Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Adel's Grove and Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla) National Park

Cicadas!! Marguerite was duly impressed.
Adel's Grove promised to be an oasis in the bush, and after hundreds of kilometres of corrugated roads, bulldust and a few wrong turns, we were definitely ready for it. We'd stopped at Gregory Downs, a tiny hamlet with a cool playground, a pub selling $5 frozen bread, swanky wine (the first time I'd seen a riesling that wasn't sold in a box since Emerald) and toasted sandwiches. We drove the last 100kms into the camp and passed the Century Mine feeding zinc to its Karumba processing centre via almost 300kms of pipeline. As we drove into the dusty reception area I felt like I'd been duped- oasis  my arse.

But we set up on our shady little plot and made our way down to the swimming hole simply hoping for the best. Which is exactly what we got. The creek was very deep and wide with clear water, a pontoon, swing and a large tree with sturdy branches just perfect for thrillseekers (aka Fiela and all the other kids) to jump out of. We all plunged into this beautiful water and washed off our misgivings, the dust and weariness of the day. Walking over to the 'beach' we found a shaded and shallow area to swim with a few rapids for the kids to play in. Later, we sat by the fire in the cool (28°) evening air and watched the kids dance away to the radio, feeling like this was camping at its best.

The beautiful shaded shallow swimming 'beach'
Gateway to the rapids and the beach.
The deep swimming hole and the pontoon.

The next day Marguerite and I hiked up a hill in an attempt to make  contact with the outside world, followed by more swimming, snoozing and a general lethargy spent watching Easter weekend campers file into the park.

Boodjamulla National Park.

Good Friday came around and we drove down to the National Park for our first bushwalk since Undara two weeks ago. Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla) is an excellently maintained national park with a great infomation centre explaining the geography of the area and its importance to the Waanyi, the traditional custodians of this land. Boodjamulla is a serpent, the creator of the Dreamtime and this was his home. Storms, thunder and floods were a result of his being disturbed,  while on the flipside his waters were healing and of great spiritual significance. Archeological evidence dates Aboriginal occupation of this area to at least 30,000 years, and I could feel nothing but compassion for these people whose spiritual homeland had a dirty great big zinc mine stuck in its confines (said the first world woman who probably benefits from the uses of this metal everyday).

The National Park campground down below and the explorers up very, very high.

Despite advice to the contrary, we took the hard road and 1.5kms via the steep Duwadarri track to the Indarri Falls. The track was definitely sharper than a normal staircase and while we were all puffing at the top, the views up and down the gorge were worth it. The waters were beautiful and we could see fish swimming far below us. The gorge walls were the deepest ochre red and against the palms, gums and blue, blue sky, it was spectacular. We walked on, Miss M whining the whole way being out of practice in the  bush walking stakes to say the least. She picked the pace up when we spied Indarri Falls though, a beautiful spot with some small waterfalls rushing over into a deep pool from  the creek above. 

Looking down the creek.

Indarri Falls deserted...

When we got there it was pretty much deserted but before we could congratulate ourselves on our good luck, all of a sudden familiar faces from Adel's Grove descended upon the falls from every direction. Could it be true? Had the Uys's actually beat the madding crowd, rather than been a part of, or much more likely arrived long after it? You heard it here first!

... and not so deserted.

Looking downstream.

So we had a gorgeous swim with everyone else, ate our no-name brand fruitcake (Sorry, left gourmet country back in Newrybar. Black&Gold = fruitcake heaven) and took the relatively flat and much shorter route back to the car, the campground and more swims, fires and good times. (Very good apparently for the young guy camped next door who 'marathoned' with his girlfriend into the early hours of the next morning. Or so Fiela wistfully told me. I didn't hear a thing thank God.)

Indarri from the top #1.

Indarri from the top #2.

Camp Idyllic. (Guffaw!!)
 We went back to the national park the next day and did a few more walks before heading back to Indarri Falls for another magical and eina (ouchy) healing swim. Marguerite was fascinated by the Boodjamulla story and was convinced that every time she swam her collective scratches and bruises were being healed. Whilst there we watched as a group of around ten rowdy young men and women painstakingly carried their esky full of beer down to the falls and park it right next to our stuff. Feeling it was definitely time to make an exit stage left, I swam up and in the course of feeding and clothing the kids, got to talking to some of them, at which stage they offered me a beer several times (very tempting)! 

Most of the Uys Huis at Indarri Falls.

They were a group of station hands from a couple of homesteads west of Camooweal, around 400kms away, and had come up to the park for the Easter weekend to "let off some steam.". It was Fiela who later pointed out that despite the relative isolation of this vast area, you can forget that there are thousands of people working their backsides off in some pretty full on conditions. As twentysomethings we'd think nothing of going to the Gold Coast for a debaucherous few days; these guys seemed to be doing exactly the same thing, but in a more wholesome and well deserved way. They also had respect for the land, with Marguerite getting a lecture on how to "leave things the way you found 'em" when she attempted to berate them about their empty beer cans- "Don't worry love, it'll all be picked up." I left feeling suitably chastised for my initial impression of these young people

Clear waters at Adel's Grove.

We had discussed staying an extra night in Adel's Grove, seduced by its soothing waters and shady trees, but having learnt our lesson in Karumba, we left after the Easter egg hunt on Sunday and headed down  the dusty road for Camooweal, feeling decidely refreshed.` 

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