Important Note: Due to extensive flood damage in the 2022/23 wet season, Boodjamulla National Park is closed until the end of 2023
Do you want to visit Boodjamulla National Park? Are you struggling to find much information about this hidden gem? We’ve been on the road travelling Australia for over two years now, and this is one of our favourite National Parks we’ve ever visited!
We spent five nights in the park and now we want to share our love for this place. If you’re on a road trip in Australia, don’t miss this hidden gem.
Boodjamulla (formerly known as Lawn Hill) National Park is one of those places you may not have heard of. We certainly hadn’t! In fact, when we were in this part of the country on our outback Queensland road trip in 2021 we didn’t even know it existed. The park is located in remote north-western Queensland, to the north of Mount Isa.
Once we heard about this park, started to see pictures, and began to do some research, we just knew it was somewhere we had to visit. With plenty of opportunities for adventures like hiking and canoeing, along with beautiful scenery, this National Park has something for everyone.
If you’d like to watch our full video on Boodjamulla Lawn Hill, click HERE
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When to visit Boodjamulla National Park
Due to Monsoonal conditions in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the entire national park is often closed temporarily during the wet season (November to April). At the time of writing (Feb 2023) the park is closed until early March, when conditions will be reviewed.
The best time to visit is in the winter months May to October, as it will be much cooler and dryer then.
Boodjamulla National Park is definitely not the easiest place to get to, maybe that’s part of it’s charm.
There are two main access points to the park: from the east, via Gregory Downs, and from the south, via the Savannah Way, turning off between Mt Isa and Camooweal. The road from the east is around 50km of dirt, and when we visited the condition was not too bad.
We drove out via the southern access, and this road was quite corrugated, along with a couple of water crossings. Although there were roadworks along a lot of the way, it was a nasty, rough drive.
The last few kilometres from the park entrance to the campsite/day use area are actually the worst. We did see a number of 2wd vehicles in the campsite so if you’re not driving a 4×4 you should be fine.
Where to stay in Boodjamulla
The National Park campsite books out very quickly – so you’ll need to book in advance. We delayed our departure to the NT in order to visit this park. School holidays are obviously very popular times.
The individual campsites are not numbered and there are several sections. We booked in the tent section as that was the only section available, and we were able to park our van into one of the sites no problem.
The facilities in the campsite include flush toilets, cold showers and large laundry tubs. There are water taps throughout the park and while the water is treated, its still not recommended for drinking. The water comes directly from the gorge, and is heavy in calcium.
One of our favourite things about this park campsite is that once you arrive, you can just park up and enjoy. No need to drive! Everything is just a walk away.
There is a small Telstra tower in the National Park campsite which struggles to keep up with all the traffic. I can report that it works really well around 4am!
There is also accommodation available at Adels Grove, which is around 25km from the park. Adels has unpowered campsites, and cabins both with and without ensuite. At the time of writing, Adels is closed for the wet season and will re-open in April 2023. There is no pricing for cabins on their website, but camping was $22 per person in 2022.
There is a small shop, fuel station and a bar at Adels, along with the canoe hire for Lawn Hill Gorge.
Highlights of Boodjamulla National Park
The big drawcard in the park is Lawn Hill Gorge. The Waanyi people believe that the gorge was created by Boodjamulla, the rainbow serpent, who provides the water. The beautiful blue of the gorge is caused by the presence of calcium in the water. There are several spots to swim in the gorge, despite the presence of freshwater crocodiles (we didn’t see any crocs while we were there).
Hiking at Lawn Hill Gorge
There are several hikes within the gorge, from the easy walk along the gorge, to the full 9km gorge rim walk. Spending several days here, we managed to do almost all the hikes.
The highlight was the Gorge Rim walk, this is a 9km walk which visits several lookouts and has a swimming opportunity at Indarri falls. We wrote a detailed blog post about this hike which you can read HERE.
The real beauty of hiking at Boodjamulla is there is something for everyone – whether you’re an avid hiker, or prefer to take a short hike on a paved path, this is your spot.
This is only a small waterfall, but very popular. There is a spot to tie up your canoe if you paddle there, or its only about an hour’s walk from the campsite. You can swim in the river near the waterfall.
There is a small “spa pool” underneath the waterfall which we really enjoyed. However, there is a resident freshwater crocodile who inhabits this area, and the pool does get closed from time to time. We were lucky and it was open when we visited (and even luckier that we didn’t spot the croc!)
Canoeing in Lawn Hill Gorge
Boodjamulla is a paddler’s paradise! There are several gorges and only short porterages if you chose to move between the gorges.
We met many people with their own canoes or kayaks, and we were rather envious!
There are canoes for rent here, the canoes are owned and hired out by Adels Grove. Canoes are hired out on a 2 hour time slot, so, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm.
While the canoes are at the gorge, the paddles are based at Adels Grove. So you will need to drive the 25km to Adels Grove to pay for your canoe, and collect the paddles. This system actually changed the day we went canoeing and they had someone at the gorge. Check with Adels or the park rangers before you go.
Our canoeing experience was so beautiful and peaceful. We marvelled at how nature (or the rainbow serpent!) had created this perfect, picturesque landscape.
Two hours might seem like a long time to be paddling but it’s really only just long enough to see the full gorge system.
About half way you’ll reach the Indarri Falls. There is a deck here to tie up your canoe if you want to have a swim. Alternatively, you can porter your canoe up and into the second gorge. We found this exciting, as there are a couple of small passages to get through, dodging rocks in the river, and overhanging trees.
Eventually you will come to a point where you can’t get any further. Simply turn around and go back the way you came. You can perhaps allow a bit less time on the return journey as you’ll be paddling with the current.
Aboriginal History and Culture
The indigenous Waanyi people believe that the gorge was created by Boodjamulla, the rainbow serpent. They are very mindful to not upset the spirit of Boodjamulla, in case he takes the water away. There is evidence of human habitation around the gorge dating back at least 17,000 and maybe 30,000 years, making it one of the longest continually occupied areas in Australia.
You can learn more about the Aboriginal history and culture in the area on large information boards at the visitor centre in the park, or visit the park website. You can also hike along the Wild Dog Dreaming track and see some significant cultural sites.
Want to know more?
Click HERE to watch our full YouTube episode on Boodjamulla National Park.