Roam wild in Porcupine National Park, Queensland
Located in Outback Queensland, Porcupine Gorge National Park is about 60km north of the town of Hughenden. It covers an area of 5410ha, extending some 25kms along Porcupine Creek and out to surrounding open woodland and grassland.
This ancient land is home to the Yirendali Aboriginal people. The creek has carved an incredible canyon that reveals layers of sedimentary rocks spanning hundreds of millions of years. Eroding action of the creek in the wider section of the gorge has created a landscape of an isolated monolith of multi-coloured sandstone rising from the floor of the gorge, shaped just like a pyramid. This appearance has gained it the name the Pyramid.
The Gorge has spectacular scenery of towering, coloured sandstone cliffs contrasting against pockets of vine forest. The deep permanent waterholes along Porcupine Creek stand out against the savanna plains surrounding Porcupine Gorge.
During the day, hike to the base of the Gorge and swim in the many waterholes that are scattered along the creek. Marvel at the landscape that has been carved over time and witness Australia’s very own Pyramid. At night, in the dedicated campsites, sleep under a million stars that dance across the sky. You will feel miles away from the big smoke and connected to the ancient land that surrounds you.
Hiking in Porcupine Gorge National Park
There are several hiking tracks within the National Park, ranging from easy to moderate. It is important to take note of the safety requirements when hiking in such a remote part of Australia as accidents could prove fatal. In these areas, there is little if any phone reception and help can be some distance away.
Gorge Lookout Hike
Distance: 200m (Easy hike)
Start with the Gorge lookout, an easy hike that is wheelchair accessible with assistance. This 200m return trip will take around 40 minutes. Located 1.5km from the Kennedy Development Road and 11km from the Pyramid camping area, this short walk starts and finishes from the Gorge lookout carpark. Try time this for sunset as you can enjoy sweeping views across the gorge and down into Porcupine Creek just as the sun goes down.
Distance: 400m (Easy hike)
The Pyramid lookout hike is also an easy 400m return trip, starting and ending at the Pyramid day-use area carpark. It takes around 20 minutes, with the track winding through open woodland that leads up to Pyramid lookout, boasting stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the Parks’ ancient geology.
Gorge and Pyramid Hike
Distance: 2.4km (Moderate hike)
The longer 2.4kms return Pyramid walking track is a little more strenuous, taking around 1.5hrs (not taking in the time at the base of the Gorge. Starting from the Pyramid camping area, this track descends to the bottom of the gorge and offers the opportunity to explore the surrounds of the gorge floor and Porcupine Creek. The return journey up to the camping area is back along the same track. Remember to allow for frequent breaks to admire the landscape, take adequate drinking water, wear sun protection and sturdy ankle-supporting footwear. This walk requires a reasonable level of fitness as the track has steep sections and steps, making the 2.4kms feel more like 20kms on the return climb.
Wildlife at Porcupine National Park
Although the gorge may seem dry and arid, viewing wildlife in the National Park is made easier due to the many permanent waterholes that provide an important refuge for and attracts a wide variety of animals. Birds are in an abundance in the area and you will hear their calls echo around the gorge. Flocks of red-tailed black cockatoos are often seen in the woodlands surrounding the gorge.
A walk through the National Park around the sculptured sandstone cliffs and deep pools of the gorge floor will offer the best chance to see wallaroos and red kangaroos. In the camping area, you may even be lucky enough to spot the curious and cheeky rufous bettong. These nocturnal marsupials rest during the heat of the day and come out to explore at night.
Camping at Porcupine Gorge National Park
The Pyramid camping and day-use areas are the closest place to stay, located within the National Park. There are 22 sites with basic facilities, although some campsites have wheelchair-accessible picnic tables and toilets. Camping permits start from $6.85 per person per night and are required to be booked through Queensland National Parks before arrival. The camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite. Campfires are only permitted in the steel fire rings (fireplace) provided at campsites, except when fire prohibitions or fire bans are in place.
Local tips and tricks
- After storms, the access road to Porcupine Gorge National Park camping site may be temporarily closed or inaccessible to conventional vehicles.
- Keep an eye out for the curious rufous bettong who will hop around the campsite after dark
- Wake up early for sunrise over the gorge from the campsite lookout and watch the sunrise over the Pyramid
- Plan your hike down to the bottom of the gorge well – it is only a 2.4km round trip hike but coming back up the gorge in the heat feels like 20kms!
- Take your swimmers to have a dip in one of the many waterholes, but avoid the holes with stagnant water