Coming upon it out of Gulf Country dust, you might think Lawn Hill Gorge, in Boodjamulla National Park, a mirage. But there’s nothing illusory about this oasis of red sandstone gorge walls and forest-fringed green water and it’s a surprising bushwalking Queensland destination.
In the Waanyi Aboriginal people’s tradition, Boodjamulla, the Rainbow Serpent, created the gorge and its three waterholes will dry up should he leave. Mere mortals have a choice of seven walking tracks, three of which make up the 7km Upper Gorge Loop.
Meander about 3km through rocky country dotted with spinifex tussocks and striped white with snappy gums. Then climb onto the escarpment and follow a cliff line to a lookout 60m above the junction of the Middle and Upper gorges. Now it’s down to the water’s edge and along Middle Gorge, through pandanus and livistona palms – watch for purple-crowned fairy wrens and crimson finches – before geology forces you up again to two more jaw-dropping lookouts.
Back at camp you can cool off in the creek, safe from the estuarine crocodiles (salties) that inhabit many far north watercourses.