In our Outback adventure, we drove north from Hughenden to the Porcupine Gorge National Park. About 60 km away, it is an absolute must when you are in the area! Porcupine Gorge National Park is known as Australia’s Little Grand Canyon. Descending 120 meters deep, the gorge dramatically channels its way through the rock walls.
We stopped a few times to see the sights on the way in.
Like, the Dingo Fence! The Dingo Fence stretches for 5614 km and is the longest fence in the world! It was used to protect sheep from dingoes, but the sheep no longer exist in this area. There are, still dingoes around, so I stay in the car and leave the photographing this time to James.
Tip: The list of sights can be found in the Hughenden Visitor Information Center. If you want to save paper, we have stored the list for you as a pdf below in the facts.
Before arriving at the Porcupine Gorge Campground, we stop at the Gorge Lookout. After a short walk, bam, the Porcupine Gorge stands directly in front of us in the most beautiful way. Standing on the fenced platform, the canyon is to the left and right of us. The various trees and the colorful red, black, and white rocks fall into the gorge and make us feel small. What a view!
Tomorrow we want to walk down to the Gorge. It doesn’t look very easy, and I doubt if I make it in my current condition. I will find out soon.
Arriving at the campsite, we first walk to the Pyramid Lookout. It is the starting point of tomorrow’s trek and we are already overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. We talk to Peter, a Queenslander who walked down to the ravine and was on his way back. He told us about another lookout that’s quick and easy to reach. We thank him for the directions and decide to walk there tomorrow before our coffee.
It is getting dark, so we end our day with one of our invented dishes “hot rice”, and then make ourselves comfortable in bed.
At least that is how we thought we were going to end the day. But there is a surprise waiting for us. Suddenly the entire campground lights up, and we hear an ear-piercing clap of thunder. A thunderstorm! With every flash of lightning, we see the red earth and silhouettes of trees, swaying back and forth in the distance. The earth smells of wet dust and pine trees. And suddenly, that is when we see it! Something is moving on the ground. Then, it stands up and hops a few meters. This must be a Wallaby! We are thrilled and hope to see more, but it is too far away, and it is too dark. Maybe there are a few sitting around our campervan Putu, but we just don’t see them. And then it comes.
We hear jumping, and at that very moment, a lightning bolt cracks above us and illuminates our view. We see two Wallaroos standing on the right side of Putu. They quickly jump directly in front of us and disappear into the distance. Speechless and delighted, we look at each other. What a lightning surprise!
A Morning Walk Through the Bush
We wake to the sound of rain and want to stay in our warm bed. But we pull ourselves together and decide to go for a morning walk through the bush. By the time we pack our cameras, it stops raining. In our flip-flops, and a backpack stuffed full of our tripod, cameras, and mobile phones, we set out on our morning walk through the bush.
Surrounded by color, we are as happy as small children who got a giant scoop of their favorite ice cream! A narrow path of red dirt leads us through the middle of the golden dried grass steppes. The black trunks and branches of the trees form a picturesque contrast against the bright blue sky, which is punctuated by small white clouds. This is exactly how we imagined Australia!
After a ten-minute walk, we arrive. We stand at the edge of the canyon, and once again have breathtaking views of the valley below. From up here, the small lakes and puddles look like small green marbles, and the famous pyramid is clearly recognizable.
A Small Break and Then We’re Off
Our morning bush walk got us in the right mood, and we are full of energy for our “big” hike. We may not look like typical hikers, but our will is strong!
Yesterday we saw some people hiking and everyone had walking sticks with them. We don’t have walking sticks but don’t want to be left out, so we arm ourselves with golf clubs. James opts for his 4-iron and I for my 5-iron. It’s time to go!
It’s only 10 o’clock, but it’s already very hot. We hiked down the ravine, crossing over big and small stones that mingled with this incredible red earth. After about 30-minutes of descending, our mission is accomplished, and we arrive at the bottom of the Porcupine Gorge!
Puttering around the Porcupine Gorge National Park
Nature is so unbelievable, and we can’t stop being amazed. While we were at the Gorge Lookout, we had seen the massive rock faces that ran along the canyon. But down at the bottom, we can better recognize the different rock formations. The white rocks lining the valley floor have small pockets and have been filled with the overnight rain. Some of the pockets are pretty wide across and look deep, while others are small.
All around us, the rock faces rise majestically into the air. In some places, they look dark and threatening, but everywhere the view is so impressive.
The Pyramid is a multi-colored sandstone that was created during the hollowing out of the gorge and is stacked up in front of us. It is easy to recognize from our direct view. It is quite obvious where the name comes from!
A few meters behind us is a small natural pool, where children are splashing each other and giggling with laughter. We savor the moment in front of the pyramid and everything around us. We take a few photos and begin our climb back.
Get Out of the Heat
We spent more time in the Gorge than we thought. The Park is over 25km long, and we have only seen a small fraction of it. But the heat, and the fact that our water bottles are empty, force us to make our way back. We survive the steep march back by stopping to take many breaks.
On our return, we met other hikers who inquired, partly amused, partly curious, about our golf club “hiking sticks”. One said “You’re quite a way out of bounds” which we thought was hilarious! After all, we are certain that you don’t often see people with golf clubs down in the Porcupine Gorge.
After 45 minutes, we finally made it and are back at our campsite. As a reward, we make ourselves a coffee!
The rest of the day we do nothing but enjoy the nature that surrounds us. We rest, write a little, and plan our next few days. I suddenly feel very funny, and my stomach is upset. It must be a heat stroke! After five times racing to the toilet, I’m exhausted and lay down in Putu. James finds another packet of electrolytes and luckily, I am much better after that.
Tip: Always have enough water with you and wear a good hat that protects you from the sun. Even if you only plan for a short walk, the sun in Australia is strong and must not be underestimated.
Our Last Evening
We end our last evening snugly in Putu. It looks like it wants to rain but doesn’t quite make it.
With the tailgate open, we lie in the campervan looking at each other happily. Days like this are worth their weight in gold! A few raindrops escape the clouds, the air is pleasant, and we can smell the wet earth. James tells me about his childhood, about how he used to sleep outside with his friends under the starry sky during the summer holidays. He said nights like this remind him of those days, and what a highlight it was for him. I love it when he tells me stories from the past, and I listen intently.
We don’t see any wallaroos or kangaroos hopping past us tonight, but we’re still grateful for this perfect day.
How to get to The Porcupine Gorge National Park
The Porcupine Gorge National Park is in Queensland, Australia. The Park entrance is about 45 km north of Hughenden. The Gorge Lookout is 63 km north of Hughenden. Another 11 km further you will find the Porcupine Campsite. Everything can easily be reached via a paved road, and 4WD is not required.
On the way to the Gorge, you can admire various extraordinary things, such as the longest fence in the world.
Tip: The roads quickly become muddy in the rain, so it is good to check the road conditions before your trip. The Visitor Center in Hughenden is happy to provide information.
Accommodations in the Porcupine Gorge National Park
There is only one campground in the Porcupine Gorge National Park. To stay there, you need to register in advance and pay a small fee. You can either do this online at http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au, call +61 137 468, or in person at The Flinders Discovery Centre in Hughenden. Please note that there is no self-registration at the campsite directly! The cost was $6.75 p.p. per night, as of September 2020.
Flinders Discovery Centre
37 Gray St, Hughenden, QLD 4821
There are a total of 22 campsites, 8 for caravans, and 14 for tents. The campgrounds are large and beautifully laid out. A campervan like Putu has a lot of space here! The sites even have picnic tables! Only some of the campsites have fire pits.
Generators are not allowed. There is no internet service in the park and no drinking water. Waste must be brought back with you.
Compost toilets are available and are also wheelchair accessible. Pets are not allowed.
The campsites are quite level.
What to do in the Porcupine Gorge National Park
Besides relaxing, enjoying nature, and watching wildlife, you can also walk on different tracks.
One track is the Gorge Walk, which is 2.4 km long and takes about 1.5 hours to return. The start of the track is directly at the Pyramid Lookout.
The Rim Walk is about 2.6 km return, and the starting point is between campsites 12 and 13. There is a tiny signpost that is easy to overlook.
Tip: make this walk at sunrise, when the grass steppe on the red earth stands out in color, and the sun immerses everything in a magical light. The rock walls are even more impressive in a favorable light.
Bush Walks are for experienced outdoorsy, not for us, so we didn’t do any of the remote tracks, just the 2 walks above.
The Porcupine Gorge National Park is a must when you are in the area, and we would highly recommend a visit!