Untouched Lorella Springs – Off-limits 4WD paradise

Nanny's Retreat

One day, we decided it was time to visit the Northern Territory again, and while searching for a place to stay, we stumbled upon Lorella Springs Wilderness Park. The park is located a long distance away, about 2,900 km from Brisbane, but we were up for the adventure.

We planned to visit other interesting places on the way, such as Winton, Mount Isa, Lawn Hill National Park, and 7 Emu Station.

Although we only had four weeks, we were able to spend most of our time in Lawn Hill National Park and Lorella Springs Station, which was not bad.

On our way back from Lorella Springs, we planned to take a different route through the outback and explore other beautiful places in Queensland.

Hema - Northern Territory

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Preparations for a long road trip

Lorella Springs Wilderness Park is located in Northern Territory, near Limmen National Park, about 28 km off the Nathan River Road. It is a remote and isolated destination, so taking a 4WD vehicle and the right equipment is a must. However, it offers a fantastic opportunity for 4WD enthusiasts, fishers, and birdwatchers to enjoy the beautiful and pristine natural environment.

Preperation for Lorella Springs trip

The park covers over one million acres and has more than 600 km of 4WD tracks that lead to various attractions such as hot springs, waterfalls, gorges, and billabongs. Visitors can also go fishing in the park’s many waterways, including the Nathan River and the Limmen Bight River.

The park is also home to a diverse range of bird species, making it a popular spot for bird watching.

In addition to the standard things we carry all the time in the car we also took: additional 6th tyre, Maxtrax, fuel funnel, 2x diesel canisters, Instant Tent and Gazebo.

Shortly before the trip, we serviced our 4WD baby and off we went on a long trip.

On the way to Lorella Springs

The funny thing was that we actually planned to visit Flinders Ranges National Park, but shortly before the trip, we had to change our plans due to the unpredicted weather that swept through South Australia and Queensland.

Unpredicted weather in South Australia and Queensland

The cold wave brought heavy rain, winds, and very low temperatures, making it an uncomfortable time to visit. It was late September, so our decision turned out to be a wise one.

Later on, we found out that our friends who travelled to Adelaide had to stay mostly in their caravan with the heating on during the night, as it was raining continuously. We felt grateful for our change of plans, as it allowed us to avoid the unpleasant weather conditions and still have an enjoyable trip.

Travel Spiced Life

Don’t hesitate to change your plans if the weather prediction is bad.

We didn’t manage to escape the rain either. We left Brisbane early and drove through the rain, hoping that we would eventually drive out of the rain cloud that was hovering over the middle of Queensland.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. The weather remained miserable all the way to our first stop at Tambo Caravan Park. Thankfully, the rain stopped as we arrived, giving us enough time to set up our tent.

Since Kasha had already prepared dinner in the magic pot, we had some spare time in the evening.

Let’s drive 100km for breakfast

The next day we woke up in the rain. It was still drizzling and our tent was soaked. We decided to pack everything quickly and eat breakfast in the nearest place on the road.

We did not know, the nearest place we could eat something was a BP service station in Blackall, located 100 km away from Tambo.

To this day we laugh when we think about it.

In Tambo the rain stop and Nell was very happy
In Tambo, the rain stopped and Nell was very happy

Walkabout Creek Hotel (Crocodile Dundee Pub)

After breakfast in Blackall, we continued our drive and made a stop in Winton to stretch our legs.

In the early afternoon, we arrived at the famous Walkabout Creek Hotel, also known as the Crocodile Dundee Pub. This was the location where the blockbuster movie Crocodile Dundee, featuring Paul Hogan, was filmed in 1986.

Check what happened in Adels Grove (Lawn Hill Gorge) and how it is related to Crocodile Dundee.

Walkabout Creek Hotel - Crocodile Dundee Pub
Walkabout Creek Hotel – Crocodile Dundee Pub

The pub has a unique outback atmosphere, and you can even hold the famous knife and have a picture with it. They also sell a ‘Dundee Burger’ if you are hungry.

Outside, we spotted this awesome original truck from Crocodile Dundee – Never Never Safari Tours. However, we didn’t check whether it still operates.

We drove further, but unfortunately, the rain didn’t stop. We finally arrived at Mount Isa and decided to stay in a motel for the night. We hoped the next day would bring better weather.

Lawn Hill National Park and Riversleigh Fossils

Our first major stop was at Lawn Hill National Park, a beautiful place filled with outback attractions including canyoning, hiking, and swimming among freshwater crocodiles and archer fish.

It’s a real paradise, and we were excited to finally see it.

Lawn Hill National Park
Lawn Hill National Park

To get there, we took Barkly Highway and turned right at the 120 km mark onto a dirt road. The road had a few slippery creek crossings, so as a precaution, I immediately reduced the tire pressure to 30 psi knowing that the remaining road was a dirt track.

Travel Spiced Life

When driving on a dirt road for a long distance drop tyre pressure to 25 psi.

On the way to Lawn Hill Gorge, we did a few water crossings. They had a concrete base but they were very slippery.

Travel Spiced Life

The concrete bottom creek crossings are covered with green algae and they can be very slippery. Make sure you engage a low range gear and drive steadily without sudden acceleration or breaking.

Concrete slippery crossing on the way to Lawn Hill
Concrete slippery crossing on the way to Lawn Hill

We drove past the Riversleight Fossils area, but we had a guided tour booked for the next day.

We were very excited because the Riversleigh Fossil area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important fossil sites in the world. It is located near Lawn Hill National Park and is home to many ancient fossils of mammals, birds, and reptiles that once lived in the area.

Riversleigh Fossils
Riversleigh Fossils

We stayed for three amazing, activity-packed days in Lawn Hill National Park and regretted that we didn’t have more time to spend in this one-of-a-kind place.

The most unique feature of Lawn Hill Gorge is that you can swim in its deep, crystal clear waters while keeping a safe distance from freshwater crocodiles, go canyoning within the gorge’s towering walls, and hike through stunning scenery.

Read about our stay in Lawn Hill and get everything you need to know before your trip.

Hell’s Gate Roadhouse

After three days at Lawn Hill Gorge, we went north and soon turned left to join Savannah Way. There was around 450 km to get to our next stop, 7 Emu Station.

Savannah Way is an epic, two states and one territory road, that takes you from Cairns to Broome. There is a main route with alternative deviations with numerous attractions on the way including Undara Lava Tubes, Cobbold Gorge, Lawn Hill National Park, Limmen National Park, Mataranka, Katherine, Gibb River Road and many more.

The part of Savannah Way we drove was a red, bulldust, wide road with very little traffic. We spotted many road trains on the way and then the dust was impenetrable.

Passing roadtrains of Savannah Way
Passing roadtrains of Savannah Way

On the way, we stopped at Hell’s Gate Roadhouse and had a great lunch: burgers and toasts. 

It was the end of September and the AFL finals were taking place. I was keen to stay for a night and watch the final match, but we had already made arrangements with Frank Shadforth from 7 Emu Station.

So, after a short break, we drove further and we arrived at 7 Emu Station just before the sunset.

7 Emu Station

7 Emu Station is a privately owned cattle station by the Shadforth family. There are great camping shelters right on the top of the bank of Robinson River, where you can enjoy the sunsets and watch crocs floating in the water below.

Camping at Seven Emu Station
Camping at Seven Emu Station

Occasionally, the locals come and cast the net in the shallow waters and they are not scared of crocs. There is a saying that goes: “the locals are never taken by crocs”, but I don’t think it is true.

Read how to get to 7 Emu Station and what we learned from Frank Shadforth.


After two days at 7 Emu Station, we drove further and stopped at Borroloola to refuel. As it was a remote place, we used a fuel funnel with a water filter to avoid the risk of getting contaminated fuel, as we did during our around Australia trip.

A funny thing happened at the shop while paying for the fuel.

We had somehow forgotten to buy enough water in Mount Isa, and we thought we could stock up in Borroloola. When I asked the lady if I could buy the whole 30-can box of Pepsi, she looked at me skeptically with a nasty smile and said, “You can’t afford it!”

The thing was, they didn’t sell boxes, but rather individual cans for $2.50 each, which would indeed be very expensive. Instead, we bought some water and continued on to Lorella Springs, which was only 190 km away.

Travel Spiced Life

North of Booroloola, 42 km away, there is a great fishing place called King Ash Bay.

Lorella Springs Wilderness Park

I have to say that the final 28 km dirt road after the turnoff from Nathan River Road was highly corrugated. When we arrived, we noticed some men had a flat tire, but we were lucky this time.


Lorella Springs is a huge one-million-acre coastal wilderness sanctuary located on the edge of Limmen National Park (Lost City) in the Northern Territory and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

It is approximately 900 km south-east of Darwin and 130 km east of the Stuart Highway. The easiest way to get there is by a 4WD vehicle, as there are no sealed roads leading to the area. You can reach Lorella Springs by driving along the Carpentaria Highway and turning onto the unsealed Limmen Bight River Road, which leads to the Lorella Springs turnoff.

It is a privately-owned property by Rhett Walker and his family.

Lorella Springs offers historical sites, Aboriginal culture, caves, chasms, gorges, and Lost City rock formations.

Remoteness and destinations

One thing you must know about Lorella Springs is that it is not ideal for an overnight stop.

This is due to the fact that the place is remote and huge, with 48 attractions to visit. Whether it is a billabong, gorge, waterhole, or a walking trail, all destinations are dispersedly located across the whole property, with some distances reaching more than 100 km. To see the most famous spots, you need to stay at least 5 days.

Some tourists arrive at Lorella Springs and stay for even a month, as there is so much to explore and experience.

On the way to Lorella Springs
On the way to Lorella Springs

How to prepare for driving in Lorella Springs?

The rugged terrain and remote location of Lorella Springs make 4WD driving a challenging and potentially dangerous experience. The vast distances and difficult terrain can make it easy to get bogged or stranded in some places, so it is not recommended for the faint-hearted. For safety reasons, it is advised to travel in a convoy of at least two vehicles.

Get the additional equipment as suggested by the Lorella Springs website:

  • At least two spare tyres
  • Tools in case of a breakdown
  • GPS Navigator or compass
  • Food and water
  • UHF radio (channel 40)
  • Additional fuel canisters

Before venturing out to explore Lorella Springs, it is mandatory to obtain a permit from the reception and inform them of your intended route. The management recommends driving in low range gear (full 4WD mode) at all times and staying on designated tracks with a maximum speed of 40 km/hour.

There is a deep creek crossing located near the campground, which you must pass to access the northern tracks. It’s important to engage 4WD while crossing, as without it, you might get stuck.

According to the locals, most recoveries are required when tourists fail to engage 4WD.

Lorella Springs 4WD destinations

The entire 4000 square kilometres of land is largely dominated by the Costello and Yiyinti ranges. Unbelievably, there are 48 destinations to explore in this vast land, including waterfalls, rock and plunge pools, gorges, lakes, billabongs, creeks, and swamps.

What national park has so many destinations?

Also, there are countless water holes with safe swimming. Refer to Lorella springs Mud Map for the details about all destinations to explore. It is a really well-made map by Rhett Walker – the owner.

Download Lorella Springs Map

In addition, Lorella Springs is also a birdwatching paradise, with 182 different species of birds to observe. The property provides a separate page on their website where visitors can download the birdwatching checklist.

We have to say big thanks to Rhett and his family for the tremendous effort they have put into preparing the accommodation, tracks, camping grounds, and website so perfectly for tourists. Their hard work over many years, in the harsh climate of the region, has made Lorella Springs an unforgettable destination.

What did we see in Lorella Springs?

We stayed for four nights, giving us three full days to explore. Despite being a popular destination, there were only a few other people camping in the large campground.

Upon our arrival, Rhett warned us that September may not be the best time to visit, as many of the waterholes would be dried up and the tracks would be highly corrugated due to the hot temperatures.

Nevertheless, he provided us with detailed instructions and directions to the destinations that still had water and were suitable for swimming.

Rhett is a very passionate man and he really takes good care of his land, also sharing it with tourists and allowing them to enjoy the place.

We set a camp near the ‘donkey’ water system and amenities, right at the creek. We had a short walk to the reception and the hot springs. Perfect.

Travel Spiced Life

Visit Lorella Springs between May and July to take the best out of it.

What wildlife can be seen at Lorella Springs

Lorella Springs is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, crocodiles, snakes, and a variety of bird species. Freshwater crocodiles are a common sight in the area, particularly around waterholes and billabongs.

Lorella Hot Springs

The first thing we did after setting up our camp was to soak in the thermal springs, located just 100 meters from the reception.

After driving in the dusty roads, it was a nice change. The water was warm and crystal clear, although not very refreshing due to the temperature being over 30 degrees Celsius. Nonetheless, it was definitely a nice way to relax.

Nanny’s Retreat 19

The next day, we woke up early and drove 40 km to Nanny’s Retreat, a hidden gem nestled in a small narrow sandstone gorge.

The gorge is surrounded with a beautiful spring flowing through the cliffs, creating a tranquil and serene atmosphere. To get to the gorge, we took a 1 km walk, passing by some small caves and pandanus palms along the way.

The journey to Nanny’s Retreat was definitely worthwhile as we got to swim in the refreshing waters of the gorge, explore the surrounding cliffs, and just relax for an hour before heading back. It was a peaceful and rejuvenating experience.

Snapping Handbag Billabong

This billabong is located on the Little Rosie Track and is a permanent waterhole throughout the year. During the dry season, freshwater crocodiles migrate there from Little Rosie.

The billabong is surrounded by lush vegetation and is a great spot for birdwatching. Visitors can see a variety of bird species such as magpie geese, egrets, ibises, and more.

Travel Spiced Life

In some billabongs, you find a small boat that you can use to explore the billabong for free. Make sure you leave it in the same spot when you finish.

Snapping Handbag Billabong
Snapping Handbag Billabong

Gateway Gorge

We continued our journey to Gateway Gorge, which is a paradise for walking, climbing, and canyoning enthusiasts. There is a trail that leads to the top of the gorge, which towers 200 meters high, offering breathtaking views of the chasms, gorges, and escarpments.

Despite the scorching heat and dry conditions, we made it to the top and the panoramic view was well worth the effort. We hope to return to this incredible destination again someday.

Gateway Gorge was dried out
Gateway Gorge was dried out

Eagle’s Nest Billabong

This billabong was our every evening visit for birdwatching. It was always quiet and we took many great bird photos.

Eagle's Nest Billabong
Eagle’s Nest Billabong


The waterslide is one of the main attractions in Lorella, but only if the water is flowing. As you see at the end of September this place was dry too.

Waterslide was dry too
Waterslide was dry too

Musterers Cave

This cave was one of the highlights of our drive. Inside, we found numerous Aboriginal paintings and a fantastic view of the valley. We also heard that there is a good chance of spotting ghost bats, snakes, wallabies, or dingoes.

The Arch

Next, we drove to The Arch. It is an overhanging arch rock formation with spectacular colours – a perfect place to take a family photo.

On the way to The Arch
On the way to The Arch
The Arch
The Arch

Billy’s Camp

The final stop of the day was Billy’s Camp – the remains of the original Lorella Spring Homestead. According to the story, Billy was a loner who lived there for years and occasionally pushed his wheelbarrow to the main road to hitch a ride to town to get supplies.

Unfortunately, time and plunderers have taken their toll on the site, leaving not much behind.

Billy's Camp
Billy’s Camp

Our Trip to Lorella Springs – Map

Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – Summary

Lorella Springs is a stunning and secluded destination that is expertly prepared for tourists by its owners. The detailed tracks, walks, and maps are well-suited for the area’s remoteness and isolation from the rest of Australia.

The campground is expansive and features hot springs, making it an ideal place to unwind after a day of exploration.

I wish we had had more time and we arrived earlier, before the end of July, to enjoy it more during cooler temperatures.

Have you had the opportunity to visit Lorella Springs?

If so, we’d love to hear about your experience! Drop a comment below and let us know what you thought of this beautiful and remote destination.

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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

Read more from our travel guides

Are you planning a trip to Northern Territory? – Read our comprehensive travel guide

Are you planning a trip to Western Australia? – Read about everything you need to know

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