Cania Gorge (Sandstone Belt road trip)

Having two public holidays in one week (one on the Monday, the other on the Friday) seemed like the perfect excuse for going on a big trip around the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt.

Read more: Queensland is really big… Sandstone Belt road trip

But we figured that driving straight to Carnarvon Gorge would be a bit of a hefty drive for us (after all it’s some 720 km away) so we came up with the idea of doing a circuit, visiting Cania Gorge National Park first.

EXPLORING CANIA GORGE NATIONAL PARK

There’s no camping in the actual national park (on that note, Queensland’s national parks have without a doubt the most stupid camping permit booking system I’ve ever come across, but that’s a different tale…) so we booked a couple of nights at the Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat. It’s situated right outside the national park but at the start of all the walks so quite perfect in that sense.

You’re also greeted by a German flag as you enter. Not quite sure why but I guess I felt welcomed?? 🙂

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As far as caravan parks go, it’s actually quite nice and the amenities are reasonably clean. The nights were cold though, seriously cold and damp. I really had to wrap myself up to stay at least vaguely warm. That said, we were camping and I was pretty happy about that (notwithstanding Mr. Snorer in the caravan some ten metres away…).

The only downside to camping in Queensland during winter is that it gets dark very early, and you end up cooking and eating dinner in the dark (and cold). Bit of a novel experience for us, and not one that is that flash. Needless to say that my appetite for desserts was rather low, crawling into my sleeping bag with a book seemed a much better alternative.

HIKING AROUND CANIA GORGE

Cania Gorge itself… well, let’s just say people there really love it and keep coming back year after year, and I wondered the whole time why. It’s not an unpleasant spot but it left me more than underwhelmed. Maybe it was the overcast weather or maybe it really is just a bit meh.

Since it gets pretty good reviews (a gorge, towering sandstone cliffs, Aboriginal rock art… sounds good, right?) and is said to be a “mini” Carnarvon Gorge, talk about having high expectations and feeling deflated the whole Sunday as we ran up every single walk, hoping to discover something spectacular or at least something more than just nice.

Most of the walks are pretty easy and you can squeeze them all into one day, which we did (with the exception of the Castle Mountain walk, 22 km return, which we gave a miss).

The one thing at Cania Gorge that’s really cool is probably Big Foot, a giant Aboriginal painting of, guess what, a big foot on a white sandstone cliff. 50m off the main path and you’re there. Cool, huh? Probably would have looked quite spectacular with a bit of blue sky behind it but wasn’t to be…

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Big Foot. The lookout is just at the bottom so you can get pretty close to it.

The other interesting walk is the Two Storey Cave circuit, supposedly 1.3 km long to be covered in 45 min but it took us much longer. The walk itself is ok, nothing spectacular but pleasant enough. What’s great about this walk though is that the two storey cave has a colony of bats living in them, and a) you have to scramble into the cave, and then b) try and avoid being smacked in the head by the bats flying in and out.

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Along the Two Storey Cave circuit

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Not the world’s greatest photo but there is a bat hanging off the ceiling (yep, that black blob is a bat). Heaps more bats were further down in the cave.

The two lookouts (Giant’s Chair and Gorge Lookout) in the park appear to be typical Queensland lookouts. You get there and you go, hm, ok, that’s it?, let’s move on. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here but once you’ve been to Victoria and Tassie (or indeed overseas), you do have some expectations… you just can’t help it. I did get rewarded with a fantastic view at Mount Moffat some days later, so all is not lost for Queensland lookouts! 🙂

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Along the Giant’s Chair circuit. Maybe if they hadn’t done burning off a few days prior I would have liked it better… the smoldering air and smell was really getting to me by the end of the 5.6 km walk.

Dragon Cave and Bloodwood Cave were a bit underwhelming as was Dripping Rock, a moss-covered, dripping rock ledge (been there, done that in Tassie and elsewhere, and in more spectacular form).

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The black shape of a dragon at Dragon Cave (not Aboriginal rock art but a natural black mural). It’s actually quite cool but I think my expectations were too high so I was a bit disappointed by it all. Looks bigger in the photo than what it is.

The Overhang was quite nice though. I’d imagine that with more rain, the creek at the bottom of the cliffs would be quite spectacular and would make the whole area look much more interesting. And I got my first views of Aboriginal rock art along the walk, that was pretty special.

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Aboriginal rock art along the walk to The Overhang

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Ochre-coloured water in the creek at The Overhang

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The Overhang: water has eroded the base of the sandstone cliffs

Here’s another curious Queensland thing… what’s with the turnstiles on walks?! Are they worried that a motorbike or big, fat car might try and clamour up the narrow footpath?? Or do such hordes of wild people storm up the walks that only a turnstile can bring order??

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Cania Gorge also has a dam and I think that’s quite popular with people who like fishing. We only had a quick look at it as we were running out of daylight. It did look quite nice but nothing more than that.

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View of Cania Gorge Dam

SUMMING UP…

Cania Gorge is probably not a place we’ll ever visit again and I wish we’d spent one less night there and had more time at Expedition National Park or Mount Moffat. But such is life… and Big Foot was cool. 🙂

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Cania Gorge in Central Queensland is supposedly a "mini Carnarvon Gorge" with an impressive gorge, sandstone rock formations, Aboriginal rock art, hiking trails, camping and more. We were somewhat underwhelmed, and left feeling a bit disappointed. Here's why. | 🌐 Queensland & Beyond.

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