History of The Gorge

Carnarvon National Park covers 300,000 hectares and has been a national park since 1938. the gorge itself receives up to 60,000 people a year, making it one of the most visited parks in Queensland.

The annual rainfall is about 1000mm. The range generates its own weather system. Most rain falls in summer, when we often have large thunderstorms due to the warm, moist air being uplifted over the range. The run-off from rain radiates out from the Carnarvon Range over a huge area. The eastern side (Carnarvon Creek), goes into the Fitzroy River that reaches the sea at Rockhampton. The southern side goes into the Murray river, while the western side feeds into Lake Eyre.

A look at the past

Ludwig Leichhardt led the first European expedition into the Carnarvon region in 1844, and Thomas Mitchell and Edmund Kennedy followed shortly after in 1846-47. Mitchell gave the region its current name, possibly after the Caernarfon Ranges of Wales. Pastoralists moved into the area in the 1860s, with the nearby settlement of Springsure surveyed and gazetted in 1863. After lobbying from the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland, pastoralists abandoned their leaseholds, and the national park was declared in 1932. the Ka Ka Mundi section was grazed for more than a century before it became part of the national park in 1974, and the old cattle yards by the Bunbuncundoo Springs are a reminder of early pastoral history.

Aboriginal Culture

Carnarvon Gorge is a significant Dreamtime area, said to have been carved out of the rock as the rainbow serpent Mundagurra travelled through the area’s creek system. There are three main rock-art sites at Carnarvon gorge:

The Art Gallery, Cathedral Cave and Balloon Cave.

In the Art Gallery, dated at over 4000 years old, 62 meters of rock wall provide a natural canvas for more than 2000 ochre stencils, freehand paintings and rock engravings. The even larger Cathedral Cave is one of the most extensive rock-art sites within the gorge. Here there are depictions of human hands, spears, boomerangs, goannas and emu tracks.

There is more ochre stenciling at the smaller Balloon Cave. In plateaus above the gorge, in the Mount Moffat section, rock art of the Bidjara people can be found at the Tombs and Kookaburra Cave. All the rock art sites in the park are fragile and of the tremendous cultural significance, so please remain on the boardwalks provided and refrain from touching the art.