Carnarvon National Park
A significant cultural site with engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings in a wind-eroded overhang that sheltered Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
This lightly trafficked walk branches off the Main Gorge Track in Carnarvon National Park.
Cathedral Cave is located 8.8 kilometres along the main gorge track and is a 50m one-way side-track involving wooden steps to a boardwalk.
This is a place to sit and reflect, appreciate and immerse yourself in an ancient culture (naga yimba – see, look, listen), as you consider the privilege of witnessing such an incredible display of Aboriginal rock art.
Engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings adorn the sheer white sandstone walls. The artwork ranges in age from thousands of years old to just 200 years ago.
The ancient rock art show the Aboriginal people’s strong ties to this extraordinary landscape, with the towering wind-eroded overhang having sheltered Aboriginal people for thousands of years as a place of gathering.
Interpretive signs tell of the rich cultural life of those who gathered here, with art depicting singing (mambu), shell pendants (che-ka-ra) and much more.
The art also depicts the Aboriginal people’s contact with settlers, including rifles (murrgin) and evil spirits (yakajah).
A boardwalk with multiple viewing platforms has been constructed to protect the fragile sandstone wall from dust and damage. It is essential to not stray from the boardwalk and do not, under any circumstances, touch the wall.
Track: The main gorge track is a mostly flat, well-maintained graded path, with occasional steps and footbridges, and large stepping-stones at each of the creek crossings. The side-track to Cathedral Cave is short and involves a set of wooden steps to the boardwalk. The track is well-signed and easy to follow.
Difficulty: The length of the track earns this walk a hard rating, with the track mostly flat, and only the side-tracks involving short steep sections. The creek crossings typically have large stepping-stones, but these can be slippery and may present an issue for people with balance issues. The water depth at the creek crossings is usually only ankle deep, but the rocks under the water are often very slippery. Sturdy shoes with good grip and hiking poles are highly recommended.
Direction: This is an out-and-back track that returns the way it came.
The trailhead is located near the Visitor Centre at the end of Carnarvon Gorge Road. The visitor centre is located 8.5 hours drive north-west of Brisbane, 7 hours drive west of Bundaberg and 3 hours north of Roma.
It is recommended to break up the drive to the park and consider the impact of fatigue on driving safety. Many of the roads leading to the park are rural roads prone to wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk.
Parking is ample at the Visitor Centre, however it can get busy during peak periods.
best time to go
The walk can be completed year-round. Given the nature of the terrain, the area is prone to flooding after rain. Be sure to check the Queensland Parks website for updates regarding flooding and track closures.
Remember, whenever venturing into the outdoors, practice the Leave No Trace principles and be considerate of others. This means: dispose of your waste properly, don't remove things or move things from their natural position and respect all wildlife. Also be sure to plan ahead and adequately prepare for any adventure.
I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which all activities listed on this website are found, as well as Elders past, present and emerging. I strive to not promote sites where requests have been made for people not to explore due to the cultural significance of the site to Indigenous peoples, or note how to respectfully visit a site. If I have a promoted a site with cultural significance, please send me a message and let me know.