Located on the Nogoa River in Central Highlands, Queensland, the country town of Emerald certainly is a hidden gem of the state. With an abundance of tourist attractions such as the nearby sapphire gemfields, Lake Maraboon, the painting of Van Gogh's sunflower, the Emerald Botanical Garden and more, you may feel the need to explore beyond the tourist hotspots and go where the locals go.
If you are looking for an adventure in natural flora and fauna, you ought to explore one of these 5 simply gorgeous gorges near Emerald.
Starting with the biggest gorge attraction of them all, Carnarvon Gorge is an absolute must visit for the adventurer at heart. It's one of Australia's most stunning gorges, full of luxurious growth of ferns, palms, shrubs and trees.
The millions of years old formation results from water erosion, causing a dramatic gorge system in the layers of sandstone. The effect of majestic cliffs makes for a picturesque sight that changes colours with the sun's movement is absolutely breathtaking. You honestly have to see it with your own two eyes to believe the magnificence of natural beauty.
With the constant flow of Carnarvon Creek all year round, natural life can be found at an abundance with plenty of wildlife attracted to the area and flora growing all around. Birdwatching is popular with over 173 species of birds who either reside in or visit the park. Night walks may reveal sugar gliders, bush stone curlews and possums, while you may catch a glimpse of a platypus closer to the creek on an early morning walk.
Escape the heat by taking a refreshing dip in the Rock Pool. You can also set up a picnic by the entrance to Carnarvon Gorge, where there is a large grassy area amongst cabbage palms and eucalyptus trees.
There is ample opportunity to explore the rugged wilderness around the gorge. To walk the tracks, you may wish to spend around three days exploring the other gorges around as well as the Aboriginal cultural sites.
You'll need around six or seven days for the more remote walking tracks followed by good preparation and experience in bushwalking.
What makes Carnarvon Gorge stand out from many other gorges in Australia is its close ties with Aboriginal history. The rock art that is scattered all over the sandstone tells a story of a long and continuing relationship between the Aboriginal people and the area. The rock engravings, freehand paintings and ochre stencils display some of the best Aboriginal rock art in Australia spanning across 62 metres of sandstone walls.
A definite must for those who want to witness one of the most magnificent natural rock formations in all of Australia.
Moss Garden Gorge
One of the most spectacular side gorges around Carnarvon Gorge, Moss Garden Gorge features a single wall carpeted with luscious green moss, fern and liverworts. Life is breathed into the area thanks to a small yet consistent drip of water that falls from the sandstone walls surrounding it.
It is probably the greenest gorge you'll ever have set your eyes upon, making it a magical place for some amazing pictures and tranquility.
Wards Canyon Gorge
A unique natural setting, Wards Canyon Gorge is a side gorge within Carnarvon National Park. What makes it so different than all other gorges is the inland stand of king ferns (which cannot be found anywhere else in Australia) that follow a 40 metre stretch of the Wards Canyon Gorge.
The spectacular beauty of each side gorge screams uniqueness, as the natural elements around them constantly shape their future.
A side gorge of Carnarvon Gorge, Boowinda Gorge is more of a rock hop than a walk as this sculpted side gorge turns your adventure into a climb.
Boowinda Gorge is 100 metres upstream from Cathedral Cave.
Mickey Creek Gorge
A side gorge along Mickey Creek, which is in the section of Carnarvon Gorge in the Carnarvon National Park, Mickey Creek Gorge is so narrow in certain places that you can touch both cliff sides with your arms stretched out.
Adorned with colourful walls from delicate orchids, moss and fern, Mickey Creek Gorge is its own natural air conditioner thanks to the cool air that runs through the tunnel penetrating cold moisture into the sandstone walls while little sunlight means a cooler atmosphere.
Before your visit to one of the gorges near Emerald
Given that the trails to the gorges above will require plenty of energy and effort, you need to ensure that your stomach is content with a hearty local meal.
The Maraboon Tavern is a local favourite with the sense of a real Aussie tavern that is headed by a highly skilled chef who's responsible for all the amazing modern local meals to be relished upon. From perfectly juicy steaks that melt in your mouth to the fresh, crisp beers on tap, the excellent customer service just wraps up the place as a whole while every dollar spent gives you excellent value for money.
With food this good and a service that has won the hearts of locals and travellers alike, stop by The Maraboon Tavern before heading off to visit one of the gorgeous gorges near Emerald.
Banner image credit: Little Grey Box Phoebe