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What to do at Carnarvon National Park

Prepare to be mesmerised.

Carnarvon National Park is a mammoth area of gob-smacking splendour, led by a dramatic gorge that share its name.

And there is a mountain of ways to appreciate the bucketloads of beauty that rush from these reaches.

Here is your essential guide to one of Queensland’s most iconic natural gems.

Eye candy galore. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Where is Carnarvon National Park?

Encompassing roughly 300,000ha, the sprawling park is nestled in the Central Highlands and officially part of the Outback Queensland region. It’s roughly 720km northwest of Brisbane or 400km southwest of Rockhampton.

Yep, it's a massive area. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Why is Carnarvon National Park so special?

Commonly described as an ‘outback oasis’, Carnarvon National Park is lauded for its rich natural, ecological, and cultural elements.

Carnarvon Gorge is the headliner: its colourful and rugged cloud-piercing walls seemingly stretch forever and leave many visitors gaping in sheer amazement.

It’s joined by all manner of natural wonders that include swimming holes, ancient cycads, rainforest, and other fascinating flora, and a huge assortment of animals, reptiles, and bird species.

There is also a deep Aboriginal connection to the area, most tangible for visitors via various ancient rock art sites. 

Truly special. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Things to do in Carnarvon National Park

There are some seriously unforgettable activities to enjoy, from the sedate to the stirring. They include:

  • Swimming (designated rock pool area)
  • Birdwatching
  • Nighttime safari-style tours
  • Astronomy tours/star gazing (seasonal)
  • Scenic helicopter flights

Yet the signature experience is planting your feet along one of the park’s many scenic walking tracks. More on that below.

The ultimate experience – a scenic chopper ride. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Carnarvon National Park walks

There is a feast of signposted walking trails to tackle within these boundaries, ranging from casual strolls to full-day, foot-slogging hikes. Highlights include:

  • Nature Trail (1.5km return): Excellent introduction to the park’s profound prettiness.
  • Mickey Creek Gorge walk (3km return): Includes rock-hopping adventures.
  • Boolimba Bluff walk (6.4km return): Tricky trail that rewards with sweeping views.
  • Moss Garden walk (7km return): Greenery, waterfalls, and funky formations all combine.
  • Amphitheatre walk (8.6km from visitor area return): Outstanding and astounding.
  • Boowinda Gorge walk (18.4km return): Weave through spectacular landscapes.

For a comprehensive list of Carnarvon National Park walking paths, see here.

Walk this way. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Aboriginal culture in Carnarvon National Park

These surrounds are of great historical and cultural significance to the Bidjara and Karingbal people. And their strong connection to Carnarvon National Park is best evidenced by the ancient rock art found on the gorge’s walls.

Ochre stencils, engravings, and freehand paintings all feature. Some examples of the ochre stencilling are regarded as the most sophisticated of their kind on the planet.

Two key walking trails incorporate the natural art galleries. They are:

  • Art Gallery walk: 10.8km from visitor area return
  • Cathedral Cave walk: 18.2km from visitor area return

Art gallery, Carnarvon National Park style. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Can you swim at Carnarvon Gorge?

Yes, there is a designated swimming area – a rock pool near the gorge entrance.

It’s reached via the aptly named Rock Pool walk, a 600m return path from the Rock Pool car park and 3.6km return from the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area.

There's plenty of water but only one designated swimming spot. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Carnarvon National Park wildlife

A wealth of wildlife calls the park home. Kangaroos and wallabies make regular appearances and echidnas, possums, and yellow-bellied gliders can be spotted after dark. Additionally, dozens of bat species are residents of the park.

There’s also the chance to spy platypus, best attempted early morning or at twilight while tackling the aforementioned 1.5km-long Nature Trail.

Keep your eyes out for gliders, mainly after dark.

Bird life in Carnarvon National Park

Twitchers get excited – 200-plus bird species have been recorded within these boundaries.

Australian king parrots, laughing and blue-winged kookaburras, and various types of honeyeaters, kingfishers, swallows, and wrens are among a wealth of winged wonders to keep watch for. More info here.

Blue-faced honeyeaters are among myriad bird species that have park resident status.

Do I need a 4WD to drive to Carnarvon Gorge?

The short answer is no. The road into Carnarvon Gorge from Carnarvon Highway is sealed, all except the final 500m at least.

However, all other access areas of the park are unsealed, so use of a 4WD vehicle is recommended.

The road into the park is suitable for most vehicles. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

How many days do you need at Carnarvon Gorge?

While deserving of the ‘how long is a piece of string?’ rhetorical response, we recommend 4-6 days is required for the average punter to adequately appreciate the national park’s immense beauty.

Give yourself ample time to explore. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Carnarvon Gorge accommodation

If you’re looking to stay in the area, we have you covered. BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Carnarvon Gorge is spotted among a bevy of bushland on the fringes of the national park.

The 40ha resort delivers assorted accommodation. There are various cabins as well as sites both powered and unpowered. And safari-style glamping tents are available, too. 

Safari-style glamping tents are among the park's accommodation options.

There’s an on-site general store, camp kitchens with BBQs, and communal fire pits for those cooler nights.

And after a busy day’s exploration, the shade-filled Taka Bush Bar is the place to enjoy a well-earned beverage. 

The perfect setting to chill.

Click or tap on the graphic below for all the details.

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