How to do Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
If you’ve never heard of Lawn Hill National Park, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
That was until Crocodile Dundee came to town in the 2018 Tourism Australia Super Bowl ad and showed it off to millions across the globe.
After seeing its red sandstone walls that drop strikingly into emerald green waters, it’s no surprise 40,000 people are packing their bags and hitting the road 540km north-west of Mount Isa to see this national park each year.
Don your khaki and hiking boots and make like Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride for your own outback adventure at Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park (pssst – freshwater crocodiles are the only kind included for your Dundee adventure).
What’s so special about Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park?
If your type of holiday is 4WD-only, phone reception-free and off-the-beaten-track, look no further than the 28,200 hectares of Boodjamulla National Park.
This dense forest oasis in Outback Queensland is no mirage, bucking the outback red dirt trend with its windy water course which gives it its name ‘Boodjamulla’, meaning Rainbow Serpent Country in the local indigenous language.
As if postcard-worthy views weren’t attraction enough, the finer details of this national park prove to be just as special.
Deep within the national park, you’ll find a fossil deposit – the Riversleigh World Heritage Site – so impressive, David Attenborough himself labelled it one of the top four most important deposits in the world.
Across 10,000 hectares of the southern section of the national park, you’ll find fossils dating back 15-25 million years, representing the evolution of Australian mammals with evidence of feather-tailed possums, sharp-toothed kangaroos, and marsupial lions.
With the kind of natural history worthy of its own museum, we’d recommend exploring the national park with a guide (Adels Grove and Savannah Guides have you covered), whether it be a 50-minute cruise or a 4-day long adventure.
The trails of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
While this national park might be known for water, bring your hiking boots because you’ll need ’em to get your aqua fix.
Seven walking trails ranging from 600m to 7km take you along the length of Lawn Hill Gorge, and although these return walks might seem short, the only thing sweet about them is the views you’ll find along the way.
Brace your buns for steep, hilly cliffside tracks – our pick is also the longest, 3.5km (one way) towards Upper Gorge, with views back down the entire canal.
If you’re looking for a day of hiking, base yourself at the Lawn Hill Campgrounds because five of the seven tracks begin there and the other two split off from the Duwadarri Lookout trail.
Of course, walking isn’t the only way to explore this national park. Take to the water and canoe (available for hire at the Lawn Hill Campgrounds) to Middle Gorge, Indarri Falls, or Upper Gorge.
The flora and fauna of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
At Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park you’ll be treated to the animal version of acapella, with a choir of 200 species of birds.
Forget your headphones for your morning walk, if it’s not the birds chirping you’ll hear the other 1000 animals who live in the park starting their daily routine too.
Lawn Hill Gorge itself has over 20 species of fish, 12 species of frogs, 3 species of turtles, and Australian freshwater crocodiles to boot (the non-man-eating kind).
Animal spotting won’t be the only thing on your Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park bucket list though, with over 800 species of flora across the park to spot too.
Best photo spots in Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
Like the ageless Cindy Crawford, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park’s modelling days are far from over – not bad for a park that’s over 100 million years old.
Bring your camera (and underwater housing if you own it) because the best shot is at water level. Paddle your way to the middle of the gorge, to capture what makes this gorge so, well, GORGEous.
If you prefer to keep your camera on dry land, take to one of the walking tracks to capture Lawn Hill Gorge from the lookouts from Lower to Upper Gorge.
Of course, if you’ve got a drone handy, this national park is best seen from above.
Where to stay in Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
There’s no such thing as a room without a view at the three accommodation options across this national park.
If you’re a regular camper, you’ll find the first two deep within the national park. Sleep on the edge of the gorge at the Lawn Hill Campgrounds (4km into the national park), or venture south to stay at the Miyumba Campgrounds, only 3.5km from the Riversleigh Fossil site.
If you prefer to camp with a flushing toilet and hot shower, one of Lawn Hill’s 20 sites (16 camper trailer sites and four tent-only sites) is where you should drop your tent pegs. Or, book into one of the cabins at Adels Grove, the only private accommodation near the national park (10km from Lawn Hill). It’s got all the outback comforts – air-conditioning, a fridge, and an ensuite – perfect after a long day exploring the national park.
Want the best of both worlds? Adels Grove also has campsites and pre-erected tents if you prefer to stay amongst nature but near supplies (read: snacks).
Local tips and tricks
Like anywhere in Outback Queensland, it’s 99% preparation 1% perspiration and Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park is no different.
Although, side note, in summer the temps soar well over the 40 degree-celsius mark so the perspiration count will rise.
It’s a nine-hour journey north-west from Mount Isa (along both sealed and unsealed roads), so you’ll need a 4WD for this adventure and all your offroad essentials like spare tyres, extra snacks, water, and a UHF radio.
Before you load up the jerry cans and prepare for the wilderness – you don’t need to panic about fuel, you can fill up at Adels Grove.
Discover more with these guides:
- Hailing from Cairns? Hit the road along the Savannah Way for a 6-day journey taking you towards Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
- Taking off from Townsville? Take the Overlander’s Way
- Top and tail your Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park adventure with this local’s guide to Mount Isa
- Discover more national parks you’ve never heard of with this guide
- Not much of a camper? This guide to roughing it is for you
- Love Outback Queensland? Extend your stay with these 100 things to do