After five hours of driving on the Barkly highway, where the Northern Territory meets the Queensland border and share spinifex landscape and outback scenery as far as you can see, you can find the Boodjamulla National Park. First, you are gonna stop in Mount Isa, as many roads are going to the National Park but only one, the longest, is sealed. Otherwise you have to go through more than 200 kilometers of dirt road. But don’t think it’s the easy path because after stopping in Mount Isa to catch a shot of the view of the impressive mine field and driving 250 kilometers to Gregory you still would have to go through approximately 80 kilometers of dirt road before arriving in Lawn Hill. But trust me, it’s worth it to explore this natural beauty gem of the Gulf Savannah.
The drive to Gregory was an easy ride until 50 kilometers before getting to Gregory. The Golden hour rose and the sun set slowly as we drove on this little sealed road taking us to our free camp spot for the night. We suddenly realize how many Wallabies are surrounding the road, eating the side road grass. Once the cuteness of the moment fades away we realize how dangerous it’s gonna be to drive 90 km/hour and hit those last 40 km. Wallabies start to run across the road. Some smart one just flew hearing the engine but the thing with those cute animals, is that you never know which way they want to go.
After half an hour of stress we finally arrive in Gregory, a small village with a service station and a really well-known and relaxing free camp on the river edge. You won’t go there without trying that cool clear water! It’s the perfect free camp spot to pass by but you’ll find the better spot right next to the river, even if it is not the official free camp, you’ll easily find that spot under the small bridge, as all Australians are having few holidays around there, unpacking there caravans and set up for a while which can also be uncharming for those who likes tranquility and loneliness.
Therefore, the scenery gives us a taste of the wildlife that we’ve missed for so long during our trip in the Northern Territory. We are on a rock strand surrounded by green nature, trees and a calm and peaceful river with clear water and (probably) also freshwater crocodiles. We find our way between two caravans of retired people probably here for a while and say hello around us before setting up the table and chairs for a nice dinner next to the river. We will not make it to the water, too tired that night and too impatient the next morning.
2 nights escape in Boodjamulla NP
Arriving in Boodjmula National Park was a real challenge for us. Yes, cause going to that secluded gem, is a true adventure when you’ve got a 2wd and not a 4wd. When we think about it, our van already didn’t appreciate the 100 kilometers of dirt road and bumpy surface of the Kings Canyon road but even after we made it through it unexpectedly, we were still tempted to try it, what a shame to go through this secluded part of Outback Queensland, for once in our life, and passing through without a little glance at this emerald oasis ? So we decided to try it again. To play it safe, first we called Adels grove campground beforehand, to have a recent opinion of the road. It was pretty honest so we decided to get on this bumpy road. Well prepared that time, we tried to minimize the vibrations by driving slowly, and even if we wanted to, we definitely couldn’t drive any faster anyway.
The campground receptionist advised us to lower the pressure out of our tires but we figured out it’s actually a really bad advice and that’s how you get a flat tire, you really don’t want to fix your tyre on the side of the dirt road to Boodjamulla National Park, without any phone service available.
After more than 1000 kms, starting in Uluru and all the Red Center of Australia, we can tell, finding clear shallow water is like discovering a remote landscape, untouched, at the end of a long and dusty road.
First glimpse of this magnificent ribbon of green through the surrounding dry and expansive plains is to Adels Grove, a cozy and pretty oasis. We set up camp in the middle of a gorgeous fringing rainforest and wildlife and in front of clear water. Going for a short walk along the river edge, we already spot Wallabies behind the palm trees. Even if the camping staff warn you about the presence of fresh-water crocodiles, kids are playing like usual, so why being afraid as we joke with the staff: they would be the first to get bite anyway (FreshWater crocodiles are defenseless). A perfect day to relax in the water, isn’t it?
Next day, it’s time to Hike!
Seven bushwalks are available starting from Lawn Hill. These allow you to explore how complex and diverse is the national park and how it became over time. This environment is harsh in appearance but also fragile. You might like to contemplate it from the top Constance Range at sunset or simply the Rainbow Serpent track and Wild dog Dreaming track to watch and learn about the Waanyi people who put the first human step on Boodjamulla and left rock art and engraving about their own story. For the experienced bushwalkers we highly recommend to start your journey early on, as the heat welcomes you as soon as it can ! Especially if you are up to hike Duwadarri track (with a view on Duwadarri Waterhole) and the Upper Gorge in once (about 12 Km return). Either you choose the Indarri falls or Upper Gorge walk ; you will have a splendid view over the gorge and the rocky red escarpments. This sanctuary is a residence for olive pythons, ring tailed dragons, Gulf snapping turtles and more unique wildlife of the dry plains. The signs warn you about a challenging walk but we did it faster than we thought and we recommend you to stop, on your way back at the Duwadarri waterhole for a swim or a quick look over the middle gorge : with the water nicely contrasting with the dry savanna landscape.
We had a pleasant stay at the Adels grove camp area, shaded and relaxing spots are available at the Grove. This campground is a must stay for the amenities, grocery store and laundry, but it’s also the opportunity to stay right next to the river and go for a walk along the edges. Our final day, we decided to go to a half-day Canoe experience in the launching area, but the Lawn Hill Creek also welcome private canoes. From there you glide along the creek through the middle and upper gorge, and if you’re lucky enough you ‘ll be able to spot those little freshwater crocodiles along the way!
We couldn’t access the most secluded part of the National Park ; the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, which is recommended for 4wd and is one of the richest fossil mammal sites of the world. Adels Grove, is the best place to book 3 to 4 day guided tours about the local history, geology, flora and fauna of the area. But the mindblowing Boodjamulla didn’t let us down. After 3 days relaxing we are ready to be back on the red dirt road of the Outback Queensland!
How to get there?
From Mount Isa you have the 2wd option to Gregory and then about 80 kms of dirt road. In total it’s 300 kms.
From The Northern Territory border, you’ll have a second 4wd option, before Mount Isa, a turning road, partially sealed is a good option during at least the first 200 kms it leads you to the south entrance and the Riversleigh Fossil Field part of the park, but you’ll have to cross a couple of creeks that may be flooded. Always call ahead for information. Adels Grove campground would be helpful to advise you as well.
Where to stay?
Lawn Hill Campground : Two options to stay in Boodjamulla NP. If you are good to plan, you can probably stay at the Lawn Hill Campground, which is 6,50 Aus dollars per person per night ( ?? double check) but definitely full direct Australian holidays.
Adels Grove : You can make a booking at Adels grove, which is 10 km away from Lawn Hill above the gorge and a secluded and relaxing campground. Many options are available at Adels Grove and the staff is really helpful and makes sure you are having the best stay ever. Also Adels Grove has its own little beach by the river and entrance Canoe rental which is highly recommended to explore the Lawn Hill on the calm and beautiful emerald water !
What to bring?
- 20 L water is essential even if you have water at the campground
- previous booking of campground before heading there
- Last 80 kms are partially unsealed so for a conventional vehicle it is at your own risk a good service and a tire check is essential as is a spare tire. A workshop exists in Adels grove if you are in any trouble.
- Swimming equipment and Canoë if you’ve got one
Location: Boodjamulla National Park