Walks and wildlife of Carnarvon Gorge

Walks and wildlife of Carnarvon Gorge. A guide to the best things to see and do in Carnarvon National Park and where to find it all.

Before relocating to Queensland, we had honestly never heard of Carnarvon Gorge (or Carnarvon National Park). But as we made our way through the state, this was the one place everyone we spoke to seemed to recommend. And how glad we are that we listened to them.

Full of hikes and wildlife, this was just our sort of place, with so many things to keep us entertained! So here’s a little taster for you, our selection of the beautiful walks here and some of the amazing wildlife you’ll likely come across in and around the Carnarvon Gorge in the mighty Carnarvon National Park.

Hikes and shorter walks in & around Carnarvon Gorge

There are multiple hiking tracks around Carnarvon Gorge and the wider Carnarvon National Park. These range from nice and easy short walks to the epic multi-day Carnarvon Great Walk. Here’s our favourites from our time spent exploring this incredible place.

Carnarvon Gorge Map from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
Carnarvon Gorge Map courtesy of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service – Click HERE for PDF copy.

1. Carnarvon Gorge – Main Gorge Track

Trail Type: Return (back the way you came)

Start/Finish Point: Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area

Distance: 25km (with all the side tracks)

Difficulty: Class 4

This is probably the most popular of the things to do in Carnarvon Gorge and for good reason. The Main Gorge Track is awesome, taking you into the gorge mouth, through the lower gorge and deep into the upper gorge zone. There’s several unique side tracks branching off the main gorge track leading to diverse sites containing Aboriginal art, canyons and rock formations. There really is something for everyone along this track.

Hiking Carnarvon Gorge's Main Gorge Trail

Checkout our Hiking Carnarvon Gorge and Battleship Spur blog for more info.

2. Boolimba Bluff

Trail Type: Return (back the way you came)

Start/Finish Point: Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area

Distance: 6.4km

Difficulty: Class 4

Popular for sunrise (and sunset) this is the only lookout track close to Carnarvon Gorge. Turning off the Main Gorge Track 1km from the Visitor Area, it’s an uphill track with both ladders and stairs winding its way through some beautiful surroundings. At the bluff there are wonderful views over part of Carnarvon Gorge. For the more energetic, this is a great hike to start with before returning to and continuing on the Main Gorge Track.

Things to do in Carnarvon Gorge, hiking to Boolimba Bluff

3. Battleship Spur

Trail Type: Return (back the way you came)

Start/Finish Point: Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area

Distance: 28km from the Visitor Area without side tracks (33.7km with all the side tracks)

Difficulty: Class 5

This has to be the most epic thing to do in Carnarvon Gorge. The views from the Battleship Spur Lookout are truly spectacular. Looking down over Carnarvon Gorge from above gives you a completely different perspective and really allows you to appreciate the grandeur of this Gorge. Don’t be under any elusions, these views don’t come easy, but it’s worth the effort!

Things to do in Carnarvon Gorge, hiking to Battleship Spur

Usually done as an overnight hike or part of the 4-6 day Carnarvon Great Walk we actually tacked this onto the Main Gorge Track, meaning one long 30km+ day.

Read our Hiking Carnarvon Gorge and Battleship Spur blog for all the details.

4. Mickey Creek Gorge & Warrumbah Creek Gorge

Trail Type: Return (back the way you came)

Start/Finish Point: Mickey Creek Car Park

Distance: 3km (plus a little extra if you explore Warrumbah Creek)
Class 3

To be honest, we found the Mickey Creek Gorge section of this track a bit mundane. However the Warrumbah Creek Gorge section was far more interesting for us. Where the track forks off to the right, follow the creek down past the end of the formed track and rock hop your way down the ever narrowing creek.

Carnarvon Gorge - Warrumbah Creek Gorge

5. Nature Trail

Trail Type: Circuit (start and finish in the same location)

Start Point: Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area

Distance: 1.5km

Difficulty: Class 3

The name says it all. A really nice little track for some wildlife viewing in the gorge mouth. This circuit loops round a section of the Carnarvon Creek making it a popular spot for all sorts of wildlife. Some of the highlights for us a long this trail were the wallabies, kangaroos, an echidna, turtles, heron, kingfishers and several different Fairy-wren. We recommend combining with the below Rock Pool from Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area walk.

Carnarvon Gorge Nature Trail

6. Rock Pool from Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area

Trail Type: One-way (point-to-point)

Start Point: Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area

Finish Point: Rock Pool Car Park

Distance: 3.6km

Difficulty: Class 3

This quiet walk takes you along the Carnarvon Creek from the Visitor Area down to the Rock Pool through some really picturesque scenery. When crossing over the creek in the middle of this walk keep an eye out for the elusive Platypus, as this was our favourite spot to find them! The Rock Pool, which can just be done as a short 400m return walk from the Rock Pool Car Park is the only place in Carnarvon Gorge where you can go swimming when it’s not too chilly.

Things to do in Carnarvon Gorge - Rock Pool

Wildlife of Carnarvon National Park

For us, another of the unexpected surprises at Carnarvon Gorge, was the sheer diversity and volume of wildlife in and around the area. It was literally everywhere and we tried to find as much we could.

1. Big birds on the drive in

Even before we arrived at Carnarvon National Park, we’d seen some amazing wildlife. On the drive in (and out) we saw plenty of ‘big birds’. Some of the highlights included Australian Bustard, Emu and the pretty Pheasant Coucal. And with the so called ‘mice plague’ of NSW moving up into Queensland there were unsurprising plenty of raptors about. We spotted lots of Black-breasted Buzzard, Whistling Kite, Peregrine Falcon and Wedge-tailed Eagles either circling above or perched up high looking for a tasty little snack.

Emu on the way into Carnarvon Gorge National Park

2. Platypus spotting

Along with the hikes, our favourite thing to do in and around Carnarvon Gorge National Park was to find and photograph the amazing Duck-billed Platypus. We were blown away by the number of platypus we saw here. We were lucky enough to find them in several different locations all around the area. The most popular spot to find them was only a few metres from our swag in the Carnarvon Creek at the edge of the Takarakka Bush Resort (now BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Carnarvon Gorge). Around dawn and dusk in the area close to what was marked as the ‘Platypus Pool’ on Takarakka’s map, we found them every time we went looking for them. But our favourite spot was undoubtedly in the pool along the almost always deserted section of walking track that joins the Nature Trail to the Rock Pool. Not only did we have them all to ourselves but they were happily swimming around only metres from us until after 11am!

Things to do in Carnarvon Gorge - Platypus Spotting

3. Beautiful Wallabies

There are a couple of wallaby species found in Carnarvon Gorge. We saw a few Swamp Wallaby in and around the Gorge, but by far the most easily seen were the Whiptail Wallabies. Also aptly named Pretty-faced Wallaby, these guys were literally everywhere. We found them grazing at the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area every time we were there and they were easily startled on the various hikes and short walks mentioned above. On our drives in and out of the Takarakka Bush Resort (now BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Carnarvon Gorge), they were always busy feeding near the entrance. Make sure you drive carefully, particularly at dusk and dawn as we often saw them on the roads.

Whiptail Wallaby and joey in

4. Curious Kangaroos

Kangaroos are another animal you won’t need to look hard for in Carnarvon Gorge. Much like the Whiptail Wallabies, the Eastern Grey Kangaroos could be seen all around the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area, the Queensland Parks Camping Area and on the Main Gorge Track. Pretty habituated, they were also found all around the Takarakka Bush Resort (now BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Carnarvon Gorge), with one or two coming right up to our swag.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

5. Finding the elusive echidna

No matter how many Echidnas we’ve seen, we never fail to be excited when we spot another one! And Carnarvon Gorge National Park is a great place to find them. Keep both your eyes and ears open for a foraging Short-beaked Echidnas when you’re out and about exploring the Park and its trails. We found one scuttling around at the end of the Nature Trail and with a bit of luck, you’ll find one of Australia’s coolest creatures too!

Finding the elusive Echidna at Carnarvon Gorge

6. The kingfishers down at the creek

If you spend a bit of time wandering along the Carnarvon Creek, there’s a good chance you’ll see a kingfisher or two. Particularly when waiting quietly for signs of platypus, keep an eye out for a flash of blue darting by as they to-and-fro from their regular fishing perches. We were lucky enough to see several stunning Azure and Sacred Kingfishers during our time here.

Sacred Kingfisher in Carnarvon Gorge

7. Campsite birdlife

Even without venturing out on any of the above hikes and shorter walks, you’ll likely see plenty of birdlife in the campsite alone. Some of the more colourful included Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-Winged Parrot, King Parrots, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, multiple species of Honeyeaters, especially the pugnacious Blue-faced Honeyeater. And the birds we seemed to see most frequently were undoubtedly the Apostlebird and White-winged Choughs that seemed to be everywhere.

Male Red-winged Parrot in Takarakka Bush Resort campground

8. Butterflies everywhere

As with all our travels through Queensland, there were all sorts of different species of butterfly here. Ranging in colour, shape and size, there really was a diverse selection of butterflies here. Monarch, Blue Argus, Blue Tiger, Lemon Migrant and Common Crow were just a few of the colourfully decorated butterflies we found and were able to identify during our time in Carnarvon Gorge National Park.

Monarch Butterfly

9. Nighttime visitors

Aside from a few menacing mice who seemed to think our swag was a climbing frame, there was plenty of welcome wildlife around us at night. With more than 80% of Australia’s mammals being nocturnal, it should come as no surprise that Carnarvon Gorge comes alive at night. We saw Brushtail possums, a fleeting glimpse of a couple of Rufous Bettong and a glider amongst other things during our stay. We would loved to have done a Carnarvon Night Safari, during our visit. It would have been great to go out with some experts to find and learn so much more. This would definitely be one of the coolest things to do in Carnarvon Gorge! But sadly due to Covid, the tours weren’t running during our visit – Next time!

Where to stay

Carnarvon Gorge is very popular, so book accommodation early! Particularly during the school holiday period sites can be booked out months in advance. We camped for 4 nights at Takarakka Bush Resort (now BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Carnarvon Gorge) and absolutely loved it. Wildlife everywhere, awesome location, friendly staff, great facilities with a range of accommodation options.

During the school holidays only, you can camp at the QPWS Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area. Otherwise, options include the luxurious Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge, the basic Sandstone Park or you can free camp outside the National Park off the side of the road.

Useful information and packing essentials for Carnarvon Gorge – Carnarvon National Park

  • It’s important to consider your health, fitness and experience when choosing your hikes here.
  • When hiking take plenty of water with you and make sure you have enough for the conditions. In the hotter months, you’ll obviously need a lot more than we did in early July.
  • Whilst the Carnarvon Gorge Main Walking Track is a grade 4 and a relatively easy track, please note that adding on Battleship Spur makes things considerably more difficult.
  • As always, leave no trace and take all your rubbish with you and dispose of it correctly.
  • Decent footwear is important for hiking Carnarvon Gorge. Although boots aren’t required, I would recommend them. Sturdy shoes with good grip should also be fine. Imbi never hikes in boots if she can help it and was totally fine in trainers.
  • The animals in Carnarvon National Park are wild, let’s keep them this way! Don’t feed them! Even though some species like the Kangaroos might be quite habituated, they are wild and should NOT be hand fed. Kangaroos are adapted to graze on large amounts of low protein native grasses. Feeding them ‘human’ food is not only altering their balanced diets and potentially damaging their health, but changing their behaviours.
  • For all wildlife spotting really, but particularly platypus, try to keep noise to a minimum. Don’t make any sudden movements or they will be gone before you see them.
  • Remember platypus burrow under the banks of the creek. So do NOT trample too close to the creek otherwise you could inadvertently collapse their burrow.

In summary

In our opinion, Carnarvon National Park is simply amazing. For two people who love wildlife and hiking, it doesn’t get too much better than this. There are so many things to do and see around Carnarvon Gorge and we loved getting a little off track and spending a few days here! We will definitely be coming back for more!

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