Transportation questions--Carnarvon Gorge and FNQ

Jun 20th, 2006, 10:38 AM
  #1  
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Transportation questions--Carnarvon Gorge and FNQ

I posted this last night but I don't see it, so am reposting. Sorry if it is a duplicate. We are trying to iron out our itinerary for our Oct. 2007 trip since we missed the opportunity to go in 2006 w/ FF miles because we delayed. This time we're going to be ready!! We are taking the advice of the Fodor's gurus and limiting our visits to just Sydney and QLD. We are planning on 22 days. One place we really want to go to is Carnarvon Gorge but I am having difficulty finding out information about transportation. It seems, from the Qantas website, that connections via Brisbane are the only way to go, and they don't coordinate with our plans. Would it be too much driving to drive from CG to Airlie Beach? The Travelmate.com website says it is 9 hours (8 hours to Eungella NP which is somewhere we want to go, also). I read a post by Liz who said that you can't drive after 4 pm because of kangaroos. Would that make it a two day trip then? We were then going to rent a car to drive from Airlie Beach to Cairns via Mission Beach (gotta see those cassawaries!), Undara Lava Tubes, and the Atherton Tablelands (in about 5-6 days) Is this a good plan? Anyone know of the dropoff/one way charges in Oz? We love learning about Australia and planning places to go. Thank you to the regulars on this board who provide the answers and the inspiration.
Sally in Seattle
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Jun 20th, 2006, 11:57 PM
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You could drive on the Inland Hwy one way taking in Canarvon Gorge, Fairbank Dam, Charters Towers and Undara and drive back via the coast taking in Atherton then Cairns, Mission Beach, Townsville, Airlie Beach etc etc.

I can't imagine too much transport to Canarvon, essentially out there in the middle of nowhere. Driving probably the only way.
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Jun 22nd, 2006, 05:12 PM
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Tassietwister, have you ever done this drive? We would only go one way, though, if the rental car places allow one way drop offs. I was hoping to hear about a local airline that went from the coast to Carnarvon Gorge. . . On the CG Wilderness Lodge website they describe how you can land your own plane nearby, so I thought maybe. . . Still interested to hear from people who have driven in the area about the times when NOT to drive because of animals and if we could actually make it in the times they give on Travelmate. Thanks!
Sally in Seattle--finally sunny!
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Jun 25th, 2006, 11:40 PM
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If you are driving into Carnarvon Gorge, you will probably need a 4WD as most of the road is unmade and pretty rough. Several of our friends have made this trip and they definitely don't recommend doing it in a family sedan.
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Jun 26th, 2006, 12:01 AM
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Sally, there's air charter flights out of Maroochydore on Sunshine coast - www.ausairtours.com.au which do a trip to Carnarvon Gorge.

Can't help you with one way car rentals, have only been there once when travelling in our own 4WD, from Lawn Hill North west Queensland back to Sydney. Also stopped at Longreach for Stockman's Hall of Fame, Longreach is also the home of Qantas. I do find Travelmate's estimation of driving times somewhat optimistic. Like any outback area, best to only drive in daylight hours for sake of both wildlife and your vehicle.

Sally, another cassowary spotting in Cairns today, third one in a week in the area. This was at Lake Placid, less than 5 minute drive from Skyrail terminal. Its a picnic and bbq spot near a lovely calm part of Barron River, backed by rainforest - visitors not only got to see cassowary up close, he stole their lunch.
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Jun 26th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Thank you once again, Pat, for coming through for us!!! I emailed the tours you gave the link for and hope that the tour is even semi-affordable compared with the cost of rental car, gas, and time of driving. We had planned to get a taste of driving in Australia with the Airlie Beach to Cairns via the Lava Tubes and Atherton, not the huge distance to and from Carnarvon Gorge, too! Thanks also for the heads-up about Travelmate's estimate of driving times. We'll be sure to take that into consideration when planning.
Thank you, Marg, for the recommendation of a 4WD to Carnarvon Gorge. I imagine they are useful anywhere you go out of the way in Australia.
Sally in hot Seattle (94 yesterday)
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Jun 26th, 2006, 10:51 AM
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I politely disagree with marg's assertion about needing 4WD to drive into Carnarvon Gorge. I've driven there twice, both times in a standard 2WD sedan. Yes, the last 20 km or so is unsealed, but it's relatively smooth and level most of the way. As I recall there is one stream crossing, just a trickle the occassions we crossed it - both times in the dry season (July '95 and '01). A call ahead to the Oasis Lodge or the park HQ might be prudent to check about vehicle assessibility, especially in the wetter months.

Although 2WD access to CG is not much of an issue, I assume it is still off-limits as far as most car rental companies are concerned. On our first trip to CG, we took the risk with a rental but drove very carefully and gave it a bloody good wash before returning.
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Jun 26th, 2006, 10:19 PM
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Oh, Ralph, I never thought that CG would be off limits for the rental cars!!! I will check if it comes to that. I understand that there is a van from Emerald, but it's quite expensive. Did you hike the whole gorge or part? What was your favorite/don't miss part? What advice would you give to 50-something tourists from USA about it? Thanks!
Sally in hot, hot Seattle (comparatively speaking, that is)
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Jun 27th, 2006, 11:31 PM
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I will give one word of advice. I have been in central queensland for about 6 weeks and accommodation is scarce. There are people with loads of money yet still are left to sleep in their vehicle.

Places like Emerald, Clermont etc you need to book well advance and options are much better on the weekend when miners head to the coast or home.

Mackay, Sarina and other coastal areas are not much easier. You may pay a bit more for crap accommodation than you would in a tourist area.

The mining boom has atracted miners sure enough but not builders!
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Jul 2nd, 2006, 11:32 AM
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Sally: we hiked quite a long ways up the gorge to Cathedral Cave, almost 6 miles from the start, side tracking to all the major sights en route: Moss Garden, Wards Canyon, the Amphitheatre and the Art Gallery. These latter four spots are quite doable in one day - Art Gallery is about 3.5 miles from the start. So, taking in the side trails, you're looking at an 8-mile day back and forth to the Art Gallery. It's mostly very easy level walking up the gorge and only a little bit of up-hill on the side trails. The Amphitheater requires climbing a screened-in ladder, maybe 30 feet straight up. Worth it though! Hard to say which spot is the best...each is unique.

On first trip to CG, I think we spent 4 full days there. Gave us time to see almost all of it. Some of the walks we did were with a guide from the Oasis Lodge who was excellent. Besides the gorge itself, we did the 2 mile climb up Boolimba Bluff, a beautiful lookout over the lower section of the gorge as well as the 2.5 mile Devil's Signpost walk for more views.

So, with just one day, I wouldn't miss doing the 8 mile walk I suggest above, back and forth to the Art Gallery. With another day, I'd suggest the Boolimba Bluff walk if you can.

I loved Carnarvon Gorge.
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Jul 2nd, 2006, 06:14 PM
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Dear Ralph, thanks for your detailed reply. The tour that Pat W. recommended above only goes for 2 days, which I thought wouldn't be long enough. We might have to just go with it, though. Nice to know that the main hike with side hikes are do-able in a day. the Bluff one with the overview sounds good, too. Can't wait!
Sally in Seattle
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Jul 4th, 2006, 02:24 AM
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Many years ago we drove a small car ( Nissan Pulsar) to CG after heavy rain. The road had been fixed but it was still muddy and there were tyre grooves in the road and the underside of the car grated on the middle of the road very often. We made it and really enjoyed 4 days at Oasis Lodge.
The climb to the bluff was pretty hard - over large boulders but worth the view. The trip down was as hard as the climb, not helped by the children who skipped down!!
The walks led by the guides from the Lodge were worthwile, however the settlers chairs on the verandahs with a book and a wine were compelling at times.
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