Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, A Tropical Oasis
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Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park is unique. Situated amongst arid savannah country, the several creeks bubble up out of the rock to form Lawn Hill Creek. In doing so, the creek provides a thin sliver of rainforest landscape through imposing red gorges.
But first, where is Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park?
Water In An Arid Landscape
Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) campground is 325km North-West of Mount Isa, 276km NNE of Camooweal and 245km South-West of Burketown in North-West Queensland.
See the map at the end for more details.
We travelled West from Mount Isa on the Barkly Highway then took the signposted turnoff to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill). This road is tarred until it meets the Camooweal – Gregory Downs Road. From there it’s dirt, varying from smooth and fast to some rocky, corrugated patches.
Once you get onto the Riversleigh Road, you’re somewhat on the home stretch. You’re about 90km from Boodjamulla. This road winds up, over and around lots of small hills and gullies, with some beautiful outback scenery.
Then you approach a tight left-hander and drop down over the Gregory River. What a sight for sore eyes! Palm trees, pandanus palms and clear water flowing over the causeway. Perfect after a dusty drive.
Continuing on, you’ll cross a couple more magnificent waterways, with pandanus palms pushing in at you from both sides. Such a contrast from the surrounding country.
Then you’re back into savannah country, with an ancient mountain range to your left. Along here, you’ll can stop and walk around one of the fossil sites of the famous Riversleigh World Heritage Area. A short drive from here and you’ll reach a T-intersection. Turn left to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) or right to Adels Grove.
Once you get set up, walk down to the water. Lawn Hill Creek is magnificent. Palm trees and pandanus palms thrive along the shoreline and the water is strikingly beautiful. The water has a distinct green colour, a result of all the calcium dissolved in the water.
Look upstream and you’ll be awestruck by the imposing red gorges that the creek has cut through the rock over millions of years.
You can see straight through the water into the domain of the fish and turtles. We saw a couple of huge barramundi and if you’re lucky you’ll see a freshwater crocodile. Unfortunately the freshies have fallen victim to cane toads. From a population of around 400, their numbers have fallen to less than 40.
Just remember you’re on Waanyi country. Be respectful at all times and heed their requests for you not to take photos in certain areas.
Boodjamulla is the creator of the creeks, animals and food here. He created these waters as healing waters. Boodjamulla lives in the main gorge.
If you take this on board, you’ll better understand how everything fits together here. Everything has its place.
Camping At Boodjamulla
The campground has room for 20 caravans/camper trailers and 6 tent/roof top tent sites. Most of the sites are quite exposed, however there’s a few tent/roof top tent sites with good shade. You don’t get allocated with a site number so it’s luck of the draw.
We were fortunate to arrive just as a couple were pulling out of the best site in the campground! Lots of shade and close to the water, so our site was much cooler than the others.
Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) is popular. The caravan/camper trailer sites are booked out weeks in advance. So you have to be organised and figure out when you’ll be there. The tent sites aren’t quite so popular. We managed to book one night in advance then another 4 nights once we arrived.
Surprisingly there’s Telstra reception at the campground, which can be useful when you’re trying to negotiate Queensland National Parks’ ridiculous online booking system. After several frustrating phone calls to their help line, you might just be booked in… if you’re lucky!
Even when you’ve done the right thing and booked in, you might still be in for a nasty surprise. The 6 campsites were overbooked one night. So the poor people who had booked 2 campsites online weeks earlier missed out altogether. They had to camp in the exposed campground reserved for caravans and camper trailers.
How does this happen with an online booking system? The system really is hopeless, and so frustrating.
There’s flushing toilets, cold showers and a couple of sinks for washing up. Drinking water is also available on tap. You’ll need to be self-sufficient for everything else. However if you run out of food, Adels Grove down the road has basic supplies.
Walking, Kayaking Or Both
The waters of Lawn Hill Creek are the standout feature here. The creek forms a thin corridor of tropical vegetation through arid country. In some places, this vegetation is only a few metres back from the creek bank before degenerating into rough, rocky country.
And the temperature difference is unbelievable. On a hot day, the surrounding country (including parts of the campground) is at least 10 degrees hotter than down on the creek banks.
By far the best way to see this place is on the water. Bring a canoe or kayak, or you can hire one. If you don’t feel up to a paddle, you can pay for a cruise on a small boat. It takes you up though the gorges and they give you a guided tour.
We launched our inflatable kayak several times. The colours coming off the gorge walls constantly change with the sunlight. So every time you paddle through the gorges you’re treated to a new spectacle.
This place really is unbelievably beautiful.
Boodjamulla National Park has several excellent walks. They are split into Eastern and Western walks. You can choose easy walks along Lawn Hill Creek, difficult walks up onto the ranges for superb views or walks with a mix of both.
Our advice? Do them all. Each one is completely different giving you a unique perspective of this wonderful place.
Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park is a stunning place. Yes, it’s popular. However, sit down on the water’s edge and you could be a million miles from anywhere.
If you’re interested in organised tours of the Savannah Country, you’ll find a good deal at TourRadar.
Boodjamulla National Park is on Waanyi Country.
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