|Ephemeral waterside camping in a land largely unchanged since Leichhardt.|
In mid-November 1844, Leichhardt and his party spent almost two weeks trying to navigate their way through the loops, bends, swamps and rock pools of the Dawson River.
Many were the natural features of the district which received names by which they are still Robinson Creek, the latter named after a Darling Downs pastoralist who was a contributor to the expedition.
Leichhardt was particularly generous to a younger member of his party, John Murphy, who, as author John Bailey later wrote: “was given Murphy’s Range and then a lake, because the boy saw it first. Murphy was so chuffed with the honour that he sketched the range and the lake in his diary.”
The Lake Murphy Conservation Park is 30km north of Taroom. Today, visitors may pitch a tent and camp, pretty much as Leichhardt and his party did in 1844, on one of the grassy sites.
If fishing gear isn’t needed (because they’re not biting), then there is generally plenty of birdlife and other natural attractions to hold your interest.
Nestled beneath the low Murphy's Range in the central highlands, Lake Murphy remains largely unchanged from the days when Europeans first passed this way.
The lake provides a seasonal refuge for waterbirds, but fills only when nearby Robinson Creek overflows, and has been dry five times in the past two centuries.
The shaded, grassy campsites near Lake Murphy are a great place to spend the night and watch the sun set over the lake. Even when the lake is dry, this is a peaceful and beautiful spot.
Permits are required to visit Lake Murphy, and campsites can be booked – see the National Parks website for more information.
Camping out-of-doors, with the firelight flickering on the branches overhead and the clear, star-filled sky above, knowing that one is sleeping where Leichhardt and his men once rested while their stock grazed close-by, is indeed, a wonderful experience.
(A fully detailed outline of Leichhardt's passage through the Taroom district, with the exact location of all the campsites, several of which are easily accessible to the public, can be viewed at the Information Centre in Taroom.)
Above: Golden sunset reflections in Lake Murphy.(Robert Ashdown)
Above: Lightning strikes from thunderstorms over Injune, south of Carnarvon Gorge and to the west of Leichhardt’s route, illustrate the conditions faced by the expedition almost every summer evening.
|Above: Visitor information makes clear reference to Leichhardt's journey ~ click on the image above to download the 1.2MB PDF. (Queensland Government)
|Above: Visitor guide to Lake Murphy, Expedition Range and other National Parks in the so-called 'sandstone belt' of south-central Queensland. Click on the cover image to download the full 4MB PDF booklet. (Queensland Government)|