Now a day trip to Hell probably doesn’t sound like a fun filled day but let me assure you…it is!
This day trip will require an early start so make sure you set those alarm clocks. Leave Quilpie around 7am and head east for 13km. Turn left on the Adavale Red Road and start your journey north, enjoying the changing scenery of red soil country into rocky ridges over the next 83km – approx. 53km sealed and 30km unsealed broken road.
Approx. 5km from Adavale you will see a sign reading ‘memorial site 270m’. Turn in here and visit the site where in 1983 a plane carrying 11 passengers and 1 pilot crashed during a flight from Windorah to Toowoomba. All people on board tragically died. Keep travelling towards Adavale and as you come to the entry to the town you will cross the Blackwater Creek. Stop at the entrance to the creek at the memorial commemorating the contribution by Polish Immigrants in constructing the Blackwater Creek Floodway.
As you come in to Adavale take your first left and have a quick stop at the Mini Museum, which is actually housed in the old meat house of one of Adavale’s original Hotels, the Greengate. From here you need to head to the Elegant Emu….you’ve got a high tea waiting for you for smoko….remember, you booked it earlier! Here at the Elegant Emu you will most likely be greeted first by Mabel, a very friendly dog, followed by owner and cook of the incredible high tea you are about to devour, Cristina.
Cristina and her husband have created the Elegant Emu in the rear of their house and this little café manages to pull off quirky and elegant effortlessly, from the day bed adorned with coloured glass bottles to the crystal chandelier hanging from the vintage tin roof. Effortless. And the décor is only one part to this incredible experience….wait till you taste the food! But we don’t want to spoil it for you by giving away too much….just take our word for it, you won’t be disappointed.
After you’ve indulged in some of the best food north of Quilpie, roll yourselves back to the car and start heading to Hell Hole Gorge National Park. Using your map (the one that you got from the Visitor Information Centre before you left Quilpie), follow the signs out of Adavale to the park, approx. 80km northwest. Now this road is unsealed and can be rough in sections so allow yourselves ample time to travel. You’ll also be able to spot the Dingo Barrier Fence along your travels so be sure to keep an eye out.
When you arrive at the park make your first stop at Spencer’s Waterhole (you know, after the obligatory photo at the entrance sign like above). Spend some time walking and peering down into the depths of the Waterhole.
(Photo courtesy Aaron Kent)
Once you’ve seen all that Spencer has to offer then make your way up the road (3km) to the Park’s name sake, Hell Hole Gorge. Indicators mark the track around Powell’s Creek to the waterhole but if you aren’t feeling up to 4wding today it’s a nice walk over to the hole. If you would like to drive don’t be scared off, we took a Prado along the marked track and we live to tell the tale. Here at Hell Hole Gorge (or even at Spencer’s), enjoy activities such as birdwatching, photography, hiking and swimming (I know I’m writing this in the dead of winter so I suggest not swimming now but summer in LOVELY). You’ll also even see ‘Big Rock’ protruding out of the Gorge.
On your way back out from Hell Hole Gorge you can even spend a bit of your day exploring Powell Creek and admiring the huge gum trees rising out of the water into the sky. There are some fantastic opportunities to hike along the creek as well.
Once you’ve had your fill of nature (make sure it’s not too late in the day), make your way back to Adavale. Stop in at the town Hall and enjoy the historical photos that adorn the walls of the outside verandah. You can also check out the Police Hut museum in the grounds. Now is also the time, if you aren’t still too full from smoko, to cook up those Quilpie Butchery snags we told you to grab using the coin operated BBQ.
After your late lunch head over to the Pub & General Store for a cold drink and a chat to Adavale’s friendliest publican. While you are here grab a map for the historical walk and take a stroll around the town enjoying the sites and relics of a once bustling pioneering town. Make sure you stop at the Cemetery as well as there are graves dating back to the 1800’s.
By now the day is probably drawing to an end so better hit the frog and toad and head back to Quilpie. If you are still feeling a little adventurous after your full day of adventuring and you don’t mind some gravel on the road then change things up and take the Adavale Black Road back to Quilpie and enjoy the change of scenery through black soil country. This road is approx. 107km, all unsealed. If you are all adventured out then simply take the Red Road from this morning back to town.
Whichever way you decide to head back we can assure you that this will be a day trip you will never forget.
Things to know/do before you go:
- This trail has approximately 220km – 297km of unsealed roads
- Fuel is not available in Adavale so be sure to carry enough
- Pre book your high tea at the Elegant Emu
- Grab some sausages from Cam & Gina at the Quilpie butchery for a BBQ lunch in Adavale.
- There is no mobile reception at Hell Hole Gorge National Park so it is essential to advise someone of your travel plans.