Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) (6 - 8 June)

Published: June 11th 2009
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On Saturday we headed out fairly early as we had a long drive to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park via Burketown, Gregory Downs, and Adels Grove. About 30 kilometres out of Normanton, we stopped to have a look at the Burke and Wills - Camp 119, the most northerly camp of the fateful Burke and Wills expedition of 1860/61, which we found very interesting. Further along The Savannah Way , we also stopped to have a look at Leichardt Falls. The gravel road from Normanton to here was in good nick as it had recently been graded. To view Leichardt Falls we had to take a short track along Leichardt Creek, but it was only a couple of hundred metres off the main road - the falls weren't visible from the main road so it would have been easy to just have kept going without seeing them. This would have been a shame as there was plenty of water coming over the falls, making it look like an oasis in the desert. The road from Leichardt Creek to Burketown was sealed all the way and in good condition.

We stopped for a fuel top up in Burketown and dropped into the Visitor Centre where we found out more about the road conditions to Boodjamulla and on The Savannah Way. We also learnt that a tropical cyclone back in 1887 caused a large storm surge here, even though the town is located 25 kilometres inland. The cyclone caused 7 deaths out of a population of 138 - see Tropical Cyclones in Queensland - Historical Impacts in the Gulf of Carpentaria for more information. We shared our picnic table with a couple who had just come from Boodjamulla, so learnt some handy information about the Lawn Hill and Riversleigh sections of the national park.

We headed south to Gregory Downs, west to Adels Grove, then into Boodjamulla National Park for three nights (we had pre-booked from Normanton). We had been told that it was pretty hot and dry with no shade, but we found a nice camp site and put up the awning for some shade.

On Sunday morning, Pete, Di and Jemma, who we'd met in Normanton, joined us for a walk on the 7 km Upper Gorge circuit walk. It took you along the top of the range to the Upper gorge, and then back down along the edge of Lawn Hill Creek to Indarri Falls, a lovely spot which we vowed to come back to one afternoon for a swim. The walk continued back up to the top of the range and along Middle gorge, which reminded us of a small version of Katherine Gorge in Nitmuluk National Park. After lunch, we walked across to the Cascades on the Island Stack. As the bridge walkway across the creek to the island had been washed away in the January floods, we had to scramble across some fallen logs to get there. The water level at the cascades had dropped a fair bit, but we found a spot deep enough to have a short swim. Back at the main swimming hole (Duwadarri Waterhole) near the canoe hire place (run by Adels Grove) and where the creek was much wider and deeper, the children spent a good hour or so in the water, playing on old truck tyre tubes which you could borrow for a small donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Later, we set off about 5:30 pm for another 4 km return walk to the Constance Range to view the sunset over a 'glasses' of wine (actually plastic glasses). Steve, a Swiss guy we had met earlier, came along too and let us use his tripod. The walk back required torches and it was a shame to see so many cane toads on the track.

On Monday we headed out to the Riversleigh section of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park. It was about a 50 km drive (one way) from our Lawn Hill campground, but the gravel road was in good condition and it only required a couple of shallow creek crossings. Riversleigh is a 'sister site' to Naracoorte Caves National Park in South Australia, which we had visited and enjoyed back in November last year. Riversleigh and Naracoorte were jointly inscribed as the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage Area in 1994. We spent an hour or so wandering around the D Site, the only site open to the public, where there is a 800m self-guided walk that provides information and access to the fossil sites. The fossils are from the Oligocene period, dating back 25 million years. As well as seeing fossils of ancient turtles, crocodiles and big birds we also saw a large rock which sounded hollow when struck with another rock - the lady we had met at Burketown had told us about it.

From Riversleigh we travelled a few kilometres south to have a look at the Gregory and O'Shannassy river crossings. We made a U-turn into the dirt after crossing the O'Shannassy River, and it was here that we probably staked another tyre, although we didn't know it at the time. About half way back to Lawn Hill we certainly found out though, with the tyre going flat very suddenly. We replaced it with the spare and drove into Adels Grove on the way back. Adels Grove is a property located about 10km from our campground at Boodjamulla and luckily they do some mechanical and tyre repairs here, so we dropped the tyre off to be picked up the next morning on our way out, hoping that all it needed was a straightforward puncture repair. You could see where the stake had penetrated the tread, but as we had briefly driven on it whilst it was flat, it may have experienced more serious damage than just a puncture. Nevertheless, we drove back to the campground and decided to walk back to Indarri Falls for a lovely swim with Pete, Di and Jemma. There are freshwater crocodiles in Lawn Hill Creek and a sign at the Ranger Station said that a 2 metre croc had recently been spotted near Indarri Falls and warned against approaching any crocodile. One of the canoeists the previous day had also mentioned to Pete that he thought he had been nudged by a croc, but I found that hard to believe unless he had invaded the croc's territory. Anyway, we never saw a single croc during our stay in the park and had a lovely swim at Indarri Falls - we even managed to climb behind one of small falls with the children. Afterwards, Mark and Thomas did the Wild Dog Dreaming walk. This took us to the Aboriginal art (paintings and engravings) shelters of the Traditional Owners, the Waanyi people, and also down to the Lower gorge, which was very peaceful. That night we had dinner accompanied by Pete, Di, Jemma and Steve, the Swiss guy.

On Tuesday, we headed out, but first stopped at Adels Grove to hopefully pick up our repaired tyre. However, as I had suspected, the tyre was damaged beyond repair with bulging sidewalls, but fortunately they had a cheap second-hand tyre in good condition that we were able to purchase. The tyre was marginally different
Leichardt FallsLeichardt FallsLeichardt Falls

'Highway' crosses creek just upstream of the falls
in size to those that came with the vehicle (275/65R17 instead of 285/65R17), but would do as a spare. In fact, it was to act as more than a spare as later that day we had a complete tyre blowout!

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Leichardt CreekLeichardt Creek
Leichardt Creek

Where's Thomas?

Thomas, Annelies & Jemma

Great Egret
Indarri FallsIndarri Falls
Indarri Falls

Back for a swim!
Indarri FallsIndarri Falls
Indarri Falls

About to get behind the falls

27th July 2010

could you provide more details on directions and travel times to campsite from normanton--keen to have a look in mid august

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