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Leaving the Purple Pub
Leaving the Purple Pub
On the way to Lawn Hill
Lawn Hill National Park

Normanton to Lawn Hill

Thursday, October 23, 2003
Ben is certainly king of the road, travelling in style through the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The Gulf of Carpentaria is shared by Queensland and the Northern Territory and is one of Australia's most remote parts. It is also the largest semi-enclosed body of water, lying within the tropical Indo-West Pacific region, a zone stretching from Africa's east coast to the islands and atolls of the western Pacific.

The Gulf lies entirely within the tropics, with a climate of high temperatures, 12 hours of daylight almost year-round and heavy, seasonal annual rainfall with monsoonal influence. Flood and drought are dominating features.

Our drive to Lawn Hill began in Normanton, which lies between the wetlands and savannah grasslands, home to many birds and animals. Experienced guides conduct tours. After the wet season the lakes near the town are home to jabirus, cranes and herons.

This is the Gulf's second-oldest town. In the goldrush days, it was well established, with a hospital, courthouse, two banks, its own newspaper, churches and schools. Many of the old buildings are still standing.

The old railway station was built over a century ago. The Gulflander leaves weekly for Croydon. The line has specially-designed sleepers to allow the train to cross even through heavy flooding. The station houses the local museum.

At the intersection of Burke Development Road is the Burke & Wills Roadhouse, considered the gateway to the Gulf. It is on the route taken by the ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills.

The roads leading in from the north and south are good, sealed stretches, but the road leading west is not quite as good. Some people opt to unhitch their caravans here and travel to Adels Grove and Lawn Hill by car.

The Roadhouse has all facilities, fuel and food. There is a licensed restaurant, bar and air-conditioned rooms, caravan park and powered and unpowered camping sites.

From the roadhouse, Gregory Downs is along 140km of sealed road with many river and creek crossings and waterholes. Gregory Downs is a small community on the banks of the beautiful Gregory River, one of Australia's best canoe courses. It has wide sandy banks and cool clear water, thanks to a limestone spring.

The Gulf savannah is dominated by thick, lush vegetation, remnants of an ancient rainforest which once covered the entire Gulf.

Stop to restock at the Billy Hanger before tackling the unsealed road to Adels Grove and Lawn Hill.

Adels Grove is a 32-hectare freehold property first surveyed in 1904. It is a popular destination for visitors to Lawn Hill, with indoor or permanent tent accommodation for 60 people, 51 campsites for tents or caravans and bush camping for up to 40.

The Lawn Hill National Park was officially opened in 1985 to protect the spectacular gorge system. It has 60-metre sandstone walls, crystal-clear green water which flows year round and is fringed with lush tropical vegetation of livistona palms, Leichhardt trees, paperbarks, gifs, pandanus and white cedar trees.

There are wallabies, wallaroos, bats, olivine python, fairy martins, water monitors, tortoises and much birdlife.

There are two areas open to view Aboriginal art, middens and tool factories.

Twenty marked pathways provide access to the more spectacular viewing areas around the gorge.


Queensland's Gulf of Carpentaria


Lawn Hill National Park entry is free.
Adels Grove camping in a permanent tent costs $70 per person. Dinner and breakfast is included.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Burke & Wills Roadhouse
Three Ways Normanton Beef Road
Via Julie Creek 4823
Ph: (07) 4742 5909,Fax: (07) 4742 5958

Adels Grove
Mt Isa 4825
Ph: (07) 4748 5502, Fax: (07) 4748 5600

Qantas: 13 13 13

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