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  1. #1
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    Lorella Springs June/ July school holidays.

    If anyone is interested we are hitting up Lorella Springs again this year during the June / July School holidays. Leaving from Darwin on a Sunday early and getting there in the evening. Pulling the Patriot camper with three kids on board and the two dogs, oh and the wife.

    we went to Lorella last year and were really impressed with the place, although due to the dry 'wet season' there wasn't much to see at most of the water holes. This year was better so we are hoping to see more water out there again.

    If anyone has any questions about the place or desire to see some of the sights then ask away and I'll fill in what I can.

    Trip report when I get back.

  2. #2
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    Hi all. Well I know I said that I would do a write up and that it has been a while but I have been without my computer since it blew up back in September. Ok so blew up is probably the wrong term but it did die and trying to get warranty work on computer parts in the NT takes some time.

    So like the title say this write up is all about out trip out to Lorella Springs this year during the June / July school holidays, which for those who are not from here or not familiar with the NT we have a four week school break in the middle of the year. Yep that's not a typo, four weeks. They do that because that's the best time to do anything up here and lots of families do their travelling then. Grasping this opportunity gave us another shot at going to Lorella and seeing hopefully some more water holes than we had seen the previous year.

    If you are already familiar with this place you can probably scan through to all the photos if perhaps like our first trip things were a bit dry and you didn't get to see all the water holes. For those not familiar with the place read on and see why so many people make the trip every year to this place.

    For those not in the know about where Lorrella is it is located out near the Gulf of Carpentaria between Roper Bar and Borroloola. Official figures are that it is 130 km from Cape Crawford, 29 Km from the Savanah way (yep that's their driveway) and about 180 km to Borroloola which is the closest major center for supplies etc. Getting to and from Lorrella Springs can either be an adventure in itself or a pretty standard affair depending on which way you want to come.

    Lorella_Australia.jpg
    NT MAP.jpg

    From Darwin we normally blast down the highway to Daly Waters and grab some fuel and have a lunch stop, then its East along the Carpentaria Highway to Cape Crawford. It is a good couple of hours between stops so take it easy and rest when you need to, there's no hurry out here. Refuel at Cape Crawford as this is the easiest spot to get it before heading north on the Savanah way and following the signs along the Nathan River road for 130km.

    For those coming in from the east you have two choices, the dirt (via the savannah way) or the tar via the Barkly highway to the Barkly homestead. When you head north on the Carpentaria highway as the same for heading east from the Stuart highway its good to keep in mind that for the most part this is a highway in name only and largely consists of a single lane of tar with a hard shoulder. Beware that there are some big rigs out there that you do not want to tangle with as well as some mining contractors in 79 series utes who think that it is their bit of private road.

    When we went this year the road north to Lorrella was in pretty good condition and there was still some water in some of the crossings so take it easy. There were some rutted out sections and quite a few bull dust spots but if you take your time in a properly kitted out, oh wait who am I kidding we all drive Prados so yeah you'll have no trouble. Anyway drive along the dirt until you get to the well signposted turn off.

    Heading north Nathan River road.jpg

    For us getting to this point is an all day affair and this year we rolled into the homestead around dusk with just enough time to select a nice spot and make basic camp for the night. If long days in the saddle are not your thing there are plenty of other places to stop and camp. This time we chose a nice spot down by the creek to camp.
    Last edited by LNGRNGR; 07-12-2017 at 09:57 PM.

  3. #3
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    Where we parked our camp was a little bit dusty but there seemed to be more grass around in the camp site than there was the previous year owing to the better wet season than it had been the previous year.

    IMG_0645.jpg


    When you get to the homestead you will be greeted by some lush greenery that surrounds the homestead, they keep the place looking pretty nice, approach the bar and say G'day and you will be greeted by some pretty friendly staff who will give you a lay of the land and point you in the right direction to go and set up camp. When it comes to where you want to camp you have a few options, there is camping spots pretty close to the homestead or you can cross the creek past the hot springs and head into the main camp ground. There is no booking for sites and it is basically a first come first served make yourself at home affair.

    Time permitting, have yourself a drive around the camp ground as there are some more secluded spots in the far corners and there are also a couple of sneaky small sites off to the sides. The camp ground itself consists of basically a large flat expanse of open paddock that they keep slashed and it is nestled between two arms of the creek with some nice rocky hills as a back drop. There is plenty of shade and some grass if you get there early enough in the year. For those who like to light the night with all things LED and more there is a generator area for you to set up camp but there are no powered sites so bring the solar panel.

    For those that don't want to for go too much luxury you will be pleased to know that there are flushing toilets and running showers at the camp ground also. Facilities are a little rudimentary so don't expect the Ritz, the toilets flush and there is a dunny door but privacy is limited and there can be a line up at times. If you like to do business in private I suggest bringing your own honey pot as there is also a dump point at the homestead.

    Showers on the other hand, well lets say there is nothing like the stars above in an open sky to make for a good shower. The hot water comes via you having to light a fire under the water tank and waiting. Now the water does come from the spring so at times it can be slightly warm but don't bank on it. It might seem a bit slack of me but born more of necessity I would often be the last to shower which meant that other people had already heated the water up so I got the odd free hot shower.

    Sorry but there are no pics for this part, but really its just a dunny and showers so here's one of the dogs sleeping in a chair instead.

    stitch asleep at Lorella.jpg

    This brings me to my next point, yes you can bring your four legged family friend along too. All the usual common sense rules apply and you will see plenty of people bringing their extended family along.

  4. #4
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    Well I'm back. Where was I? Camp perhaps, the camp ground is well laid out and the homestead is a short walk away if you need any emergency supplies (read: there is a bar with happy hour).

    Also nearby camp you will find the hot springs which is always occupied at the end of the day, funnily enough right at happy hour. Its a good spot to wind down after a day out exploring water holes and tracks and wash some dust of, great to throw the kids in before dinner to give them a bit of a clean off and take off any left over energy they had from the day.

    Thermal pools at camp.jpg

    If you follow the creek around from the thermal springs area there are a couple of other spots to get into the water as well if warm water is not your thing. There are also some decent size yabbies' in the creek as well and plenty of structure to hide a trap against. When we were there last we met a nice chap who gave us a bag full of them that he had pulled from the creek, most were pretty small but there were a few decent ones to keep.

    After you have done all the exploring you can around camp and are ready to head on out the gates there are plenty of things to see and do. First order of business is to sign yourself out at the homestead so that they know where you are heading off to so that if you don't come back they can at least start looking there, makes sense really. On the topic of safety and a bit off track from sight seeing is the need to have at a minimum a UHF, radio comms are pretty limited by the terrain there but you will have something. We took this year a Satsleeve sat phone as an added back up and its small enough to take out walking with you. There is no mobile phone reception at all.

    So back on track, the first thing you can explore is the crocodile springs loop, its nice and close to camp and can be completed at a leisurely pace in about an hour. It will however take you longer than that because there are some things to do along the way. One of them, which I will admit now that I was too chicken to do is to have a paddle of the flat bottom boat on the crocodile springs themselves. Its a fresh water lagoon that is quite big and lined by paperbarks. Feel free to have a paddle and maybe a cast of a line if your game.

    We moved onto the swimming holes this year as I had been watching the previous wet season and was keen to see if there was some water left for a swim. All the tracks are well sign posted and easy to follow, going along with the mud map that you get there is not really any way that you can get lost.

    Even this close to camp there are plenty of options to check out. The first few are pretty close together but require a little walking. Tristan pool is just 7km from camp but it doesn't feel like it, in the same area is also wild fire gorge. We didn't check these out ourselves but if you google their website you'll get the idea of what it can be like. On the days that we went we pushed on for one swimming spot that I was keen to find after seeing some pretty amazing pictures of it. Along the track to Fossil Fern you will come across emerald pools, we took a quick stop and check too see if there was any water as water here sure mean that there was still water further up the creek.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see a crystal clear swimming hole where the previous year there had been nothing but sludge, what a difference a year makes in the top end. Getting excited we pushed on along the track a short way to fossil fern. I'll let the picture do the talking, suffice to say you have to go.

    Fossil Fern water hole.jpg
    IMG_0107.jpg
    Showin the kids how its done.jpg

  5. #5
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    On the day that we went Fossil Fern was at least 8 foot deep and crystal clear apart from the aquatic plants that were growing around the edges. The water was nice and cool for a swim, even our dogs got in. The bottom is sandy and there is an easy walk in entrance at the end closest to the crossing and if you feel like some fun then you can climb along the rocks and have a jump into the water, you'll have trouble getting the kids to stop young and old alike.

    If you want to do some easy fun exploring and want to use some low range then push on past this water hole and make your way further along to find Tawallah pool. It seriously doesn't seem that far away but the fact that the rest of the track basically runs up the creek line means that it takes some time and in some parts is low range, not that its hard on the engine or traction is lacking but its just that bouncy that you need to go that slow. There are some interesting bits along the way and some water to navigate.

    IMG_0090.jpg

    Tawallah pools.jpg

    Its a fun little track but you need to be committed to getting to the end as there is no where along the way to turn around, also be warned if you love you paint job too much then you might want to re consider going on this track as it will pinstripe your side panels for sure. We got to the top without a hassle and found the pool to still have water but at that time of year it was starting to go stagnant, signs to come for the rest of the pools eventually.

    Once you have done your first days exploring its time to head back to camp. Along the way keep you eye out for some firewood as this is a perfect time to collect some for your campfire that night. There are plenty of options and more than enough trees come down each wet season I am sure, even that close to camp there was still plenty of firewood to find. If you can put up with the spinifex grass spiking you there is definitely more than enough in the scrub, just remember though that this is scrub so be careful of all the bitey creatures that inhabit this area and move with care. I don't like to grab anything anyway that looks like it could be a home for anything and so leave it be.

    Collecting firewood.jpg

    A roof rack here helps, you will see everyone coming back to camp all loaded up for the night. every time that we were on our way back to camp we always grabbed a bit and never ran out of firewood in the week that we were there.

    Heading further afield there are plenty of places to explore, so much so that a week is a minimum amount of time that you should spend here if you could manage it. supplies permitting you could easily do two weeks and not even get to the coast (that's next on my list, but don't tell the missus.)

    There are a plethora of options about what to do next, there are some far out water holes to explore, lookouts to make your way to, gorges to explore. It all depends on what you want to do and how much time you have to do it.

    On our trip we decided that seeing as there was some more water about that we would head to one of the further out swimming holes at Nanny's retreat as we had quite liked it the year before. The drive in is pretty easy going, following the signs to the north of the map along the Yiyinti track you cross an old haul road that was put in when mining was taking place across the region. This road is a no go zone so don't think of taking any short cuts, just cross it an move on. The track heading north is pretty easy going and we averaged about 40km/h most of the way there. Because of the location of the waterfall and surrounding areas the actual position of the parking lot changes from year to year, this year we were pleasantly surprised to see that Rhett and the guys had managed to get the parking lot a bit closer this year which mean less of a hike to the swimming hole.

    The track in to Nanny's retreat is pretty easy going, it is relatively flat for the most part. There are some parts where you have to clamber over some rock formations but nothing to extraneous if you take you time. It is beautiful country side and there are some sights to see along the way, as you get closer to the water hole the country side begins to close in and you find yourself surrounded by sandstone formations and the track moves in to follow the fresh water creek.

    Nanny's retreat is a large pool that breaks through a sandstone rock and has a great shallow ledge and then some deeper parts as well. You can swim between the gap in the rocks to the other end where the water flows out of the rocky creek line. We timed our swim here this year with lunch and found some shade to kick back and admire the surroundings, it was amazing to see how much the landscape had changed from the previous year. You can see all the flotsam caught high in the trees giving indication to sheer volume of water that flows each wet season.

    Nanny's retreat.jpg

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