Towering cliffs of coloured sandstone, pockets of vine forest, and deep permanent waterholes along Porcupine Creek contrast strikingly with the savanna plains surrounding Porcupine Gorge.
This is how Porcupine Gorge is described and when you see it in real life it’s not far from the truth.
The only thing we would add is the sweeping views out into the bush and the main attraction – Australia’s very own pyramid is an incredibly beautiful site.
This place has been on our list for a while now and we started planning our big trip to the northwest (of Queensland, Australia), we started by heading south from Cairns to Porcupine Gorge National Park and the Pyramid camping and day-use areas.
Where is Porcupine Gorge National Park?
The gorge lookout is about 60km north of Hughenden but you need to travel about another 10km to get the camping ground.
If you are coming from Cairns, it’s about 527km along the Kennedy Developmental Road. Follow the signs past Mt Garnet to The Lynd and then to Hughenden.
And so our three magical days began…
Day 1 – we left Cairns at 8 am as it’s about 6 hours driving time to get to the campground. So most of the day was spent in the car, playing Eye Spy and listening to bad, but great, 80s music.
There are many places to stop along this road, we took a very scenic drive because we took a wrong turn at Milla Milla and ended up winding our way through the hills of the Atherton Tablelands. It was beautiful though.
We’ve done a lot of these stops before so we didn’t stop again on this occasion…
The area has a lot to offer with something for everyone.
We did stop for breakfast at the town park at Milla Milla and a coffee at Mt Garnet at a quaint little antique shop which also sold coffees, it’s opposite the Mt Garnet Hotel and Rumours and Whispers.
Then it was straight ahead to the Oasis Roadhouse where you must fill up because there is no fuel for 257km.
Finally, we get to the Pyramid Camping Area, set up camp, have a walk around the campground, which is popular (and packed due to school holidays). It’s completely booked out.
And then we see it – Australia’s very own pyramid. And, honestly, it does look like a pyramid cut into the side of the mountain. It’s the pinnacle of the gorge.
Where do you stay at Porcupine Gorge National Park?
We stayed at the Pyramid Campgrounds, which you need to book through the Department of Parks and Forests.
The campsites are big and spacious and you can have fires in the rings that are provided.
The campground is suitable for tents, campers, and caravans.
However, people do stay at Hughenden and make the gorge a day trip.
But if you do that you might miss seeing the bettongs, aka rat kangaroos.
What’s there to do at Porcupine Gorge?
Day 2 – we are off for the big walk down into the gorge to swim in the cool waterhole.
It’s an easy walk down, lots of steps, and not too steep. But it’s going to be hard coming back up again.
Walking down into the gorge you realise its magnificence and its size. Looking down from above you notice the huge expanses of space that Australia has, but when you see just how big the gorge is at the bottom, you can feel the power that is Mother Nature and just how small you actually are!
We are grateful there’s water in the waterholes and at the waterhole under the pyramid. When you get down to the bottom of the gorge, go to the right and walk to the end and you’ll find a beautiful place to set up for the day and have a swim. You’ll need it if it’s super hot like it was when we visited at the end of September.
Remember that walk we took down? Well, it’s time to climb it and we did in the middle of the afternoon after several relaxing hours at the waterhole.
It was hard yakka going back up! We needed a rest when we got back to the campsite.
That evening, Rafa got the fire cranking, not that we needed it because it wasn’t cold in the early evening, it’s beautiful and balmy. But overnight and in the early hours of the morning it got quite cold and the sleeping bags came out! But it heated up again around 9 am.
Take a drive into Hughenden
Day 3 – and we are off to find fossils that are millions of years old.
We leave camp early and take the 70km drive into Hughenden stopping at all the historical sites to understand their many stories along the way.
The two main attractions we wanted to see were:
- The dingo fence
The dingo fence near Hughenden forms part of 2500km and was built by farmers almost 100 years ago to keep the dingoes out. It’s no longer in use but it’s an iconic Australian landmark and it was interesting to see it from the air with the drone.
- Fossil hunting
Rafa got the ”fossil fever” as he went digging for 108-million-year-old fossils; little squids that used to inhabit the area when it was an inland sea.
We dug for about an hour and left with three squid fossils. Very exciting! The people at the Hughenden Information Centre said you can see them everywhere on top of the ground and they are easy to find. We didn’t see them like that and had to dig down about 5-10cm to find ours. You can try the creek bed and gully, but Rafa found his fossils up on the hill and away from the road.
Get in touch with the Hughenden Information Centre to find out exactly where to go to do fossil digging on your own. They’ve got a precise map!
Hidden gems in Porcupine Gorge
We found the perfect spot for a cheeky vino after our massive walk to watch the sunset. And, hint, you can get wifi here if you’re with Telstra. You’ll find the bench seat in the day-use area.
Be sure to get a map and instructions from the Hughenden Information Centre to go fossil hunting.
When in Hughenden grab a coffee and check out the FJ Holden Cafe. Even if you’re not into cars, it is such an interesting place.
Then head up to the Coffee Lounge and grab some homemade chutneys – delicious!
And after, head over for a picnic at the Hughenden Recreational Lake, it was a nice surprise to find.
Why you should visit Porcupine Gorge and Hughenden
The gorge is spectacular, but the Pyramid tops it off. It’s an amazing thing to say that we have a “pyramid” in Australia but another thing to say you’ve been there! If you’re visiting in the hotter months, the waterhole will be a welcome gift. Take some time out away from the screen and get back to nature.
Watch the adventure trip on video here
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