The Carnarvon Great Walk is an 87km, grade 5 circuit hike located in the Carnarvon National Park, Queensland. The hike should take around 6-7 days to complete.
Expect the best, but prepare for the worst - you are responsible for your own safety. Sections of the Carnarvon Great Walk are very remote and isolated. Accidents have happened, even to experienced bushwalkers. Nature can be unpredictable, and storms, fires and floods can happen in a flash.
The Carnarvon Great Walk links the Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections of Carnarvon National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty and human history set within the highlands of the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt.
A range of walking experiences are offered within this Great Walk—from short strolls to a truly challenging six or seven day walk. Wander the shaded, cool side-gorges of Carnarvon Creek or ascend ridgelines above and beyond the gorge to the lofty, dry woodland plateaus of central Queensland’s most elevated area. For those up for the challenge, the full circuit walk (87km in length), is destined to become one of Queensland’s great walking experiences—a true adventure to remember.
There are six sections of the Carnarvon Great Walk, marked as routes R1 to R6. The walk should be tackled in a 'clockwise' direction from the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has produced a Carnarvon Great Walk Topographic Map, which is essential for planning and undertaking your Great Walk. Purchase a copy of the Carnarvon Great Walk Topographic Map.
R1 Carnarvon Gorge visitor area to Big Bend walkers’ camp: 9.7km - Grade 3-4
(allow 3–4 hours walking time, longer if you visit the side-gorges)
From the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area, the Great Walk heads along the main Carnarvon Gorge track, following the winding course of Carnarvon Creek up the ever-narrowing gorge. The main walking track is mostly flat, although side-branches involve steeper sections.
Surrounded by towering cliffs of Precipice Sandstone, Carnarvon Creek is a cool and green oasis compared to later, more elevated, stages of the Great Walk. Carnarvon fan palms, ancient cycads, flowering shrubs and gum trees line the creek, while narrow side-gorges provide a protected environment where remnant rainforest survives. Side-branches from the main track lead to a range of sites, including the Moss Garden, Ward’s Canyon, the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave.
The Aboriginal rock art adorning the sandstone walls at the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave includes some of the best-known and finest rock imagery in Australia. This first section of the Great Walk ends at Big Bend—also the end of the gorge’s main walking track.
R2 Big Bend walkers' camp to Gadd’s walkers’ camp: 14.8km - Grade 5
(allow 6–7 hours walking time)
From Big Bend the Great Walk trail leads through the narrow, boulder-lined Boowinda Gorge before heading steeply up and out of Carnarvon Gorge towards Battleship Spur. Ascending over 600m in 4km, the walk to Battleship leads the walker along narrow ridges and across rocky scree slopes towards the basalt-capped top of the Great Dividing Range. At over 1000 metres above sea level, the Battleship Spur lookout provides sensational views back over Carnarvon Gorge and further east. From here, the trail heads across grassy plateaus and down the western side of the Great Divide into the Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park. This is the headwaters of the Maranoa River—itself part of the Murray-Darling catchment. Gadd’s walkers’ camp is situated near the site of an old stockyard—for many years stockmen camped here when this area was a highlands cattle run.
R3 Gadd’s walkers’ camp to West Branch walkers’ camp: 15.8km - Grade 5
(allow 5–6 hours walking time)
From Gadd’s walkers’ camp, the trail leads uphill, heading along a narrow-side branch of the Maranoa River for 6km before leading steeply up onto the plateau and the Great Dividing Range once more. There are great views back over Carnarvon Gorge, and also to the south-west a little further on. From here the track heads south-west, before leading steeply down a ridgeline into Boot Creek, from where the basalt-capped peak of Mount Moffatt itself can be seen beyond the rolling hills with their cover of yellow grass and waves of silver-leafed ironbark.
The landscape on the western side of the Great Dividing Range is less dramatic than Carnarvon Gorge, but equally as interesting. Here, the Maranoa River has eroded broad valleys from the soft, more elevated layers of sandstone.
Descending into Boot Creek, the track heads down one of these sandy valleys and eventually over a suspension bridge across the west branch of the Maranoa River and into the West Branch walkers’ camp. Water is available here, and toilets are a short distance away.
R4 West Branch walkers’ camp to Consuelo camping zone: 17.3km - Grade 5
(allow 6–7 hours walking time)
This is the Great Walk’s longest section. From West Branch the trail climbs steadily uphill once again, leading up onto the Consuelo Tableland, where you will cross the crest of the Great Dividing Range, which heads away in a north-westerly direction. There are great views of the western mountain ranges and Mount Moffatt.
A cool change from the open rugged country you have just passed through, the Consuelo Tableland has deep, fertile basalt soils—remnants of the Buckland Volcano’s basalt flows. The deep soils and cool, moist conditions support a tall woodland/open forest of silvertop stringybark and Sydney blue gum, with patches of rough-barked apple. Swathes of kangaroo grass, blady grass and at times, bracken fern, cover the ground. Macrozamia (cycads) are common here, in places reaching as much as six metres in height.
The track leads through a very tall open forest consisting almost entirely of majestic silvertop stringybark. Known as the Mahogany Forest, this is one of the area’s best examples of this forest type. The trail passes close to the southern edge of the plateau, through small pockets of casuarinas where the sound of red-tailed black cockatoos may be heard from high above.
The Consuelo Tableland reaches a height of 1232 metres above sea level at a point just to the south of the Great Walk trail. You are now walking across the 'Roof of Queensland', the most elevated part of the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt and one of the highest places in Queensland.
R5 Consuelo camping zone to Cabbage Tree camping zone: 13.8km - Grade 5
(allow 3–4 hours walking time)
Foleys camping zone has been a place where people have camped for many years under the shelter of Queensland blue gums and rough-barked apple trees. A series of springs—including Foleys, Ferntree and Heavenly springs—are hidden along the tableland. These water points were known to Aboriginal people and the stockmen who followed.
This section of the Great Walk is a gradual south-east descent along the top of the Consuelo Tableland. The track will lead you through an area of grass trees with towering flower spikes, with casuarina forest on your right.
From Foleys Springs the trail heads through tall open forest. This area is frequently burnt, with the varied undergrowth reflecting this—carpets of bracken fern indicate recent burns, while unburnt areas have an understorey dominated by acacias.
R6 Cabbage Tree camping zone to Carnarvon Gorge visitor area: 15.3km - Grade 5
(allow 5–6 hours walking time)
The last leg of the Great Walk skirts the eastern edge of the Consuelo Tableland and heads back down into the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area. After several kilometres of walking, the tableland narrows, and the trail leads close to the northern edge of the plateau, from where there are views north to Mount Acland (Black Alley Peak)—a remnant of basalt rising from the sandstone of Black Alley Ridge.
The trail descends steeply to the south from the tableland, down onto a broad, lower plateau known as Jimmys Shelf. You are following the trail once used by stockmen to travel between the plateau and the lower country. After several kilometres heading south, the trail climbs several steep ridges and crosses deep gullies before heading up Demons Ridge. Passing within view of the large rock formation known as the Devils Signpost, the trail leads south again, with the imposing Bulknaoo Cliffs looming overhead. A 700m side-track leads to the Boolimba Bluff Lookout, with views over the mouth of Carnarvon Gorge.
From here, the trail descends through spotted gum woodland to Carnarvon Creek. There are steps, steep sections including one very steep section with 300m of steps and short ladders.
Read the excellent trip report by David Brewster here.
There are 5 walkers’ camps, 3 have toilets. Water is available at all camping areas. A maximum of two nights stay applies to all walkers’ camps on the Carnarvon Great Walk.
Two of the walkers’ camps are referred to as camping zones. At Consuelo and Cabbage Tree camping zones, camping is allowed along a 200m section of the walk, identified by a totem at each location. There are no toilets at these two camping zones. Read more about toileting in the bush.
Camping permits are required and fees apply. Before camping you must obtain a camping permit and pay for your camping fees. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite. Self-registration is not available.
Carnarvon National Park has other camping opportunities at both Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections.
- Gravel Path
- Rough Trail
- Well Marked Trail
- Undefined Trail
- Rock Scrambling
- Steep Terrain
- Off Trail
- River Crossings
- Scenic Viewpoints
- Untreated Water
- Overnight Campsites
The Carnarvon Great Walk is closed from the start of November to the end of February—the hottest time of the year. The track may also be closed at other times during fires or adverse weather conditions, for essential track maintenance or for safety reasons.
The Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections of Carnarvon National Park (and the short walks within them) are open to visitors all year round.
As well as including the Ten Essentials, my planning, food and packing checklists provide an summary of things to consider on your day, overnight and multi-day hikes. Every person and every hike is different, so customise your kit according to your needs. Download your free checklists here >>
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- 2WD Access
- 4WD Access
- Bitumen Road
- Large Car Park
- Accessible Parking
- Accessible Toilet
- Public Toilets
- Untreated Water
- Picnic Shelter
- Picnic Table
Getting to the Carnarvon Gorge section
The Carnarvon Gorge section of Carnarvon National Park is about 246km north of Roma and 241km south-east of Emerald. From Roma, drive 90km north to Injune then a further 160km along the Carnarvon Highway. From Emerald, drive 65km south to Springsure then 70km east to Rolleston, and a further 61km to the Carnarvon turnoff.
No fuel is available after leaving Rolleston or Injune. The nearest vehicle and tyre repair facilities are at Roma, Injune and Springsure.
The 45km road into the park can become impassable after rain and is suitable for conventional vehicles in dry weather only. Check with RACQ for the latest road conditions before setting out.
Getting to the Mount Moffatt section
The secondary entrance to the Carnarvon Great Walk is located near the West Branch camping area within the Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park. This section of the park is 220km north of Mitchell and 160km north-west of Injune.
Almost the entire road to Mount Moffatt, as well as every road within the park, is unsealed, sandy and often impassable after rain. A high-clearance 4WD is recommended, and is essential to reach many of the features within the park.
No fuel is available after leaving Injune or Mitchell, so allow extra fuel for driving the 90km of park roads as well as the trip home. It is a 316km drive between the Carnarvon Gorge visitor area and the entrance to Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park via Injune.
The visitor area near Carnarvon Gorge camping area has wheelchair-accessible toilets, picnic tables and disability car parking.
Visitors often park vehicles in the public car park at the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area whilst completing the Carnarvon Great Walk. Please be advised this is an unsecured car park and visitors are responsible for the security of their vehicle and belongings.
Carnarvon National Park is located in the Southern Brigalow Belt bioregion in the Maranoa Region in Central Queensland, Australia. The park is 593 km northwest of Brisbane. It began life as a 26,304-hectare reserve gazetted in 1932 to protect Carnarvon Gorge for its outstanding scenic values, its indigenous and non-indigenous cultural heritage, and its geological significance.
Situated within the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt, and straddling the Great Dividing Range, Carnarvon National Park preserves and presents significant elements of Queensland's geological history including two sedimentary basins, the Bowen and the Surat, and the Buckland Volcanic Province. The youngest rocks in the area are the igneous basalt rocks of the Buckland volcanic Province, which were laid down between 35 and 27 million years ago. Since that time, water and wind have eroded the park's landscapes into a network of sandy plains, valleys, and gorges separated by basalt-capped tablelands and ranges.
The park is rich in groundwater, numerous springs. The elevated areas protected within Carnarvon National Park have high value for above-ground catchments as well. Five major river systems rise within the park's boundary: the Comet, Dawson, Maranoa, Nogoa, and Warrego. The Warrego and Maranoa lie inland of the Great Dividing Range on the northern boundary of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Photos: David Brewster and Rosie Brewster.
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Acknowledgement of Country
Trail Hiking Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we hike and pay respects to their Elders, past and present, and we acknowledge the First Nations people of other communities who may be here today.