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Published: September 8th 2012
where are we?
On the tracks, (we think at this stage), heading to Adels' Grove.
Adel’s Grove/Lawn Hill National Park
Leaving our camp outside of Doomadgee we headed towards Elizabeth Creek on a back road heading towards Lawn Hill and Adel’s Grove. After about 30klm we were wondering about the brilliance of this decision to head ‘off the beaten track’ as we seemed to be just travelling on station tracks. There were also plenty of turn offs where we could have just flipped a coin to decide which way to go. No, there were no signs! At about 44 klm we came to a T intersection (I use that term loosely, very loosely in fact), and as luck would have it there was a sign suggesting that Lawn Hill was 62klm to the left, so after a few sighs of relief we set off to find it. The tracks we followed were in pretty good condition, a little rocky in a few places but the lack of traffic had given us only a few stretches of corrugations which we were grateful about.
The tracks were mostly across lightly wooded savannah grasslands, and of course we crossed plenty of small dry watercourses. Heading across one ‘plain’ we were amazed to see a huge
Lawn Hill Station country
..we were on the right track.
white cross erected on top of quite a high hill. This cross, we learnt later, was erected by a past owner of Lawn Hill Station the famous Brazilian ‘Cattle King’ Sebastian Maia , in memory of his parents and was 30 meters high. Maia took over the lease of Lawn Hill in 1976 and the property grew to become one of the largest cattle stations in Queensland at 11,000 square kilometres. In 1984 Maia surrendered12,200 square kilometres of Lawn Hill Station for a National Park. Today the local indigenous tribe of the Waanyi are the majority owners.
Crossing Lawn Hill Creek it was so tempting to just stop and camp there, it was a beautiful spot where the creek was split into a number of branches and between them there were great sandy beaches under huge paperbark trees and palms. The last section of the crossing we had to drive up one of the branches of the creek before climbing out onto the far bank. From here we were only a couple of kilometres from Lawn Hill Station and now travelling towards the turn off to Adel’s Grove along the road towards Gregory Downs from Lawn Hill Station.
Adel’s Grove was amazing, fantastic! The camp sites are all scattered amongst the Grove alongside the Lawn Hill Creek, or if you need to use generators or, have a dog, you are camped on the bank overlooking the Grove, still only 100 mtrs from the creek. To call Lawn Hill Creek , ‘a creek,’ is descriptively wrong in my book, it is far more permanent than many creeks and rivers we have crossed, continually flowing, and bigger than most. The creek is a perennial, clear, spring-fed waterway that you can swim in. But, believe me the first time I went in, it felt like I was going against every good piece of advice given to us about swimming in the ‘top end’ – ‘don’t, the only safe place is a swimming pool and check that first!’ Every photo I have taken of crocs, or any croc we have seen, has been in a place that looked just like this, but, thousands swim here every year so in we went, just brilliant and beautiful. This was a highlight of Adel’s Grove and Lawn Hill, the swimming.
Adel’s Grove was originally gazetted off lawn Hill Station as a miners lease in
Lawn Hill Station
crossing Lawn Hill Creek downstream from the Station
1904 and covered just over 70 acres. In 1920 Albert de Lestang took up the property as an experimental botanic garden. The name Adel was taken from his initials. Albert planted many species of trees and shrubs and supplied the Botanical Gardens of the world with his seeds, strange I know, eccentric, possibly but successful he apparently was! The Botannical Gardens in Brisbane still has 563 different samples of seeds sent to them by Albert in their collection. In the early 1950’s a fire swept through the grove while Albert was away destroying everything including his house and all his research papers. Albert’s last years were spent in a Charters Towers nursing home where he died in 1959 at the age of 75. It is said he was depressed and ‘broken hearted’, I am not surprised after all that, pretty sad really.
Today Adel’s Grove has facilities to rival El Questro for the camper, as I have mentioned the camp ground is amazing, but the shop, information desk , bar, and restaurant area is superb…and clean, the amenities were spotless. With swimming, canoeing and plenty of walks available without leaving Adel’s Grove, Lawn Hill National Park was going to
Lawn Hill Creek
we could have just camped here and been happy with our lot.
have to be very good to justify the 10klm drive in…
…And it is! Lawn Hill or Boodjamulla National Park as it is now known, (why are we changing all the names of our National Parks??), is fantastic. If we thought Lawn Hill Creek at Adel’s Grove was a visual feast, Lawn Hill Gorge which is what Boodjamulla National Park is centred around, is amazing. (Funny the gorge is still called Lawn Hill Gorge, not Boodjamulla). Lawn Hill Creek is fed by underground freshwater springs of the Georgina Basin, a system that flows beneath the Barkly Tableland. Lawn Hill Gorge has been created by the creek over millions of years cutting through the sandstone. The result is magnificent gorges with sandstone cliffs as walls, emerald waters and amazing, lush, tropical vegetation along the flat areas creating an oasis that attracts an abundance of wildlife.
We hired a canoe to do the 6klm round trip to the Upper Gorge and I would be happy to do it all again, even though I am the only one that paddles ! From the canoe hire landing we paddled upstream to the spectacular Middle Gorge with walls of almost orange sandstone and
Our campsite. All the campsites were spread out and no one was on top of you, brilliant.
then on to Indarri Falls which is the natural rock barrier between the lower and upper gorges. Here we dragged the canoe out of the water and across about 30 mtrs of ground to another landing where we entered the upper gorge system. Indarri Falls is also a great place for a swim. The upper gorge was just as spectacular and we were able to go right up to the end where the creek dwindles into three smaller channels and rapids, thick with pandanus palms. It was then a matter of retracing our ‘steps’ back to Indarri Falls and then back through the middle gorge to return the canoe. The return trip was just as good as you see it all again from a different perspective. There are fresh water crocodiles in Lawn Creek, but in all our time at Adel’s Grove and in Lawn Hill National Park paddling through the gorges we only saw one tiny one, no more than a foot long, sunbaking on a pandanus root, he was as small a croc as I have ever seen.
This is an incredible place, made even better by having Adel’s Grove only 10klm away with such fantastic facilities.
First things first, Trisha had to check out the Bar.
It is hard to describe what both the Gorges and Adel’s Grove is like in comparison to the surrounding country, but hopefully the photos will give you some idea of the oasis that nature has created out here in the Gulf Country.
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