Main Gorge Track (full/all side-tracks)
Carnarvon National Park
A spectacular walk along Carnarvon Creek, nestled inside a gorge of towering sandstone cliffs, with numerous incredible side tracks.
This moderately trafficked walk starts at the Visitor Centre at the end of Carnarvon Gorge Road.
The full main track through the gorge winds its way 9.7 kms to Big Bend, crossing Carnarvon Creek many times, including immediately after setting off. The creek crossings are numbered with signposts.
Numerous side-tracks directly off the main track lead to a range of incredible sites of both cultural and natural beauty and significance. These are noted below.
Nature Trail (on the right at the 100m mark, 1km one-way) – Spot wildlife on this family friendly walk along the creek. It is recommended to leave this trail until the return leg. See the full page for the Nature Trail for more information.
Boolimba Bluff (on the right at the 1.1km mark, 4.3km return) – An incredible lookout with breathtaking views into the gorge and out to the distant ranges. It is recommended to do this trail as a separate walk, given the substantial elevation gain. See the full page for Boolimba Bluff for more information.
Moss Garden (on the left at the 2.8km mark, 650m one-way) – A cool oasis of ferns, moss covered rocks, towering cliffs and a small waterfall cascading into a pristine rockpool. The track involves a creek crossing and steps. See the full page for Moss Gardens for more information.
Second creek crossing (at the 3km mark) – This is the creek crossing most commonly featured in brochures and on social media, and for good reason, with a spectacular cliff acting as the backdrop of the large rocky stepping-stones across the creek.
Amphitheatre (on the left at the 3.7km mark, 450m one-way) – An incredible 60m deep chamber hidden inside the gorge walls, formed by thousands of years of running water. The track involves steps, a creek crossing, and a ladder used to enter the site. See the full page for the Amphitheatre for more information.
Ward’s Canyon (on the right at the 4.3km mark, 270m one-way) – Pass a small waterfall on your way to a side gorge and see the world’s largest fern – the king fern. The track is steep, with steps. See the full page for Ward’s Canyon for more information.
Art Gallery (on the left at the 5km mark, 450m one-way) – A significant cultural site with over 2,000 engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings along a 62m stretch of sandstone cliff. The track is a gradual ascent to the site, including steps, with a boardwalk at the site. See the full page for the Art Gallery for more information.
Cathedral Cave (on the left at the 8.8km mark, 50m one-way) – Another significant cultural site with more engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings in a wind-eroded overhang. The short path involves steps and a boardwalk. See the full page for Cathedral Cave for more information.
Boowinda Gorge (on the left at the 9km mark, 1km one-way) – Rock-hop up a spectacular narrow side gorge sculptured by thousands of years of wind and water. The track involves large rocks and boulders. See the full page for Boowinda Gorge for more information.
Big Bend (end of the track at the 9.7km mark) – A natural rock pool enveloped by a monolithic curved sandstone cliff. See the full page for Big Bend for more information.
For more information and photos of each of these sites along the main track, visit the individual pages for the site.
Beyond the side-tracks, the main gorge track itself is stunning, as you are enveloped in beautiful flora and offered continual views to the towering sandstone cliffs of the gorge. The creek crossings also add to the adventure.
If the full track is too much, the most common alternative is the short version of the Main Gorge Track, which involves turning around at the Art Gallery. If continuing, be aware that going to Big Bend adds an extra 11.4kms to the hike, including the walk up Boowinda Gorge.
Note that after the Art Gallery, you will reach a rocky creek-bed section which can be a little tricky to navigate. Simply follow the rocky trail up the creek through the line of trees (look for the signposts with arrows), keeping an eye out for the track in the grass on the left bank after a couple hundred metres.
Many people choose to walk the full main gorge track, leaving the side-tracks for the return journey in order to ensure they have enough time.
It is also possible to camp at Big Bend – but note that you have to hike in all gear and be fully self-sufficient.
There is a toilet on the main track located just after the Moss Gardens side-track. This is the only toilet on the main track until Big Bend.
Track: Most of the track is a well-maintained graded path, with occasional steps and footbridges, and large stepping-stones at each of the creek crossings. While the track is mostly flat, each of the side-tracks have steeper sections. 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. Care is also needed when rock-hopping up Boowinda Gorge. 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, with a number of out-and back side-tracks along the way.
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.