Just because Mount Moffatt bestows a sandstone wilderness within Carnarvon Gorge National Park, don’t think for a moment that it’s crowded with backpackers and tourists. On the contrary, this area of the park is rugged, remote and is only accessible by 4WD, making it the perfect place to explore and get your adventure fix.
The drive towards Mount Moffatt is impressive from the air.
The road in
Mount Moffatt is 220km northwest of Roma with travel for the last 100km being along unsealed roads. Most all-terrain caravans would be capable of traversing the track but a word of caution – it can be rough for those not accustomed to outback travel! We dropped our tyre pressure, and at a low speed, we had no issues towing into the park, slowing down even more for some rough washouts and wildlife. Deeper into the park and closer towards the mountain, the road turns from lightly corrugated to a dusty track with sandy patches. But, still allows plenty of room to navigate any oncoming traffic.
We love any opportunity to show the kids a bit of history and just in case you’re the same, it’s worth noting that there’s an old cattle farm shack at the park boundary which gave us a good excuse to jump out and explore. The hut offers a little taste of how the early settlers lived, and with so much character, it is well worth a look inside.
It’s best to have a completely self-sufficient setup for a trip to Mount Moffatt.
The campgrounds in this section of Carnarvon National Park do offer drop toilets, and 3 of the 4 have rainwater tanks for drinking and cooking; however, you should boil the water first. You will need to bring extra water for showers or in case the tanks are empty, and no public rubbish bins are available so bag all your waste and take it out. We run a dirt gear bag on the spare wheel and it’s the perfect solution to stop smells getting into the car or camper. For more details on each campsite, check the Queensland Government’s Parks website here.
With Injune being about 160km south, yet still, the closest town for supplies, save yourself a long slow drive back and pack everything you need including firewood, food and water.
Even the most seasoned of adventurers learn something new with every trip.
Live and learn
Being seasoned overland veterans, we decided to calculate our fuel requirements 50km after town, only to discover we underestimated the distances and would not have enough fuel to make it back to town if we kept pushing into the park. Having to turn around was still a better result than running out of diesel and being at the mercy of strangers. Live and learn!
It was great to break up the drive and explore The Chimneys and Cathedral Rock.
The Chimneys and Cathedral Rock
Not long after entering the north-eastern section of the park, we came across The Chimneys and Cathedral Rock day-use area. Showcasing many overhangs and little caves, this spectacular rocky outcrop is only a short walk from the 4WD track. It made the perfect spot to stretch our legs after the long drive, especially for the kids who, after being cooped up in the car for a couple of hours, needed a morale booster and a release of energy before finding camp and settling in for our first night.
We loved discovering the creek behind our campsite.
Dargonelly Rock Hole
Surrounded by woodland, the spacious Dargonelly Rock Hole campground boasts plenty of grass for roos to graze and kids to play. Behind our camp, we discovered a picturesque creek with enough water to attract plenty of birds. The park is also home to numerous kangaroo and wallaby species, emus, koalas, quolls, echidnas, sugar gliders and over 150 species of birds. We didn’t spot any of the less welcome locals like snakes and spiders, but no doubt they too are in abundance. For any remote travel, it‘s a good idea to pay attention to the kids and be up to date with your emergency knowledge. Make sure you’ve got a good first-aid kit should the worst happen.
Wind and rain erosion have formed the natural sandstone arch.
The next day we stumbled across Marlong Arch. This impressive sandstone arch would have to be the most enormous natural arch I’ve seen, and being able to get up close was fantastic! This country was home to the Bidjara and Nuri people. Although it was wonderful to discover some of their art along the back sandstone wall, sadly much of the work had been degraded or irreparably damaged by the early European settlers.
The Shelter Shed lookout offers a stunning backdrop with views over the surrounding countryside.
Rotary Shelter Shed
With a night pre-booked at the Rotary Shelter Shed, we continued from the Arch with our fingers crossed that our vehicle and camper would summit Mount Moffat without trouble. The track, though steep and probably very slippery in the wet, was relatively easy. Sticking with low range, first and second gear was required, with momentum and adequate ground clearance. I wouldn’t advise tackling the summit track with a caravan or soft-roader as it’s really no place for such vehicles and you’d likely get into a bind. Those with a little off-road experience, however, and a bit of recovery gear on board just in case, will find the track thrilling. It’s not rutted out or too technical, just a little steep in places.
While the view from Rotary Shelter is impressive, the ice-cold wind that blasts relentlessly at the mountain top makes a winter stay very uncomfortable. Ascending further, we had lunch at the Shelter Shed Lookout, which was the perfect spot to enjoy the warmth of the sun penetrating through the eucalyptus. Aside from sweeping, dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, the lookout also offers an undercover picnic table, fire pit and drop toilet.
There’s enough space at West Branch camping area to pitch away from other campers.
A couple of nights at West Branch camping area was just what we needed. Plenty of shade, but large and open enough to find a quiet corner, plus nice grass and clean drop-hole toilets. West Branch is the midpoint for the Great Walk Circuit from Carnarvon Gorge and is an 87km multiday class 5 walk that is well worth doing for experienced hikers.
The ‘ancient robot from Outerspace’.
Not far down the dusty track from camp is Lot’s Wife. This towering sandstone monolith is a short walk from the track, making it perfect for little legs. The kid’s imagination kicked into overdrive once they saw it and suddenly, ‘an ancient robot from space‘ was ready to chase them back to the car and follow them to our next stop.
Rock art by the Bidjara and Nuri Aboriginal groups who lived in this area.
We were keen to see more Aboriginal art, so a short drive to Kookaburra Cave was next on our list. The artwork here is fenced off with a timber walkway to prevent any more unnecessary damage. Teaching our kids to look with their eyes and not their hands and talking with them about the importance of protecting our history is at the forefront when we find places like this, especially if there are no physical barriers.
We keep our setup simple so moving to a new camp each night is hassle-free.
With our trailer, we can carry enough gear and supplies to be completely off-grid and comfortable for 7 to 10 days with a full setup time of about 10 minutes. We take everything for the 4 of us including 160L of water, gas hot water system and 320 watts of solar to power the freezer, lights, water pumps or charge camera batteries.
Keeping our setup simple means we can explore a new camp each day.
Keeping it simple
Having a setup that suits your lifestyle is the only way to enjoy your adventures. Everyone has individual preferences when camping, some would rather sit in one place for multiple days and others, like us, enjoy packing up and finding new camps every day. The point is to find a camper that enhances, not hinders, your experience and ability to enjoy the outdoors.
Sharing these experiences with our kids turns the adventure into something more.
Travelling with kids always has its challenges, whether it’s the long kilometres while transiting to remote areas, getting to camp at a reasonable time – ideally when it’s still daylight, or carrying enough to entertain them. Cricket, soccer, or an old camera will keep them busy around camp, and activity books, travel games or guessing games distract them during long drives.
Sharing these experiences with our kids turns the expedition into something more. We teach and learn simultaneously, and reminisce over the unique places our trips have taken us, long after we are home.
Exploring somewhere new always opens up fresh experiences.
It’s the journey, not the destination
Exploring somewhere new always opens a unique perspective and invites exciting experiences. Adventures lie in the journey, not just the destination and Mount Moffat turned out to be a fantastic example of this. Being able to travel through the park, discover new wonders and see our kids appreciate the great outdoors just as much as we do, is priceless.
So, who’s tempted to book some time off work and head off on an adventure?
About the writer...
From short weekends away to epic trips seeing the most iconic places in Australia. Travelling with our kids and our kelpie whenever we can get away from work. We love going overland and have travelled from the northernmost tip of Cape York to as far south as you can drive on Tasmania. From Fraser Island west to Uluru and everything in between. Currently building up for a big lap of Australia with a new camper and a 25 year old Nissan Patrol. Follow our adventure @goingoverland on Instagram, YouTube or Facebook.