Our intrepid crew leave Lorella Springs and head for the clinic in Borroloola for some unexpected body repairs before heading to King Ash Bay and the stunning Boodjamulla
The pain was intense and increasing by the minute. My face had started swelling on the right side, heading from my jaw up to my eye. All the symptoms were pointing to a tooth abscess, however, never having experienced anything like it before we didn’t know for sure what was really wrong. With no antibiotics and only mild painkillers, I made the call to head back from our idyllic camp on the coast of Lorella Springs Station to the medical clinic in Borroloola.
The road from Lorella to Borroloola is picturesque and while I was in pain it was still a great drive and we were lucky enough to pass the grader driver heading west so the road was oh so smooth!
I would like to say a huge thanks to Netty Hodgson-Taylor and the rest of the nurses and
staff at the Borroloola clinic as they were brilliant. Their diagnosis confirmed a tooth abscess, which they treated with a huge hit of antibiotics and an injection that I hardly felt. These folks have a hard job and I don’t think they are recognised enough for the work they do in our harsh outback. No one would survive without their care!
This town is large and when we were there it was very active with locals and tourists alike. All services are available and it’s a great base for fishos and people who are experiencing this amazing Gulf destination.
There is a bit to see around town including Indigenous art and the museum in the old Police Station, but the main attraction is the nearby fishing spots. Two major events, the Rodeo (held in late August) and the fishing comp (which takes place during Easter) also draw people from all over the country. Anyone considering travelling here during the wet needs to be aware that many of these roads are closed periodically due to flooded river crossings.
KING ASH BAY
Roughly 40km from Borroloola is the King Ash Bay Fishing Club at Batten Point on the McArthur River. This amazing place caters for a range of camping styles – there are caravan and camping areas with full facilities (including a dump point) for both amateur and serious fishos and people who love being near the water.
We camped above the river and were treated to a beautiful sunset. In addition to the variety of camping options, houseboats can be hired here which is something that we will certainly look at doing in the future when we have more time up our sleeves.
There are a range of services at the petrol station including gas fills, fuel and supplies. The Clubhouse does meals seven days a week during the peak season.
HELL’S GATE ROADHOUSE
Roughly 50km east of the NT border is a little oasis on Cliffdale Station. New-ish owners Jenny and John Hays were on hand to greet us as we staggered through the door in the late arvo looking for a campsite, a cold ale and a feed.
The service here was friendly, the meals awesome and the setting with its friendly lizards running around the place was really homey. Jenny and John are doing the place up and it was looking the goods. While Cliffdale was established in 1959, the roadhouse was first opened in April 1986 and the Hays’ took over in 2015. This country is rough and the station has had its ups and downs over the years. The name Hell’s Gate comes from the gap in the Barkly Tablelands just south of the roadhouse which was as far as the police escort would accompany travellers heading from Corinda, Queensland to Katherine in the Territory. The country was hell on travellers and this was the gateway to it!
Now located on the Nicholson River, Dumaji as it was originally called was initially situated at Bayley Point on the Gulf. The community was destroyed by a cyclone in 1936 and moved to its present location on the Nicholson River further south west and inland.
Doomadgee Aboriginal Mission offers travellers a place to stay with an amazingly well-stocked roadhouse. Travellers wishing to fish or move out of the retail area are required to liaise with the council with regard to permits. This area is also under Queensland’s Alcohol Management Plan and laws regarding alcohol through the town apply.
BOODJAMULLA – LAWN HILL NP
There is a great road heading roughly south from Doomadgee to Boodjamulla – Lawn Hill. It takes in several properties and as such the gates are to be left as found. If they are closed, close them once you are through. If they are open, leave them open!
Boodjamulla has limited camping with toilets and cold showers and plenty of walks in and around the gorge that are simply breathtaking – in more ways than one. There are some steep climbs! The country is stunning and swimming in the gorge is just beautiful after a warming walk, although look out for the nippy fish!
As well as walks and swimming there’s canoe hire, bird watching and some diverse animal life to track and capture on film. There are a few rules to adhere to if staying in the park so it’s best to book your spot and check out the rules beforehand.
RIVERSLEIGH FOSSIL FIELDS
Another point of interest and only a short trip from Boodjamulla are the Fossil Fields which are World Heritage Listed. These fossil finds are amazing and have added to the list of species that wandered over what we know now as Australia.
Adels Grove is an oasis on the Lawn Hill Creek and caters for the masses with all types of accommodation from bush-style camping in the grove to the larger sites that cater for caravans, generators, pets and cabins.
This spot was gorgeous and even the fish and chips from The Shack were a great surprise. Activities from Adels include tours throughout the area including sunset tours, fossil tours and even a boating tour up to Boodjamulla.
This property was originally gazetted as a mining Lease in 1904. One Albert de Lestang took over the property in 1939 and turned it into an experimental botanical garden, planting more than 1000 different species. At the main gathering area where the reception, shop and undercover seating area are situated, there are lots of information boards on the interesting history of Adels Grove, plus there is a bar, meals and Wi-Fi. While the camping was good, unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the attitude and service. We walked away less than impressed with some of the staff, which was a pity. Hopefully that was just due to a bad few days for the staff.
Next time, we head to Karumba for a spot of fishing in the Arafura Sea, visiting some special places along the way including Burketown, Leichhardt Falls and Normanton.