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The Gorge Mouth.
The first area visitors enter in the National Park is the mouth of the Gorge. Between the commercial accommodation centres and the National Park Information Centre lie three sites; Baloon Cave, Mickey Creek and Warrumbah Gorge, and the Rockpool. Just beyond the Information Centre lies the start of the two remaining tracks in the mouth of the Gorge; Boolimba Bluff and the Nature Trail.
Distance (one way): 500m.
The walk in to Baloon Cave is at its best early or late in the day. The walk in is marked as a cultural trail and has information panels in relevant places pointing out aspects of indigenous culture and resource use. The site itself is a small, but well-preserved rock art site, named after the fine stone axe stencils it contains. For those unable to make it to the Art Gallery, it may be the only opportunity to encounter the area's stencil art; considered to be the most complex in the world.
Baloon Cave is formed by an overhang in the sandstones of Clematis Ridge which is believed to be the lowest intake bed for the Great Artesian basin. It is uncertain whether this was a ceremonial site as little is known about the spiritual significance of the motifs present. Archaeological excavations revealed occupational evidence dating back 500 years, making it the youngest of the dated sites in the Gorge.
Distance (one way): 1km.
The walking track into Mickey Creek forks about a kilometre in and Warrumbah Gorge turns off to the right. Shortly after the fork, both tracks have Park signs informing walkers that the 'formed track ends here'. Some visitors have interpreted this as 'don't go any further', however the Rangers are merely trying to tell you that beyond those points they conduct no maintenance on the trail whatsoever. You are welcome to proceed further, but you must be more careful of the uneven terrain.
If you are comfortable with the terrain, do not miss Warrumbah Gorge as within its first one hundred metres it narrows to a slot canyon. In places you can touch both walls with outstretched arms. In fact, both Gorges offer plenty of rock-hopping for those willing to keep going, and you should be prepared to get your feet wet if you wish to follow either gorge as far as you can. Walking through water is usually the safest course in these places as most accidents occur when people try and keep their feet dry by scampering up the gorge walls.
Keep an ear pricked for Echidnas on this walk. The cool micro-climate in Mickey's Creek allows them to be active all day and the groundcover is thin enough that you have half a chance of observing them if they are present.
Access: Can be reached in three ways - from the Rockpool Carpark, from the Visitor Area, or from the Lodge. The trail from the Visitor Area is the least travelled section of track on the Gorge floor as you can drive to either end of it. Therein lies its value. If you are after a bit of peace and quiet, or want to sneak up on wildlife without disturbance, the Rockpool Track will give you the best chance for peace and tranquility.
The Rockpool should have an ‘s’ on the end as there are two of them. A shady picnic spot with coin operated gas BBQ facilities and picnic tables is maintained next to the creek and there are toilet facilities close to the Rockpool Carpark. These two pools are the only designated swimming holes in the Gorge and they are also the most changeable locations from year to year as all of the 35km long Gorge's runoff must pass through them.
Distance (one way): 2 km circuit.
The Nature Trail runs the length of the Visitor Area on the opposite side of Carnarvon Creek. It is an excellent walk along which to search for local flora and fauna. Platypus inhabit the more substantial pools, and all of the Gorge's macropods occur in the habitats along the track. For wildlife watching it is at its best early and late in the day.
Distance (one way): 3.2 km.
Boolimba Bluff is the Gorge’s main lookout. It stands about 200m above the level of the creek and its track contains around 960 stairs. However it is within the reach of most walkers, provided they are smart enough to take it at their own pace. If you happen to be accompanied by faster walkers on this trail, wave them goodbye and bid them wait for you at the lookout and take your own sweet time. The walk to the Bluff is, ecologically, the most diverse in Carnarvon Gorge, meaning the slower you walk and the more frequently you stop, the more you are likely to notice.
On clear days we recommend you commence this track between 7am and 8am. In warm weather, go even earlier. Starting early keeps your high physical output in the cooler hours, which is easier on the body as you don't have to sweat so much to keep cool. It also puts you on the track when it is at its most scenic, because of the way light works in this landscape. The walk to the Bluff passes through the mouth of Wagaroo Gorge, the first and the widest of Carnarvon Gorge's offshoots. In the morning, light hits Wagaroo's western walls and is reflected into the shaded gullies, which is where the track runs, lighting them with an almost magical light. When it is at its peak, you'd swear you were walking through a McCubbins painting. And when you get to the top, the sun should still be low enough to cast deep shadows which allows a greater appreciation of the ruggedness of the terrain and gives depth to your photographs.