After several hours of driving through the parched landscape of the Gulf Savannah country, the last thing you expect to see is a turquoise infinity pool with a swim up bar, but that’s exactly what you find on arrival at Cobbold Gorge.
Cobbold Gorge is located on Robin Hood Cattle Station, which stretches for nearly 1300 squares kilometres across the northern Gulf and is accessed by a gravel road from Forsayth, south of Georgetown.
cobbold gorge village
While Robin Hood is a working cattle station the owners have developed Cobbold Gorge Village to cater for the influx of visitors coming to their property to visit the gorge.
The village encompasses a reception building with small shop, a bar and restaurant, the campground and various other cabin style accommodation.
Not surprisingly, the infinity pool and bar take pride of place and this tends to be the focal point where guests congregate.
The pool overlooks a dam where there are a couple of free kayaks available for guests to use.
There is also a floating golf target to practice your golf driving skills.
Clubs are available for a gold coin donation, which you get back if you return the golf balls, so there’s an incentive to go hunting for your lost balls!
While the local indigenous people have probably known about Cobbold Gorge for centuries, the Terry family only discovered this hidden treasure on their property about 20 years ago when they hauled a small tinny over to the waterhole to see how far it went.
They were soon taking visitors out to see it and eventually it turned into a tourism business. In their first year they welcomed 200 visitors and it now attracts over 10,000 people a year
The gorge is a narrow chasm that has been etched into large craggy sandstone formations.
Fed by several springs, the gorge is only 2 metres wide in some areas with the magnificent sculpted cliffs rising to 30 foot on each side.
Given the gorge is on private property in the middle of nowhere, the only way to see it is to join one of the guided tours from the village.
The half day tours (3 hours) leave the reception area twice a day, one in the morning and another one in the afternoon.
The tours start with a guided walk up the escarpment so you can view the gorge from the top.
Along the way our guide pointed out various forms of Aboriginal ‘bush tucker’. It was amazing to learn just how many different types of berries and foods are around to eat in such a dry and barren landscape.
The walk is obviously uphill but it’s fairly easy and well paced with lots of stops along the way to point out things of interest.
Returning to the bottom, we then hopped into a small flat-bottomed boat to weave about half a kilometre through the narrow gorge on water.
In some parts the gorge is so narrow that the boat bumps against the sides and the passengers on one side of the boat have to duck under ‘Duck Rock’ to get past.
other ways to see the gorge
Besides the guided boat/walking tour of the gorge, there is also a one-hour stand up paddle boarding tour which looks awesome although it would obviously make taking photos a bit more tricky. We’ll be giving that one a go next time.
Instead we opted for a helicopter trip around the property.
Apart from the fact that helicopter rides are such great fun, this is also the best way to get a sense of the scale of the property and where the gorge fits into the landscape.
Cobbold Gorge has a nice big shaded camping area with unpowered, powered and even ensuite sites available.
Pets are allowed but you can’t take them on tours and since this is a nature refuge area with lots of wallabies and kangaroos around they need to be kept on a leash.
There is a modern amenities block plus kitchen, laundry and fire pits and you can get basic supplies at the store as well as bags of ice at the bar.
For non-campers, there is a variety of cabin-style accommodation available.
We stayed in a Boundary Hut, which was very clean and comfortable.
We had a comfy queen size bed, bathroom, fridge and tea/coffee making facilities.
Cobbold Gorge Village has a bar and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as all day snacks.
Given the location and distance to shops and markets, the food is basic but okay for a couple of meals.
If you’re staying for more than one night you might want to consider taking your own food even if you’re not camping, especially if you’re vegetarian or like healthy food options.
other things to do
The main thing to do besides experiencing the gorge in various ways is to either enjoy lounging by the pool or go bushwalking.
There are about four self guided bushwalks that start from the village. Just follow the signs.
Make sure you take a hat, sunscreen and water and, for safety reasons, sign in the book at the bar so they know where you’re going.
travel nq fast facts:
- Cobbold Gorge is closed during the wet season from November-April
- It is about 6 hours drive from either Cairns or Townsville
- The road is mostly sealed except for small sections between Georgetown and Forsayth. The road from Forsayth to Cobbold Gorge is a gravel road (approx. 50 kms) but it is accessible for 2WD and caravans.
- There is wifi in the village (Telstra only) but you need to use your own data package (we managed to successfully FaceTime someone while we were there)
- If you don’t want to stay in Cobbold Gorge Village itself, you can join tours from Forsayth
- Tours cost about $100 (a little cheaper if you’re staying in the village).