We turned off Stuart Highway and travelled along the Roper Highway towards Roper Bar. It was a single tarred lane road that was shared with oncoming traffic for a fair way of the journey. Alongside the road were hundreds of termite mounds – a reminder that the ant population on earth is far greater than that of humans.
We stopped at a rest area about 35km from Roper Bar. The mozzies caused us to lock ourselves into the Troopy and we went to sleep to the sound of howling dingoes.
We got to Roper Bar in the morning – so early that the general store wasn’t open. We headed for the river crossing and drove over. Unfortunately, the continuing road was restricted access so we turned around and crossed the Roper Bar again.
The Roper Bar is significant because it’s the place where Ludwig Leichhardt crossed the Roper River on his expedition from Moreton Bay in QLD to Port Essington at the top of NT. These days, the crossing is much easier because it’s concreted, and it’s also known as a great place to catch barramundi. If you do stop to fish here, remember that where there’s barra, there’s crocs!
On our way back to the general store, we sussed out the ruins that were nearby. The stilts and stairs of what used to be a house were still erect, with a shallow water tank at each corner. There was also an old shack that some nutter inhabited for a while, scrawling his diary on the corrugated iron walls.
On our way to the Lagoon, we were nearly knocked off the road by a wanker playing Colin McCrae Rally in his Troopy. He drifted sideways around a blind corner, kicking up dust as he went. If we had gotten to that corner a few seconds earlier, he probably would’ve written both our Troopys off. Idiot.
Anyway, we found the turn off for the lagoon fairly easily and were surprised at how big and pretty it was. There were so many water lilies in the water, and we drove along the edge to try to find the end. The lagoon just kept on going well after the track we were following ended. Did we mention how huge the lagoon was?
Limmen National Park
A fairly new national park, Limmen was declared in 2012 and is best enjoyed with a 4WD. There are a few river crossings that also offer the opportunity to fish and plenty of places to camp.
Towns River Camping
Our first night in Limmen was at Towns River. We got there just after lunch and fished for about an hour without much luck.
In the morning, we continued along the schizophrenic road, sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth, admiring the pretty blue flowers and rocky outcrops that ran alongside the road. The Limmen Bight River was shallow and easy to cross. Keep your eyes open for the Four Archers (Barrkuwirriji) in the distance, after you cross the Limmen Bight. You’ll see them better if you’re heading from Borroroola to Roper Bar.
Also, once you pass the Nathan River ranger station, check out the corrugated iron bull mailbox with balls and poo.
The only place in Limmen National Park where you can swim, this is an absolutely fabulous spot. While we were here, we met a couple travelling Australia in an epic truck with the emblem “Department of Having a Good Time”. After a chat, they continued on and left the campsite to us. We decided to make use of the privacy and play cards in the nude. A pair of Dutch guys rocked up, and after an embarrassing ice-breaker, they told us they saw our Troopy in Katherine and now they understand what Our Naked Australia is about!
We stayed at Butterfly Springs all day, frequently going into the water to cool off. A friendly water monitor hung around, and we collected lots of bush passionfruit that was growing in the area.
Southern Lost City
The road to Southern Lost City was lined with great rocky ridges with boulders precariously perched on the edge. There were a few creek crossings and washouts, with a few rocky and sandy sections, but we got through in 2WD.
The Southern Lost City is definitely worth the diversion. There’s an easy 2.5km walk through the tall pillars to an unspoiled view across the valley to the Western Lost City. Some sections off to the side of the path had recently been burnt when we visited, so we got to explore other areas and get right amongst the tall pillars.
No excuses – if you love camping, 4WDing, friendly people and the wilderness, then Lorella Springs is your kind of paradise.
First gazetted in 1885, Borroloola is a remote fishing community of around 900 people. It acts as a base for people who are making their way to the coast, and also provides services for nearby McArthur Mine.
The town sports a supermarket, a few petrol stations and cafes, as well as a museum that is located in the old 1866 Police Station. Entry to the museum is via a small donation and is worth stopping by to learn a bit about the history of the surrounding area.
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve
Located about 46km south of Borroloola, if you’re in the area, it’s worth a look. This Lost City has an easy loop walk around the sandstone pillars, and if you’re into bird watching, there’s a bird hide at the semi-permanent waterhole.
At the intersection of the Tablelands and Carpentaria Highways is Cape Crawford, which was mistakenly named because it was believed that it was near the coast. A must-see destination is the Heartbreak Hotel, a cool stop for anyone interested in Elvis and a decent feed.
Our time in Gulf country was over, so we headed west to make our way back to the Stuart Highway.