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.
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 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. You can see the relative size of the canoe below the pandanus.
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.
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.
Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.
Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus hanging over the emerald water.
Water lilies in the upper gorge.
Evening reflections as we make our way back to camp.
We have been to some very remote places on this trip, and often the GPS doesn’t even know where we are.
This is what the middle of nowhere looks like on the GPS.
And this is what it looks like through the windscreen.
One particularly beautiful place we visited was Galvans Gorge, which is not far from the Mt. Barnett Roadhouse.
It is lovely to swim in, and quite easy to climb up and sit below the waterfall.
We all enjoyed a cooling swim in the clean waters.
The walk in to Galvans Gorge runs alongside this water lily filled creek.
This water monitor was unperturbed by people passing his rock perch.
Later in the afternoon, we also visited Adcock gorge, but didn’t swim there as the water was in shadow and quite cold.
There are so many gorgeous gorges on the Gibb River Road, and we are doing our best to visit most of them.
Surveyors Pool is in a remote area of the Kimberley, W.A. From Mitchell Falls, you continue on Port Warrender Road, which is really more of a track than a road, until you come to Surveyors Pool.
The track to Surveyors Pool is pretty rough and rocky in some places, but also beautiful in others.
There is a bit of a walk to get to the main pool below the waterfall.
The main pool is lovely, with another waterfall entering from the far side, but as it is a sacred place for the Aboriginals, swimming is not permitted in the main pool.
However there are several pools and cascades above the falls.
And these make a very nice place to cool off after your walk.
Further along Port Warrender Road, there is a look out which has a view right out over Admiralty Gulf in the Indian Ocean.
Lookout on Port Warrender Road with promontories and islands stretching into the distance.
It is a little out of the way to visit Surveyors Pool, but well worth the effort. From this lookout, we turned back and retraced our steps to Mitchell Falls to prepare for our return journey down Kalumbaru Road to the Gibb River Road.
In my last post, I talked about Little Mertens Falls, which is a short walk from the Mitchell Falls camping area. This is a great place for a cooling swim, but the main walk from the camp ground is the track to Mitchell Falls and it takes about an hour and a half each way. It is quite a long way, and also involves some steep rocky climbs, but it is definitely worth the effort.
Waterlilies along the way.
Once you have passed Little Mertens Falls, you trek alongside Mertens Creek, which is lined with pandanus and a haven for waterlilies. You next come to Big Mertens Falls which is much higher and more spectacular than Little Mertens, however you cannot swim here, so it is best to take your photos and move on.
Big Mertens Falls
Big Mertens is a very deep gorge, and quite spectacular in it’s own right.
Big Mertens gorge
To take good photos, you need to be a bit of a mountain goat and get right out on the rocks lining the gorge.
Holly framing the perfect waterfall shot. You can’t actually tell from this how high she is standing on the rock wall.
A bit more hiking and exertion brings you to your first glimpse of Mitchell Falls itself and you don’t at first realise that there are four layers of waterfall.
As you climb down and around, more is revealed. You need to take off your shoes and socks and cross to the other side of the water to get the best views.
We ended up spending several hours at the falls, exploring and swimming.
From the top of the falls you can see right down the river below the falls.
Mitchell Falls is definitely worth the effort to visit. It is a truly beautiful part of Australia.
We arrived at Mitchell Falls camping area about lunchtime, so in the afternoon went for a short walk to Mertens Falls where we planned to have a swim.
Little Mertens Falls is the closest falls and pool to the Mitchell Falls camp ground.
The falls look very inviting as you approach the top pool.
When you climb down the steep rocky slope, you come across a lovely still pool, which was absolutely freezing to swim in. Nobody stayed in for too long.
Especially when Peter spied a fresh water crocodile sunning himself near these rocks. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture him in the photo because he was behind the rocks on the far side of the pool.
After our swim we climbed in behind the waterfall.
It was magical being behind the curtain of water.
I liked the spotty bark on this tree next to our tent, and almost missed the spider hiding in full view.
In the evening, Holly inspired us with another fantastic camp oven meal of savoury scrolls, cooked in the coals of the camp fire.
Life is good! A beautiful swim and a good meal. It doesn’t get much better than this.
The morning saw us packing up the tents and heading off once again, towards the Mitchell Plateau. We had a couple more nights camping along the way before we got to Mitchell Falls, and it was time for a shower so we stopped for the night at Drysdale River Station.
Drysdale River Station is huge, about a million acres in size.
Close by is Miner’s Pool, which is a great place for a swim.
In the morning we set off again, and found a great camping spot at King Edward River. After setting up our tents, we went exploring. There is a lovely walk along the rocks beside the river.
A small waterfall is a nice surprise a little way further along.
Close to the waterfall were deep holes where round stones had gradually worn away the rock over the years.
This was a serene and beautiful place to stay. It would be difficult to say which is the nicest camping spot we have found so far.
Sometimes the nicest places are ones you hear about from fellow travelers. We were chatting with a couple of backpackers who mentioned Josephine Fall was worth a visit so we decided to take the detour and check it out.
This is the top pool at Josephine Falls. There must be huge volumes of water passing through this point during the wet season. I have never seen so many signs warning of danger, no swimming, strong currents, slippery rocks, etc. although it didn’t look too vicious the day we were there.
This is where the water from the top pool continues on it’s way downstream. Below this were huge boulders, which I imagine is where the danger would come in, if you were swept off your feet on the slippery rocks and sucked underneath when there was a huge current running.
Beside the stream was a cool place for this couple to escape the heat of the day.
This mossy stairway led up to….nothing at all. Well, not anymore. I am not sure what it’s original purpose would have been. It was at the far end of the pathway going up to the top pool of the waterfall.
Looking up the hill you can see how rocky the river bed is, and the large smooth rocks make for a very slippery surface.
This family were having a ball sliding down the mossy rock in the lower pool.