But, as we recently discovered on our Savannah Way road trip, Tropical North Queensland offers a lot of magic when you head inland too.
One of those places is a quiet, untouched magical kingdom that could easily be the setting of the next Disney fairy movie.
Boodjamulla National Park and Lawn Hill Gorge
It’s an emerald green oasis in a semi-arid land. It’s Queensland Outback wilderness that thrives with wildlife. It’s the off-the-beaten path experience you crave for.
Boodjamulla National Park, otherwise known as Lawn Hill, is one of last places to visit before you hit the Northern Territory border. Driving in involves a couple of unsealed roads, which is accessible to any vehicle (depending on seasonal conditions) and offers stunning scenery and an adventurous respite.
Lawn Hill Gorge, at the north of the park, is the biggest and most spectacular attraction with its sandstone cliffs, emerald green river, and lush vegetation. Further south is the famous World Heritage-listed Riversleigh fossil fields.
Lawn Hill Gorge walks
There are plenty of walks in the Lawn Hill Gorge ranging from easy to difficult. Well, we did the difficult trail to Indarri Falls and upper-gorge with the girls and I’d class it moderate.
I’d spend at least two days exploring the walks. One day going on the western side (or middle or upper gorge) of Lawn Hill Gorge side of the park and the next the eastern side (lower gorge). We missed this side unfortunately.
The Upper Gorge Lookout and Indarri Falls Walk
The Upper Gorge lookout walk in Boodjamulla is 7km and took us about three hours. That’s with two girls and lots of photo stops.
It starts off down by the river from the campsite and follows the creek for awhile before heading a little inland. Follow the trail until you reach Indarri falls lookout and then walk down into the prettiest part of the Gorge to Indarri Falls.
Indarri Falls separates the middle from the Upper Gorge and is just stunning. Stop for lots of photos, a swim and a snack break.
Then walk along the river until the end of the track. From here go up the top of the escarpment to the Upper Gorge lookout for amazing views of the gorge and river below.
Mwah! Just divine.
The other option is to go just to Indarri Falls and then return back along the escarpment passing through Duwadarri Lookout and down the steep cliffs. Doing it in this direction will save you some steep climbing.
Canoeing in Lawn Hill Gorge
In the afternoon, we met up with our friends from The Block Shop and hired canoes from the Adels Grove crew to enjoy a bit of time paddling through the gorge.
We highly recommend experiencing the gorge in this way. Palm trees lining the river bank and the lush vegetation makes it hard to believe you in semi-arid land.
The Block Shoppers and ourselves had a shocker in arriving with uncharged GoPros, but luckily I accidentally left my phone in our bag. Thankfully it didn’t fall overboard, and it helped us get some photos. But excuse the smartphone quality.
At Indarri Falls, you have to take the canoe out of the water and carry it 50 metres to get to the second gorge, but it’s worth doing. The second gorge leads down a small creek with overhanging trees and a beach in the middle of the river and to the end where two small waterfalls meet.
We stopped at Indarri on the way back for a swim. Big fish came up to swim with us, but no freshies. The water is so clear and refreshing. There’s a small spa pool just behind the waterfall that’s worth swimming over to for a little relax.
Did I mention there are freshwater crocodiles in this river? I absolutely adore freshwater crocodiles. They have these sharp teeth and a monstrous facade due to their animal classification, but really they are shy and gentle and will leave you alone.
Just under no circumstance should you EVER, and I mean EVER do the same with saltwater crocodiles. Don’t even stand on the riverbank. And I am serious!
See why I love freshies so much they let you swim with them? How cool!
Camping at Boodjamulla
You can camp at Boodjamulla National Park ($5.75 per person), but it’s best to book ahead. We were lucky that someone had cancelled and just snuck in. There is a swimming area perfect for kids just a short walk down to the river.
About 10km out of the national park is the popular Adels Grove for those wanting a little more civilisation. You have the option of camping or enjoying dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation in either furnished river tents or rooms.
There’s a two-course meal on each evening at Adel’s and a buffet breakfast. There’s also a gorgeous swimming hole and creek at Adels. The kids will love grabbing a tube and floating on by.
Camping starts at $34 and Dinner, bed and breakfast packages start at $270
There’s also a short 1km walk to a lookout, which is a spectacular view of the escarpment overlooking the valley. It’s also a spot to get connected to the internet. Yes. We took the walk at sunset with the girls and our computers. We were on deadline and had to get a few things done.
Our friends at the Block Shop met us up there with his phone to male some important calls It’s so lovely travelling with other digital nomads to share each others’ pain and perfectly understand the crazy stuff you have to do to do your job.
Getting to Boodjamulla National Park
Starting from Cairns on the east coast, we drove 1,786km along the Savannah Way to Normanton, then headed south-west to Gregory Downs, then east to Boodjamulla.
This post is part of our partnership with Tropical North Queensland tourism. For more information on driving the Savannah Way and other drives in Tropical North Queensland visit DriveNorthQueensland.com.au