Travelling in Far North Queensland is incredibly frustrating.
For a start, it’s hot. Really bloody hot. As a born and bred Taswegian, anything over 17C is not my happy place and for the last month the temperature has been edging uncomfortably close to 30C most days.
It’s perfect swimming weather. Except…
There are crocodiles. Everywhere. OK so not everywhere, but in almost all of the waterways in the Cape York Peninsula and Gulf Country. Aside from a dip in the beautiful Fruit Bat Falls (which I promise to share with you soon) and visiting the coast between Cairns and Cape Tribulation, I haven’t been able to get near the water without a little yellow sign warning me of the dangers of estuarine crocodiles.
Hot, sweaty and covered in red dust, driving past rivers and beaches knowing I can’t so much as dip a toe in for fear of losing it and perhaps the rest of me has been hard to take.
Maybe that’s why I found visiting Lawn Hill Gorge to be so spectacular.
Lawn Hill Gorge is in the Boodjamulla National Park, close to the Queensland and Northern Territory border. Cutting through the flat, dusty landscape is the Lawn Hill Creek, which winds its way through deep sandstone cliffs.
The sparkling emerald water is a refreshing sight after the long drive through the outback to get here, and better yet – it’s safe for swimming!
One of the main activities here is to canoe through the gorge. There are “harmless” freshwater crocodiles, but I was assured they are no threat whether you’re on or in the water.
You can only take the canoes upstream into the upper gorge area. The two gorges are separated by Indarri Waterfalls, where you can either tie up and go for a swim or carry your canoe along the path into the second gorge. Almost as an afterthought, the man at the canoe hire spot told me about the third gorge, which can be accessed by going around a fallen tree at the end of the second gorge and paddling over some small rapids. I decided to head into this and I’m so glad I did – it was the best part of the whole trip.
Near the end was a rocky back where we pulled up the canoes, had lunch and went for a swim. The water was warm, clear and so refreshing, although it’s high in calcium so my skin was very dry for the next couple of days.
The gorge is spring-fed and you can see the air bubbles floating up from the bottom. The water is surprisingly clear in some parts and there are lots of small fish who will pop up to say hello.
I took more than three hours travelling up and back and I didn’t spot one of those harmless crocs.
But here’s a look at what I did see.
Canoe hire at the Lawn Hill Gorge is offered by Adel’s Grove. The hire location is signposted at the Gorge car park. There are 1, 2 and 3-seater canoes available. You pay for two hours and then your fee is adjusted if you come back early or stay later. I hired a 1-seater kayak for $15 an hour. If it’s accessible, I recommend heading into the third gorge.
*Thanks Mum for the photos of me!