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CARNARVON Gorge is one of Australia's best kept secrets, a spectacular oasis of strange plants and even stranger animals located in the heart of Queensland's cattle country. While the Australian continent as a whole can be considered a repository of prehistoric wildlife now extinct in the rest of the world, Carnarvon Gorge goes one step further. Between the towering sandstone cliffs of the Gorge survive plants and animals which long ago disappeared from the rest of the continent, and are unusual even by Australian standards. Many of these specimens are relics from a time, millions of years ago, when Australia was a cooler, wetter place. They combine to give the Gorge a tropical, somewhat Asian appearance, in lush contrast to the surrounding arid plains. As well as miles upon miles of excellent trekking paths, moist valleys and rugged ranges, all contained within a 280,000 hectare national park, Carnarvon Gorge also features two ancient Aboriginal art galleries.