13 Gorgeous Australian Gorges in the Outback

13 Gorgeous Australian Gorges in the Outback

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Yardie Creek, a gorge in Western Australia not to be missed

The land down under is known worldwide for some pretty incredible natural wonders. From the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland to Wineglass Bay in Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula to the coastal cliffs of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, the natural wonders of Australia are sure to amaze.

Often overshadowed by Australia’s dramatic and seemingly endless coastline are the many places and experiences found within the country’s vast interior known as ‘the outback’. And among the most breathtaking outback scenes are Australia’s gorges.

Stunning geological formations reveal the unfathomable age of the land down under. Places that, for millennia, have provided shelter and sanctuary to plants, animals, and people in otherwise harsh and unforgiving landscapes.

The gorges in Australia can be found across the country from east to west and north to south. This list will highlight the best Australian gorges in the Aussie Outback!

The 13 Best Australian Gorges to Visit now!

Gorges in Queensland

1. Boodjamulla, Lawn Hill National Park

Boodjamulla Gorge, one of the best gorges in Queensland
Explore one of Queensland’s best gorges by taking to the water

Located on the border between Queensland and the Northern Territory, Boodjamulla Gorge is a hidden oasis in the vast savanna of Queensland’s gulf country.

Miles from nowhere, a few days is required to explore the remote Lawn Hill National Park. But those who do make the journey to Boodjamulla Gorge will be rewarded with a stunning landscape.

The indigenous first people of Australia recognized the importance of this red sandstone gorge and the cool green water that flows through it in the middle of the otherwise arid savannah. They named it Boodjamulla, the place of the Rainbow Serpent, the god of creation who carved the rivers and gorges of Australia.

Here you can canoe through the spectacular gorge or walk above the sandstone walls to reach the beautiful Indarri falls. A variety of hikes and walks explore the area around Boodjamulla, offering endless views of the savannah from rocky escarpments.

Canoes are available for hire and camping at Lawn Hill Gorge should be booked in advance. The road into the gorge is unsealed and suitable for high clearance four-wheel drives.

2. Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park

Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland hides an ancient oasis

Step back in time at Carnarvon Gorge National Park. The best way to experience Carnarvon Gorge is to hike along the Main Gorge Track. This 10km trail runs from the visitor’s center to the Big Bend Campsite where adventurous hikers can camp in the gorge beside the crystal clear waters of the Carnarvon Creek.

The track takes you past all of Carnarvon Gorge’s attractions. It is recommended to spend at least two full days exploring the many Carnarvon Gorge walking trails. Highlights along the Main Gorge Track include the Amphitheater, Moss Garden, and the Art Gallery to name a few.

With the exception of the hike-in camping at Big Bend Campsite, there is no camping within the national park for most of the year. However, during school holidays the national park opens up the Carnarvon Gorge camping area. Close by the national park, you can find private camping and accommodation at Takarakka Bush Resort & Caravan Park and Sandstone Park Carnarvon Gorge.

3. Cobbold Gorge

Cobbold Gorge in North Queensland is one of Australia’s best

Another Queensland gorge you should add to your bucket list is Cobbold Gorge in Far North Queensland. As the youngest gorge in Queensland, this gorge is one of the narrowest gorges in the Australian gorge system becoming as narrow as two meters in certain places which makes it unique from some of the other Australian gorges.

The red sandstone walls of Cobbold Gorge are truly spectacular and a great representation of the natural landscape that dots the Australian Outback. But reaching Cobbold Gorge is no easy feat. A 6-hour drive from Cairns or 6.5 hours from Townsville, you will need to make a special trip out here to experience this gorge.

Unlike the other Queensland gorges, Cobbold Gorge is located on private property and is accessible only by guided tour. The most popular guided tour is the three-hour Cobbold Gorge Tour which includes transportation to the gorge, access to Australia’s first glass bridge, a 1.5-hour walk along the gorge’s rim, and a 45-minute boat ride through the gorge itself. The Cobbold Gorge Tour is $98 per adult and $49 per child.

Other tours available at Cobbold Gorge include stand-up paddleboarding tours and scenic helicopter flights.

Cobbold Gorge also offers cabin and camping accommodation options. Cabin prices start from $133 per night and camping from $16 per person per night for unpowered sites.

Gorges in the Northern Territory

4. Nitmuluk (Katherine Gorge), Nimuluk National Park

Kayak through the mighty Katherine Gorge

There is no better way to experience this mighty gorge in Nitmuluk National Park than by canoeing the waters that run through it. In Katherine Gorge, visitors can take to the waters with a self-guided kayaking tour.

Whether you have just a few hours, a day, or more, kayaking through Katherine Gorge is a bucket list experience in the Northern Territory not to be missed. Paddle through the nine gorges of Nitmiluk, porting canoes around the rapids and waterfalls that separate each section. You can camp overnight in the gorge with only the stars and freshwater crocodiles for company.

If kayaking is not for you, you can enjoy the waters of Katherine Gorge on a boat tour with Nitmuluk Tours. Alternatively, grab your hiking boots and head out on one of the many trails along the top of the gorge walls. For a drier multi-day adventure, embark on the Jatbula Trail, a 62-kilometer one-way trail departing from Nitmuluk Gorge and finishing at Edith Falls.

5. Ormiston Gorge, West Macdonnell National Park (Tjoritja)

The picturesque Ormiston Gorge. Photo by Caroline Jones

Ormiston Gorge is located in the West Macdonnell National Park approximately 135 kilometers from Alice Springs. This stunning gorge in the Northern Territory is part of the Larapinta Trail, a 223-kilometer walk that begins in Alice Springs and crosses the West Macdonnell National Park.

Ormiston Gorge has a great swimming hole which is estimated to reach depths of 14 meters that is accessible year-round but is especially inviting during the hot summer months.

There are another two walking trails, outside of the Larapinta Trail, that can be explored to make the most of your trip to Ormiston Gorge.

Ghost Gum Lookout is a 1.2-kilometer return trek (approximately 20 minutes each way) to the top of the gorge walls for picturesque views into the gorge and the surrounding area. Alternatively, the most adventurous travelers can hit the Ormiston Pound Walk. The Ormiston Pound Walk is an 8.5-kilometer trail through the beautiful landscape and back along the gorge by the main waterhole.

Outside of Ormiston Gorge, visitors to the West Macdonnell National Park can also explore the nearby Serpentine Gorge, Redbank Gorge, Standley Chasm, and Simpsons Gap.

Camping is available at Ormiston Gorge and should be booked in advance.

BONUS GORGE: If you have the chance and the time, consider visiting Umbrawarra Gorge, a secret and hidden oasis in the Northern Territory!

Gorges in Western Australia

Western Australia has some of the most impressive Australian gorges. Covering over 2.6 million square kilometers and most of it undeveloped, Australian outback, it is little wonder that Western Australia has more gorges on this list than any other state.

From epic overnight hikes far into deep ravines to refreshing dips under gorge waterfalls, there is a gorge for everyone in Western Australia!

6. Piccanniny Gorge, Purnululu National Park

Hiking into the heart of Piccanniny Gorge is one of the best ways to experience this gorge in Western Australia!

Piccanniny Gorge is part of the Bungle Bungles Range in Purnululu National Park. The Bungle Bungles are recognizable by their dome-shaped peaks banded with orange and black rings. Piccanniny Gorge is an impressive gorge in Australia which is accessible via an 8-kilometer hike along Piccanniny Creek or via a scenic flight.

The hike along Piccanniny Creek to reach Piccanniny Gorge is a strenuous one along a dry exposed creek bed of sand and pebbles. The reward, however, is absolutely breathtaking. In the gorge, you will most likely find yourself alone in the deep walls of the gorge with the striking sandstone karsts of the Bungle Bungles standing watch above.

You can spend days here in Piccanniny Gorge exploring the 5 Fingers, the tributary gorges that extend deep into the earth.

Those planning to embark on the overnight Piccanniny Gorge hike should be fully self-sufficient and must register and pay camping fees ($8 per person per night) at the park visitor center before departure. A personal locator beacon (PLB) is required for this trek and can be rented from the visitor’s center as well for $30 per night.

7. Manning Gorge, The Gibb River Road, The Kimberley

Manning Gorge, one of the best stops on a Gibb River Road trip
Manning Gorge along Gibb River Road is one of the best Australian gorges.

The remote Gibb River Road self-drive adventure will take you past some of the most impressive gorges in Western Australia. Of the many Gibb River Road gorges, Manning Gorge is a particular crowd favorite. Located at Mt. Barnett Roadhouse, about halfway along Gibb River Road, this gorge is a must-see along this famous outback route.

Setting the tone for the adventure is the initial swim across the Barnett River to reach the trailhead. Plastic drums are available to float packs and shoes across with you.

From here embark on a 3-kilometer hike through the bushland to discover the beautiful oasis of Manning Falls. Take a dip in the cool waters, a refreshing treat after the long, exposed hike in.

To visit Manning Gorge, you must obtain either a day pass ($10) or a camping pass ($25) from Mt. Barnett Roadhouse. There are also hot showers available which pass holders are free to use.

8. Dulundi (Bell Gorge), King Leopold National Park

Bell Gorge in King Leopold National Park, a popular stop on any Gibb River Road camping itinerary and one of the best Australian gorges
The popular Bell Gorge is one of Australia’s most impressive gorges.

Another impressive Gibb River Road gorge is Dulundi or Bell Gorge located in King Leopold National Park. Burundi is located on the southern end of the Gibb River Road approximately 3.5 hours from Derby.

To reach the stunning Bell Gorge, hike an easy 2-kilometer trail to the top of the waterfalls. From here, cross Bell Creek to continue to the base of the falls another 500 meters on. The wade across the Bell Creek is worth it when you finally reach the base of the falls!

Bell Gorge is the perfect place to spend a lazy morning or afternoon on your Gibb River Road itinerary. Pack a picnic, your swimmers, and a good book before heading to Bell Gorge.

To access the gorge, you must obtain a national park pass. The national park pass can be purchased at the Silent Grove campsite with exact cash in an honesty box or purchased in advance online with either an annual or holiday pass.

Camping is available at the Silent Grove campsite for $17 per person per night for adults, ($12 for concession card holders) and $3 per child.

BONUS: Heading out on the Gibb River Road? Make sure to check out Barnett Gorge, Galvin’s Gorge, and Adcock Gorge when planning your Gibb River Road itinerary!

9. Windjana Gorge, Bandilngan National Park

The incredible Windjana Gorge Western Australia. Photo by Robyn Jay

Submitted by Perth Weekend

Windjana Gorge is a stunning natural beauty, formed around 350 million years ago, in the Kimberley just a short detour from the Gibb River Road. The breathtaking limestone walls date back to the Devonian period where they once formed a barrier reef, submerged by a tropical sea. If you’re lucky you might spot some of the shell and sea creature fossils housed in the gorge walls, including the famous Gogo fish.

Windjana Gorge is the ideal place for photographers, bushwalkers, bird watchers, or people just looking to see some of the amazing scenery the Kimberley region has to offer.

The Lennard River runs through the gorge during the wet season but dries up enough during the dry season for visitors to make the 3.5-kilometer trek through the gorge. Visitors can spot local wildlife including corellas, archerfish, waterbirds, fruit bats, and crocodiles. The gorge is also home to beautiful native fauna including figs, cajeput, and Leichardt trees.

Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park can be reached by a 2 hour drive northwest of Fitzroy Crossing or east of Derby. Access may be restricted from December to March due to wet season flooding. It is highly recommended that visitors travel by 4WD, carry plenty of water and be aware of crocodile safety precautions.

The nearby campground has unpowered tent and caravan sites as well as toilet and shower facilities. Adults can camp for $17 per night ($12 for concession card holders) and $3 per child.

Park entry fees range from around $8 to $15 per vehicle depending on vehicle type, number of occupants, and concession status.

10. Hancock Gorge, Karijini National Park

The remarkable Hancock Gorge in Karijini National Park

One of the best gorges in Australia, Hancock Gorge is also one of the more unique gorges to visit and a fast favorite amongst visitors to the Karijini National Park.

Hancock Gorge is unique in that you will often find yourself wading through water sometimes even chest high as you explore this stunning gorge.

Although it is only 1.5-kilometer this walk is challenging. The trail begins with a steep descent to the bottom of the gorge. From here, walk further and further into the gorge. As the gorge narrows you will need to choose between taking the plunge and wading through the cold water or test your skills climbing your way along the cliff walls as you continue towards Kermit’s Pool.

The reward? An absolutely stunning pool surrounding by some of the most beautiful limestone gorge walls in all of Western Australia.

11. Yardie Creek Gorge, Cape Range National Park

Yardie Creek, a gorge that flows to the sea on the Western Australian coastline

Submitted by The Curious Campers

It’s not the longest or deepest gorge in Australia, but Yardie Creek Gorge in Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park is a must-see on any road trip to Exmouth. Getting there is an adventure, and its remote location is part of the attraction. Yardie Creek Gorge is one hour from Exmouth and Exmouth is over 1,200 km north of Perth. Although it is remote, you can get there on sealed roads.

Despite its dry location, there is a permanent and substantial creek at the base of the gorge. It is a great place for kayaking. There is also a one-hour cruise that takes you up Yardie Creek and highlights the area’s geology and fauna. The sheer red limestone cliffs are home to black flanked wallabies and osprey eagles which you can spot on the boat tour or on foot.

There are a couple of walking trails along the top of the gorge. The Yardie Creek Nature Walk is an easy 1.2km return walk along with the lower parts of the gorge. The Yardie Gorge Trail continues the ascent where the nature walk finishes for another 600m and is a much more challenging hike. From both walks, there are fantastic views of Yardie Creek and the multi-colored gorge walls set against the turquoise water of the Ningaloo Reef.

This is the other great thing about Yardie Creek Gorge, once there, you are only minutes from some of the best snorkeling in Australia on the Ningaloo Reef. You’ll drive past sites like Turquoise Bay and the Oyster Stacks – a couple of magic snorkeling spots where you’ll see beautiful corals, colorful tropical fish, and turtles.

If you want to stay and enjoy the area more, there is a campground at Yardie Creek as well as several other campsites between Yardie Creek and Exmouth; camping fees apply, and sites must be booked. This part of Australia gets very hot in summer. The best time to visit Cape Range National Park, Yardie Creek Gorge, and Ningaloo Reef is from April to September.

12. Z-Bend, Murchinson River Gorge, Kalbarri National Park

Z-Bend in Kalbarri is one of many awesome gorges this national park has to offer. Photo by Reto Ammann.

Another impressive gorge found in Western Australia is the Z-Bend at Murchinson River Gorge in Kalbarri National Park.

Z-Bend gets its name from the sharp turns carved into this spectacular gorge by the waters of the Murchinson River.

Take in the views from Z-Bend Lookout, a 1.2-kilometer return trail with impressive views over the Murchinson River Gorge, or head down into the gorge itself with the 2.6-kilometer return trail to the Murchinson River. Those looking for a bit more adventure can try their hand at abseiling with Kalbarri Abseiling.

There is no camping available in Kalbarri National Park, but there are plenty of great options in the small coastal town of Kalbarri just 45 minutes away.

Gorges in South Australia

13. Alligator Gorge, Flinders Range

The colors of Alligator Gorge, Flinders Ranges. Photo by Viktor Posnov

Submitted by Exploring South Australia

Alligator Gorge, in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, is a stunning location and a popular hiking destination. It’s great for visitors who would like to experience the pristine wilderness and ancient landscape while still being relatively close to civilization.

Disappointingly but perhaps not surprisingly, there are no alligators to be found here in Alligator gorge. The local belief is that the gorge was named after an Aboriginal called Ally who lived here and helped the European settlers explore and understand the area. You may see kangaroos and emus, and look out for plenty of birds, including the impressive wedge-tailed eagle.

The gorge has stunning red walls created as the creek has eroded them over many years. In some areas, visitors can almost touch each side at the same time as it is so narrow.

Another area, known as “The Terraces”, features flat layers of rock which turn into a cascade of water when the creek is flowing.

There are a few different walks that can be done in the gorge, from short strolls to see the most impressive features to the Alligator Gorge loop hike, walking first along the bottom of the gorge and returning via the top of it. Come prepared with sturdy walking shoes as some areas are quite rough.

Basic toilet and picnic facilities can be found adjacent to the car park.

Alligator Gorge can be found a few kilometers outside of Wilmington in the Southern Flinders Ranges. Access can be tricky, especially in wet weather, and the road is not suitable for towing all year round as it is very steep in places. 4WD is recommended.

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Who knew Australia was home to so many fantastic gorges?

Well now you do, it is time to hit the road and explore all of the best Australian gorges in the outback!

If we missed an Australian gorge that you think should be included on the list then let us know in the comments below!

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Looking for more great travel destinations in Australia?

Australia is home to some of the most spectacular national parks, jaw-dropping beaches, and beautiful cities. If you are looking for more travel inspiration, check out one of our other articles for more amazing off-the-beaten-path locations to explore in Australia!

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