Beyond Mount Garnet: National Parks Camping:

rungulla river
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The wide-open spaces and big rivers of the area around Mount Garnet make for some great wilderness camping and yet some areas are mostly ‘virgin territory’ with National Parks camping areas that hardly anyone has been too, writes Paul Curtis.

A few months ago I was checking through the ‘parks alert’ page on the National Parks website, when I noticed a couple of parks that I had never even heard of.

When I looked further to see where they were I discovered a number of parks popping up around the area to the south and south west of Mt Garnet. Even better – there were hardly any images available and nobody had booked any of the sites, ever!

So I planned a figure-8 trip going through Einasleigh to Canyon Resources Reserve including the beautiful stretch of road between Einasleigh and Forsyth, which is well worth doing if you haven’t done it.

canyon resources reserve

We turned in to the well-signed road to Canyon to arrive at a very recently constructed campground with a shiny new toilet and short walks to great lookouts.

canyon resources reserve

Our plan was to spend two nights here but one is sufficient – it’s a nice place for sunrise and sunset but there’s not a lot else to see.

rungulla

Despite following the National Parks directions to Rungulla campground we had a bit of trouble finding it. We asked some locals and nobody knew where to find the entrance but we persevered and eventually found the entrance within Orton Station past the “all visitors must report to the station” sign.

rungulla aerial
Aerial view of Rungulla

After a potentially tricky dry creek crossing the short drive into the three campsites along or near the Gilbert River was easy and again, we found a brand new toilet that looked like it had never been sat on.

We had a couple of nights here so we camped at two locations to see more of the river, as the sites were quite far apart. There was still a bit of water in some pools but the river was rapidly drying out.

Rungulla River

The brief window of opportunity to see Rungulla at its best is probably between opening at the end of the wet and hot, dry and dusty late spring. There are no other facilities or tracks but as the parks website says, there are plenty of opportunities for exploration along the river.

wairuna

Next we headed for Wairuna via Georgetown and Mt Garnet. You can get to Wairuna from the south and the Valley of Lagoons but we were running out of time so we took the easy and mostly bitumen route.

Wairuna billabong

We followed the directions and found it easily. There are three campsites along a deep lagoon on the Burdekin River, which provides a nice outlook, but there are no other facilities so you have to find your own way around to discover what there is to see.

Long grass impedes access to the river so a canoe would be handy to explore the long stretch of fairly permanent water.

Wairuna roads near the campground

We went for a drive past a ‘road closed’ sign which took us through some wonderful country but there was no river access, even though, according to the GPS, it was only a couple of hundred metres away.

wairuna trees

We did stumble across an unsigned road into a beautiful freshwater lagoon teeming with birdlife. The GPS showed many other lagoons just out of sight so it seems like there is a lot to see at Wairuna if you are prepared to drive and walk around with a GPS (or drone) in your hand.

Wairuna Lagoons

girringun national park


Our eight-day trip in the information wilderness concluded with an unplanned night at Princess Hills, just off the Wairuna Road.

Princess Hill Road, near the campsite

There are two, sometimes three camps, in Girrigun National Park along the Herbert River. Like Wairuna though, there are no facilities and you have to find your own way around.

Camp number two is particularly good for canoes and the big river scenery is impressive. (In early August 2019 both the Burdekin and Herbert had plenty of water coming down)

Herbert River, Princess Hill

I’m slightly amazed that National Parks choose to develop and open these parks, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on some infrastructure and not make a fuss about them, while other parks run down. So get out there, enjoy some wide-open spaces and sit on those brand new toilets to put your tax dollars to good use!

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