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Boodjamulla National Park (AKA Lawn Hill National Park)

Lawn Hill National Park is in the remote Gulf region of northwestern Queensland. It is over 1800 kilometres north west of Brisbane, close to the border with the Northern Territory.

The emerald waters and lush vegetation of Lawn Hill Gorge form a beautiful oasis in the outback, attracting abundant wildlife and offering exceptional views, walks, canoeing and cultural sites.

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There are many walks around the park, some of them quite easy and some more difficult and adventurous.

There are many walks around the park, some of them quite easy and some more difficult and adventurous.

The steep rock walls rise above you on either side as you approach the start of the lower gorge.

The steep rock walls rise above you on either side as you approach the start of the lower gorge.

Looking towards the lower gorge from the camp area.

The best way by far to see the gorge is to hire a canoe and paddle upstream.

The best way by far to see the gorge is to hire a canoe and paddle upstream.

It is quite spectacular paddling beneath the rock walls.

It is quite spectacular paddling beneath the rock walls. You can see the relative size of the canoe below the pandanus.

Waterfall at the top end of the lower gorge.

Waterfall at the top end of the lower gorge.

Just along from here you need to lift the canoe out of the water and drag it over the rocks to access the upper gorge.

Just along from here you need to lift the canoe out of the water and drag it over the rocks to access the upper gorge.

I loved the roots of this tree exposed by the rushing water. This is a permanent waterway and runs all year round.

Emerald waters of the gorge.

Emerald waters of the gorge.

Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.

Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.

Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus.

Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus hanging over the emerald water.

Water lilies in the upper gorge.

Water lilies in the upper gorge.

Evening reflections as we make our way back to camp.

Evening reflections as we make our way back to camp.

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Gregory River free camp

On our way to Lawn Hill National Park (Boodjamulla National Park) in the gulf region of north Queensland, we camped for the night on the banks of the Gregory River. This is a very remote area, but there were lots of people camping here. It is a beautiful river with crystal clear water which was flowing quite fast; it is spring fed and flows all year.

Gregory River

Gregory River

The old bridge is no longer in use but you can walk across to explore the other side of the river and visit the tiny town of Gregory which is pretty much a pub and a couple of houses.

The old bridge is no longer in use but you can walk across to explore the other side of the river and visit the tiny town of Gregory which pretty much consists of a pub and a couple of houses.

Male Crimson Finch, only found in the most northerly parts of Australia.

Male Crimson Finch, only found in the most northerly parts of Australia.

Female Crimson Finch

Female Crimson Finch

Early morning reflections on the Gregory River.

Early morning reflections on the Gregory River.

It is very easy to understand why this is such a popular place to camp. The only downside is that you need to be totally self sufficient to stay here, but if you are organised it is an awesome place to stay especially if you can set up right on the river bank.

Roadside Birds on Tablelands Highway, N.T.

Tablelands Highway stretches on for hundreds of kilometres through the Mitchell grass plains which was all very dry in this time of drought. These are some of the birds we spotted along the way:

Bustard, which is quite a big bird. Bigger than I had imagined.

Bustard, which is quite a big bird. Bigger than I had imagined.

Bustard in flight.

Bustard in flight.

Wedgetail Eagle perched on roadkill. (From a long way away!)

Wedgetail Eagle perched on roadkill. (From a long way away!)

Which also took off on our approach.

Which also took off on our approach.

Brolgas in front of termite mounds. The young one doesn't have the red on it's head.

Brolgas in front of termite mounds. The young one doesn’t yet have the red on it’s head.

Windmill at a roadside rest area, to provide water from the artesian basin for travellers.

Windmill at a roadside rest area, to provide water from the artesian basin for travellers.

The water at the rest areas attracts lots of little birds in this arid area.

The water at the rest areas attracts lots of little birds, such as these honey eaters,  in this arid area.

Free Camping is Great!

Following are just some photos I took in a few different free camps that I thought I would share. When you think of free camping, you tend to think of dusty roadside stops, but if you choose carefully, there are some wonderful places you are able to camp absolutely free of charge.

Free camping spot off the Carpentaria Highway in the Northern Territory.

Free camping spot off the Carpentaria Highway in the Northern Territory.

The beautiful sunset was also free of charge.

The beautiful sunset colours were also free of charge.

As was the trumpet serenade.

As was the trumpet serenade.

I don't know if you have heard of Geocaching?We found this Geocache

I don’t know if you have heard of Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around the world. Apparently there are 2,468,534 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide. We have found one cache….accidentally. It was tucked away in a hole in a rock beyond the edge of the camp area.

Following are a few photos of some of the birds we spotted fluttering around our camp.

16.Freecamp Carpentaria Hwy-7 16.Freecamp Carpentaria Hwy-9 16.Freecamp Carpentaria Hwy-6 16.Freecamp Carpentaria Hwy-5 16.Freecamp Carpentaria Hwy-4

Bitter Springs near Mataranka

Mataranka, in the Northern Territory, is famous for it’s hot springs. Bitter Springs is just down the road at the north east end of Mataranka township, and much less commercial and therefore more appealing to people like us. The headwaters of the Roper River inside Elsey National Park (where crocodiles are managed) are popular for bushwalking, birdwatching, canoeing, swimming and fishing. These pools flow at a constant 32 degrees C. and are still very much in their natural state. Swimmers can glide with the current downstream to view the beautiful riparian vegetation and birdlife along the way. With a mask and snorkel, small fish and turtles can be seen as the water is fantastically clear. I don’t have too many photos from Bitter Springs, as we were too busy swimming and enjoying the warm waters while we were there.

The first glimpse of the stream as you approach Bitter Springs doesn't give away the secrets awaiting when you arrive at the swimming area of the springs.

The first glimpse of the stream as you approach Bitter Springs doesn’t give away the secrets awaiting when you arrive at the swimming area of the springs.

The warm, crystal clear waters are ideal for a relaxing swim…or float down the stream.

The warm, crystal clear blue tinted waters are ideal for a relaxing swim…or just float down the stream and enjoy the weightless sensation of floating in warm gently flowing water.

Native growing tall palm trees add a tropical touch.

Native growing tall palm trees add a tropical touch.

It is easy to spend hours relaxing in the warm, clear water.

It is easy to spend hours relaxing in the warm, clear water.

Mataranka thermal springs are definitely not to be missed if you are travelling in the Northern Territory. In fact, we visited twice on this trip, both on our way up to Katherine and when we began our trip back down south. It is a very special place and not a crocodile in sight!

Kununurra and Lake Argyle

 

Kununurra is a town in far northern Western Australia located at the eastern extremity of the Kimberley region, approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) from the border with the Northern Territory. The town of Kununurra was initiated to service the Ord River Irrigation Scheme.

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Lake Argyle was formed by damming the Ord River and other smaller creeks and rivers, and is Australia’s largest artificial lake by volume.

14.Kununurra & Lake Argyle-2

The construction of the Ord River Dam was completed in 1971. The dam was officially opened the following year. The dam is 335 metres long, and 98 metres high. The earth-fill only dam wall at Lake Argyle is the most efficient dam in Australia in terms of the ratio of the size of the dam wall to the amount of water stored. The lake was named after the property it partly submerged, Argyle Downs

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Rainbow Bee Eater

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Rainbow Bee Eater, on branch at Dead Horse Springs, Lake Kununurra.

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Brilliant yellow Kapok flowers. Lake Argyle lookout.

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The Ord River as it leaves Lake Argyle. The dam wall can be seen in the top third of the photograph.

The Ord irrigation scheme has allowed crops such as these sunflowers to be grown in the formerly arid area.

The Ord irrigation scheme has allowed crops such as these sunflowers to be grown in the formerly arid area. 

14.Kununurra & Lake Argyle-8

Ivanhoe Crossing was once the way to get across the Ord River

14.Kununurra & Lake Argyle-9

But these days, the crossing is closed to traffic due to the constantly flowing water, and has become a popular fishing and picnic spot.

Lake Argyle and Kununurra are like an oasis in this dry and isolated land. Lake Argyle normally has a surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres and there are currently around 150 square kilometres of farmland under irrigation in the East Kimberly region.

The Bungle Bungles – Purnululu National Park, W.A.

Purnululu National Park is the official name, but this area was previously known as The Bungle Bungles. Whatever you would like to call it, this area of the Kimberley is a remarkable place which you should make the effort to visit if you ever have the chance. Following are some photos from our time there…

The Bungle Bungles

The Bungle Bungles…the approach to Echidna Chasm

Palm trees and really really tall rock walls

Palm trees, a rocky river bed and really, really tall rock walls

 

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Did I mention the really, really tall rock walls and narrow passage into Echidna Chasm?

 

 

13.Purnululu-4Looking up from the depths

 

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Further over in the park, as you approach the Bungle Bungle domes, you start to see the characteristic stripes of the Purnululu ranges.

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The sandstone domes are striped grey and orange, and according to Widipedia, the orange bands consist of oxidised iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates.

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Whatever the reason, the effect is stunning and it is impossible to describe how it feels to be amongst them.

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Walking amongst the domes

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Detail of the rock wall within Cathedral Gorge

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Rock pool at the Bungle Bungles

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Not all the ‘domes’ are dome shaped…

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Ancient river bed within Purnululu

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View into Picaninny Creek

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Evening colours on the range, from the campground lookout.

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Night falls at Purnululu National Park. This place is a definite ‘must do’ if you are ever in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.