When Eva and Adam stumbled upon Blackdown Tableland National Park in central Queensland during their troopy trip around Aus, it was like walking into an oasis.
- Swimming at the base of a Gudda Gumoo (Rainbow Falls)
- Indigenous Aboriginal culture
- 4WDing for beginners
- Sunrise hike
- Wildlife and wildflowers
Blackland Tableland National Park
When you think of central Queensland it’s probably not waterfalls and lush forest that comes to mind. But Blackdown Tableland National Park is worlds apart from the grassy farmland that surrounds it. As you make your way up the windy access road, it’s clear this place is special.
From the very first sign at the Yaddamen Dhina lookout, visitors are encouraged to ‘look deeper than the views’ and appreciate the significance of the place to the local Ghungalu people. And it’s true. The top of the tableland is not only dotted with panoramic views, but rich Indigenous cultural sites, water holes to soak in and a spectacular abundance of native Australian wildlife.
It’s the perfect playground to escape, relax and take in the Australian bush.
Wild Swimming at Gudda Gumoo (Rainbow Falls)
Get ready for an epic wild swimming experience you won’t forget at Gudda Gumoo (Rainbow Falls). The hike to the water is about 2km downhill with some steep stairs towards the end. At the bottom you’ll find a clear, sandy-bottomed pool with the falls trickling into it. In the right light, you can see a rainbow reflected in the mist.
This swimming hole is permanent, so you can enjoy a dip even when it hasn’t rained recently. Be warned – it’s cold – but it’s so worth it. Besides, you’ll need to cool off before hiking back up to the car park. I’ve heard it can get busy in summer or on weekends but we had it nearly all to ourselves. Take lunch and a good book and perch up on the flat rocks in the sun for the afternoon.
Once you get back to camp you can cool off once more in the deep creek holes behind camp. When we were there the creek wasn’t really flowing but there was still enough water for a swim in the deep spots. This creek is rainfed, so if you want it to be flowing for your afternoon dip, it’s best to visit after a bit of wet weather.
Hiking the Mook Mook Walk and Goon Goon Dhina Trail
As you’re already at the top of the tableland, none of the hikes in the park are overly strenuous (with the exception of the hike back up from the bottom of Gudda Gumoo).
The Mook Mook walk leaves from Munall campground and is best done at sunrise. It’s only 1.2km to the lookout so you don’t need to get up ridiculously early to catch it. As the morning dawns, the far side of the tableland lights up orange and you can watch the mist slowly disappear from the valley below. It’s a truly stunning way to start the day.
The Goon Goon Dhina cultural trail also starts from the Munall campground. This 2.5km loop takes you through the tableland and has loads of signs along the way explaining different plants and animals and how the Traditional Owners used them as part of life on the tablelands. At the far end of the loop there’s an overhang with rock art handprints and a place to stop, rest and contemplate.
Keep your eyes peeled on all of the trails for goannas roaming in the trees and around the bush. There’s also a huge abundance of wildflowers including one type of wattle that’s endemic to the tableland and only flowers during the winter months, which is a great time to visit.
4WDing for Beginners
We’ve only just begun to dip our toe into the world of 4WDing so the 19km beginner track that loops the park was perfect for us. A few bits of sand and rocky sections plus a big rocky hill at the end to crawl down.
The track starts just off the main access road halfway between the campground and the Gudda Gumoo car park and takes you around the edge of the tableland and back near the information point at the park entrance. There’s a little bit of sand, a few rocky sections and small washouts plus one big rocky hill you go down right at the end. You should definitely allow at least 1.5 hours to do the whole track, although we took a bit longer as we stopped at the Mitha Boongulla lookout to soak in the view with some lunch and a cuppa.
Make sure you have some knowledge about 4WD techniques or go with a pro if you’ve never done any before. Our main tips for newbies are;
1) If in doubt, get out and have a look at the track before driving through a section. Things often look really different from the ground or from different angles.
2) Slow is fast, fast is broken! Take it easy and go slow through the obstacles
3) Make sure you have all the right safety and recovery gear and know how to use it before you go!
Travelling remotely? Read this: The Outback Way Road Trip Survival Guide
Base Camp – Munall Campground
Munall campground is more than just a base camp. It’s what you imagine when you think ‘bush oasis’. Surrounded by trees, next to a bubbling creek, goannas and kookaburras roam the sites. Even if you just came here to camp and do nothing else you’d have a bloody great time. String up a hammock, bring a good book and you’re set!
There are about 15 sites which are really spread out so there’s plenty of privacy. We got site 8, which was the perfect spot for our troopy – nice and flat with a decent fire pit, close to the walking tracks and the little creek.
There’s a drop toilet but no other facilities, so you’ll just have to shower in the waterfall or creek! Make sure you bring your own firewood as it’s a national park and collecting firewood is prohibited. You also have to book this ahead as it fills up in advance especially on weekends.
Read more: 10 Tips To Tread Softly in Our Wild Places
- Good walking shoes
- Water (no drinking water in the park)
- Tent and sleeping gear
- Camp chairs
- Marshmallows for the fire
- First aid and 4WD recovery gear
How To Get There
The turnoff to the park is located 110km east of Emerald or 160km south-west of Rockhampton on the Capricorn Highway. Travel up Charlevue Road for 30km to reach the campground and another 10km to the start of the Gudda Gumoo (Rainbow Falls) walking track.