4x4 road trip to Carnarvon National Park, QLD

4x4 road trip to Carnarvon National Park

The drive into Carnarvon National Park was uneventful. The sky was blue with scattered clouds, the creeks were low and the weather forecast was for a dry and warm weekend.

This article was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s January 2011 issue

It was looking like it was going to be the perfect camping getaway with lots of bushwalking and maybe even a swim.

Little did we know that on our last night in Carnarvon Gorge we would cop 36mL of rain which was going to flood the creeks and the causeways. We were excited to be in the park, but we never thought we’d have trouble getting out…

We decided to take it easy on the first day and followed the Nature Trail; this is a two-kilometre return trip along the shady banks of Carnarvon Creek.

In the afternoon, hubby Chris and four-year-old Shannon did the one-kilometre return walk to Baloon Cave to admire some Aboriginal art followed by a three-kilometre walk to Mickey Creek Gorge. They got caught in heavy rain and came back to the tent sopping wet.

Top 10: Weekend camping essentials

The next day I decided to stay home with the two little girls (aged three and two) and Chris drove off with Shannon to attempt the 10km return walk to the majestic Amphitheatre.

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 climb up the four-tiered ladder is quite the experience, according to Shannon. There are beautiful moss gardens in the gorges along Carnarvon Creek and towering gum trees, dwarfed by the cliff face of the gorge. 

Our weekend getaway was quickly coming to an end and we packed up the annexe in preparation for an early morning departure. The rain started at about 7:30pm and soon became very heavy without any sign of easing up. I knew that we were camped on a site that was more or less in a bit of a hole and it was only a matter of time before the water would start to rise. This is exactly what happened and when I went outside to check the water level, we already had a floating vinyl tent floor.

4x4 tips: How to choose the correct campsite

Chris wasn’t too worried initially, until I convinced him to check it out for himself. As soon as he stepped into a foot of water right outside our tent, he figured it was time to evacuate. We quickly put the kids in their car seats and explained to them that we were going to sleep in the car that night because the tent was getting flooded. We put all the gear inside the tent on the bed and then waited out the night in the car.

At first light and as soon as the rain started to ease we started packing up the tent, ready to head out. By 7:30am we were on the road eager to leave Carnarvon Gorge.

Unfortunately the creeks had swollen so much that the last two causeways had become impassable and we had no choice but to go back and camp another night. The staff at Takarakka Bush Resort were very helpful and gave us a dry and powered camp site for the night free of charge.

Next morning we packed up again and were able to cross the creeks without any hassle. We will remember our wet and wild stay in Carnarvon National Park for a long time!

More 4x4 Australia Explore

Travel Planner

Carnarvon Gorge, in Carnarvon NP, is 241km south-east of Emerald and 244km north-east of Roma, in south-east Queensland.

There is a beautiful national park campground close to the information centre and the start of the walking track into Carnarvon Gorge. The campground is only open during Easter and the winter and spring school holidays. Maximum stay is five nights. Caravans are not allowed, but it’s a perfect spot for camper trailers as the sites are big and spacious. The facilities are fantastic and include coin-operated hot showers and flush toilets. All sites are unpowered and must be pre-booked. For a bit more luxury you can camp at Takarakka Bush Resort, four kilometres from the information centre. The resort has powered and unpowered sites, safari cabins, amenities, a laundry and a shop with basic groceries. Alternatively, you can stay at Carnarvon Wilderness Lodge (no camping available).

The closest towns are Rolleston and Injune, but you need to be completely self-sufficient as it is quite possible you could get stranded after heavy rain. There is no fuel at Carnarvon Gorge.

The road to Carnarvon Gorge is sealed, apart from the last 21km. There are numerous creek crossings, which are fine to cross in dry weather but soon become impassable after heavy rain. It is possible to take a conventional vehicle, but a 4X4 is recommended, especially when the forecast is for rain. After rain the roads become muddy, slippery and potholed.

Ranger Carnarvon NP: 07 4984 4505 Takarakka Bush Resort: 07 4984 4535 Wilderness Lodge: 07 4984 4503 National Parks: 13 74 68

There is no entry fee to visit Carnarvon NP. Camping fees apply when camping in the national park campground. To book phone 13 74 68. Bookings are also necessary for Takarakka Bush Resort.

Visitor Guide: Carnarvon Gorge Section (available at Carnarvon Gorge visitor information centre).


Get the latest info on all things 4X4 Australia by signing up to our newsletter.