Newcastle to Lawn Hill Gorge & Back

Newcastle to Lawn Hill Gorge & Back thumbnail Newcastle to Lawn Hill Gorge & Back thumbnail Newcastle to Lawn Hill Gorge & Back thumbnail Newcastle to Lawn Hill Gorge & Back thumbnail Newcastle to Lawn Hill Gorge & Back thumbnail

Having listened for many years to travel stories from my parents who were caravaners my head is full of Australian place names that I want to explore for myself. In recent years with Bert working at Australian Motorhomes we have had the opportunity to start and tick off some of these amazing places.

In June this year we headed off in a Winnebago Leisure Seeker 24ft long with friends along in a Nissan Navara towing a 25' Travelhome , our aim, to see Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park. Leaving from Newcastle we made Narrabri our first overnight stop taking a couple of days to visit Mt Kaputar National Park and the Australia Telescope before heading to Bourke via Walgett and Brewarrina. None of us had visited Bourke before so we were looking forward to a camp ground campfire dinner and seeing the Darling River. The campfire didn't disappoint and our paddle boat trip on the Darling and the North Bourke Bridge were highlights.

From Bourke we crossed the border into Queensland at Barringun and went on to Cunnamulla and Charleville finding some great river side free camps on the way. All the small towns in this area have their own unique attractions, Ant Park in Augathella, teddies in Tambo and a swim in the heated Olympic pool in Blackall. The Australian Workers Heritage Centre in Barcaldine is a must , make sure you allow yourself plenty of time though. In Longreach while our friends visited the Stockman's Hall of Fame we had a drive around town, found Lilly Lagoon and a rather busy free camp by the river. A sunset river cruise and another dinner under the stars completed our visit.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs outside of Winton gives public access to the laboratory working on the dinosaur remains found in the local area. The laboratory and museum are located on a plateau with plenty of parking space accessed by a well maintained and wide gravel road. There is also space available for those towing 5th wheelers or caravans to unhook and leave them at the base of the plateau.

Cloncurry was our last major town on route to Lawn Hill, the free camp at Corrella Dam outside of town offers water views and lots of flat parking. Don't be put off by the gate, it really isn't locked. After toping up with water, fuel and food we took the Burke Development Road North to Burke and Wills Roadhouse before turning left to head for Gregory Downs, so far all good sealed roads. Gregory Downs has a good free camp area on the right as you turn towards Adels Grove, the original camp area below the old bridge over the river was busy despite no camping signs. Don't let the "Gravel Road Next 80 km" sign put you off, the first stage of the road is maintained by the local mine and was in good condition, sections further on can be rough and corrugated , we phoned the office at Adels before setting out from Gregory Downs to check on road conditions. I would recommend having a booking at Adels Grove or at the National Park before heading out, it's a long way back if you cannot get accommodation. This trip could take you 1 hour or 2 or anywhere between depending on how you like to travel. Our vehicles had no trouble making the trip.

We chose to stay at Adels Grove , "The Grove" camp area along the banks of the Lawn Hill Creek is a shaded area where camp fires are permitted and great swimming is at your door. In addition the "Top Campground" offers a bush setting ,caters for generators and is pet friendly. Most sites have water available and inpidual fireplaces. Amenities were good , hot showers, disabled facilities and coin operated laundry. Mobile phone service (Telstra) is available if you take a short walk up a local hill, the walk is well worth it to take in the sunset. Fuel, and emergency mechanical and tyre repairs are available ,a small shop stocking basic supplies and a restaurant are also on site. The deck overlooking Lawn Hill Creek is a good spot to relax and exchange travel and hiking stories over a cool drink or a coffee. Our first priority after setting up camp was a swim.

Lawn Hill Gorge is 10km by road from Adels Grove , pack a water bottle, the camera, hiking shoes and hats, the National Park provides a multitude of walking options. We did the loop walk , the views were amazing from Indarri Falls to the Upper Gorge and the lookouts along the way and the picturesque creek edge walk. Wild Dog Dreaming and the Lower Gorge lookout gave us another perspective on the gorge and the history of the area including some ancient rock art. National Parks provide great advice on how to approach the walks, distances, times and degree of difficulty are well documented. A canoe trip up the gorges was a must do that I remembered from Mum and Dad's travels. Having seen the view from above the day before we hired our canoes and headed out, being at water level and looking up at the 60 metre sandstone cliffs was amazing as was paddling alongside Indarri Falls. A landing is provided at the falls if you want to have a break or jump in for a swim or there is a portage that allowed us to take the canoes through to the next section of the gorge. We paddled as far as the water level allowed to where we could see the water flowing out of the ground and into the gorge. The return trip was equally beautiful giving the opportunity to see things from a different angle.

Allowing plenty of time for your stay in this oasis is my best advice, we had 3 days and have much more to go back to do.

Written by Carol van Leeuwarden (The better half!)

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