Carnarvon Gorge is located in south-central Queensland about 590 km from the city of Brisbane and close to the townships of Injune and Rolleston. The Gorge has been, since 1932, protected by its gazettal as part of the Carnarvon Gorge National Park.
This gorge is about 30 km long and about 600 meters deep at its mouth. The lower 10 km of the gorge feature narrow sandstone canyons and valleys, basalt-topped tablelands and ranges, sandy plains, some rainforest vegetation, numerous springs, and Aboriginal rock art and other cultural sites.
Vegetation includes various kinds of woodland such eucalytp- and angora-dominated woodlands, and mixed eucalytp, acacia, white turpentine and turpentine woodlands. Two classic plants seen in the Carnavon Gorge are the cycad Macrozamia moorei and the Carnarvon fan palm. There are some distinct colonies of king ferns and Sydney blue gums.
Some of the ecosystems have been damaged by extensive land clearing in the area over the years. As a result, Carnarvon Gorge includes a number of endangered species of vegetation, including the Carnarvon fan palm, the Cadellia pentastylis, and the Austral cornflower.
There are many species of mammals in the Carnarvon Gorge including the platypus, the echidna, the eastern grey kangaroo, the pretty-faced wallaby, the swamp wallaby, the wallaroo, the red-necked wallaby, and the rufous bettong. There are five species of glider: the greater glider, the yellow-bellied glider, the squirrel glider, the sugar glider, and the feathertail glider. There are twenty species of bats.
There are more than 180 species of birds including Australian bustards, brolgas, white-winged choughs, laughing kookaburras and Apostlebirds, as well as peregrine falcons, wedged-tailed eagles, Australian ravens, pied currawongs, red-browed finches and white-browed scrubhens.
Snakes include the keelback, the green tree snake and the carpet python, while lizards include the lace monitor and the sand monitor and skinks and geckoes include the major skink.
Frogs include the tusked frog, the striped marsh frog and the recently-introduced cane toad. There are good numbers of freshwater turtles such as the Kreffts River turtle and the saw-shelled turtle. There are ten species of fish, including the long-finned eel.
There are many species of invertebrates including various land snails, as well as common crow butterflies, two species of stonefly, a dobson fly, and two species of dragonfly.
Feral animals include, in addition to the above-mentioned cane toad, brumbies (horses) and pigs. These animals are damaging the native plants and animals and are being periodically culled.
A Little History
The Aborigines have lived in this area for more than 20,000 years. The Aborigines have left complex stencil-painting rock art in the Art Gallery and the Cathedral Cave in the Carnarvon Gorge.
The first European to pass by area was the explorer and naturalist, Ludwig Leichardt (1813-48) in 1844 and then, in 1846, the surveyor and explorer, Thomas Mitchell (1792-1855), traversed the Gorge (it was Mitchell who named the gorge Carnarvon Gorge after Caernarfon in Wales).
Some Europeans came to the area to escape official attention in the isolation of the region: the Ward brothers who were hunting fur outside of the regulations and the Keniff brothers, who were horse thieves and later murderers. Conflict arose between the Aborigines and European settlers over water and pasture land.
Today tourism, recreation (sport) and conservation are major activities in Carnarvon Gorge. 65,000 visitors come to the area every year.