When the name Hell Hole Gorge popped up on my radar some time ago it sparked some interest with its unique name. Only opened to the general public in 2015 it’s one of the most isolated yet beautiful parks that you can imagine.
Like many out here the park was a grazing property until the early 1990’s before it was declared a National park. Apparently across its 12,000 hectare area there are plant species that are part of this areas Mulga bioregion that need to be preserved and are significant to the western region of Queensland.
Hell Hole Gorge has only one road in and one out via Adavale ( 1050 km west of Brisbane ) where you need to register at the pub and then de-register on your way out, for emergency reasons and your own safety due to the parks extreme remoteness. The publican can give you a run down on the area while you have a coldie and a look around the quirky pub.
Queensland Parks opened the park to campers in 2018 but you need to be totally self sufficient with food, water, communication plus carry a comprehensive first aid kit, the last stop for supplies before heading into the gorge is Quilpie, 120km away. The roads out here are generally that stunning red dirt type with Mulga, Red gums and Gidyea trees lining the road with low salt bush intermixing around the base, with the odd splattering of wildflowers.
It’s pretty amazing the history out here in the remote regions and Adavale was no different. Dating back to early 1800 it’s hard to believe that Adavale was once a thriving town during a gold rush days that had an unbelievable 8 pubs in the area, a police station, doctors, school, shops and it was on the mail route out to Windorah.
Originally the rail line was to come out to Adavale but a last minute decision had the line sent out to Quilpie, this hurt the town and it slowly died. But later on in 1963 huge floods swept through the area, and it was reported that the water was 10 miles wide at Adavale cutting the town off for weeks, washing away buildings and subsequently more locals left the area in despair.
There’s a history trail across the road from the pub where a mini museum is packed to the roof with 100 year old relics, there are signs in the nearby paddock where the old town buildings were and a couple of old shacks give you a little indication on what was there.
Adavale was reportedly named after a bride when her veil flew off into a local creek and when somebody yelled out “there goes Ada’s veil”, the name stuck. These days there’s about 20 permanent residence living in this remote town but I found that it was a good little place to have a look with its outdoor museum, the old police cell that’s been restored.
It's jammed packed full of memorabilia including hand written letters plus the local hall has also had a makeover where around the verandahs there’s a plethora of stunning old photos, police reports, old cattle and mine leases plus relics from the past.
An added bonus is that you can free camp here beside the hall before heading into or out of the gorge area. Around town in the Bulloo River there’s good fishing for yellow belly plus you can check out the causeways built by a couple of Polish workers back in 1950.
Heading out of Adavale north towards the park you’ll pass through working pastoral stations where cattle wander freely and have the right of way. With a 70 km drive to the park don’t expect it to take any less than 2 hours due to the corrugated roads, thick bull dust and photo opportunities along the way. It’s a stunning drive with long stretches of sand, narrow single lane tracks plus sections where the road winds down and cross huge ancient dry creek beds.
As you enter Hell Hole Gorge NP there’s an info board highlighting important information, flora and fauna features plus camping procedures, you’ll also need to self register before heading here through Queensland parks online - this needs to be done back at Adavale.
The park has only been open to campers for a short time and after a long drive in you’ll find that the designated camping area is across the other side of the Powell River gorge.
Parks QLD have placed blue markers along the old river bed where it seems strange to drive down onto the rocks, upstream for a good 200 metres, back down the other side before popping up out the other side.
It seemed a bit strange they did this because there are plenty of beautiful camping spots before you head across to the gorge overlooking the creek and waterholes, it seems to be creating extra wear and damage in the old creek bed, it’s only recommended for offroad trailers because where you cross the old river bed there’s a couple of steep drop offs.
Once you find a site, and there’s plenty of them tucked up behind rocky outcrops and the mulga trees there’s nothing more to do. Hell Hole Gorge doesn’t have 4wd tracks, it’s a quiet place where bird watchers, hikers and those seeking a little solitude can spend time what they love.
Camping is only 200 metres to the water holes where at any time of the day you’ll spot an array of different birds, fish, the rare Krefft river turtles and maybe spot the Yellow foot Wallaby as we did near the 40 metre cliffs up the gorge.
When the sun sets out here, there’s an eerie quietness across the area but it’s the typical outback sunset where stunning colours light up the sky and at night the stars seem to be brighter, and in the dead of night the stars give a billion dollar show.
Hell Hole Gorge itself is a large permanent water that’s been created over time where age old river gums line the banks giving refuge to birds and other animals that want to escape the heat. We saw plenty of fish, a few turtles in the water hole, with lizards to the side.
The Gorge has been formed over millions of years with water running high and fast through Powell Creek and pumping down into Hell Hole creating this large water hole. Just nearby in Spencers Creek the erosion has created long large pools where red cliff faces give a stark contrast to the upper landscape of the area.
Spencers water hole is a place to sit and watch the wildlife enjoy the cool outback water. The seasons are extreme out here with summer temperatures reaching the high 40’s that would be excruciating hot with clusters of flies, yet the winter nights get bitterly cold with bearable days which are great for exploring, so be prepared for what ever season you choose.
There’s no facilities out here so all rubbish needs to be carried out, toilet waste needs to be dug into the ground and burn the paper if it’s safe at the time. There’s no formal walking tracks in the park so take care where you venture, as I found out if you don’t keep a track where you are it could be easy to get a little dis-orientated if you explore away from camp.
Hell Hole Gorge is only a small NP in comparison to others in western QLD but it needs to be respected as if anything goes wrong with your preparation or an accident occurs - help is a long time coming, if they can find you. #woolgoolgaoffroad
It may be a long drive in to explore but it’s well worth the time for an outback remote adventure. This would be a stunning area to explore after a good dumping of rain with the rivers flowing, flowers in bloom and plenty of wild life running around the park.