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 Ward’s Canyon begins 4.3 kilometres from the Visitor Centre.
To flourish, king ferns need plenty of water and a warm, sheltered position. In Australia, they grow in coastal rainforests where rainfall and temperatures are optimal. Surprisingly, they also grow in central Queensland, at Carnarvon Gorge – it’s the only place in Queensland where they’re found away from the coast.
Sheltered by overhanging rock walls, shaded by a natural ceiling of tree ferns and watered by a tiny creek, Ward’s Canyon is the perfect location for king ferns.
Just 270 metres from the main track, the canyon is reached by an uphill path through the forest. Steps rising up behind Lower Aijon Falls lead to a bridge over the creek at the point where it plunges over the edge.
Beyond the falls the creek widens, its crystal clear water shallow and cool. The formed path disappears but it’s easy to see where others have gone before.
The king fern is aptly named. With lush green fronds reaching up to five metres in length, it’s one of the largest ferns in the world. The first of the king ferns in Ward’s Canyon reaches out across the path as if in welcome.
There’s no longer access to the end of the canyon and the king ferns have grown over the path which used to go further. In this secluded location, they reign supreme.