Porcupine Gorge National Park
Porcupine Gorge National Park with its cool, clear, flowing creek, towering cliffs of vibrantly coloured sandstone and comparatively dense vegetation provides a striking contrast to the sparsely wooded, dry flat plains which surround it. This impressive canyon reveals strata of sedimentary rocks spanning hundreds of millions of years of geological history.
A thin, hard basalt cap, the product of geologically recent lava flows, has in most places protected the older underlying rock, but where this capping has been worn away, the scouring action of waterborne particles has excavated a deep chasm into the softer sandstone.
The excavator is Porcupine Creek, a meandering string of clear pools in winter and a boiling cascade in the wet season.
Wind and water have coloured and sculptured the sandstone to form fluted channels, boulders, potholes and shallow caves. Permanent deep pools, each with its resident tortoises, are lined with casuarinas (sheoaks) and melaleucas (paperbarks) while a variety of eucalypts and acacias grow from precarious positions on the cliffs above.
Midday in the gorge is usually a time of harsh light, contrasting shadows and an eerie quiet, but as the sun's rays set the rocks aglow with their afternoon colours, the gorge reverberates with the calls of currawongs, parrots and the occasional soaring bird of prey. Closer observation reveals a wide variety of birds including the black duck, crimson-winged parrot, black bittern and numerous honeyeaters.
The gorge becomes a focal point for many animals in the dry season while others like the wallaroo and rock wallaby are permanent residents. In the wider section of the gorge is the Pyramid, an isolated monolith of multicoloured sandstone rising from the floor of the gorge and shaped as its name suggests.
Porcupine Gorge offers opportunities for bushwalking, bird watching, nature study, swimming and photography.
Access Porcupine Gorge begins about 50 kilometres north of Hughenden. The Gorge Lookout and Pyramid are several kilometres further north. The unsealed Kennedy Development Road from Hughenden to Lyndhurst runs parallel to the western edge of the gorge and when dry, is accessible to all vehicle types with care. After storms, the road may be temporarily closed or inaccessible to conventional vehicles. Local advice should be sought regarding road conditions at these times.
Walking The best entry to the bottom of the gorge is from the Pyramid Lookout camping ground Here a gently descending foot track leads into the gorge. Once at the bottom of the gorge extensive flat rocky platforms provide a natural pathway downstream.
Camping Basic facilities are provided at the Pyramid Lookout camping ground. These include a pit toilet and shelter shed. Campers should bring their own drinking water, as the water supply is unreliable.
Camping permits can be purchased from Charters Towers, Townsville or from the self-registration station at the camping ground. Temperatures in the gorge are noticeably cooler than on the surrounding plains and visitors are advised to bring warm clothing, especially during winter.
For further information contact:
Reef and National Parks
Information Centre Box 1379 Townsville Mail Centre TOWNSVILLE QLD 4810
(07) 4721 2399
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1017 CHARTERS TOWERS QLD 4820 (07) 4787 3388
Queensland parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 67 HUGHENDEN QLD 4821 (07) 4741 1113