OZ Top Spot #10 – Cawnpore Lookout, Middleton, Queensland

Last Updated on May 5, 2018 by Red Nomad OZ

View from Cawnpore Lookout, via Middleton, Queensland
View from Cawnpore Lookout, via Middleton, Queensland

Watching people do things you just KNOW they’re going to regret is one of life’s guilty pleasures. Even more so when there’s a cruel laugh to be had at their expense – without their knowing!

Cawnpore Lookout - track to first level
Cawnpore Lookout – track to first level

So the staggering 360° view from the top level of western Queensland’s Cawnpore Lookout didn’t completely distract us from the horrifying sight of a pair of Grey Nomads negotiating the left fork of the incredibly steep, rocky and dusty road to the first level lookout in their old camper!

Visually daunting, even the less threatening right fork of this track can be an insurmountable hurdle – and the reason many visitors leave their vehicles (and sometimes spouses!) below in the car park.

Even climbing the track can be too much, let alone driving it!!

But, wheels spinning hard to gain traction on the loose rock and rubble, and engine wildly revving to keep the vehicle from sliding back down the hill, the Grey Nomads slowly inched (should I say ‘centimetred’?!) higher and higher up the track’s dodgy left fork!

The view over the Lilleyvale Hills from Cawnpore Lookout is unique in Australia – and almost the world, with rock formations like these only found in one other place in South America.

Track to top lookout, Cawnpore Lookout
Track to top lookout, Cawnpore Lookout

So it’s well worth the walk up the track to the first level – and even more worth walking the steep, slippery, rough goat-track to the 2nd level where the unbelievably magnificent panorama has an other-worldly quality tempting to even amateur photographers …

Mesa at Cawnpore Lookout
Mesa at Cawnpore Lookout

So if for whatever reason you happen to be 45 km west of Middleton on the road between Winton and Boulia – or anywhere nearby – don’t be tempted to drive by!  Do yourself a favour and STOP!!

Yet another Cawnpore Lookout view!
Yet another Cawnpore Lookout view!

And you might even get to see a red-faced Grey Nomad couple carefully reversing their camper back down the treacherous slope to the carpark!!

And ... just in case you haven't had enough of Cawnpore Lookout - here's another view!!
And … just in case you haven’t had enough of Cawnpore Lookout – here’s another view!!

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  1. The Cawnpore lookout is on the property where I live, I often drive past it and see ‘tourists’ attempting the drive with their huge caravans, and laugh. It should be noted that like any roadway in Australia keep to the left, going up the right fork from the bottom only causes chaos and congestion at the top. What’s more, if you are going to camp anywhere along that road, camp at rest areas. Do not just take a graded road off the bitumen and camp under a tree, because believe it or not that is private property and I have found campfires that were still burning with no-one around, and we have had 10,000 acres burnt on our property because of idiotic tourists.

    1. Thanks for the travel tips – I hope everyone’s paying attention! It’s a bummer that some travellers don’t respect other people’s property, especially when it ends in disaster. It’s such a wonderful spot, I hope we’ll still be able to visit it next time we’re in the area!

    2. my father was born at Cawnpore, India at a military cantonment. Cawnpore was scene of massacre of british during indian mutiny 1858 – is there any connection? thanks mike

      1. Thank you for your question, Michael, and apologies for the delay in replying. I’ve been trying to find the answer to your question – I wanted to give you the answer when I responded! But I haven’t been able to find anything – yet – although it is my guess that the hills surrounding the lookout might have reminded someone of Cawnpore in India. I’ll keep looking – and hope I can actually find an answer for you! Watch this space!

        1. Many thanks for trying. I do think it was named after the Cawnpore in India. General Havelock was the hero of both Cawnpore and Lucknow during the Mutiny that took place in the late 1850’s. There are many Havelocks and Lucknows in Australia – all named about that time, eg early 1860’s. It is interesting that the Cawnpore Lookout is the only one in Australia (that I know of) that commemorates the terrible things that happened in that town. Perhaps this is the reason that new settlers did not want it to be remembered, whereas Havelock was the ‘hero’ and the siege of Lucknow a famous British ‘victory’. I’m assuming that the Cawnpore Lookout was named about 1860-70. – with regards Mike Garnett

          1. No worries. I tried again recently with no luck, but I think you’re right – a lot of Aussie place names commemorate historic events or places overseas where locals had been or come from. I’ll post again if I ever find out more 😀 Thanks again for your question!

  2. @Jim – Haha! I thought the absence of a public toilet was the only thing lacking in this landscape – but you’re right! Elephants would definitely fit right in!!
    @PDP – Making the effort was SO worth it … luckily Pilchard rarely takes driving risks!
    @Mary – Slow and steady, and most people would make it to the first lookout. It’s a stupendous view – and all the better for its uniqueness!
    @Kalpana – Haha! But one wrong turn … Thanx for your kind words, and thanx for dropping by!
    @Pinay Travel Junkie – That’s what you think!!! But be careful what you wish for – QLD is warming up too!!! All the same, I’d rather be there than Sydney …

  3. Tons of gray nomads are way fitter than me! Haha! But I’d attempt to walk to the top as well to see the view. Lovin’ your QLD spots, I’m dying to escape Sydney right now 🙁 Still so cold!

  4. Well at least GNs didn’t end up in a ‘127 hours’ scenario!
    Like the contrast of ochre earth and azure sky. Nice.

  5. The view from the top is beautiful and I can see why so many try to make it. I’d attempt to walk it. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  6. I would be one of the ‘spouses’ left behind in the car if Pat ever decided to drive up something like this Red, but I would be more than happy to walk up for that view. Great post once again.

  7. @Joan Elizabeth – I haven’t even scratched the surface!! See you on the road somewhere??
    @diane b – see you out there too then!! And yes, they did! They even made it to the more difficult top level – good on them!!
    @Cathy – who knows? Perhaps someone important from Tourism Qld will read my post and decide to do something about the access road … we’ll see!!

  8. If I ever drive by I’ll be sure to take your advice and walk up. Just thinking about the drive makes me nervous.

  9. Your blog give me so many must see places … I long to get out into this outback country again. Maybe next year.

  10. @River – we admired the view for ages before reluctantly departing. And yes, the GNs climbed the track after reversing the camper down – then they joined us on the top lookout! All’s well that ends well …
    @thepinaysolobackpacker – Welcome and thanx!! Red sand dunes – my fave!! But this view is beyond spectacular, hope you get to see it some day as it’s much better in reality!!
    @Dianne – Haha! Shops aren’t even on the horizon … but then, with views like that, who needs ’em??!!
    @Ann – HHHMMMmmm… yes! An earlier comment made me think of the murder/suicide pact angle – but it’s quite possible they were going out in style!!! Or whatever you call such irresponsible behaviour …

  11. @Sailor – it’s BEYOND beautiful! I had a hard time finding appropriate adjectives!!
    @Wendy – Even walking up the slope is problematic, with no firm ground underfoot. I didn’t know whether to admire their chutzpah or film the whole episode as a cautionary tale!!
    @Magsx2 – We were watching with a sense of horrified anticipation!
    @Windsmoke – well, a lot of GNs have a sticker or spare tyre cover saying ‘Adventure before Dementia’! Sadly all too late for some …
    @Alessandra – It was winter, a bit too cool for snakes, thank god. And the altitude? Not very high – it’s the site of an inland sea!!

  12. @Ciccia – Believe it or not, it’s the middle of winter! But in the outback that just means cold/cool nights, and magnificent days!!
    @SaucyKodz – Ah, the wisdom of age … in THIS situation, there’s no way I’d listen to my elders!!
    @SFlaGuy – We were actually en route from Boulia to Winton, and nearly didn’t stop as we were looking for a camping spot for the night!! Look out for a future scenic public toilet post about our campsite …
    @J&L – Haha! You could always hire a small camper!! But the smart non-drivers would take a tour – any public transport out this way would be an urban escapee!
    @Linda – clearly!! I guess if you were going to go, there’d be worse spots to do it. I never thought of the murder/suicide pact angle!!

  13. Great post and thank you for sharing – I do envy your experience of the magnificence Out There.

    As for the GNs, they may have lived rich full lives and been happy for that to be The Last Thing They Ever Did. At the funeral – “they went while doing the thing they loved most” etc.
    X X Annie o’D

  14. It’s a long way from the shops!! – I can imagine cars skidding on that gravel! wonderful views from the look-out!

  15. haven’t heard of cawnpore look out, thanks for sharing! we don’t ahve that in the Philippines so I hope I can visit it one day. I love your header, by the way. I’m green with envy!

  16. Look at that view! It goes on forever! Miles and miles of Australia, all laid out for your viewing pleasure.
    Did the grey nomads make it up the track without mishap?

  17. Wow what a place! You must have a very good engine there! What is the altitude? And was it hot? Snakes?????


  18. No way I’d tackle that track/hill in a camper its way too steep and slippery better off driving a 4wd or riding a trail bike. Maybe those grey nomad’s have totally lost the plot and don’t know it yet :-).

  19. Hi,
    I never stop being amazed at what some people do in their vehicles, seems like a very silly thing to try and attempt, they were very lucky they didn’t roll.

  20. Evidently the couple who made it up to the lookout were so happy with their lives that they were game for anything. Yes, but what a view?

  21. Hello Red:
    As we do not now own a car, we are just wondering if the Cawnpore Lookout is on a bus route?!!! Just asking….

  22. Is this a case of the journey being more important than the destination. Seems like a tough trip to see a whole lot of nothing. Exactly the the kind of trip I like.

  23. Hi Ya Red – Very nice post and scary that Grey Nomad Couple even tried to climb that in a vehicle – YIKES. Another very interesting piece of history n photos to add to my intellectual brain. ha,ha Have a great day kiddo and never get yer knickers in a twist – u r way toooo nice:)

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