A Guide to Blackdown Tableland National Park

Blackdown Tableland National Park delivers a whole lot more than what I expected.

Even though the weather was a bit crummy over the two days we spent here, there’s enough unexpected beauty to delight (almost) anybody. At least that’s what I think.

To get to Blackdown Tableland, you’ll first have to wind your way up a narrow road to a plateau. And then, almost like on a platter, you’re presented with such a varied landscape that it doesn’t seem to fit in with the surrounding dry Queensland country you gaze onto from the plateau.

Visiting Blackdown Tableland National Park

Blackdown Tableland is a relatively small national park in central Queensland, and one I hadn’t heard of until I looked at a map, pointed to it and said ‘That looks like it would make a nice loop with Carnarvon National Park. Let’s go there!’.

Ideally, plan at least two days here, especially if you’re in a 4WD-vehicle and want to do the scenic drive around the park. We had two days and managed to squeeze almost everything in but if you like to take things a bit more leisurely, plan an extra day or so.

Blackdown Tableland is the traditional home of the Ghungalu, and you can appreciate some Ghungalu artefacts on one of the walks.

How to get to Blackdown Tableland

From Rockhampton, it’s about 180km inland along the Capricorn Highway. If you’re coming from the west, Emerald is about 110km west of Blackdown Tableland. The turnoff (Charlevue Road) to the national park is about 10 kilometres past Dingo (coming from the coast), you can’t really miss it.

Signage to the park is excellent and there really is only one road once you turn off from the Capricorn Highway.

Not sure why the arrows point in different directions as it’s all the same way… Just follow the road, easy.

The road up the plateau is quite narrow and steep. While it is completely paved, large vehicles or caravans may struggle to get around the switchbacks.

Past the entrance, the road becomes unsealed and is usually 2WD-accessible all the way to the campground. The loop drive is 4WD-only.

When to visit Blackdown Tableland

Blackdown Tableland was the first stop on our winter Queensland road trip last year, and not surprisingly, the weather was on the cold(er) side.

Being up high up, and coupled with Blackdown Tableland having its own special eco-system, we found ourselves camping in fog, mud and intermittent drizzle. It somehow added to the atmosphere though I’m sure it’s equally splendid on a blue sky day.

You may want to avoid summer as even up on the plateau, the temperatures can be steamy and might be less than comfortable. Blackdown Tableland is said to be cooler than the surrounding plains though so you might find it bearable.

Where to camp at Blackdown Tableland

There aren’t a lot of options for camping in and around Blackdown Tableland. The obvious choice is to camp in the national park itself, though if you’re there in winter, the experience might be a rather wet one.

There is only one camping area (Munall camping area) at Blackdown Tableland but it has two loops, with the second one only suitable for 4WD vehicles. Camping here is very basic and that pretty much means there are just a couple of drop toilets available.

There is no water at Blackdown Tableland so come prepared.

READ MORE: Camping at Blackdown Tableland

Your other options include staying at the caravan park in Dingo (~30km) or even Emerald (~100km) if you prefer access to more amenities or don’t want to drag your caravan up the steep hill.

3 Things to do at Blackdown Tableland National Park

The abundant vegetation and scenery at Blackdown Tableland really surprised me.

You’ve got everything from giant ferns, stunningly green mosses, dry eucalypt forest, clear creeks, sandstone gorges, rock pools, waterfalls to sweeping views into the surrounding plains. Together with the short walks and Ghungalu rock art, Blackdown Tableland makes for a special little stop for anyone who likes a dose of nature and history.

1. Aboriginal rock art

When you’ve spent most of the your (Australian) life in Melbourne, you don’t realise how many rock art sites there are in Queensland.

Blackdown Tableland doesn’t have the vivid colours of Carnarvon National Park but you can still find some excellent, albeit small, examples of rock art at the Ghungalu art site. Like at any indigenous site, be respectful and leave the artwork alone.

2. Short walks & lookouts

There are only a few short walks at Blackdown Tableland but they’re all worthwhile. Gudda Gumoo Gorge is the standout but I also really enjoyed our morning walk to Mook Mook.

1. Gudda Gumoo Lookout & Gorge (Rainbow Falls)

Basic trail info

Distance: 4km return (3.6km return to lookout only)
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1.5-2 hours

Gudda Gumoo Gorge is, no doubt, the highlight at Blackdown Tableland.

The walk leads into a gorge abundant in fern fronds. At the base is a clear (and cold) rock pool fed by a trickling waterfall that reflects a shimmering rainbow when the light shines just right.

The walk is classified as moderate to difficult and yes, you’ll have to head down over 240 (more or less slippery) stairs to get to the base but that’s as difficult as it gets. If that sounds too daunting, you could just head to the lookout and leave it there. You won’t see much of Rainbow Falls but you do get some views into the lush sandstone gorge and cliffs.

We spent about three hours on this walk, scrambling around rocks and exploring the gorge from all angles. The husband even braved the cold water and went for a quick dip in the beautiful rock pool.

I’d expect the rock pool to be quite busy in summer as people seek to escape the heat. (Just saying, come with the right expectations so you’re not disappointed when you’re not there by yourself. 🙂 )

2. Mook Mook

Basic trail info

Distance: 2.4km return
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Time: less than 1 hour

The trail to Mook Mook Lookout is quite a pleasant little walk that starts along Mimosa Creek before crossing it. You end up at a lookout opening up into a sweeping gorge flanked by sandstone cliffs.

I figured Mook Mook would make for a great sunrise spot, and yes, while that’s technically true, the sunrise wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been. The sun creeping over the cliffs and basking them in splendid orange light was pretty stunning though.

3. Goon Goon Dhina

Basic trail info

Distance: 2.5km loop
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 0.5-1 hour

Goon Goon Dhina is an easy loop with plenty of interpretative signs along the way.

It starts at the end of the camping area and takes you into a forest full of orange stringybarks, across Mimosa Creek and to the Ghungalu art site. Near the start, you can also see some remnants of an old cattle yard, evidence that this area was used as grazing country around the turn of the century.

Don’t expect too much from the cattle yard though. There are really only a few traditional fence posts left that hint at a time when fencing was done entirely without wire.

4. Goodela

Basic trail info

Distance: 3.6km return
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Time: 1 hour

Goodela is another easy walk but along the escarpment at Blackdown Tableland. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for doing this walk so I’m not sure whether it’s worth or not.

Since I don’t have a photo from Goodela, here’s one of a plant I’m still identifying

5. Yaddamen Dhina

Basic trail info

Distance: 200m return
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 5 min

Yaddamin Dhina starts from the same parking area as the Goodela track right at the entrance. It’s only 100m (one-way) so won’t take much time at all. The track leads to a lookout over the escarpment, and though we had hazy views, looking into the plains beyond with cliffs to one side wasn’t too shabby.

3. Scenic drive (4WD-only)

If you’re in a 4WD-vehicle, you could also do the 19km loop drive.

It’s touted as a scenic drive but we didn’t really find it that scenic.

The track leads mostly through dry forest with almost no views, except for Mitha Boongulla (Charlevue Lookout) about half-way along. By the time we got there though, it was fairly hazy so views weren’t that exciting.

It probably took us just under a couple of hours to do the drive so if you’re short on time, give this one a miss.

Summing Up…

Blackdown Tableland was an unexpected little gem on our Queensland winter trip last year.

I didn’t expect Rainbow Waters (Gudda Gumoo) Gorge to be as serene and stunningly beautiful as it was, and really quite enjoyed all the walks. The views around Gudda Gumoo, both from down the gorge at the rock pool and from above, were brilliant and if you’re a bit of rock scrambler, plan more than 1.5 hours to do this walk.

In winter, Blackdown Tableland was fairly foggy, drizzly and cool, though the sun did try and poke through here and there.

MORE INFORMATION

Camping options are mostly limited to camping at Munall camping area. Read more about what to expect in my review.

You can find a map of Blackdown Tableland here. For more information, including details on current park alerts (e.g. fire bans), check Blackdown Tableland National Park by Queensland National Parks.

More posts on where to see rock art in Central Queensland

Aboriginal rock art is pretty special and there are quite a few places in Central Queensland where you can get a glimpse.

Try Carnarvon Gorge for some stunning examples or Mount Moffatt, where you can see very vivid artefacts, including stencils of a kookaburra and the remains of burial chambers. Another place is Cania Gorge, which has a giant foot print.

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Guide to Blackdown Tableland National Park, Queensland

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