We left Limmen NP and stopped in at Borroloola to see what tyre repair options we had – none as it turned out with them saying it was going to keep splitting along the tyre wall so we threw it back up under the car and headed off with better options to get a replacement at Mt Isa which was less than a week away. Down to one spare tyre on rugged roads through one of the remotest parts of our whole trip left us with some trepidation but the tyre repair kit was a welcome recent purchase that gave us some hope we could overcome most problems if we got desperate.
We did one final bush camp just before the Queensland border before leaving the NT after four months! A bit mind-boggling that we’d spent so long there but eight weeks of that was in central oz with slight deviations into SA and even a few nights in Birdsville in Qld. We crossed the border and went through Hell’s Gate which was the traditional ambush location for the local Aboriginals to rain spears down on their neighbouring enemies and then eventually the first white explorers and settlers copped the same treatment as they travelled through the narrow gorge.
We pulled into the roadhouse at Doomadgee for some internet and hot chips, and booked some nights at Lawn Hill campground – unfortunately when crossing the border we left the simple NT “first-in, best dressed, choose your own campsite, honesty-box, cheap camping” behind and entered the Queensland system of online bookings (with what internet in the outback?), having to choose dates in advance when internet is available, numbered sites which may be good or terrible and more expensive prices – not to mention a computer system that tells you there’s no campsites available but then you find out that, in fact, the campground is half empty. But this is Queensland and we don’t expect too much from them.
Just after Doomadgee we turned off and did the back road through Lawn Hill Station and then found a nice campsite on the riverbank for the night and then did the short drive into Lawn Hill NP the next morning.
Quite an incredible spot after driving through dry, arid, pretty over-grazed, dusty land – it’s an oasis with a river full to the brim with clear turquoise limestone water. Pandanus and monstrous paperbarks fringing the water with lush vegetation mixed in between.
The campsites are next to the river and there are steps and a ladder providing access into the river to swim (freshwater crocs only here). The boys floated on their inflatable rings and our camping neighbours from Bathurst lent us their pool noodles which were perfect for bobbing around.
There are some big catfish that look like sharks which are a bit off-putting but not too many people have lost toes.
The diversity of other fish along with some huge barramundi is amazing. We hired a canoe for two hours and got told by the man to pick it up around 1pm so that he would have gone home before it was due back and we could have it all afternoon plus until 8am the next morning.
We made good use of that and paddled up the first gorge to the Indarri Falls and then dragged the canoe around the falls to access the top gorge which we explored until we couldn’t get any further up with the overhanging Pandanus choking up the narrow creek.
The swimming at the falls is great – clear water again which makes it safe. We saw one freshwater crocodile who was hanging around a nest that had been disturbed by predators or maybe they had hatched and the birds had spread the egg shells around.
It was a feisty croc nonetheless and we got plenty of foul looks and sharp teeth bared at us.
Josh and the boys did an early morning paddle just up the main gorge which was beautiful with no one else out on the water and lots of raptors and cormorants still sitting on their perches.
The other great thing here is the walking trails which amount to tens of kilometres of tracks in every direction ranging from pretty short and easy to longer steeper walks to some great lookouts from the island stack and upper gorge.
We got through all of the tracks and found each one to be different accessing different vegetation, rock formations and lookouts. There’s some good rock art and engravings at the Wild Dog Dreaming sites and a good cave shelter to see as well.
The high lookouts really give the aspect to see what an oasis the Lawn Hill Creek is in this dry, rocky outback and being above the gorge looking down into Lawn Hill Creek spotting fish and turtles is pretty amazing.