This beauty of a national park is situated approximately 410km north-west of Brisbane - don't be put off by the distance! It was a beautiful drive, with places you can stop and explore along the way. I, of course, had to stop by Gayndah (for the Big Orange), and also Mundubbera (for the Big Mandarin!)
Big Orange in Gayndah, the citrus capital of Queensland.
Mundubbera also claims to be the citrus capital of Queensland (perhaps the capital spans over several towns?), which explains why they are host to the Big Mandarin.
There is a cafe at the Big Orange (called the Big Orange Cafe, obviously), where you can enjoy a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in addition to a relatively extensive menu. Service was both quick and friendly, and the food was great - one of the best ham and cheese toasties I've ever had (although I guess I was pretty hungry at this point of the road trip)! The Big Orange is also a Tourist Information Centre, where you can get brochures/information on things to do in Gayndah and its surrounding towns.
Gayndah is situated on the Great Dividing Range with twin hills, affectionally known by locals as "Duke and Duchess", to the south. Archer's Lookout is sits on the Duke, providing great panoramic views all round.
We made another (great) pitstop before continuing on to the National Park. McConnell Lookout is located approximately 6km north of Gayndah, and provides stunning views of the Burnett River. The drive up was steep and narrow, although quite manageable.
The drive to the carpark of Auburn River National Park was mostly on unsealed roads - do drive slowly, and be very cautious especially when there is a sharp bend around a corner, or when the originally two-way road temporarily becomes a single-track road. Having said this, we managed the drive in a normal sedan, so 4WDs are not necessarily, except perhaps in wet weather.
We did do some research on the way to the National Park, finding three options. The first is a 600m walk to Gorge Lookout, the second a strenuous 1.5km riverbed and rockpools walk, and the third an easy 3.2km gorge-top walk. We weren't wearing the most appropriate shoes on this particular day, so we opted for the 600m walk to Gorge Lookout. However, it was only a 15 min walk - it seemed a bit of a waste to drive all this way just for a short stroll, so we turned around and headed for the riverbeds instead. Despite this track being classified as Class 4, it was quite manageable - just remember to take as much time as you need and help each other out. You will not be disappointed with the view...
The three options to choose from - which path would you take?
Clambering on the riverbed rocks was so much fun, and we had the place to ourselves, despite it being a Sunday. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, although I guess it helped that it hadn't rained in a while so the rocks were completely dry. Also, there were blue arrows on the rocks to help you find a suitable path to take - some are most definitely better than others!