We’ve done some truly amazing walks on our Big Lap of Australia, but Finch Hatton Gorge very quickly jumped up to our top 10 best walks in Australia. From the moment you turn in, you know you’re in for something special, and it gets better and better right to the very end.
Unfortunately for us it rained from the moment we started the walk to when we returned back to the car, but it was a truly remarkable, and beautiful couple of hours out that the whole family enjoyed.
Where is Finch Hatton Gorge?
This stunning Gorge is located not far out of Finch Hatton itself. From Mackay, you’re looking at around 70km, or just over an hours drive.
What is the road like, and do you need a 4WD?
The drive in is incredibly scenic, and it goes through a number of creek crossings. They’re all concrete, and we saw some 2WD vehicles come through, but you’d want to be careful of how high they are as I’m sure it would go up really quickly, and become impassable even for 4WD’s at times.
You wind your way through amazing views and pop out at a dead end, where there’s room for about 30 or so cars to park fairly easily.
Finch Hatton Gorge Walks and difficulty levels
Once you’ve grabbed everything out of the car, you can walk up to the sign and see what you’re in for. There are two walks, and in my mind the signage is a bit confusing, as one destination is not far from where you go to get to the end of Finch Hatton Gorge, but they still give you walk times for each, which we go into below.
The walk to the end of Finch Hatton Gorge (The Wheel of Fire) is the hardest, but its fairly straight forward up until the Callistemon creek crossing. This is impassable depending on the time of year, and people have died here, so don’t do anything stupid.
Once you get across the creek the walk gets quite a bit more taxing, with lots of steps, but its even more beautiful, and you eventually end up at the end of Finch Hatton Gorge, at the Wheel of Fire.
On the way back, instead of turning back to the main track you can continue for 400 metres, which takes you to the Araluen Cascades. This part of the walk, and the return to the start of the walk is much easier and flatter.
Our kids did the entire walk unaided, except for me carrying them across the creek, and they’re 4 and 6. Our youngest was worn out by the end and didn’t want to do the Araluen Cascades, but we bribed him with some lollies and he ended up running to the end!
How long is the Finch Hatton Gorge Walk?
If you are fit, and capable, you can see both destinations, and stop for a bit of a break in just over 2 hours. Allow 3 hours to do it more comfortably, and you should be just fine.
The sign says its a 4.2km return walk from the start to the Wheel of Fire, and that it takes 1.5 to 2 hours. It then goes on to say that the walk from the start to Araluen Cascades is 2.8km return and 1 – 1.5 hours. In reality though, you walk 1km to the T junction and its 400 metres to Araluen Cascades, or 1.1km to the Wheel of Fire.
If you go to both, you’ll cover 5 kilometres, which is much better than the 7km you’d think is needed if you misread their sign!
We’d have loved to stop and relax, or even swim at the end of the gorge, but it just kept raining and we decided to move on, so did it fairly quickly.
What’s the scenery like?
This is one of the best walks we’ve done in Australia, and the scenery plays a huge role in this. We thoroughly enjoyed Alligator Gorge in South Australia, and this is a similar calibre in terms of what you see. The lush plants, waterfalls, ebbing creeks and amazing rocks make for a truly stunning part of the world that you absolutely should make time for.
Safety at Finch Hatton Gorge
I mentioned above that people have died at Finch Hatton Gorge, and there’s a sign that specifically singles out males under 30 years old, because they’re known to do stupid things. Yes, I’m blunt, but I’ve been there, and know what its like.
6 people have died here, and many more seriously hurt. The rocks are far slipperier than you can ever realise, and taking unnecessary risks will not end well, so please look after yourself, and those you are with!
Is Finch Hatton Dog Friendly?
No, as this is a National Park, dogs are not permitted, so you’ll have to find someone to look after them!
Visit Finch Hatton Gorge
If you’re going to do one waterfall, or one gorge in Queensland, make it Finch Hatton. No words do this area justice; its truly remarkable, and such a good use of time.