Lawn Hill National Park lies on ancient sandstone of the Constance Range, between the Barkly Tablelands to the south-west and the black soils of the Gulf Savanna Plains to the east. Lawn Hill Creek and the Gregory and OShanassy rivers flow all year round, providing a stark contrast to the dry, parched landscape during the dry season.
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By road, Boodjamulla is 207 km from the Barkly Highway, via Riversleigh. Only the first 57 km of this route is sealed. The park can also be reached via Gregory Downs on 100 km unsealed road.Access from the north is via various unsealed routes through Hell’s Gate or Doomadgee.
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Lawn Hill Gorge is formed by Lawn Hill Creek, which is fed by numerous freshwater springs from the limestone plateau to the west. The magnitude of the sandstone cliffs lining the gorge, its emerald waters and lush vegetation make it a visual splendor, a true oasis hidden in rugged outback.
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The camping area is on the bank of Lawn Hill Creek and has 20 sites, toilets and cold showers. Pre-paid booking is essential for March to October. For the rest of the year campers are encouraged to book online or by phone, however last minute bookings can be made, and camping fees can be paid, at Adels Grove prior to arriving at the park, subject to site availability and wet season closures. Camping permits are not available at the national park.
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Aboriginal occupation at Lawn Hill dates back at least 17,000 years and may extend beyond 30,000 years, possibly the longest continual occupation of an area in Australia. The Aboriginal Traditional Owners, the Waanyi people, know this country as Boodjamulla or the Rainbow Serpent country. According to the Waanyi people, Boodjamulla, the Rainbow Serpent, formed the Lawn Hill Gorge area and created the permanent spring water.
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The Waanyi people were hunters and gatherers. Men hunted while the women and children gathered edible plants. Boomerangs and spears were used for hunting while grass-woven nets were used for catching fish. Boodjamulla country provided plenty of food for the Waanyi people. Their staple diet consisted of fish, turtle, kangaroo and goanna and was supplemented with berries, mussels, pandanus fruit, wild banana and cabbage palms cores.
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The gorge is home to animals that live there year-round and others that visit seasonally. It is an important corridor for migrating birds. The park has similar habitats to those of the NT Top End and forms the extreme eastern limit of animals such as the rock ringtail possum, purple-crowned fairy-wren and sandstone shrike-thrush.Olive pythons, ring-tailed dragons are commonly seen along with the arm waving Gilbert’s dragon, also known as the ta ta lizard.
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Two turtles, the northern snapping turtle and Worrell’s short necked turtle, can be seen amongst the vegetation lining the creek. The gulf snapping turtle, was first described in 1994 from a fossil discovered at Riversleigh. For several years it was thought to be extinct, until a living turtle, matching the fossil, was caught in Lawn Hill Creek. This turtle is first living fossil and largest freshwater turtle in Australia.
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Wet riverine forest occurs along Lawn Hill Creek and the Gregory River. Plants there include pandanus, cluster figs, Leichhardt trees, ghost gums, cabbage palms, large paperbarks and the yellow flowering Kapok Tree . Within the river and creeks water lilies, ferns, mosses, sedges and bulrushes flourish.
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