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Lawn Hill National Park. (17 January 2011)
contributed by DerrickJessop
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After being delayed a few times by the wet, we finally made it to Lawn Hill National Park, and it was well worth the effort.
After travelling through great swathes of savannah grassland and scrub we arrived at Adels Grove and set up camp before going on to the park.
In 2001 the fascilities were satill being developed but that didn't hinder our exloration which we began be walking along the upper cliffs.
The gorge is formed by the Lawn Hill Creek which rises in the Northern Territory and continues on to the Gulf of Carpentaria, North of Burketown.
It is fresh water, although mineralised and completely safe to swim in. The broad expance of the middle gorge ends up stream at a tufa dam that stretches across the width of the gorge.
Above the dam the water is edged by dense cycads, palms and thick undergrowth and disappears in a thick conglomeration of bushes, tree trunks, vines and undergrowth.
There are other walks around the gorges, one of which leads under the cliffs to a rock face with rock art of a rainbow, faded but discernable.
The cliffs are a deep red and look as if they have been formed out of red mud. They are not shattered, but are rounded with river stones interspersed.
The way to appreciate the gorge is by canoe. Canoeing is quite safe as thewater is calm and there are no 'nasties' in the water. After canoeing between the high gorge cliffs the tufa dam appears around the bend.
The dam is about 2 metres high and has been created by tree trunks and debris caught across the gorge and slowly covered by calcite and minerals from the water. These tufa dams appear in many places in the North of Australia.
It is possible to canoe quite safely right up to the overflow and it is possible to see clearly how the dam has been formed.
It is easy to manoeuvre a canoe over the dam and continue on in the upper gorge.
The lower end of middle gorge divides around an 'Island Stack', a large high rise block of rock. On our visit the water flowed only around one side, but floods open up the other channel so making an island.
Down the cascades can be seen perfect examples of the calcite that covers the tree trunks and debris. One sample clearly shows where the tree trunk has rotted away leaving a tube through the mineral.
From on top of the relatively flat Island Stack a great view of the end of the lower gorge can be seen. The gorge gives way to open savannah land and Lawn Hill Creek disappears in the distance.
All in all , Lawn Hill National Park, and especially its gorge is a wonderful oasis in a dry barren land.
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the Nature Conservation Reserve 'Lawn Hill National Park'.
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