Lorella Springs

Experience Paradise : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – #2

Lorella Springs


Juz got up early to take photos of the sunrise over Snapping Handbag Billabong before we made our way toward Flying Fox Swamp.  This is another of our favourite destinations.  Paddling the canoe over the still water, through the trees, with the waterlilies passing by, was absolutely beautiful.  Bees buzzed in the lilies and dragonflies skipped over the water.


Lorella Springs


We reckon Monarch Rock could be renamed Cookie Dough Mountain, because that’s what it looks like – a big wad of cookie dough, full of nuts, nougat and choc chips!  Butterflies floated around the shaded areas of the rock and we found a small cave with bats and dragonflies inside.  We did a lap of the rock and found loads of bush passionfruit too, which we picked and ate while we looked for more.


After climbing Monarch Rock and enjoying the spectacular 360° views of the country, the Cascades were a great tonic.  We had a dip by the creek crossing and saw two brolgas that promptly flew away trumpeting like elephants.



On our way back to the campground, we stopped by Nudie Hot Springs.  There were two camps set up at the site, one of which was truly letting it all hang out.  We followed the path to where the hottest water gushes out from the rock, and followed the creek back to the pool of perfect bath temperature (32° Celsius) and had a nudie dip.


Our plan was to do some fishing at Eagles Nest Billabong so that we had something to cook for dinner.  On the way though, Dave noticed that the water temperature gauge was getting a bit too hot.  Eagles Nest was only another 10km away so we raced before we burst a hose.  Just as we arrived, we heard a pop, but luckily it was just the lid of the overflow bottle.  While Dave tended to the Troopy, Juz pulled out the rod.  She was accompanied by a seasoned fisherman who went through three lures with no luck.  Juz gave up after about 30 minutes and after a quick ride in the provided boat, we went back to the campground.


Of course, we were just in time for Happy Hour and another great socialising session with the volunteers and other campers.  Plenty of stories and photos were exchanged and after a session around the campfire, we went to bed.




It was very hard to pull ourselves out of bed and we didn’t end up leaving the campground until about 9:30am.  Nannies Retreat was our destination and the road leading to it had been cleared two days earlier so it was a fairly smooth run.


Lorella Springs


Once we arrived, we found the path to be long and overgrown but freshly marked with pink ribbon and rock stacks.  Suddenly, we were there, atop a rounded rocky landscape of sandstone.   A stream ran through the area and after Dave explored one of the caves, we had a dip in the pool.



We found our way back to the Troopy and headed for Sloshy Springs, which wasn’t officially opened for the season.  We drove for hours on indecisive track surfaces, stopping occasionally to remove branches and fallen trees from the track, which was a great opportunity for Dave to flex his muscles.  The track eventually disappeared and it was nearly sundown so we returned to a creek crossing about 30 minutes back and camped on the track by the water.   Juz fell unconscious when her head hit the pillow while Dave went to sleep to the sound of howling dingoes.


Lorella Springs


It just so happens that the creek we camped next to WAS Sloshy Springs… go figure!



We packed up and started to make our way back to the campground.  The return trip was much easier because we’d cleared all the fallen branches the day before.  We diverted to Billy’s Camp to check out the original settlement of Lorella Springs, which ended up being the perfect stop for Dave to tend to the overheating radiator again.  The ruins were full of rusty things – a fridge, corrugated iron, a sink, buckets, a wheelbarrow, even an old ant bed oven!


Lorella Springs


By the time we got back to the campground, we noticed a loaded motorbike parked by the office.  A guy from the east coast had emailed us and said he was heading our way, and after exchanging itineraries, we discovered that we would intercept each other at Lorella Springs.  We approached the bar to meet our new friend.


Over a few drinks, we had a good chat with Brogan about where he had been and where he was going.  He was circling Australia in an anticlockwise direction, the opposite way to us which meant that we had heaps of tips to share with each other.  Rhett turned up at Happy Hour and while we had planned to leave the next day, we all offered to volunteer for a few days.  Dave and Brogan would work on cabling for the cabins while Juz offered to paint a mural on the wall beside the bar.  She also presented herself to the kitchen that evening and made a big pot of spaghetti bolognese for all the volunteers’ dinner.


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Experience : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park #1

Volunteer at Lorella Springs


Lorella Springs

Experience Paradise : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – #1

Lorella Springs


The world is divided into two kinds of people – those who have been to Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, and those who haven’t been to Lorella Springs… yet.


We caught wind of Lorella Springs not long before we got to Darwin.  While we were only supposed to stay in Darwin for two months max, it was drawn out to 11 months and for the whole time, we had Lorella in the back of our minds.


Lorella Springs offers a remote wilderness for campers, hikers, 4WDing enthusiasts and everyone in between.  The property is so huge, there could be 100s of people in the park but you’d never know, and you could easily spend weeks exploring all the natural features.  The owner, Rhett Walker, has spent the last 30 years exploring Lorella Springs and says that he’s only explored about 20% of the ONE MILLION acres his property covers – his land is bigger than 29 countries!


Lorella is Rhett’s everlasting project – his labour of love.  He opened the wilderness park to the public in around 1998 and he has put so much work in to creating over 1000km of tracks that access hot springs, swimming holes, waterfalls, rivers and gorges so that everyone else can enjoy the beauty of his country.  Back in the early days, Rhett and his family pushed tracks through the bush with a couple of modified 4WDs.  It would sometimes take them weeks at a time to reach the new areas and make the waterfalls and swimming holes accessible.   Nowadays though, they’ve got a backhoe, but they still have to spend some time at the start of the each Dry Season re-clearing the old tracks.
The central campground sports a bar that offers delicious meals and Happy Hour between 5 and 6pm, a kiosk, laundry facilities and a book exchange. There is also Crusty Dick’s Bakery, which offers huge loaves of soft fresh bread, perfect for dipping into stews or with butter and jam.  A recent addition to Lorella’s attractions is a selection of helicopter flights to meet every budget.  Lorella Springs is closed during the Wet Season and reopens every year from the 1st of March until October.


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After 30km of shitty corrugated road that is owned by the council, we opened the gate to Lorella Springs and were greeted warmly by Marie, Rhett’s partner.  After we got a rundown of the park and were given a few maps, we sat down and had a well-deserved drink at the bar.  Dave spoke to Marie about park attractions and facilities while Juz chatted with Tim, one of the chopper pilots, about geckos and Lord of the Rings.  The day was still young so we pre-ordered our dinner and decided to go and check out some of the features that were close by.


On our way to a series of pools, we crossed Crocodile Springs, a pretty creek crossing with a small lagoon filled with waterlilies.  The turnoff for the pools was a few kilometres up and we decided to go all the way to the end of the track and work our way back to the campgrounds.


Lorella Springs


After crawling along in low range 4WD over the last 600m of very rocky and rough track, our first stop was Tawallah Pool.  We both jumped in for some fast refreshment, and Juz put her snorkel on to check out the little fishies.  We rock-hopped further down the gorge before heading back to the Troopy.



The next two pools were Fossil Fern and Emerald Pool.  Fossil Fern is so called because some of the rocks by the side of the pool have fossilised ferns in them.  While Juz was snorkelling in the water, Dave was trying to find the fossils.  Eventually he called out to Juz, “I can’t find the fossils!”, and she said, “That’s because you’re standing on them!”



Emerald Pool was a crystal clear pool with a white carpet of sand between the hairy water weeds, and plenty of little fishies.


We continued on to Wildfire Gorge & Tristan Pool.  The walk to Tristan Pool was along a rocky creek bed and marked with tape in the trees.  Wildfire Gorge was further on and the reflection of red rock in the still pool was beautiful.


Lorella Springs


The last stop of the day was Inkspot Pool.  While we didn’t go in, we could see how fun it would be to launch off the rocks.  Because it was so close to the track that leads to other locations within the park, we ended up visiting Inkspot Pool several times during our stay with other volunteers at the park.


We made it back to the campground just in time for Happy Hour.  Even though the drinks are marginally cheaper, it is a great social event and a perfect opportunity to mingle with staff and other campers.  The dinner we ordered earlier was served at 6:30pm and both dishes were welcomed with wide eyes and hungry bellies.  Dave’s T-Bone was satisfyingly good, tender with great flavour, while Juz’s stuffed chicken was big and juicy, and stuffed with cheese and garlic.  Both meals came with crunchy hot chips, coleslaw, pineapple and beetroot.  Super yum…


Lorella Springs



We started the day early and headed for the Waterslide.  We were initially hesitant (Juz was afraid she’d graze her bum), but Dave was brave enough to go first and it ended up being super fun!  We both went down the slide several times, giggling like schoolgirls. The rocky path continued beyond the slide to Indiana Falls.  While the trail was overgrown, we eventually got to the top pool and were rewarded with a refreshing swim.



Next was the Musterers Cave, one of our favourite locations.  It’s a short climb to the cave and inside it are old saddle parts from when the cave was used as storage during the wet season years and years ago.  If you take a few more steps into the cave, you’ll be surrounded by the sound of crunchy wings flapping, as massive dragonflies hover around you every time you move.  If you have a torch, you’ll be able to see the microbats too.  We exited the cave and checked out the rock art and amazing views around to the left.  We also saw a friendly Northern Spiny Tail Gecko with amazing eyes and a spiky tail.



Our next destination was the Arches, but the path disappeared in a dry creek bed and we got lost.  We ended up climbing an escarpment to the left instead of heading right.  Sure, we had nice views at the top, but it wasn’t the Arches, so we went back to the Troopy and started again.  We eventually found the Arches, and after a rest, we found the (now obvious) path that brought us back to the Troopy.


Lorella Springs


Our last stop was the Valley of the Springs.  Rhett told us great things about this place but we were so exhausted, we only got about 200m from the Troopy before we realised we didn’t have the energy to continue.  We turned back and ducked into Inkspot for a refreshing swim before returning to the campground.  When we got back and told Rhett, he said we only had to breach the hilltop and the amazing rock formations would have been there.  Bugger…


That afternoon, we had a therapeutic dip in the Magical Spring that is only 30 meters from the bar.  It’s a shaded, banana tree-lined pool with very friendly fish that will nibble on you if you give them the chance.


After we cleaned ourselves up, we went to the bar for a quick drink before attempting the Sunset Walk.  About halfway to the top of the escarpment, we saw a rainbow, and then the dark clouds dumped a bunch of rain on us.


Lorella Springs


By the time we got back to the bar, we were soaked through.  We did a quick costume change and returned for more socialising with the other campers.  We met two fellow travellers – Mel and Kell – who had just spent the last few nights at Nannies Retreat.  Mel is an entomologist and Juz loves critters so they had plenty to talk about, including that beautiful gecko that Juz spotted at Musterers Cave.


Lorella Springs



It was a rough start after the previous night’s revelry, but we were determined to complete another section of Lorella Springs and made our way towards Teardrop Falls.  It was slow going for most of the way because of the rocky track, and we even burst a tyre on the way.


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When we finally arrived, it was all worth it.  Water sprinkled into the lower pool and the sun cast a rainbow in the spray.  We climbed up the mountain to the top pools, one of which was down in a rocky basin.  We scaled the sheer wall and had a refreshing dip in the clear pool, and even saw the reason why it’s called Teardrop Falls.  This was definitely one of our favourite spots in Lorella, and is also a really popular destination for the chopper flights.



We checked out the Mountain on the Edge of the Clouds on the way back – a great lookout into Gateway Gorge and Little Rosie River below.   We continued along the track to where the river crosses the track and there was a canoe waiting for us.  Dave took control of the oar and paddled Juz down the river while trying to sing like a Venetian gondolier.  Juz told him to shut up so that she could enjoy the tranquillity of their surroundings.



We briefly stopped by Hidden Pools – three cascading swimming pools, before setting up camp at Snapping Handbag Billabong.  Juz cooked up some SPAM Turkey Burgers while Dave fished in the billabong.  As we got ready for sleep, we could hear splashing and sploshing, which were probably cane toads, fish and/or crocodiles, and these noises continued throughout the night.


A cane toad at Lorella Springs


Experience : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park #2
Volunteer at Lorella Springs