Untouched Lorella Springs – Off-limits 4WD paradise

Nanny's Retreat

One day we thought it was time to visit Northern Territory again and while looking for a place to stay, we discovered Lorella Springs Wilderness Park. The park is located far, 2900 km from Brisbane, but we were ready for the adventure. 

We planned to see some other interesting places on the way like Winton, Mount Isa, Lawn Hill National Park and 7 Emu Station. 

We had ‘only’ four weeks with most days staying in Lawn Hill National Park and Lorella Springs, but four weeks is better than nothing.

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

Preparations for a long road trip

Lorella Springs is located far in Northern Territory, near Limmen National Park, 28 km right off the Nathan River Road.

The park is a 4WD, fishing and birdwatching heaven but it is remote, so taking a 4WD and the right equipment is a must.

Preperation for Lorella Springs trip

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.

Off-road equipment recommended for Lorella Springs?

On the way to Lorella Springs

The funny thing was we actually planned to visit Flinders Ranges National Park, but shortly before the trip, we had to change our plans.

Unpredicted weather in South Australia and Queensland

It was due to the cold weather that came to South Australia and Queensland. The cold wave brought heavy rain and winds with very low temperatures. It was late September so our decision was spot on.

Later on, we found out that our friends who travelled to Adelaide had to stay most of their time in the caravan with the heating on during the night as it was raining all the time.

Travel Spiced Life

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

We did not either escape the rain. We started early from Brisbane and drove through the rain. We thought if we drove further we would finally move out of the big rain cloud that was hanging over in the middle of Queensland.

We were wrong. The weather was miserable all the way to our first stop in Tambo Caravan Park. Luckily, on our arrival, the rain stopped and we had enough time to set up our tent. 

Kasha made our dinner in the magic pot in the morning so 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 stop and Nell was very happy

Walkabout Creek Hotel (Crocodile Dundee Pub)

After the breakfast in Blackall, we drove further past Winton where we stopped to stretch our legs.

In the early afternoon, we arrived at the famous Walkabout Creek Hotel known also as a Crocodile Dundee Pub. This was the place where they shot a blockbuster movie Crocodile Dundee, featuring Paul Hogan, 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. We did not check if it still operates.

We drove further as the rain did not stop. We arrived at Mount Isa and decided to stay in a motel. We hoped the next day would bring a change.

Lawn Hill National Park and Riversleigh Fossils

Our first bigger stop was at Lawn Hill National Park. This beautiful place is full of outback attractions including canyoning, hiking, and swimming among freshwater crocodiles and arch fish. 

It is a real paradise and we longed for it to 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. From there it was a dirt road with a few slippery creek crossings. As I knew, the remaining road was a dirt track, I immediately dropped type pressure to 30 psi.

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.

Riversleigh Fossils
Riversleigh Fossils

We stayed three amazing, full of activities days in Lawn Hill National Park. We regretted we did not have time as it is a one of a kind place.

The most unique feature of Lawn Hill Gorge is that you can swim in deep, crystal clear water, with freshwater crocodiles in a distance, go canyoning inside the big gorge walls and go hiking with beautiful views.

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, the AFL finals, and I was keen to stay for a night and watch the final match, but we already talked to Frank Shadforth from 7 Emu Station that we were coming. 

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 say: the locals are never taken by crocs – I don’t think it is true.

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

Borroloola

After two days at 7 Emu Station, we drove further and stopped at Borroloola to put some fuel. As it was a remote place so we used a fuel funnel with water filter as we didn’t want to take a risk of getting contaminated fuel as we did during our around Australia Trip.

A funny thing happened in the shop when I was paying for the fuel. 

We somehow forgot to buy enough water in Mount Isa, and we thought we could stock up in Borroloola. 

When I went to the shop I asked the lady if I could buy the whole 30 can box of pepsi, she looked at me disgracefully with a nasty smile and said – You can’t afford it!

The thing was, they don’t sell boxes, but rather individual cans for $2.50, so indeed it would be very expensive. Instead, we bought some water and went off to Lorella Springs which was located 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 the final 28 km dirt road after the turnoff from Nathan River Road was highly corrugated. When we arrived, we noticed some men got a flat tyre, but we were lucky this time.

Lorella Springs is a huge one million coastal wilderness sanctuary located on the edge of Limmen National park (Lost City) in Nothern Territory and the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is a privately own 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 – Lorella is not for an overnight stop.

It is due to the fact, the place is remote and it is 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. 

You need to stay at least 5 days to see the most famous spots. Some tourists arrive at Lorella Springs and stay even for a month.

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

How to prepare for driving in Lorella Springs?

Due to its remoteness 4WD driving in Lorella Springs is not for chicken-hearted. The distances are big with a possibility to get bogged in some places. Driving in at least two cars convoy is recommended.

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

You still have to obtain the permit from the reception and every time let them know where you are going.

They suggest driving on a low range gear (full 4WD mode) all the time while staying in Lorella Springs and always stay on track with a maximum speed of 40 km/hour. 

Located next to the campground, there is a deep creek crossing that takes you to the northern tracks and without 4WD you get stuck.

People in Lorella say that most of the recoveries they do are when tourists don’t engage 4WD.

Lorella destinations

The whole 4000 square kilometres of land is vastly scattered by Costello and Yiyinti ranges. Unbelievably there are 48 destinations to explore in this vast land: waterfalls, rock and plunge pools, gorges, lakes, billabongs, creek 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, there is a birdwatching paradise with 182 different species of birds. There is a separate page on their website where you can download the birds’ checklist.

We have to say big thanks to Rhett who prepared the accommodation, tracks, camping ground and awesome website so perfectly for tourists. It was many years of hard work considering this harsh climate.

What did we see in Lorella Springs?

We stayed four nights, which meant 3 full days. There were just a few people camping around a huge campground.

When we arrived Rhett told us that September is not a good time as most of the places are dried out, tracks are corrugated and it is much hotter temperature.

Regardless, he gave us detailed instructions and directions for the destinations that still had water and it was possible to swim. 

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.

Lorella Hot Springs

The first thing we did after we set up our camp was to soak in hot springs which are located 100 meters from the reception. 

After driving in dust it was a nice change. The water was very warm and crystal clear. It was not refreshing as the air temperature was more than 30 degrees, but definitely nice.

Nanny’s Retreat 19

The next day in the morning we drove 40 km to Nanny’s Retreat. It is a small narrow sandstone gorge with a beautiful spring flowing through the cliffs.

To get there we walked for about 1 km, passing some small caves and pandanus palms, but it was worthwhile. We swam in the gorge, walked around the cliffs and relaxed for 1 hour before going back.

Snapping Handbag Billabong

It is the first thing on the Little Rosie Track. The billabong is a permanent waterhole the whole year. In the dry season, the freshwater crocodiles move there from the little Rosie.

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 drove further to Gateway Gorge which is the place for walking, climbing, and canyoning. There is a way to go to the top of the gorge which is 200 meters high, and we have amazing views across to the chasms, gorges and escarpments. 

It was a very hot day and the area was dry so we decided to return, but we have to go back one day.

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

Waterslide

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 a real highlight of our drive. Inside we found many Aboriginal paintings and a great view of the valley. We heard there is a good chance to spot 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. The story says, 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.

There was not much there as the time and plunders took their way.

Billy's Camp
Billy's Camp

Lorella Springs Wilderness Park - Summary

Lorella is a beautiful and remote place but it is well prepared for tourists by the owners. 

The tracks, walks and maps are prepared in detail considering such remoteness and isolation from the rest of Australia.

The campground is huge and there are hot springs. What else we can have?

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

Have you been to Lorella Springs? What was your experience?

Please drop a comment below.

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