A central Queensland local, Nathan loves being outdoors exploring and photographing the natural world. He especially loves passing on the knowledge that he has gained over the years to others that are just starting out in photography. He and his family have travelled Australia extensively in their caravan but never tire of sharing their most favourite adventures close to home.
One of my favourite memories I have of growing up in Central Queensland was the times my family spent exploring, swimming and camping at Blackdown Tableland National Park. I can vividly remember the excitement of swimming under waterfalls, diving through natural underwater tunnels and feeling so small in comparison to the epic sandstone cliffs around us. I am now 40 years old with two kids of my own and it’s exciting that I can bring my family here to experience the wonders that I fell in love with as a child.
Blackdown Tableland National Park is located approximately 2.5 hours west of Rockhampton and 2 hours east of Emerald along the Capricorn Highway. As the name suggests, the national park sits atop a massive sandstone plateau that can be seen from miles away in all directions due to its elevation above the surrounding flat plains.
The Ghungalu people have been visiting this area for thousands of years and are the traditional owners of the land. Their culture can still be witnessed today through indigenous sites and rock art. Additional information on the Ghungalu can be found on numerous interpretive signs throughout the park.
One of the main reasons I keep coming back to Blackdown Tableland as an adult is for photography. As a landscape photographer it is great having such a wealth of content to shoot so close to home. Blackdown boasts rugged cliffs, deep gorges and some beautiful cascading waterfalls that are a delight to have in front of your lens!
The walks to access this ‘gorge-ous’ scenery range from easy-grade 5 min strolls, to more moderate 2 hour return hikes. No matter where you choose to go, the landscape is spectacular and you are guaranteed to come away with some great photos and precious memories.
My favourite hike is to Gudda Gumoo gorge, or as it is more commonly known – Rainbow Falls. This is one of the slightly more strenuous walks due to the distance (4km return) and the 240 stairs that lead to the base of the gorge and waterfall. Don’t let that deter you though as the visual rewards at the end are well worth the effort. Rainbow Falls is aptly named after the rainbow that appears in the cascading water at certain times of the day as the sun moves over head. The expansive pool at the base of the falls is a great place to swim with the kids due to the shallow entry, clear water and sandy bottom.
There is also a number of deep, cascading pools above the main falls. These can be accessed by taking the track leading off to the right of the main stairs before you descend to the base of the falls. These pools are stunning and if you time it right, you can sometimes have the entire place to yourself. The cool, pristine water from each pool tumbles down into the next and one of them even has a secret tunnel that you can find by diving to the bottom and following the light up through an opening into an entirely separate pool right beside it. The kids love this one!
While you can fit a fair amount of Blackdown Tableland into a day trip from either Rockhampton or Emerald, in my opinion…the best experience is to be had by staying overnight at the Munall campground in the centre of the park. After exploring all day there is nothing quite like coming back to your camp for a hearty meal and to relive the day’s adventures around the fire, while listening to the unique night calls of the gliders as they chat to one another in the trees. You can then fall asleep under the stars and wake in the morning to the beautiful songs of Blackdown’s birdlife. Also keep an eye out for the cheeky goannas as they roam around the campground.
The Munall campground caters to tents, trailers and small camper vans. Facilities include wheel chair accessible toilets, fire pits and spacious sites. Camping permits are required and can be booked via the Queensland National Parks website. There is no self registration available on site.
The road into Blackdown is accessible to two-wheel drive vehicles but it can be bumpy and corrugated in places. Please drive to the conditions and watch out for wildlife.
For more information on Blackdown Tableland National Park, the walks and camping permits, please head over to https://www.visitcapricorn.com.au/service/blackdown-tableland-national-park.