Why is it that visiting Carnarvon Gorge with kids doesn’t seem to be on every Australian family’s list of things to do?

For experienced more hikers, bushwalkers and campers, this location is on all the right lists, easy to find on the map, and if you’ve spent time in Queensland you might already know someone who’s been there.

To us, it always seemed like hiking or camping in Carnarvon Gorge was one of the worst-kept secrets in Queensland.

But as time went on, we found that for a lot of families with kids, this still seems like a destination they’ve heard of… but don’t seriously consider.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably heard about Carnarvon Gorge: an impressive natural landscape and national park in the central highlands of Queensland, Australia. A huge gorge with sandstone cliffs towering on either side, a winding creek cutting through the middle, and a list of amazing natural geological attractions to see in this one location. Just check out our photos in this article for a sense of what awaits you and your kids.

Carnarvon Gorge with kids - kids walking through the gorge along the river

This article is for you if you are thinking about visiting Carnarvon gorge with kids, but have been putting it off for a while now, probably because you heard a few naysayers putting you off the trip or suggesting some other place that’s ‘better’ (whatever that means!). And you need to get those voices out of your head and just go!

To be honest, for a while we had the same idea as a lot of other parents: We felt our kids were too young for the road trip and the long walks. Plus, we’re tent campers without some of the added conveniences of a camper trailer that can make it easier with kids. Neither of those things are dealbreakers; but of course everyone’s kids are different. No one can tell you if your kids are the right age for long hours in a car, or long walks in the bush. You get to choose as a family – based on knowing what you like to do, the right planning that is specific to your situation, and your good old common sense parenting.

You’re taking your kids there to help them explore and grow, and taking yourself there to experience a part of the world that means something to you. If you thinking you’ll get these two basic things out of it, you might be ready!

So here are a few reasons why some people say they don’t wat to make the trip with kids, and our reasons why you actually should consider it. Here are our answers to 7 common turn-offs:

1. “It’s a bit of a drive to get there – isn’t it?” (From just about anywhere)?

Carnarvon Gorge with kids - sandstone cliffs

Actually, Carnarvon Gorge is at least 8 hours drive from Brisbane, but only about 3 hours drive from Roma, the nearest town. So it’s not as remote as you might think, but it’s just far enough away to give the kids that bush experience that means so much.

Knowing you’re miles away from ‘civilisation’ does wonders for the adult soul as well.

2. “There aren’t a lot of accommodation options close by – are there?”

No hotels or motels, and that’s a good thing. This does feel like a location mainly for tents and camper trailers. The gorge has a great campsite to use as your base (update: previously called Takarakka when we visited, this site is now a Big4) with good facilities – clean toilet blocks, hot showers, and a camp kitchen with gas – so visiting Carnarvon Gorge with kids isn’t going to be too rough.

There is also one lodge and one more vehicle-accessible campsite nearby.

3. “Isn‘t the nearest petrol station really far away?”

Depends what you think is ‘far away’. With a little planning, you can carry enough fuel to avoid running dry. We drove in from Brisbane and Roma, so by filling up our midsized 4WD and a couple of jerry cans in Injune, about one and a half hours from Carnarvon Gorge, we ensured we had plenty of fuel to see us through. And enough to get us back to Roma if there happened to be any unforeseen issues filling up in Injure again.

Besides, if you use the ‘lack’ of fuel options as an excuse to do less driving when you’re in the Carnarvon Gorge area – and do more walking – you might give yourself a more peaceful and better time with kids.

Carnarvon Gorge - Jeep with roof rack on dirt road with cliffs in the background

4. “Is there no mobile phone coverage out there?”

Its true, your phone will be for taking photos not posting photos when you’re in the gorge. We had both Vodafone and Telstra mobile phones and neither showed any bars out there. I don’t know any of those people who climb as high as possible and then wave their phone around to find a signal, but those people do exist – and maybe they get that social media selfie posting mission accomplished. But since you’re in a deep gorge, that’s not really going to be an option here. And that’s a win. With no temptation to check on the outside world, you get to spend more energy on the world you’re in. With your kids.

Carnarvon Gorge with kids - following the trail markers

5. “I heard it’s not worth going for less than 4-5 days? That’s too much with kids!”

You might need about 4 days, but there is so much fantastic bushwalking to do and so many natural attractions to see, so it’s well worth every day you can spend. It’s one of those places where every point of interest is different from the one before, so kids actually look forward to the next day’s hiking.

And a couple of days extra means you get more out of your camp setup and gear!

We’ve added a couple of links at the end of this story that list out the attractions you’re going there to see.

Carnarvon Gorge - tall cliffs, still water

6. “I haven’t come across enough info about Carnarvon Gorge” or “There’s more info about other places to visit with kids”

Actually, be thankful that this location doesn’t get loved to death like so many other special places.

There’s nothing worse than trying to get away from it all – but finding yourself in a tent and campervan city that sounds like a small town music festival just started, every night.

You will meet other people on the Carnarvon Gorge trails, but you will have plenty of time to yourself. Your campsite shouldn’t feel too busy even when full to capacity (the one we stayed at had acceptable living space between campsites, in our opinion) and you will find the peace and quiet you’re looking for.

There is enough information out there to learn about visiting Carnarvon Gorge with kids and to plan your trip (our articles included). Travelling is about finding the experiences you’re looking for, not just what’s being promoted the hardest.

Carnarvon Gorge - Boowinda Gorge

7. “The walks are really long, aren’t they?”

Carnarvon Gorge with kids - walking through the forest

Yes, but there one main hike – about 22km as a round trip – that snakes through the gorge along the Carnarvon River and it feels mostly flat. Maybe a few gentle inclines, but nothing to strenuous.

Nearly all the natural features you might want to see are well signposted, it’s easy to know how far each one is, and you can plan your walk along the same trail. There is even a walk-in campsite at the end of the main trail, which means people with older kids (or younger kids who are more self-sufficient in some ways) can trek in with swags and spend a night or two closer to the places your want to see.

Carnarvon Gorge with kids - mum crossing stepping stones over the creek with kids watching

Here are a few articles about the walks at Carnarvon Gorge:



Carnarvon Gorge with kids – don’t listen to the naysayers!

It’s interesting that the things that keep most people away, are the things that make Carnarvon Gorge with kids better.

Carnarvon Gorge - hiking shoes on orange stepping stones across the creek

For more stories aout travelling with kids, why not check out:

Visiting Morocco with kids! 12 important things they don’t tell you

We’d love to hear your experiences travelling with kids, why not share in the comments below. Happy travels!