I had heard of Cobbold Gorge on a previous visit to Far North Queensland and kept it in mind for a future visit.
Along the way on our journey to include Cobbold Gorge in to our itinerary this year, we stopped for a rest at Mount Garnet Caravan Park
“No way am I going to take my caravan on that awfully corrugated road beyond Georgetown. My mate’s trailer fell apart on that stretch of road” said my neighbour, who parked up next to us. Not that corrugations would worry us much after travelling to Weipa a few weeks back. But with some trepidation we enquired at the Georgetown Information Centre about this ‘horrific’ stretch of road. The answer was almost the same but with some additional information that the corrugated bit was only 14km long. I rang Cobbold Gorge Village and the receptionist said that the road was corrugated in places but in general OK for caravans and camper trailers. As it turned out, two, hundred metre sections of the 14km stretch, were corrugated. The rest was a breeze. It depends on what level of corrugated roads you have experienced. So much wrong information! The road from Georgetown to the old gold mining town of Forsayth is 42km in length and from there it is 45km of good gravel road to Cobbold Gorge Village. There are a few buildings at Forsayth and a Hotel cum General Store cum Post Office cum fuel outlet. It is also the Terminal for the Savannahlander Train on its weekly journey servicing isolated towns and communities all the way from Cairns.
Frank Edward Cobbold, generally known as FC, was a charismatic character who held vast pastoral holdings in the late Nineteenth Century in this sandstone country of Far North Queensland. Somehow Cobbold Creek, a tributary of the Robinson River, was named after him. Pastoral Families such as the Cobbolds, Corbertt’s, Clark’s and Terry’s have made a living from raising cattle on the holdings over the past 150 years. The Clark Family, who, like others, emigrated from Europe in the late 1800’s, took up this lease and named it Robin Hood Station, supposedly as it had Sherwood Mining Lease as one neighbour and Forestvale Station as another. Later this station was divided in to three sections and Simon and Gaye Terry and their children became the lease holders of Howlong Station, next to Old Robin Hood and Robinhood itself.
It wasn’t until 1994 that Simon Terry and some fishing mates, bush bashed their way in to this remote gorge, to discover that there was more to it that just a waterhole on Cobbold Creek. Cobbold Gorge was there, hiding in the shadows of the sandstone plains countryThe idea then came about to diversify to tourism to help their cattle holdings survive the droughts and Cobbold Village was created in a resort style of accommodation with ensuite cabins and caravan park facilities.
To my mind the Terry family run a very slick and polished operation with friendly staff and tour guides and all to a fine order. A Camp Kitchen is provided for campers. There are powered and unpowered caravan sites and the Village is Pet Friendly. There is a licenced Bar, quality Restaurant and Infinity Swimming Pool with three levels of temperature. There are submerged stools in the main pool so that you may sit in the water and enjoy a cold drink from the bar. The Village also has disabled access to all facilities.
From May to October visitation to the Village and Tours to the Gorge take place. There is a morning and a midday tour on a daily basis. Comfortable, air-conditioned four wheel drive coaches ferry the visitors to the gorge. The journey is only 4 kilometres to the gorge over some steep dips and climbs. Each tour tales three hours and the cost is nominal for such a great experience. The first hour of the tour is taken up with a walk up and over the sandstone plain to experience bush tucker, aboriginal folklore and to view into the gorge from the top of the gash in the rocks. The next two hours are taken up by slowly cruising the gorge in electric boats that take up to 10 people. The gorge is only 480 metres in length and 33 metres in heght. It is a relatively young gorge in geological terms and probably no more that 10,000 years old. The creek has not weathered the sandstone very much and that is why it is still only two metres wide in places. The amazing sculptured walls leave you breathless. At one juncture our tpur guide stopped the boast and asked everyone to be quiet and to listen to nature’s symphony orchestra playing the symbals as the water, seeping through cracks in the sandstone fissures, spread over and drips down mosses clinging to the cooler parts of the rock face. Archer fish, Rainbow fish, a variety of Grunter and Black Bream fish are found in the gorge. There is also a presence of FreshwaterTurtles and Freshwater Crocodiles.