Emerald green water.
Deep blue skies.
Rich red sandstone rock.
Bright yellow sun.
Pink and purple sunsets.
Warm orange sunrises.
Lawn Hill Gorge is a natural rainbow.
This place is an oasis in the outback and one that will cast a spell on you making you want to return time and time again.
Canoeing the gorge to Indarri Falls, walking the multiple bush tracks, feeling the Aboriginal culture run through your body, witnessing the abundant wildlife that call this place home.
Lawn Hill Gorge, in Boodjamulla National Park, is a magical part of north-west Queensland.
Where is Lawn Hill Gorge?
Getting there from Cairns is about a 1000km trek and 13 hours driving time.
We came up from Mt Isa, which was about 4-5 hours driving time and 325km. To get there from Mt Isa, take the Barkly Highway and then turn right on to the Thorntonia Yelvertoft Road and follow it to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park via Riversleigh.
Be warned only the first 57km of this route is sealed, the rest of the trip is unsealed and corrugated road – and it’s rough on your car. Rafa had to do some damage control once we got to Lawn Hill Gorge as some of the screws had come loose underneath the car and needed replacing.
Many people turn back because of the corrugation and the Parks and Wildlife website says “access is unsuitable for conventional vehicles and caravans”. We’d believe this, however, many camper trailers and caravans do make it in. Just know the facts and what yours can handle before you head in.
Lawn Hill Gorge and Boodjamulla National Park can also be reached via Gregory Downs, which might be a slightly better road.
Information about Lawn Hill Gorge
“Lawn Hill Gorge is formed by Lawn Hill Creek, which is fed by numerous freshwater springs from the limestone plateau to the west. The magnitude of the sandstone cliffs lining the gorge, its emerald waters, and lush vegetation make it a visual splendour. Serving as an oasis, the spring water and surrounding vegetation attract an abundance of wildlife. The Waanyi Aboriginal people have strong cultural ties with the park while pastoralists of European descent have more recent historical connections.” (Source: Parks and Wildlife)
Did you know: Boodjamulla means Rainbow Serpent Country in the local indigenous language.
Where can you stay?
So there are 4 (or so) places you can stay that are within easy reach of the national park and gorge.
- The national park itself – Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
- Adele’s Grove – about a 10km drive that takes about 15 mins by car.
- Myumba Bush Camp – This is the furthest camp from the gorge, but still beautiful.
- Along the side of the road and in enclaves at Gregory River – we were jealous of a campervan pulled up in a little area just off the Gregory River. It was a top spot!
We stayed in the national park and didn’t go into Adel’s Grove at all. However, it is meant to be beautiful and has a creek running through it too. There’s a shop there and the internet. We were lucky (but also unlucky) enough to have internet coverage with Telstra.
We chose the national park because it was the most cost-effective option, but it was also the closest to all the walks and gorge itself.
You see, we were just about 20m to the gorge – and it was definitely hot enough for a dip multiple times a day!
Are dogs allowed? A common question many people ask and Google, but, no, they are not allowed in the national park. Check with Adel’s Grove though, as in the past they have been allowed, however, at the time we were in the area Adel’s Grove had been sold and under new management.
What's there to do at Lawn Hill Gorge?
The gorge and emerald green water are definitely the main attractions – but so are the walks and wildlife.
If you are up for peace, quiet, and relaxation, this is a top spot to do that.
The gorge: You can see the gorge from almost all vantage points and walks. And if you can snag a campsite nearest the water you will be only about 10m to it. Just sitting and whiling away the time with this as the backdrop is enough to put even the most stressed person at ease!
Swimming and canoeing: Take your water toys, tubes, and noodles, friends, because you are going to want to dive straight in. It’s hot, even when it’s not, so come prepared. Pack your swimmers and boardies and get ready to spend most of your time in the water. It is, after all, the best part!
NOTE: There are only freshwater crocodiles in the gorge and the rangers are confident “there’s nothing in there that can eat you” – which is why people love it.
Bushwalking – this is probably the second biggest drawcard – aside from the green water of the gorge. There are 7 walks and depending on how long you stay, you can get them all done.
Here’s a rundown as per the Parks and Wildlife website:
Watch mesmerised as creek waters cascade over intricate tufa formations in Lawn Hill Creek and enjoy bird watching along the way.
Distance: 2km return – an easy walk
Time suggested: Allow 1hr walking time
Constance Range track
Enjoy spectacular, panoramic views on this walk, which leads alongside the Lower Gorge and up onto the ridge tops of the Constance Range. We watched the sunset with some nibbles when we got to the top. Remember your torch if you’re doing this one at night as it’s easy to get lost. Lucky we had the rangers to guide us down!
Distance: 4km return – a moderate walk
Time suggested: Allow 3hrs walking time
Duwadarri lookout track
Soak up dramatic views over Middle Gorge on this short but steep walk. This is a fabulous walk if you are just seeing the gorge from up high for the first time as we were. This is part of the track to Indarri Falls if you choose to go that way.
Distance: 600m return – a moderate walk
Time suggested: Allow 30min walking time
Indarri Falls track
A spectacular walk that overlooks the refreshing waters at Indarri Falls. This lookout will take your breath away.
Distance – 3.8km circuit – a moderate walk
Time suggested: Allow 1.5hrs walking time
This was Liz’s second favourite walk! It’s like another world atop of the Island Stack and the gorge is stunning. Don’t do this one in the middle of the day, there’s not a lot of shade up there and it’s quite a hike.
Distance: 4km return – a difficult (walk)
Time suggested: Allow 2hrs walking time
Upper Gorge track
The big one! You will be rewarded with splendid views over the Upper and Middle gorges… cool off at Indarri Falls on this challenging walk. I (Liz) was a bit freaked out walking beside the gorge water by myself, so I cut up the middle and took the back route back to camp. I met another lady who said she understood why I would have felt a bit frightened. I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Distance: 7km return – a moderate walk
Time suggested: Allow 3.5hrs walking time.
Wild Dog Dreaming track
This is a sacred walk and one where you will feel the energy and culture of the local indigenous people. See ancient engravings and rock art at this important cultural site.
Distance: 4.5km return – an easy walk
Time suggested: Allow 1.5hrs walking time
Birdwatching and wildlife – If birds are your interest you are in for a treat. There are Purple-crowned fairy wrens, bowerbirds, black cockatoos, and rosellas. Many people come to Lawn Hill Gorge to see the tiny little wrens, it’s a real treat. They hang out in the day-use area near all the signs and also in the bushes along the gorge. Sit quietly and you are bound to see them.
You will also see an abundance of fresh-water fish – including 1m long barramundi at the bridge on the way to the Wild Dog Dreaming track. Go there at nighttime and stand quietly and you’ll see them.
There are also freshwater crocodiles in the gorge, we didn’t see any; apparently, their numbers are dwindling here due to cane toads. But they are still there and the rangers told us they have a program in place to help build the population again.
Snakes! OMG, we saw two snakes – both Olive pythons, we believe. Check the video below on our first encounter. It scared the absolute bejesus out of both – Liz more so! And the second one was about 3m long and about 8cm in diameter – so a big one! They are non-venomous.
Lizards and goannas – we saw a small goanna and lots of what we believe were bearded dragons. Cute little inquisitive things they are.
Lawn Hill's hidden gems
Two words. The gorge. Albeit not so hidden. You would visit the gorge just to swim in the water.
Why should you visit Lawn Hill Gorge?
There is no shortage of amazing things here at Lawn Hill Gorge. Its beauty is mesmerising. Do yourself a favour and book a trip here (when it’s not too hot, of course!).