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Exploring Mount Moffatt (Sandstone Belt)

{UPDATED: July 2017}

The Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park was our final stop on our Queensland road trip adventure. Being some 700 km west of Brisbane and only accessible by high-clearance 4WD, you need to make sure you’re prepared for a trip into a remote corner of Queensland.

READ MORE: Sandstone Belt road trip adventure

As most of the Mount Moffatt section is above 700m, it is also known as the “Roof of Queensland”. Sounds quite lofty, I must say!

Mount Moffatt: Carnarvon National Park

Although Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt lie within hiking distance of each other, there is no direct route from one to the other. Instead, if you come from Carnarvon Gorge like we did, you have to take an enormous detour to get there. And by ‘enormous detour’ I mean a few hundred kilometres or 338 km to be exact. Insane.

But you get to see a couple of interesting spots along the way so that made up for all the endless driving.

Back on the road, leaving Carnarvon Gorge behind us

Wreckage of the C478 Dakota Aircraft, crashed at this site in November 1943 (American and Australian personnel). Along the Carnarvon Development Road.

Wing of the aircraft in the middle of the cairn to commemorate the crash

We followed the route in the 4WD Queensland Atlas, taking West Grove Road from Injune into the national park and Mount Moffatt Road on the way out. That way you do a bit of a circuit (check out the map) but West Grove Road is a much slower road as it has tons of floodways and creek crossings.

It was extremely dry when we went along it, and all I got to see was dust and no water. But with a bit of rain, this road probably turns into a clay pan and good luck to you then.

Old Slab Hut and picnic table, some 10 km outside the Mount Moffatt National Park section. Perfect spot for lunch, which we enjoyed until we got interrupted by some not-so-friendly people.

Camping at Mount Moffatt

Along with Expedition National Park and the Starkvale campsite, our Mount Moffatt camp spot, the Rotary Shelter Shed, was my favourite. It got pretty cold and a bit windy but this campsite has some seriously beautiful views over the tablelands.

READ MORE: Exploring Expedition National Park

Apparently the Rotary Shelter Shed site had been closed for years because the 4WD track leading to it gets seriously wet and dangerous. So I felt pretty lucky to get the chance to enjoy magnificent views from our camp! I haven’t seen all the other campsites at Mount Moffatt but I reckon this one is the best!

View from our campsite at the Rotary Shelter Shed, Mount Moffatt. Literally where we camped.

Once we had set up camp, there was a tiny bit of time for a quick drive to the end of the track. We got to take in some fabulous views from the Top Shelter Shed and almost walked into a rotting and definitely stinky wild pig at the Head of Carnarvon Creek. Other than that, the Head of Carnvarvon Gorge is a little disappointing as there’s not much of view or anything to see.

Macrozamia Palm at Top Shelter Shed. Apparently they only grow a centimetre a year (or was that an inch?). In any case, I think they’re rather cool.

Into the Mahogany Forest. Lots of white flowers everywhere.

Once we got to the end of the track, we had to drive back in a hurry to catch the sunset over our campsite.

Driving back to the campsite…

And here’s the sunset…

Sunset over the Rotary Shelter Shed campsite, Mount Moffatt

With that sort of nice sunset, the next day was bound to be beautiful!

At around midnight heavy rain woke me up and turned our night into a somewhat sleepless one. The next morning greeted us with a rather non-existent view, a very wet tent (yay, let’s pack up a wet tent…), freezing cold, and a path that had turned into black, gooey clay wanting to swallow up your feet whole.

The “view” the next morning…

After a game of packing up the tent, checking out the track, deciding to stay rather than get stuck in the mud, setting up the tent again, talking to some ‘happily oblivious to the danger of mud tracks without having recovery gear’ young Belgians in their 4WD, checking out the track again, packing up the tent again, we decided to leave after all. By then it was 2 pm and there was no chance we’d get anywhere near as far as we had wanted to that day.

But the fog had somewhat lifted, the rain had stopped and my teeth weren’t chattering as loudly anymore.

Once more there was a view from the campsite at Mount Moffatt

Mount Moffat Walks

On our way out, we did the speed version of exploring some walks again, racing against the clock and sunlight. There are quite a few walks to do and you could probably spend a day or two exploring them all.

Lot’s Wife, Kookaburra Cave and Marble Arch are all really short walks from where you park your car (50m to a few hundred). So there’s no reason not to get out of your car! And being so remote, you’re unlikely to meet anyone and you’ll have the sights all to yourself.

Lot’s Wife. A pillar of sandstone. Somehow I always thought Lot’s Wife would be a bit smaller.

Aboriginal hand stencils of a kookaburra (well, and hands), Kookaburra Cave. It’s actually pretty tiny but the kookaburra is very cool. 🙂

There’s also a longer 5.8 km circuit track, taking in three different sites: The Tombs, the Chimneys and the Looking Glass. Despite running out of time, we had to do this trail, of course! 🙂

My favourite of three sites was definitely The Tombs, an Aboriginal burial site. It felt special and sacred walking along the foot of the giant rock wall with carved out burial chambers.

READ MORE: Incredible Aboriginal Rock Art

By the time we got back to the car it was almost 5 pm so I only had time to run up to Cathedral Rock and take a photo from afar. But I’m not sure there was much more to see anyway.

Cathedral Rock, another giant sandstone rock

On the Home Stretch

And then we were finally on the road again, making our way through clay and mud as the kangaroos and cows came out to join us on the road into the sunset. No, it was not romantic.

Back on the road, fighting with reddish, sticky clay mud… the car was absolutely covered in mud by time we hit bitumen again.

Sunset somewhere along the Mount Moffat Road

We made it as far as Roma that night, and then did the last 560 km back to the Sunshine Coast the following day. That day wasn’t very exciting. Coming home after an awesome trip never is but there is the beach and sunshine here to cheer me up. 🙂

But I am looking forward to our next big Queensland adventure trip!

Feeling very remote along Mount Moffatt Road


Queensland National Parks has information on where to camp and the various walks around the Mount Moffatt section.

If we ever make it back there, I’d like to explore the Kenniff Lookout and the sites where the murder by the Kenniff brothers’ was committed in the early 19th century. Sounds like some fascinating piece of history!

Pin for later!

View over the escarpment at Mount Moffat, Carnarvon National Park

Expedition National Park (Sandstone Belt)
4WD-ing around Fraser Island at Christmas
9 lessons I learnt on Fraser Island
Along the Discovery Coast: Eurimbula National Park
Beach driving along the Burrum Coast
A Scenic Rim drive: Falls Drive and Condamine River

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