Updated: May 5, 2020
Lcated near the centre of Queensland I thought I was up for the challenge to head into this very remote area nearly 1200km west of Brisbane. Hell Hole Gorge has only one road in and one out via Adavale where you need to register at the local pub and then de-register on your way out, for emergency reasons and your own safety.
Just recently Queensland Parks opened the park to campers but you need to be totally self - sufficient with all food, water, communication and carry a comprehensive first aid kit and the last stop for any luxuries before heading offroad is Quilpie where limited supplies can be found about 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.
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 disappear. Adavale was 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 are around 20 permanent residence living in this remote town but I found that it was a good little place to have a look as there is an outdoor museum, the old police cell has been restored and is jammed packed full of memorabilia including hand written letters and the local hall has been restored where if you walk around the verandahs there is a plethora of old photos, reports, old cattle and mine leases plus relics from the past. At the local pub your advised to register ( and then de-register ) when you come out of Hell Hole just for your safety as there is no phone signal anywhere in the park.
Heading out of Adavale towards the park you’ll pass through several large stations where cattle wander freely so just keep this in mind. The road out is not generally maintained so by dropping a stack of air out of your tyres is the right thing to do for comfort and it also protects the roads by not tearing it up. With only a 70 km drive to the park don’t expect hot to take any less than 2 hours due to the roads and quite often there are photo opportunities along the way. It’s a stunning drive with long stretches of sand, narrow single lane tracks and there are sections where the road will wind down and cross huge ancient dry creek beds.
As you enter Hell Hole Gorge there’s an info board highlighting important information, flora and fauna features and general park information, you’ll also need to self register before heading here through Queensland parks online. 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 across and then up 200 along the rocks to follow safely where there are plenty of informal camping options around through the trees and rocky outcrops. 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. When the sun sets out here there is an eerie quietness across the area but it’s a typical outback sunset where stunning colours light up the sky and at night the stars seem to be brighter.
Seasons are extreme out here with summer temperatures reaching the high 40’s yet the winters can get bitterly cold, so be prepared for what ever season you choose. The park was declared only 20 years ago to protect the Mulga eco-system out in western Queensland so by following the regulations that are in place it will be kept open for years to come. There are 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 is safe at the time.
There are also 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 orientated. The Gorge has been formed over millions of years with water running high and fast through Powell Creek and with the erosion process that takes place over sedimentary rocks it had formed what we have today including some areas where there are 40 metre high cliffs. Hell Hole Gorge needs to be respected to enter and to spend time here as if anything goes wrong with your preparation or an accident occurs - help is a long time coming. It may be a long drive in to explore but it’s well worth the time for an outback remote adventure.