My wife and I had lived in Townsville, Australia, for around three years and had been pretty much everywhere along the coast from Cairns to Mackay before we decided it was time to head inland over a long Easter weekend. We read about Porcupine Gorge and liked the look of Hughenden, so we booked a motel (one of only two!) and left on Good Friday morning. Four hours later, we drove into the sleepy little town. You could see it once thrived, but since the closing of the railway yard, the town has become a back-water where only the bare essentials exist. It doesn’t lack any charm and oozes history and character, though it is sad that remote towns like this now struggle and lack opportunity for younger people.
We settled into our room, ordered a meal, and spent our Good Friday with a bottle of red and some telly – after all, nothing was going on in town.
The next day dawned beautifully, and off to Porcupine Gorge we went. The trip takes about 3/4 of an hour (mostly on a single lane road). The theory is that when you encounter another vehicle coming the other way, you each have two wheels off the bitumen. It’s a great system because out here, it’s hardly highway!
We took the sign-posted route to the viewing platform. It’s just a couple of kilometers from the main road and has ample parking. After a short walk, we found ourselves with mouths open in awe of the vista. It is amazing, this deep valley with orange and black sandstone and basalt rock created millions of years ago. The next half hour, I was clicking away to my heart’s content. As usual, my wife soaked in the beauty and then headed back to the car to her crosswords while I snapped shot after shot of this wonder. There are some really nice photography opportunities away from the platform. But be careful and sure of your footing – because it’s a long way down.
Afterward, we went to the Gorge Camping Grounds. The campground has basic essentials: toilets and picnic tables. Watch out though; water is available but isn’t drinkable so bring plenty of bottled water. Permits to camp are available online for a minimal fee and detail the dos and don’ts of the area.
This is where I got to test my endurance! The trek down to the river is about a kilometer long and isn’t too bad – but allow plenty of time to climb back on the 1k slope. At the bottom is a lovely swimming hole to cool off and a massive sheer cliff shaped like (and so named) a Pyramid.
For a tiring but extremely eventful day out, I would highly recommend the trip.