive into the pool). Even if you don’t want a dip, it’s worth the short walk to get views along the creek toward the gorge entrance. Rest in the shade of fig and casuarina trees and watch for platypus and turtles. The picnic area includes toilets and gas barbecue.
To find the Rock Pool, drive 2km toward to gorge, park in the Rock Pool carpark on the right, then follow the walking track past the toilet block, cross the creek, then the track veers to the right. The first pool is not the Rock Pool. The pool proper is the next one downstream – cross the creek a second time to find it.
600m return (1 hour) Class 3
Another lovely walk follows the creek upstream from near the Rock Pool toilet block to the Park Visitor centre.
3.5km in length (1.5 hours return) Class 3
Walks from Carnarvon Gorge visitor area
This short stroll along the shady banks of Carnarvon Creek provides a snapshot of the plant life on the gorge floor. You can see turtles basking in the sun, and if you’re quiet enough you may see the elusive platypus. Dusk and dawn provide the best opportunities for watching wildlife.
1.5km return (1 hour) Class 3
Discover what lies above the cliff line and gaze out to distant ranges at Boolimba Bluff, which towers 200m above Carnarvon Creek. This is the only formed lookout track from the gorge. No other track passes through such a diversity of habitats. Early morning is the best time for this walk. The track involves steps, steep sections and one very steep section with 300m of steps and short ladders, but the view from the top makes it absolutely worth the effort, especially first thing in the morning. Take a picnic breakfast or lunch to enjoy at the top.
6.4km return (2–3 hours) Class 4
Main gorge walking track
The main gorge walking track crosses Carnarvon Creek many times as it winds from the visitor centre to Big Bend, and it’s just a matter of how far along that track you want to go. Side-tracks from the main gorge track lead to a range of amazing sites. The track is mostly flat, although the side-tracks involve steeper sections.
The walking trail as far as the Art Gallery is a relatively easy track. It’s well signposted with bench seating in several places. There’s a toilet block near the Moss Garden turn-off. For those wanting to go beyond the Art Gallery, just be aware the track is not as well marked or maintained. This section of track leads to Cathedral Cave, another Aboriginal art site, Boowinda Gorge, a spectacular narrow canyon, and Big Bend, a camping area at the track’s end, where there is another toilet block. Expect some rough patches with rounded rocks on the path. On all walks, there’ll be several creek crossings. There are stepping-stones, and so require a bit of care.
If you wish to walk the entire track, you’ll need to be prepared to do a 24km walk, about 8 hours total. The most popular walk takes in the ‘big four’, a 14km walk heading up to the Art Gallery, then visiting Wards Canyon, Amphitheatre and Moss Garden on the way back. And after a great day exploring the gorge you’ll be back in time for Bush Bar and a Roast dinner as reward for your efforts!
Download a copy of the Carnarvon Gorge walk planner (PDF, 100K) to help plan your walks.
Water drips constantly from the sandstone walls of the Moss Garden, supporting a lush carpet of mosses, ferns and liverworts. Beneath tree ferns straining for sunlight, a small waterfall tumbles over a rock ledge into an icy pool.
7km return (2–3 hours) Class 3
Hidden inside the walls of the gorge is a 60m deep chamber, gouged from the rock by running water. Resounding acoustics add to the awe-inspiring atmosphere within the Amphitheatre.
8.6km return (3–4 hours) Class 3
Ward’s Canyon is a cool place to visit on a hot day. It is home to the world’s largest fern; the king fern Angiopteris evecta. These impressive green ‘dinosaurs’ have strong links with the ancient flora of Gondwanan origin. A short, steep rise up through spotted gums leads to the lower falls and then further into the shaded canyon.
9.2km return (3–4 hours) Class 3
Over two thousand engravings, ochre stencils and freehand paintings adorn the 62m-long sandstone walls of this significant Aboriginal site. The Art Gallery contains one of the best examples of stencil art in Australia.
10.8km return (3–4 hours) Class 3
This massive, wind-eroded overhang sheltered Aboriginal people for thousands of years. A panorama of rock art reflects the rich cultural life of those who gathered here.
18.2km return (5–6 hours) Class 4
Rock-hop into this sculpted side-gorge, 100m upstream of Cathedral Cave. The first kilometre of this boulder-strewn gorge is the most spectacular.
18.4km return (5–6 hours) Class 4
Big Bend camping area
A natural pool in Carnarvon Creek lies in an elbow of the gorge beneath looming sandstone walls. Rest here in the shade of large spotted gums and watch catfish and turtles swim in the tranquil waters of the upper reaches of Carnarvon Creek. A composting toilet and picnic table is located here.
19.4km return (7–8 hours) Class 4