We spent two days hiking Cania Gorge National Park and exploring as many tracks as possible. If you’re planning your trip there and wondering how long to stay, this article will help you with information about:
- Why you should hike Cania Gorge National Park
- What to see in Cania Gorge National Park
- How long and where to stay when hiking Cania Gorge National Park
- The best walks in Cania Gorge National Parks, and how long they really take
Why hike Cania Gorge National Park
Cania Gorge National Park doesn’t make it to the list of the must-sees when visiting Queensland. Those fond of hiking looking for an inland destination should head to the stunning Carnarvon Gorge National Park before considering hiking Cania Gorge National Park.
But when you’re on the coast, Carnarvon Gorge National Park is quite far away and you’ll need at least four days to make it worth the trip from Brisbane.
Cania Gorge National Park is only six hours north of Brisbane and can be a great outback itinerary for a long weekend road trip from Brisbane. Hiking Cania National Park was the main reason why we organised our three-day road trip to the North Burnett Region. We also visited Auburn River National Park and Mount Walsh National Park (including Utopia Rock Pools) on that trip.
When you’ve visited all the famous national parks near Brisbane and on the Queensland Coast, you start discovering new gems like Cania Gorge National Park. Less popular means fewer people, so it’s an easy trip to organise at the last minute or during peak season.
What to see in Cania Gorge National Park
Cania Gorge National Park is fantastic for its stunning rock formations and cliffs. We also spotted a few wallabies and remarkable birds, but mostly not while hiking!
We spotted wallabies at the end of the day on our way back to the main car park. In the middle of the afternoon, we found many of them at Cania Dam.
We stopped at the Retreat to buy cold drinks and ice cream after our long day hiking. It’s a good place to see parrots at the end of the day as they come for food and refreshments too. On the road going out of the park back to the highway, we saw a couple of brolga cranes we had never seen before – which is weird as they’re apparently quite common. Apart from a colourful Emerald Dove and a Forest Kingfisher, we didn’t spot many birds while hiking Cania Gorge National Park, so we were quite excited to spot the cranes.
If you want a break from hiking, check out Cania Dam just 15 minutes down the road. There’s a lot of shady spots to chill. Unfortunately, if you don’t have your own vessel, options to explore the lake are quite limited.
How long to stay in Cania Gorge National Park
If you’re short on time and fit, one full day is enough to do the best hikes in Cania Gorge National Park. If you’re not fit or experience hikers, or if you’re slow in stairs, you may want to stay one more night to take your time and have a break.
Cania Gorge National Park offers many walks for different levels of fitness. We hike often during weekends so we easily did all of them (including Mount Castle) in 1.5 days, staying for only one night in the Park.
Where to stay in Cania Gorge National Park
There are a couple of caravan parks in the park: Big 4* is located between the lake and the hiking tracks, and Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat is closer to the hiking tracks at the entrance of the Park.
We organised our trip late and we love to stay flexible according to the weather forecast (we actually postponed our North Burnett road trip twice because of the rain), so we choose to sleep at rest areas. We found a very good one only a few minutes outside the park (Coominglah Range rest area), and there’s even one with better reviews (and showers!) a bit further on the Burnett Highway (Lawgi rest area).
Responsible travel tip: Tourism is a great source of revenue for communities, so shop local when you have time! The closest town with a supermarket and petrol station is Monto, about 25 kilometres away. There are a few local hotels where you can get food if you don’t want to cook. It’s always a great way to support local businesses. You’ll even find a few veg and fruit stalls on the side of the road. The one next to the four painted silos in Munto is easy to find.
The best walks in Cania Gorge National Park
If you can only pick one hike in Cania Gorge National Park, I’d recommend going to the Overhang. The path through the forest is lovely with nice rocks on the way (including the Dripping Rock). It ends at the Overhang, a nice place to relax before heading back to the car park.
The national park signs indicate to allow 2.5 hrs to complete the 3.6km walk. We reached the Dripping Rock in 15mn and the Overhang in 30 minutes, including breaks to take photos. Even by spending more than 20 minutes at the Overhang, we completed the walk in 1h10. There are a few stairs on the path though so if you tend to be slow in stairs, you’ll take much longer.
If you don’t have time to visit all the caves in Cania Gorge National Park, my favourite one was Two-Storey Cave. Unfortunately, the track through the forest looked quite sad as we visited after a fire. We did the circuit clockwise and it took us to the beautiful King Orchid Crevice, before arriving at the Two-Storey Cave.
If you stick to the path, you’ll be disappointed by Tow-Storey Cave. Make you crouch down and go to the second storey of the cave, which is the interesting part of the cave. If you climb up, don’t go too far inside: a bat colony live there and you don’t want to disturb them.
Dragon Cave was my second favourite cave in the Park. The walk is quite easy; it only took us 20 minutes to get there from the car park.
Once you’ve reached Dragon Cave, you’re not far from Bloodwood Cave. We walked for less than 10 minutes between the two caves. It’s another one where you’ll have to crouch to see what it’s all about.
If you’ve come all the way to Bloodwood Cave, you may as well push a little bit further to Gorge Lookout. A series of stairs will take you up there. If you have no issues with stairs, you should reach the top about 15 minutes after leaving Bloodwood Cave.
This one makes it to the list of the must-do hikes in Cania National Park because it’s so short that it would be surprising if you couldn’t find time to check it out. It’s not the most amazing rock you’ll see when hiking in the Park, but it’s funny and couldn’t be easier to reach. It took us less than 20 minutes to get there from the car park. If you’re staying at Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat, you could almost see it from the reception!
Other hikes in Cania Gorge National Park
Fern Tree Pool
The forest to Fern Tree Pool isn’t particularly interesting. Unfortunately, a fire had removed the vegetation at the top of the pool when we visited. The water levels were also quite low so swimming wasn’t an option. So if you’re hiking to Fern Tree Pool just to swim, look for information about the water level first.
A few people told us it was not worth the hike. We still wanted to check it out as we had time, and I’m glad we did. Our objective was never to swim so we had no expectations.
It looked rather nice; the ferns in the pool give it a lot of charms and contrasted colours. But it wasn’t very impressive, and if your time is limited I’d recommend skipping it. I’m sure it looks a lot better with vegetation all around it.
Giant’s Chair Lookout
We chose to walk the circuit to Giant’s Chair lookout via Fern Tree Pool. You can climb up to the lookout directly from the car park. It’s a lot quicker but also steeper.
I wouldn’t put the Giant Chair lookout on my must-see list when hiking Cania Gorge National Park. The lookout is nice, but if your time is limited or if you have walked enough, it’s not a place you’ll regret not seeing. The walk in the forest is a bit repetitive. If you’re tired of walking, there’s a lookout at the lake (15-minute drive) with nice views of Cania Gorge (different angle) that I preferred.
Mount Castle Lookout
After Gorge Lookout, you can decide to hike for 9km to another lookout on the other side of the national park, with views of Cania Lake.
Apart from the length, the hike isn’t particularly difficult. It’s mostly flat except for a short ascend at the end. We’re used to walking long distances but found this hike very long. The large path in the forest isn’t interesting. We didn’t spot wildlife apart from one goanna, a few birds and hundreds of anthills. There was almost no shade, and nothing to keep us entertained.
The lookout is nice, and there’s no other like this in the region. However, you can see similar views elsewhere for fewer efforts.
We knew what to expect but were keen on doing a long walk, so we had no regret. However, if your time is limited and you don’t particularly enjoy walking for hours, Mount Castle Lookout isn’t a walk for you.
It took us 6hrs in total to complete the walk, with stops and detours at Dragon and Bloodwork Caves.
What do you think are the best hikes in Cania Gorge National Park? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Cania Gorge National Park?
Cania Gorge National Park is in the North Burnett Region (Queensland, Australia). It takes about 6hrs to drive there from Brisbane. The closest coastal towns are Bundaberg to the south (2.5 hrs), Gladstone to the north (2.5hrs) and Rockhampton (2h45).