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Home > Travelogues > 2009 Travelogues Index > Douglas Hot Springs (Tjuwaliyn)

We relax in the warm river at Tjuwaliyn, Douglas Hot Springs, and visit nearby Butterfly Gorge

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Soak off your troubles and relax with other sociable campers in the hot streams at Tjuwaliyn (Douglas) Hot Springs. 

There are two walk trails; one follows the river while the other trail heads up a rocky hill to a lookout point over Butterfly Gorge. With few footprints to ensure the right trail, spotting markers was essential, but they were not all easy to see.  There was a very steep track down to the gorge, but we decided to return a follow the riverside into the gorge. 

 

Before settling in to camp, we took a drive to nearby Butterfly Springs Nature Reserve.  This entails a 33 kilometre return drive, much of it suitable for four wheel drive vehicles only, and certainly not suitable for caravans.  Be prepared to get covered in bulldust along the way, take it slowing and allow at least forty minutes.  There were three shallow water crossing; one with steep entry and exit although not difficult to cross.  The car park area is quite small, so another good reason not to bring a trailer. 

We travelled just 28 kilometres between two very different camp sites; from Fenton Airfield to the Douglas Hot Springs.  There is seven kilometres of unsealed road to access the NT Parks campground which suitable for all vehicles in dry weather. See our review.   

Huge paperbark trees lined the river, and fallen logs were obstacles along the walk trail.   

Back in camp, we headed towards the water to try it out.  The campground is well known for congenial campers, and just walking the very short distance to the water took a couple of hours.  Someone asked about our camping experience at Fenton as he was following the historical World War II sites, and others were asking for anyone with knowledge of solar panels, controllers or batteries. The latter was because when in the hotter areas, solar power systems do not perform as effectively.  Nothing was wrong, although even we too were concerned as we were experiencing our lowest charging and battery levels.  Others wanted to know about our drive to Butterfly Springs.  Nearby was another camper who recognised us from the previous year and we shared tales of where we had both been since our last meeting in Central Australia. 

Across the water a narrow chasm in the wall of the gorge was the entrance to a series of small gorges.  There was little water trickling over the stones which were slippery from algae so I did not venture all the way through the gorges, as by now I was alone. The young overseas tourists had been some way, and saw very few butterflies.  We saw more butterflies during the riverside walk on the way than in the gorge.  These black and white butterflies are the Common Crow Butterfly Euploea Core Corinna

This large campground is close to a sizable pool where water bubbles up at 60º centigrade and the warning sign states “Caution Hot Water and Quicksand”.  Hot water oozes out at many other places along the streams. 

While laying the shallows and chatting to other campers was very relaxing, we soon learnt that by crossing a few rivulets there was a large pool on the main stream of the Douglas River, deep and suitable for swimming, and comfortably warm. 

Running right alongside the campground is a series of small streams with a mixture of water temperatures.  Some areas are so hot as you quickly cross them that you feel your feet burning.    Because the stream alongside the campground is shallow, it is ideal for families with young children. 

Taking a break from our progress and sightseeing, we spent an extra day here just to relax.  We also had internet coverage, so I was able to catch up with our family back home for the first time since Darwin. 

Nearing the main pool at the gorge a cliff blocked our way.  Some adventurous young German tourists climbed and found their way through, but for us, together with a family with young children, swimming upstream was the only way.

Across the water of the main pool a narrow chasm in the wall of the gorge was the entrance to a series of small gorges. 

While the others we able to stand near the edge and chat about lives and travels, I could not, so it was treading water or going for a swim around the pool. 
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Read about the Douglas Hot Springs

The young overseas tourists had been some way, and saw very few butterflies.  We saw more during the riverside walk on the way than in the gorge. 
There was little water trickling over the stones which were slippery from algae so I did not venture all the way through the gorges, as by now I was alone. 
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