Unusually, The Dimond Gorge trail combines both walking and canoeing. Paddlers pay at Mornington Wilderness Camp office for paddles, lifejackets and a good mud map of the canoeing trail. There’s a 24km drive to the car park and a short walk along a well-marked trail.
It’s rocky walk to a sandy beach where your two-person canoe is waiting. Expect to take at least half a day to truly soak up the grandeur and do the 7km return journey including the walking component.
It’s awe-inspiring paddling along the Fitzroy River, which during the wet-season disgorges more water than any other river in Australia. Two kilometres into the paddle is a small beach where you park the canoe. From there, walk a short distance to a delightful side gorge with a pool, fed by a small waterfall. Thankfully, you are paddling in the dry-season when the river becomes a long series of placid pools, reflecting the sheer gorge walls above. It gets very hot out on the water, so take plenty of drinking water, sunscreen and a hat.
Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary is owned and managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy - an independent non-profit organisation.
The 312,000 ha Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary covers much of the upper catchment area of the Fitzroy River and sections of the King Leopold Ranges. It comprises four major river systems with many gorges and billabongs.
The main draw cards are Dimond Gorge and Sir John Gorge, plus several other waterholes. You can go swimming, birdwatching, hiking, canoeing, take guided eco-tours, explore the self-drive trails... and it's just spectacular country. Stay two nights as a minimum.
Camping sites and accommodation at Mornington Wilderness Camp are limited. Therefore you need to book ahead and you also need to radio them when you get to the turn off, before you leave the Gibb River Road.