About 66 kilometres south of Emerald, on the Gregory Highway, is Minerva Hills National Park featuring a rugged landscape with volcanic peaks, sheltered gorges, and sheer cliffs overlooking the small town of Springsure. Carnarvon National Park is reached from here, past Rolleston and a memorial to American and Australian personnel aboard a Douglas C47B Dakota that crashed here on 16 November 1943.
Carnarvon National Park features towering sandstone cliffs, prehistoric cycads and more than 2,000 examples of Aboriginal rock art. It is an oasis in the middle of an otherwise arid landscape due to Carnarvon Creek that flows all year. Mickey Creek and the Rock Pool are located near the Visitor Centre, south of Carnarvon Gorge.
Carnarvon Gorge is a deep canyon resulting from erosion in the sandstone plateau on the Great Dividing Range, with palms and ferns on the canyon floor and a profusion of wildlife and galleries of Aboriginal paintings. The walk along the main gorge to Big Bend is almost 20 kilometres return. A highlight along the way is the “Art Gallery”, with wonderfully preserved engravings, rock paintings and hand stencils along a 62-metre long wall of sandstone that were done long ago by the Bidjara and Karingbal people. Further on is the Cathedral Cave, also covered in paintings hand stencils; there are indicators of burial sites here. Stencils of pendants, made from Melo bailer shells, indicate trade with as far away as Charlotte Bay in northern Queensland. Closer to the start of the trail is the “Moss Garden”, with elk horns, tree ferns and a lush carpet of moss.