Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020
The main track at Carnarvon Gorge is 9.7 kilometres one way. With several sets of steps, many creek crossings and some gradual inclines, the track is classed as Grade 3/4 and is suitable for bushwalkers with some experience. Nine side tracks off the main track lead to the scenic wonders of the gorge. The walk to the Amphitheatre begins 3.7 kilometres from the Visitor Centre.
When ancient Romans attended an event at an amphitheatre 2000 years ago, they expected to see an awesome spectacle. You don’t have to be a time traveller to copy them – there’s an amphitheatre at Carnarvon Gorge.
Unlike the Romans you won’t be walking on cobblestone streets to get to the Amphitheatre. Turn off the main track and follow the sandy path for 630 metres through the bush, over the creek and up the steps. You’re heading towards the massive sandstone cliffs of the gorge and, if you look carefully, you might glimpse through the trees a mysterious opening in the rock.
The mystery deepens when you arrive in the clearing at the base of the cliffs. That opening is the mouth of a slot canyon high in the stone, reached by a steep staircase. Stop on the last landing and look back at the gorge before you enter the narrow crevice in the rock.
Daylight doesn’t go far into the canyon. It’s cool and dim in the centre but there’s sunshine up ahead.
You may not have time travelled through the stone but, when you step out of the canyon back into daylight, it feels like you’ve entered an alternate world. The Amphitheatre is a 60 metre deep hole in the sandstone, its sheer sides almost meeting at the top.
Like all the formations in the gorge, the Amphitheatre is a result of the power of moving water, which has carved and shaped the sandstone over thousands of years.
Sunlight streaming in through the natural aperture above highlights the colours and shapes in the stone. In some places the walls of the Amphitheatre are worn smooth while elsewhere the stone is jagged and ridged. Hollows and ledges are filled with small pebbles. Ferns and mosses grow on the sandy floor, flourishing in this sheltered location.
Just like those ancient Romans you can sit for a while in this amphitheatre, taking in the awesome spectacle around you.
Joining Jo for Monday Walks