This post takes place at Carnarvon National Park in Queensland, Australia. This place is just as stunning now as she was 27 million years ago.
Millennia before Australia, Aboriginal People understood, respected and treasured the land. They knew it like lovers know each other’s bodies. They learned its rhythms and seasons, every flower, bird and rivulet. Through exquisite art and music that stirs the soul, they handed down stories so that their descendants would never forget who they are and where they come from.
Australia is home to some of the oldest collections of rock art in the world, and interpreting these ancient art provides valuable insights into their history.
Carnavon National Park
Once you reach the grounds of this national park, you immediately feel the strong connection to the country. Bushwalking is not just about spotting the birds, kangaroos and other animals. We were fascinated and puzzled by exhibits of Aboriginal artwork that have been on show for century upon century. The tracks on Carnarvon National Park that go through the magnificent flora and fauna to reach the ancient art galleries of Carnarvon Gorge is half the fun. You will get a sense of the amazing forces that must have passed through here at times to make the gorge and this amazing landscape of sandstone cliffs, ancient cycads and ferns is a geographical sensation to support the spectacular collections of Aboriginal relics.
You will soon witness hundreds of handprints both large and small, and marvel at the plenitude of ochre and ash stencils and engravings that depict aspects of the Indigenous lifestyle.
This is Australia’s best Indigenous stencil art and the rock surface can easily erode- so please don’t touch!
Luckily this site has been preserved by not being listed on brochures and maps and having camouflaged tracks to keep any vandalism at bay. The rock art tells stories from the local Bidjara and Karingbal people.
The Art Gallery at Carnarvon
The track to the Art Gallery is 5.4km (one way) and long enough to make a bit of a day of it but easily accessible for anyone who enjoys a walk. There’s a slight hill towards the end of the trail, but the extra huff and puff are worth it to get to the shady picnic spot at the end.
Aijon Falls & Ward’s Canyon
This was my favourite spot of all in Carnarvon National Park. Here, we came face-to-face with ‘green dinosaurs’ as Ward’s Canyon is home to the world’s largest fern – the king fern (Angiopteris evecta). There’s a short steep track at the end that will take you alongside a waterfall.
Walking into the narrow canyon is like stepping into a chilly air-conditioned office. It’s the perfect pit stop to rest your feet, cool down and watch the gentle swaying ferns.
This one is for the slightly more adventurous walker and involves climbing up a steel ladder and through a narrow rock, crevice leads to a large chasm carved out by the water, 60 metres deep into the sandstone chamber. Ferns and mosses grow on the walls and floor. The still, eerie atmosphere here leaves many people quiet and full of wonder.
We escape the midday sun and make your way to the cool waterfall and green walls of the Moss Garden.
This is situated in Violet Gorge, at 3.6km from the camping area, a side gorge in the Hellhole Gorge complex. A small waterfall tumbles over a large rock overhang into an icy pool. The rock walls are dripping with water and support a prolific growth of ferns, mosses, liverworts and hornworts.
This is at 3.2km from the camping area. After the first creek crossing, this track is to the right, off the main gorge track. The bluff is 200 metres above the gorge floor, so a series of stone steps and ladders have been built into the track to make the steep climb easier. Boolimba Bluff has a panoramic view of the gorge and the geological components of the area can be identified.
In the shelter of this large overhang, 9.3km along the main gorge track, Aborigines once spent time feasting and painting. The lower walls are covered in carving and paintings. Do not expect to see everything at a glance. Look carefully at the paintings and many exciting figures will take shape. There are no constructed walking tracks beyond Cathedral Cave, but Boowinds Gorge nearby to the left with its narrow passages and sculptured rock walls is worth seeing.
FAQ’s about our trip to Carnarvon National Park
No. The last time we explore Carnarvon National Park we didn’t have children.
Absolutely! Carnarvon is an amazing place to explore with kids – has easy and short tracks that you can choose according to your child’s age and fitness, it’s safe and fun! Plus, there’s so much learning to take in for the whole family. We are aiming to take the kids there shortly!
We drove our defender there – was a great long and worthy road trip! Plus we get to sleep on our rooftop tent!
We stayed for 3 days. However, you can easily spend 8 days there, especially if you are thinking of doing one of the multi-day walks.