Day 24: Mon 21 July 2014: Adels Grove (Lawn Hill National Park - Boojamulla)
Lawn Hill, Queensland
Campfire breakfast toast was nice. It's very dusty here. I had difficulty breathing on the bus out to Riversleigh yesterday and you can smell dust on the air all around the campground. I've been pouring some water on the ground around the van to settle the dust a bit and a man drives around each day with a water truck to water the tracks and is very effective. But, all our clothes are dirty so it's laundry day.
Drive out to Lawn Hill National Park this afternoon. Short trip on passable gravel road. We did a couple of the walks including "Dog Dreaming" to see 10,000 yo circular carvings into the rock and 3,000 yo paintings. And a midden of mussel shells in an area they think has been inhabited for as much as 30,000 y continuously. I could see a rock on the ground about 40cm high that had clearly been where the 'artist' stood to make one of the rainbow paintings. It's amazing to be standing in a spot like that and know someone stood there 3,000 years ago. The connection the Waanyi have with the place is totally understandable. Not supposed to take photos so we didn't.
We saw a bower on the way back. This bird was into grey and white and his bower wasn't as nice as the Croydon bird's was.
There's a rock formation called the Island Stack that we scaled to see the view and it's pretty impressive. The Waanyi believe this place IS the rainbow serpent, maker of all animals and basically their God. It's easy to see why. This is a genuine desert oasis complete with palm trees, abundant fish you can watch swimming in the water, and the water here never stops running apparently. 30,000 years is such a long time for the people to have lived here - they would have seen at least one ice age and who knows what cycles of climate change. And their way of life was so successful and this place provided for them so well, they never had to move or change their ways. I noticed there are natural 'stripes' running down the rock faces of black, grey and white which are probably from lime, calcium and other deposits laid down over a long time. It gives the rock a striped appearance when you stand back. And the rock has cracked into a geometric pattern of haphazard blocks that loosely fit together, a bit like the scales of a snake. The resemblance to the paintings of the rainbow serpent is evident.
The TUFA rock formations are pretty amazing. It looks like coral or sponge only it's dull grey and although it looks like it should be fragile, is very hard. The Cascades were not running as apparently there has been less than average rainfall but we had a dip in the cold water anyway as we were all sweaty by then.
Onto the gorge itself. We hired crappy leaky fibreglass Canadians at an extortionist price and paddled up the waterway for 2 hours. The scene as you pass between shear faces of red rock is amazing. There were numerous natural bonsai trees trying to grow out of the rock half way up. These have sent long, thin, grey roots down in search of the water 10 or 15 metres below and make striking geometric pale lines against the dark red. Everyone was knackered by the end and glad to head home.
I set up the TV under the awning outside tonight and we all watched 'Forrest Gump' together which was nice.