We had a hard time moving on from one camp to the next but it was really nice knowing there was more unexplored territory awaiting us.
Our journey was far from over and Adels Grove, only 10-kilometres from the Boodjamulla National Park, formerly known as Lawn Hill National Park, was our next destination.
Adels had been ravaged by fire only weeks before when, in the early hours of the morning of July 9 (2019) the main building at the popular tourist resort was destroyed. We were really not sure what to expect!
Situated in remote North West Queensland, Adels is about 340-kilometres north west of Mt Isa and 160-kilometres south west of Burketown with the Northern Territory border only 80-kilometres to the west.
This unique location in Queensland’s Gulf Savannah provides camping for those wanting a few more mod cons than the National Park down the road and of course it is a bit more costly… but Boodjamulla National Park, where we planned to camp, had been booked out months in advance.
At $40 a night for an unpowered site the facilities at Adels were quite basic with only 2 toilets in use and a couple of donkey showers and there were none of the luxuries of a shop, reception or a night out at the Albert Bar and Bristo.
But, we considered ourselves lucky to secure a site after the fire. They were only taking a limited numbers of campers with one condition… we had to be fully self-contained. For us that meant supplying our own drinking water as the tap water drawn from the creek was not suitable for for consumption because of high calcium levels!
There are 2 camping areas at Adels, ‘The Grove’ and the ‘Upper Level’, the later having powered and unpowered sites and generator sites… and a little bit more sun for our solar panels.
The campsites on the Upper Level are set among a few trees and defined by rock borders while ‘The Grove’ was a secluded camping area situated under a canopy of large Orange Bark Bloodwoods, White Ghost Gums and Livingston Palms close to Lawn Hill Creek… but considerably cooler than the Upper Level.
For those wanting a bit more luxury there are furnished echo tents, luxury rooms, boat cruises and guided tours into the National Park including Riversleigh Fossil ‘D’ Site. When up and running to its full capacity I should imagine Adels would be a mecca for those wanting more resort style camping.
The banks of Lawn Hill Creek were quite steep and the waters deep and covered in water lilies, but there were designated swimming areas that came complete with noodles and rubber tubes to hire for a small donation to the Flying Doctor Service. Canoes hire was also available.
For those a little more adventurous the grounds are well laid out with a few walking paths. One follows the waters edge under a canopy of lovely shady trees and palms while another, ‘The Nature Walk’ climbs to Lookout Hill and provides incredible panoramic views over Constance Range, Lawn Hill Gorge and Century Mine.
The bush surrounding the creek was alive with beautiful birds and apparently there were many reptiles we failed to see like the harmless freshwater Johnstone’s crocodile, a couple of turtle species and a variety of lizards and snakes including the harmless common green tree snake (a slender snake which is apparently a beautiful yellow-gold colour with a bluish head) that can sometimes be seen hanging around the amenities block waiting for a green tree frog for lunch.
Other creepy reptiles include the non-venomous 2-metre Arafura File Snake that I wouldn’t like to come across after dark and the Olive Python that grows up to 6-metres in length. This bloke likes to feed on warm blooded animals but after reading Linda Rowe’s book (Paradise Found – A Cape York Adventure) on her Cape York experiences, I wouldn’t like to meet him either! According to the literature, no one has been swallowed whole as yet, only partly according to Linda!
With our dry, barren Outback, lush tropical rainforests and beautiful beaches, Australia is a natural mecca for travellers… but with its beauty come dangerous (and sometimes deadly) creatures that also call it home and Adels is not without a few of those either.
There is the mildly venomous Macleay’s Water Snake with its rear fangs (although this snake is a little shy of humans)… but the most dangerous of all are the different species of Whip Snakes, Western Brown Snakes, Ingram’s Brown Snake and the very attractive Black Headed Python with its glossy black head and neck and creamy brown body with dark stripes… apparently a regular visitor to the campground!
Another to keep an eye out for was the Myall or Curl Snake who likes to roam the campground at night… so there were no late night loo trips for me!
While we are talking unwelcome guests… on the dangerous creatures list in this little piece of paradise are poisonous spiders, centipedes, scorpions and hairy caterpillars… and for those with allergies to mozzies and midgies, you can breathe a sigh of relief, we were told they are ‘not permitted’ during the dry season!
By now you might be thinking ‘Welcome to Australia’, the place where nearly every creature is ready and waiting to pounce, and it is a daunting prospect, but according to many studies, Australia is one of the safest places in the world to travel… and aside from a few huntsman, a snake or two and a couple of crocs (from a distance), we haven’t encountered any dangerous creatures up close and personal!
For those interested in the history of Adels Grove, it was originally gazetted as a ‘Miner’s Homestead Lease’ before forming part of the Carpentaria Minerals Province who have produced lead, silver and zinc since the late 1800s.
Today the ‘Century Zinc Mine’ is located only 12-kilometres due east of Adel’s Grove and on most nights we could see the reflected glow of the mine works in the sky and hear the occasional drone of heavy equipment.
Adels occupies and area of some 30 hectares (around 80 acres) and was first surveyed in 1904.
By 1930 the Adels Grove lease had been purchased by Albert de Lestang, a French Botanist (hence the name Adel using his initials), who was commissioned by the government of the day to experiment with the growing of tropical trees and fruits… but sadly, after many years of trying various varieties to see what would flourish, his Garden of Eden went up in smoke too!
He had in excess of 1,000 different species of trees and shrubs growing by 1939, many of which were imported from Africa, Asia and tropical America. It is said by those locals who knew Albert that it was a beautiful botanical garden like no other with a profusion of flowering bougainvillea and other exotic and native species thriving alongside the creek.
He built a complex that incorporated living quarters, a shop, a storeroom and an office using post and rail lean-tos and paperback roofing. Outside the post and rail fences were all painted white and hitching rails and stone lined pathways were incorporated in the natural surroundings!
Albert supplemented his income by selling fruit and vegetables and stores, clothing, collected seeds and plants. He advertised – repairs, blacksmithing, carpentry and saddlery and purchased, sold or exchanged horses and motor vehicles. He catered for every type of traveller.
Tragically, in the early 1950s Alberts dream was destroyed by fire when a blaze escaped from one of the small mining ventures nearby and he lost everything including the building complex, all his written records of plants and hybrids, his stores and a large percentage of his planted grove.
Albert was in his early 70s and shortly after he succumbed to a great depression and broken spirit, which eventually led to him being taken to a home in Charters Towers where he died in 1959 aged 75. He is buried in the cemetery there.
In the years since, the property has changed hands several times and today most of the remaining exotic shrubs and trees, in particular the fruit trees, have long since died due to lack of irrigation, more fires and termites and only a meagre few, including a few mango trees, remain today.
Over the next couple of days we packed up our rooftop tent and headed into the National Park to explore the many gorges before finding our way back to our camp at Adels each night.
We didn’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to discover the Milky Way or the Southern Cross out here… this Outack sky was certainly impressive!
Under the starry skies, we drifted off to sleep to the hypnotic sound of nature, dreaming of what awaited us the next day.
Just 10-kilometres down the road was another lush magical outback oasis hidden deep in Queensland’s Savannah Country.
Pack up your 4WD and come with us from one oasis to another!
Lawn Hill – Boodjamulla National Park was just another delightful find on our Aussie road trip.