Boodjamulla National Park (formerly Lawn Hill National Park) is in Outback Queensland, in the westernmost part of the state. It is home to the Riversleigh fossil site, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Naracoorte Caves National Park in South Australia.
The Waanyi people have lived in the gorge area for at least 17,000 years and know this place as Boodjamulla, or Rainbow Serpent country. Lawn Hill Gorge is sacred to the Waanyi people. Midden heaps, camp sites, grinding stones, and rock art evidence the importance of this place. Today, the Waanyi people help manage the park and Part of the land around Lawn Hill was occupied by the Injilarija people, until the Waanyi took over their land around 1880.
The park has a rich pastoral history and until December 1984 was part of Lawn Hill Station, which was once one of Queensland's largest cattle properties. The cattle station was formed from several leases originally granted in the 1870s, and for some time was run by the notoriously cruel Jack Watson. Sebastião Ferreira Maia, who owned that station from 1976, returned 122 square kilometres on the lease to the state in 1984, on the condition it be managed for the public's benefit. In 1992, another 1,350 square kilometres was given to the crown to extend the park's boundaries.
The Riversleigh and Musselbrook sections were amalgamated into the park in 1992. The Riversleigh Fossil Fields Section of the park is a World Heritage Site and contains many fossil remains. Animal bones dating back 25 million years are preserved in the lime-rich sediments.
Flora and fauna
Official tourism website
Visitor information centre
- 1 Lawn Hill Gorge visitor centre, Wills Road, Lawn Hill. A rather middle of nowhere visitor centre explaining the significance of the Riversleigh fossil site. Opposite day-use carpark and the campground. The visitor centre also has some maps of the nearby walking trails.
Getting into Boodjamulla National Park is much harder than most other places despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mainly due to its sheer remoteness. There's only two ways to get here, with the first one being from Gregory Downs, with all of the 100km you'll need to traverse being unpaved and only suitable for 4WDs. The second route is via the Barkly Highway but that again is 207km via Riversleigh, and only about 26%of the route is paved (around 57km).
If you can't get to this park because you don't have the correct vehicle to traverse the difficulties of getting here, not to worry, some of the more important fossils can be found in Mount Isa at the Riversleigh Fossil Discovery Centre, which is much, much, much easier than getting here.
Fees and permits
- 1 Riversleigh, Riversleigh Rd, Lawn Hill. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-known fossil sites in Australia. Fossils of different kinds of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have been found at the site - most notably 35 bat species. Unlike most fossils in the world, the ones found here have retained their original structure, as they are embedded in soft uncompressed limestone.
- 2 Lawn Hill Gorge. One of the most unusual looking gorges in the park. Apart from Riversleigh, this gorge is one of the most important sights in Boodjamulla National Park. There's a camping area nearby for those wanting an early bird view.
The closest spot to eat is in Mount Isa. Bring your own food.
The heat and distances should not be underestimated. Bring a bottle of water. Walking tracks can be long, but feel even longer in the heat. Also be careful of the Freshwater crocs that live here. If you want to go here just for the fossils, it's much more safer to go to Mount Isa.
Do note that the park can be closed during rain season (November-March). Do not continue your journey if it closed, as you could be stuck up to weeks.