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Riversleigh fossil trail

Mark Nemeth © Queensland Government

Riversleigh fossil trail

Walking No Walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (natural) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping
World Heritage Area

Legend

Walking No walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (natural) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping
World Heritage Area

Delve into Australia's prehistoric past and discover many kinds of ancient fossils at this intriguing World Heritage site.

Park alerts
Explore the many fossils on display along the walking track.
Explore the many fossils on display along the walking track. John Augusteyn © Queensland Government
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Park Boodjamulla
Traditional Owners Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

At Riversleigh, near Miyumba camping area, follow this steep but fascinating trail through an ancient landscape to the top of a limestone outcrop.

Along the way, step back in time as you spot fossils of extinct animals—the gizzard stones of a towering flightless bird, ‘Big Bird’, and the remains of ‘Baru’, the largest known freshwater crocodile.

This site is part of one of the most significant fossil deposits in the world. Experience a tantalising glimpse of the rich record of life following the separation of Australia from the early continent of Gondwana.

Visit in the early morning or late afternoon as it can be very hot during the middle of the day.

The Riversleigh fossil trail is part of the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh/Naracoorte) World Heritage Area, famed for its outstanding examples of the record of life and evolutionary history.

At a glance

Distance: 800m return (start and finish points are the same and the traveller must return via the same path).
Time suggested: Allow 1hr walking time.
Grade:
Journey type: Walk

Getting there and getting around

The Riversleigh fossil trail is in Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park in remote north-west Queensland, close to the Northern Territory border, 270km north-west of Mount Isa.

  • The fossil trail is in the Riversleigh section of the park. Follow the signs on Riversleigh Road to the Riversleigh D Site car park.
  • The Riversleigh section of the park can be accessed from the south via Mount Isa or Camooweal; from the east via Gregory Downs or from the north.

From the south

  • From Mount Isa drive 118km north-west on the Barkly Highway; or, from Camooweal drive 71km east on the Barkly Highway to the Gregory–Burketown sign.
  • Turn right at the Gregory–Burketown sign, and drive 56km north-east on the Thorntonia–Yelvertoft Road.to the Gregory Downs–Camooweal Road (from here the roads are unsealed).
  • Turn right and drive 61km north on the Gregory Downs–Camooweal Road then turn left onto Riversleigh Road and drive 35km north-west to the Riversleigh section of the park at Miyumba camping area, and a further 4km to the Riversleigh fossil trail.

Alternative route from Camooweal

  • Drive 2km east on the Barkly Highway then turn left onto the Gregory Downs–Camooweal Road and drive 151km north.
  • Turn left onto Riversleigh Road and drive 35km north-west to the Riversleigh section of the park at Miyumba camping area and a further 4km to the Riversleigh fossil trail.

From Gregory Downs

  • Travel 72km west along Wills Road then turn south onto Riversleigh Road and drive 21km to the entrance to the Lawn Hill Gorge section of the park.
  • From Lawn Hill Gorge drive 45km south via Riversleigh Road to the Riversleigh section of the park and the Riversleigh fossil trail, and a further 4km to the Miyumba camping area.

From the north

  • Several 4WD routes on rough unsealed roads via Hell's Gate or Doomadgee lead to the Lawn Hill Gorge section of the park.
  • From Lawn Hill Gorge drive 45km south via Riversleigh Road to the Riversleigh section of the park and the Riversleigh fossil trail, and a further 4km to the Miyumba camping area.

Road conditions

  • Roads in this area are mostly unsealed and not suitable for 2WDs and caravans; the only route suitable for 2WDs and off-road caravans is via Gregory Downs, although we recommend 4WDs.
  • Unsealed roads in the area make access unpredictable. Road surfaces can be rough, with patches of bulldust and corrugations; and sections of roads can also be impassable for extended periods after rain.
  • Road access can be cut during the wet season (October–April) when creek levels rise dramatically within a short time and with little warning. You can become stranded for several days.
  • Check the Burke Shire Council Road Report for up to date road conditions in the area.

Parking

Park at the Riversleigh D Site car park.

Fuel and supplies

  • Fuel and basic supplies are available from Adels Grove, 10km from Lawn Hill Gorge, and at Gregory Downs, 100km east of the park.
  • The nearest major centres offering a full range of supplies and services are Burketown and Mount Isa.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

When to visit

Opening hours

  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Climate and weather

Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park has a tropical savannah climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. During the dry season (May–September) the sky is generally clear and humidity is low. Average temperatures in July range from 12–32°C. Nights can be cool with temperatures occasionally falling to single figures overnight. The wet season (October–April) brings heavy rain, high temperatures and high humidity. Average wet season temperatures can range from 30–45°C.

Permits and fees

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

None. Check with your service provider for more information.

Tourism information

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.
  • Read stay safe and visit with care for important general information about safety, caring for parks and essentials to bring when you visit Queensland’s national parks.

Drinking water

  • Drinking water is not provided. Collect water from the water tank at the nearby Miyumba camping area.
  • Treat all water before use.

Rubbish

  • Rubbish bins are not provided. Take your rubbish with you when you leave the park.

Walking

  • This World Heritage-listed site is one of the most significant fossil deposits in the world and is protected for its heritage and scientific values. Fossicking for and collection fossils is illegal and penalties apply.
  • These sites are easily damaged and are irreplaceable. Look at them, enjoy them, but please do not touch or damage them.

  • Due to high temperatures almost all year round, we recommend that you walk only early in the morning and late in the afternoon. It's best to start your walk before 10am or after 5pm (but make sure you leave enough time to finish the walk before it gets dark).
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Driving

  • Carry a UHF radio (channels one and six are local repeaters) or satellite phone.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.
Last updated: 22 March 2018
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