Touring Expedition National Park, Queensland
As a destination, Expedition National Park is a cracker with Robinson Gorge a stunning sandstone gorge hidden in this Central Queensland national park.
With several routes to get to either of the two 4WD tracks into Robinson Gorge, the most scenic and pleasurable drive is via Fairfield and Glenhaughton Roads from Bauhinia. It takes you past open plains with rugged mountains on both sides then over the Expedition Range before entering the Presho Forest Reserve.
Another option if coming from the north is via the Fitzroy Development Road to the turnoff for Lake Murphy that then leads to the southern end of Glenhaughton Road. Along this route is a memorial for three men who died when their truck carrying a load of ammonium nitrate exploded on the 30th of August 1972, leaving a crater 2m deep by 5m wide and 20m long.
Starkvale is the only campground in this section of the park and pre-bookings are required. If not towing, the turnoff down Oil Dump Road leads to the Starkvale Track. This 4WD track is very tight between the gum tree in places and towing would certainly be challenging.
The second 4WD access track is 25km further along Glenhaughton Road. Low-range gearing is required as there are a couple of steep climbs and descents, and the track is clay-based with rocks in some places. Both access tracks are only suitable when dry and the park is quickly closed when it rains.
The campground has drop toilets, fire pits and a couple of tables. There is plenty of room for dispersed camping and sometimes the tap near the toilet outputs non-potable water. BYO firewood. You can book a campsite online with fees being $7 per person per night and $28 per family per night.
Access to Cattle Dip Lookout is via a 2.8km 4WD track that starts just near the campground. The track is sandy clay with lots of steep descents and inclines and water diversion humps thrown in. The lookout is a 600m walk from the car park and the views are stunning where Robinson Gorge narrows to a thin gap with a permanent waterhole, like a cattle dip. Care should be taken as the cliff edge is unfenced, “One slip could be fatal” is the appropriate warning.
Shepherds Peak is a Class 4 walk, with the trail starting from opposite Starkvale Creek. The trail leads into the scrub along a well-worn path and is an easy stroll until you reach the climb. Steps make the climb a little easier, and upon reaching the peak you’re rewarded with 360-degree views across Expedition.
You can see where Robinson Gorge cuts its way through the sandstone, and I was excited about seeing it up close. In 1844 explorer Ludwig Leichhardt travelled the area and named Robinson Creek after climbing this peak. With the bush so thick, I am unsure how the shepherds could see the sheep beneath the canopy, but apparently, they did.
Spend time at the peak soaking in the views, listening to the birds singing, the breeze whispering amongst the leaves. The descent is always easier, but more fraught with danger as the sandstone chips can get slippery and footing can easily be lost.
The 4km return walk to the Robinson Gorge lookout leaves from the camping area. Keep an eye out for small lizards scurrying across the trail in front of you and be on the lookout for larger scaly reptiles too. Again, take your time at the lookout, it’s the perfect place to sit and meditate, especially when you could be the only person there.
The Traditional Clan Group welcome you to Expedition National Park. The Kongabulla Clan and Jiman Tribe ask that you respect the park, enjoy your stay, and take care. This place is special spiritually for the Kongabulla people and you can fully understand why while sitting quietly at the lookout.
You can access the gorge itself from near the lookout, the 6km return walk is rated highly and not recommended for solo walkers or unfit folk due to the steep rough trail down to the valley floor. There are marked trails in the valley and the views would be spectacular.
Starkvale Track departs the campground and leads 16km to Oil Bore Road. This challenging track has some tight corners and sharp creek crossings, Wild Dog Creek is one to keep in mind. The track is boggy when wet and is closed quickly if decent rain has fallen however it’s a great drive, allowing an hour or so to travel the distance.
A little way west along Oil Bore Road will take you to Spotted Gum, an abandoned petroleum well. There isn’t much left to indicate what once went on, and while it used to be a designated campground, this is no longer the case.
You can do a big loop and retrace your steps back to Starkvale Track before continuing to the junction with Glenhaughton Road. Turn right and continue until you reach the southern entrance to Expedition.
Robinson Gorge Facts:
Climate and weather
Temperatures in the region vary greatly. In summer the temp can exceed 35°C and in winter expect frosts as the temp often falls below zero. Rain is more common between November and March though storms can strike at any time.
Medium due to the remoteness and high clearances needed. If it rains, conditions change quickly. Check the park alerts and current road conditions before your trip.
Fuel and mobile
Closest fuel is Taroom (90km) or Bauhinia (116km). There is a mobile Telstra hot spot halfway along the main park access track although coverage is not guaranteed.
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