Camping at Lawn Hill National Park
Camping at Lawn Hill National Park (also known as Boodjamulla National Park) is something you shouldn't miss if you're traveling through the Top End of Australia.
This area is home to the Waanyi people, who know it as Boodjamulla, or Rainbow Serpent country. The park was part of Lawn Hill Station until December 1984, when the owner released 122 square kilometres (47 sq mi) to the state, on the condition it be managed for the public's benefit.
The road out to Lawn Hill NP from Gregory Downs is hot and dry and seems a lot longer than the 1.5 hours claimed by Google Maps. But once you arrive at this desert oasis, you'll be willing to do it all over again! See our impressions of Lawn Hill Gorge (and why it's worth the drive!) in the video below.
A Desert Oasis
After brushing off the dust from our drive and setting up camp, we walked just 30 metres away to the nearest stairwell leading down into the gorge. The orange and red hues of the desert turned to cool water and quiet jungle, a bit of pure bliss.
We ran back to the ute to blow up our floaties with the air compressor. Our hot tip for traveling through the Top End? Always keep a few $10 Kmart floaties on hand!
The red cliffs in the distance beckoning, I had a lady told me I probably wouldn't make it all the way down there in my "craft"....
Bring it on! Just kidding, we took the inflatable kayak. To see waterfalls, red cliffs, and more imagery from the gorge, watch our video at the top of this post.
If you paddle all the way to the end of the gorge, there are pretty trickling waterfalls and some platforms to tie up your watercraft if you feel like going for a swim. Boats can be rented from Adels Grove, but if you can, bring your own kayak, canoe, or paddle board and hang out in the water all day.
Be warned that there are freshies (freshwater crocodiles) here, although the ones we saw were pretty small. They are usually non-aggressive, but still best to be aware and avoid them.
Guide to Camping at Lawn Hill National Park
Getting here - The Lawn Hill Gorge section of the park can be accessed from the south via Mount Isa or Camooweal, from the east via Gregory Downs, or from the north. We camped at Gregory River (AMAZING free camp, definitely stop for a night if you can) the night before to get the lowdown on the road out to the park.
The road condition depends who you ask. People towing huge caravans will tell you it's the worst road they've ever done, while people just driving out for the day say it's fine. The road is mostly unsealed and does have some big potholes, but for the most part it's manageable until you get past Adels Grove. The last 10 minutes of the drive have some pretty bad corrugations, and large rocks you definitely want to avoid. We didn't have any issues, but our rig is designed to go off-road. Do make sure you lower your tyre pressure by 20% to avoid blowing a tyre on the drive.
If you're driving through to the national park, Adels Grove has petrol (limited to 20 litres per customer) and a limited range of food and drinks.
Camping - There are 2 options for camping in the gorge:
Lawn Hill National Park campground - about $7 per person, per night
Adels Grove Station - $20 per person, per night
The national parks campground here is notoriously hard to get into. We were only able to book one night, yet on the night we stayed, half of the sites were empty. We can only assume the no-shows just didn't bother to cancel their bookings, which really is a shame. There are tent sites as well as camper trailer sites, and we had no problem finding one big enough for the rig. There are only a few spots with shade, on the far end near the river, so make sure you're prepared for the heat. We popped up our gazebo to have some cover.
The campground has flush toilets, showers, and water spigots, although it's suggested that you boil before drinking. The gorge is less than a minute's walk from the camping sites, so it's easy to spend all day in the water.
Don't miss camping at Lawn Hill National Park! Comment below with any questions.
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