World Heritage Wonder - Millions of years in the making


BOODJAMULLA (LAWN HILL) NATIONAL PARKis one of Queensland's most significant geological parks, with interesting rocks and landscapes spanning hundreds of millions of years.

Ancient shallow sea

The red, hard sandstone in the eastern part of the main Lawn Hill Gorge and along the Constance Range was originally a blanket of sand deposited in an ancient shallow sea, about 1560 million years ago. Ripple marks from that ancient seabed are still visible in places in the sandstone today. Life in those Proterozoic times amounted to little more than bacteria and mats of algal-like organisms called stromatolites.

Much later, in Cambrian times (approximately 530 million years ago), another shallow sea formed, lapping up against the old sandstone hills from the south and west. Lime- and silica-rich sediments and remains of sponges and trilobites (primitive marine animals with hard shells) accumulated to form layers of limestone. Fish had not yet evolved. These grey limestones containing chert (silica) now occur in upper parts of Lawn Hill Gorge and west of Riversleigh.

Towering sandstone cliffs line the gorge, and its emerald waters and lush vegetation make it not only a visual splendour, but an oasis for the wildlife of the region. The Riversleigh section of the park is one of Australia's most renowned fossil sites.

There are a range of walks in the park, from easy one hour strolls to a 7 kilometre Gorge Walk, graded 'difficult'. It is possible to canoe through Lawn Hill Gorge, a distance of up to 6km return. Private canoes are welcome, but canoes can be hired on an hourly basis from the east end of the campsite. Fishing is not permitted in Lawn Hill Creek. Bag and size limits apply for other rivers and creeks.

A camping area with toilets and showers is provided close to Lawn Hill Gorge. Camping is also available at Miyumba bush camp, adjacent to the Gregory River, approximately 55km south-east of Lawn Hill Gorge campground.

(adapted from Cairns unlimited!)


World Heritage Wonder

The Riversleigh World Heritage Site is part of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park. The World Heritage area is in the south-east section of the park and covers 10,000 ha. Riversleigh D Site is the only area open to the public.

Shaped by water

In the Riversleigh area, pale-grey limestone, deposited between 25 and 15 million years ago in Tertiary times, lies on top of older, Cambrian limestone. The younger limestone was deposited in small rainforest lakes that flourished in the wetter climate of the time. This limestone is famous for the innumerable fossil invertebrates it contains. Early relatives of today’s fauna fell or were washed into those lakes and were preserved for posterity in the lime-rich sediments.

Where ancient mammals rest in pieces

The Riversleigh fossil deposits are among the richest and most extensive in the world, with some fossils dating back 25 million years. These fossils have been superbly preserved in limestone outcrops.

Archaeologists working at the site have established that the ancient relatives of all currently existing native Australian animals have been found at the Riversleigh Fossil Fields, not to mention many other species that are long extinct.