2012 Mount Moffatt Section Carnarvon National Park

Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 08:21

Navigator 1 (NSW)

Sunday 23rd December – Wednesday 26th December

We had previously visited all three other sections of the Carnarvon National Park but never the Mount Moffatt section. We had spent the night at the Injune Race Course (with fresh water and toilets) but with storms hanging around the gorge we thought Mount Moffatt would elude us again. However, after speaking with the ranger, we decided to set off and check out the track.
The Mount Moffatt Section of Carnarvon National Park was created in 1979 when Mount Moffatt Station was purchased by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. This is a remote park of wild and diverse landscapes nestled within the elevated sandstone country of the Central Highlands. It affords spectacular views over the mountain ranges with its rugged peaks, escarpments and gorges. In the NE section of Mount Moffatt, the Consuelo Tableland is the highest plateau in Queensland.

It was a 130km run NW from Injune to the park entrance. The ‘sealed’ road to Womblebank Station was in a state of disrepair with pot holes and washouts. 27km NW of Womblebank the dirt/clay road commenced. Several creek crossing, mainly Crystal Brook, didn’t cause us any problems, however, after heavy rain these creeks become impassable.

As you enter the park, open grassy woodlands characteristic of the area’s sandy wide valleys and undulating flats, are common. These are dominated by smooth barked apples, Angophora costata with their salmon pink trunks and dense patches of cypress pine, Callitris columellaris.

Several km after entering the park we arrived at the information bay with the short stroll to Cathedral Rock opposite. This also was also the beginning of the longer 5.8 km circuit walk to Looking Glass, The Tombs and The Chimneys but with storm clouds overhead we decided to leave this for when we left the park. At the mail box the road branched – the beginning and end of the loop road. We continued straight ahead for 3km to our 1st campsites, Dargonelly Rock Hole.

What an unexpected surprise! Before us was a large grassed area with shade from the mature trees, water on tap, two cement fire rings, several other open fire areas surrounded by logs for campers to sit on, a brand new double drop toilet and the old single drop toilet. On one side of the camping area was Dargonelly Rock Hole. Unfortunately the water was stagnant, only flowing after heavy rain. All these wonderful facilities we had to ourselves, except for two kangaroos, several Butcher Birds and the Magpies. After all, late December was not the usual visiting time. The Ranger, whom we passed on the way in, had also left for the Christmas break. The evening was lovely without any bugs, so we enjoyed the outdoors till bed time.

On Monday morning, Christmas Eve, we were up at 6.00am. It was peaceful and quiet. After a ‘healthy’ breakfast of bacon and eggs Chicka serviced the truck then we sat back to watch the birds and the Kangaroos. The male left early but the female, with a joey in her pouch, just lounged around under the trees.
After lunch we got itchy feet and we headed off to explore the park. Except for the big walk near the entrance, all the attractions were close to the track. Marlong Arch was only 3km up the road. Here soft Precipice Sandstone had weathered to create an impressive natural arch. The next nine km took in Kookaburra Cave, Lot’s Wife and the turn off to Marlong Plain. It was an 850km walk to Kookaburra Cave, the last section up a few steps to a welcomed bench seat. It was actually quite a large shelter in the rocky outcrop and was so named after an Aboriginal hand stencil that resembled a kookaburra. It appears that the hand stencils have been recently touched up as the art work doesn’t last forever on sandstone. Our next attraction, Lot’s Wife, was a remarkable pillar also of Precipice Sandstone which is the last isolated remnant of a bluff that once extended across this area. To those who have travelled in the Northern Territory, it is a mini version of Chambers Pillar.


At the turn off to Marlong Plain we encountered a ‘Road Closed’ sign. Significant damage to the track, caused by rain earlier in the year, had resulted in the track being considered unsafe. We should have taken the opportunity for a 4 km return walk but I think we are getting a little lazy. Such a pity because it is a natural grassland dominated by Queensland bluegrass, Dichanthium sericeum. (I give the scientific name only in case you want to look it up. Sometimes the common name does not give an exact match). Apparently if you walk down to the edge of the plain, you can view distant sandstone cliffs and ridges with wonderful colour changes as the sun sets.

A further 5km north we reached the point where the road continued onto Lethbridges Pocket with the following attractions - Kenniff Lookout, Kenniff Cave, the Murder Site and the Incineration Site. Unfortunately this track was also closed. Kenniff lookout, the peak of Mt rugged, was used by the Kenniff brothers as a lookout during their infamous horse stealing and cattle duffing careers. Kenniff Cave was closed due to the unstable nature of the roof. This cave is one of the most important archaeological sites in central Queensland. It was established as Australia’s finest verified Pieistocene site, placing Australia firmly on the world archaeological map. Aboriginal rock art, similar to that within the cave, can still be seen at The Tombs site.
At the Murder Site, several kilometres in from the road, in 1902, James and Patrick Kenniff are believed to have murdered Constable George Doyle and station manager, Christian Dahike. The Incineration Site evidence suggests that the bodies of Doyle and Kahike were cremated by the brothers on a large rock in the creek bed. Several days after the event Constable Millard from Warrego Police Station found Doyle’s horse carrying saddle bags containing a grisly 200lbs of charcoal, burnt human remains and clothing. You would wonder why the brothers did this! A police hunt of mammoth proportions lasted several months before the brothers were finally captured near Mitchell.

At this point we travelled in a SE direction, on a one way track, to Top Shelter Shed passing the Rotary Shelter Shed on our way. Top Shelter, a picnic area, is at the level of the old surface of the Buckland Volcano. Far to the NE can be seen the prominent vertical cliffs of the plug, Tyson’s Nugget. As you look into the valleys you can see how erosion has worn through basalt re-exposing the sandstones beneath. Brilliant views!

Another 2km on and we viewed the Mahogany Forest from Peawaddy Gorge lookout. The Mahogany trees that grow in this valley are endemic only to this area. It was only a further 2km to the head of Carnarvon Creek and the end of the track. The track was quite wet so we decided, 1km from the end, it was best to turn around at a point where we could make a 6 point turn.

We returned to the Rotary Shelter Shed and set up camp for the evening. The area could accommodate a good 6-8 campers and had a drop toilet, shelter shed, water tank and a bbq grate. There were beautiful views over the valley from this point. We had the site to ourselves once again. The evening was fantastic with clear skies and no wind but this area was over 1100m and after we went to bed it wasn’t long before we were under the doona, the first time in months.

Not too early in the morning we made our way down the track to the intersection to Lethbridge’s Pocket and the track south heading to our next campsite, West Branch, a creek off Boot Creek. Once again it was a magnificent large camping area with shade from the mature trees, fire rings, water taps and modern drop toilets. This time however, we had one other vehicle set up with their tent. As the creek only flows after heavy rain it was basically dry. Just a short walk along the creek was a low suspension bridge that provided access to the Carnarvon Great Walk. A six day walk was out of the question so we just walked across the bridge.
It was Christmas Day. Lunch was simple but very nice – German bread, cream cheese, Tasmanian Salmon and dill, Christmas Pudding and a glass of wine to wash it down. In the evening our neighbours brought us over pancakes and jam served on paper plates with Christmas serviettes. We finished the day with a few drinks.

Boxing Day was another lovely day. We headed further south to the Ranger Station along sandy tracks. They were quite hard packed and didn’t cause any problems. The Ranger Station was in the Homestead of the last property owners.

The large home paddock was grassed and very well maintained. On the left hand side of the track the old wooden yards still stood and in the Information Hut was a display of pictures depicting days gone by. Here also was the self registration bay for those camping in the park. This is unusual for Queensland these days as they normally require prior on line bookings. It was a very picturesque area and I'm sure other rangers would like this to be their base.
Back at the entry information shelter we stopped and did the 950m one way walk to the Looking Glass. Wind had eroded a cave right through an isolated pillar of Precipice Sandstone standing by the Maronoa River. Back at the starting point we walked the 600m one way walk to The Chimneys. Here three pillars of rock have been separated from the narrow end of a small bluff of Precipice Sandstone where water has eroded down vertical fractures. They looked impressive against the blue sky! Both these walks could have been incorporated into the 5.8km loop walk taking in The Thombs, but it was just too hot. Perhaps another day we will visit the significant Tombs Rock Art Site. Here more than 400 stencilled motifs (images) decorate the walls of a sandstone shelter below the bluff.The rock art can be viewed from a boardwalk with seats.
The Tombs once contained burial chambers for local Aboriginal people. Skeletons were wrapped and bound in bark burial cylinders. Sadly, by the end of the twentieth century, the site had been robbed of this material leaving little evidence of an elaborate mortuary culture.

Storm clouds were gathering overhead so it was time to leave Mount Moffatt National Park before rain caused any problems with the creek crossings. We retraced our footsteps 130km back to the Injune Racecourse where we were greeted once again by those in camp.
This was a very different Christmas for us but we can now thoroughly recommend all the remote sections of the Carnarvon National Park:
Mount Moffatt Section
• Ka Ka Mundi Section but there is very little here.
• Salvator Rosa Section

Of course, we must not forget the fantasticCarnarvon Gorge Section of the park that is very accessible from the Carnarvon Highway.

You will never never know if you never never go!

Reference material:
1. Visitor Information Mount Moffatt Section Carnarvaon National Park - Pamphlet
2. Central Queensland Sandstone Belt Parks Visitor guide - Queensland Government - Booklet
3. Mount Moffatt Section Carnarvon National Park - Queensland Government Park Guide pamphlet
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