Expedition National Park (Sandstone Belt)

Expedition National Park wows you with its towering sandstone cliffs, deep ravines and seemingly untouched wilderness. Robinson Gorge winds its way through the national park for over 14 km and even in the dry season, there’s a permanent waterhole.

This feels like remote outback even if you’re not technically in the Australian outback yet.

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Robinson Gorge from Robinson Gorge Lookout, Expedition National Park

We didn’t have much time in Expedition but here’s a bit more on the Expedition National Park leg of our awesome Queensland road trip.

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Exploring Expedition National Park

To plan our Sandstone Belt road trip, we pretty much relied on Murray White’s awesome 4WD Queensland Atlas. The book includes a range of 4WD trips across Queensland, including detailed trip notes and maps.

And for our almost outback trip, it turned out to be a fantastic resource so I’m very glad we had the maps and track information at hand on our way to Expedition National Park.

Without it, I doubt we would have considered stopping at Expedition. And that would have been a real shame because it’s got a gorge, it’s remote and we were the only people there!

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Getting There

Being some 660 km west of Brisbane, Expedition National Park is not exactly a weekend destination for most people. We did it as part of a week-long trip that saw us starting in Cania Gorge and finishing at Carnarvon Gorge.

READ MORE: Queensland is really big: Sandstone Belt road trip

From Cania Gorge, we set off for the sleepy town of Theodore, some 200 km west, to start the first leg of our 4WD trip through Expedition National Park.  We pretty much followed the route in the 4WD Queensland Atlas, travelling from Theodore into Expedition via Lake Murphy to Bauhinia (check out the map to see the route).

On our way to Expedition, we passed through the town of Banana along the Dawson Highway and I got really excited about seeing giant bananas. But to my disappointment, no big banana or anything even remotely to do with bananas was to be found. 🙁

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Although we left Cania Gorge by about 8:30 am, we still only managed to get to Expedition National Park and our bush campsite at Starkvale Camp just after 4 pm.

The last 16 km to the campsite is a 4WD-only track with a couple of creek crossings (no water when we went in June) and one steep rocky descent that we didn’t find particularly steep at all. As we learned later in the trip though, things can change rapidly in Queensland, and tracks can become impassible with only the teeniest amount of rain.

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Past ancient palms on our way to Expedition National Park

Travelling the 380 km seemed to take a long time but we were rewarded with a fabulous camp spot. And what was even better, we were the only ones there (hallelujah!) and got a glorious sunset to watch! Finally it really felt like camping in a remote area!

We set up camp in a nice, flatish area near the creek bed and discovered the next morning that we actually camped in the day use area. Who on earth would drive to this remote spot for the day is, however, beyond me.

READ MORE: Camping at Expedition National Park (Starkvale)
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The creek bed next to the campsite at Starkvale Camp

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Our minimalist setup for the night

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Sunset over Starkvale Camp. How many photos can you take of the same sunset?? Well… lots. 🙂

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Looking back, I wish we had planned more than one night there. We had barely any time for exploring nearby Robinson Gorge the next morning. It was such a pleasant and relaxing spot, I could have stayed there for a few more days.

It seems strange that Expedition National Park is so underrated, perhaps because it is rather remote. I had very low expectations of the whole area but it is really quite beautiful.

Robinson Gorge at its narrowest is barely six metres wide with sheer cliffs on both sides. Talk about being impressed! 🙂

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Short Walks at Expedition

From Starkvale Camp, there are two short walks. One walk takes you to Robinson Gorge Lookout (4km return), the other to Cattle Dip Lookout (1.2km return).

There’s also the slightly longer walk (3.6km return) that takes you to a sandstone plateau at Shepherds Peak; unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do that one on this trip.

From Robinson Gorge Lookout, you can also climb down into the gorge. Cattle Dip Lookout gives you views over Robinson Gorge as well but at the narrow(er) end. Lookout sounds a bit too formal for what is really just the end of unfenced cliffs and a lot of scrambling around.

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Robinson Gorge from Cattle Dip Lookout

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Robinson Gorge from Robinson Gorge Lookout

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The creek bed is pretty much dry in winter except for the permanent water hole at the narrow end of the gorge.

Exploring the bottom of the gorge would have been awesome as there’s a rocky path leading down into it. The rest is bush bashing though, there are no tracks in the actual gorge. You could easily spend a day there, looking at the rock formations and wandering to the narrow end of the gorge. It looks just beautiful. Oh well, another time… 🙂

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Back on the road and off to Carnarvon Gorge…

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Summing Up…

If you have low expectations, you probably won’t get disappointed! 🙂 We planned way too little time for Expedition, it was exactly our kind of place. Remote, rugged, a few walks to explore, and nobody else in sight!

Remember that you will need to high-clearance 4WD and come prepared to be self-sufficient. There really are no services anywhere nearby, including fuel or water. Not long ago, a father and his son got stuck in the mud at Expedition and almost died (a farmer ended up rescuing them).

MORE INFORMATION

Check out the Queensland National Parks’ website on Expedition National Park for information on facilities, how to book a campsite, how to get there and a map of the walks and lookouts.

Pin for later!

View into Robinson Gorge at Expedition National Park

Exploring Mount Moffatt (Sandstone Belt)
Queensland is REALLY big… (Sandstone Belt road trip)
Cania Gorge (Sandstone Belt road trip)
9 lessons I learnt on Fraser Island
4WD-ing around Fraser Island at Christmas
Beach driving along the Burrum Coast

3 Comments

  1. Das ist ja eine Oberfrechheit, dass es in Banana kein passendes Merchandise (Ohrringe, Banananbrotdosen, Postkarten, Lesezeichen in Bananenform!) oder Sehenswüridigkeiten gab. Da würde ich mich direkt mal beschweren und denen ihren Stadtnamen absprechen.

    Reply
    • Haha, genau! Ich finde, es haette mindestens eine Postkarte geben sollen. Ohrringe wuerde ich auch sehr gut finden.

      Ist der Post bei dir im Blog-feed gelandet?? Ich hatte ihn naemlich nur ein bisschen aufgepeppelt, ist schon von 2014. 😀

      Reply

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