NOW: LIMMEN NATIONAL PARK AND LORELLA SPRINGS
After swimming in the hot springs at Mataranka we took the Roper Bar Highway. We have learnt to be careful of ‘so called’ highways but this was a decent road and we’d reached ‘the bar’ by lunch time. This was fishing paradise but you really needed a boat to get close to the action and that’s what most people were doing – fishing in small tinnies. Fishing without a tinny meant lures stuck up in trees and pandanus.
Access to the Roper River from Tomato Island Campground in Limmen National Park looked easier but the vegetation on the bank made fishing tricky. We watched a crocodile swim past, lost 2 lures on the submerged rocks and got no bites. A little further east on Towns River we watched the fish jumping and cast our lures from the rocky bank. Much better access but still no success.
It was difficult to believe we were on the Savannah Way as we bounced along this rutted, rocky, corrugated road crossing Limmen Bight River and on to Butterfly Falls. The plunge pool here is the only water considered safe for swimming in Limmen National Park and it was a welcome relief from the dust and heat.
The Western Lost City is a range of sandstone piers stretching along the Limmen Bight River. After a visit to the Nathan River Ranger Station we were given the code for the locked gate, signed in and followed the track into the range. If it hadn’t been for this spectacle of nature our memories of Limmen National Park would have only been about the surprisingly poor condition of the Savannah Way.
Aboriginal people know the Western Lost City intimately and visited this place long before it was a cattle station. They are very involved with managing the land here now that it is a national park.
We travelled back out from the Western Lost City along the same sandy track and signed out at the gate. The cool dip at Butterfly Falls cleaned off the dust and we had a campfire dinner under the stars. The butterflies which give the falls its name came out below the cliffs in a swirling mass in the late afternoon.
Twenty kilometres south of Butterfly Falls a 2.5km loop walk takes you into the Southern Lost City and up on to the ridge where rock domes continue into the distance. Many of these domes and towers are eroded and huge chunks are strewn across the valley floor. Due to the faults and folding of the rock the Southern Lost City towers lean precariously. While the two lost cities are uniquely special the western area was a winner for us.
It was a slow bumpy road into Lorella Springs from our camp at Butterfly Falls. We thought the Savannah Way might improve once we left the national park but it seems roads in the Gulf Country are rocky, dusty, corrugated and unpredictable. The hot springs near Lorella Springs Homestead were a pleasant way to end a long day. There were birds of all types – free range hens, emus, geese and peacocks.
If you wanted to 4 wheel drive you could be at Lorella Springs for a long time! We visited Nudie Springs where the artesian water comes out of the ground at 52° just upstream from the Nudie Pool. Returning to our homestead camp we drove the Crocodile Springs Loop and past Inkspot Pool.
It was getting late in the dry season so most of the pools were receding and the grass was dying off. The mustering team was in camp as well herding cattle with helicopters and “Mad Max” type machines. We were on a working station even though it was a million acres dotted with tourists and tourist tracks.
BUT…….. we were really at Lorella Springs to go crabbing at the secret crabbing spot on the gulf. This secret spot, also known as the Secret Fishing Camp, is so secret it’s marked on the Hema maps! The track from the homestead started off sandy then became a two lane sealed haul road with white lines and signposts. Just to bring us back to reality we turned off onto a sandy track that followed the river to the gulf and a shady camp at the back of the beach.
All optimistic fisher folk should take their bucket with them when wandering the mud flats searching for crabs. While we searched for our dinner with spear and bucket a nearby boatie called us over as he didn’t want the crabs he’d caught and filled our bucket for us. There were three crabs in our pots near the mangroves as well. So, chilli mud crabs with white wine for lunch and dinner.
Back into Lorella Homestead for a splash of fuel at $3.00 per litre and on to Borroloola for fresh vegies, fuel and a tyre.
NEXT: LAWN HILL NATIONAL PARK TO KARUMBA
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David