Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
July 2013

Caranbirini Conservation Reserve
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve lies 43 kilometres by road south-west of Borroloola and about 64 kilometre from Cape Crawford. From the clearly signed access on the Carpentaria Highway there is a 500 metre gravel track to a large car park; the access track is suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles. Walking tracks begin from the car park. Camping and hunting are not permitted in the reserve and pets are not allowed. There are no facilities; visitors must bring their own water and take away their own rubbish.

Car park Parking area at Caranbirini Conservation Reserve; walking tracks start from here. The noticeboard outlines the tracks. There are no facilities.
This 1200 hectare conservation reserve straddles the boundary between sub-tropical and semi-arid regions and contains flora and fauna from both of these regions. Two forms of sandstone are found in the reserve, one forms low stony ridges while the other has weathered into pillar formations known as 'lost city' formations because they remind some viewers of abandoned buildings.

The Parks & Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory has issued an information sheet and a fact sheet - the information sheet is available on the Internet (enter "Caranbirini Conservation Reserve" and open the Parks and Wildlife entry). The fact sheet is available from the information sheet.

Four destinations have been prepared in Caranbirini Reserve.

1. Lookout
A walk of about 500 metres along part of Jagududgu Walk to a lookout with a view of the Lost City rock formation.

2. Waterhole
A walk of about 100 metres to a bird hide erected on semi-permanent Caranbirini waterhole.

3. The Lost City (Barrawulla Walk)
A two kilometre walk into the sandstone pillar formations often described as the lost city.

4. Long Walk (Jagududgu Walk)
A five kilometre walk across several environments in the reserve.

GPS Positions
Turn-off from Carpentaria Highway: - 16° 16' 5.8"S, 136° 04' 31.5"E
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve car park: - 16° 16' 16.6"S, 136° 04' 44.0"E

Caranbirini Conservation Reserve - page 2
1. Lookout
The lookout is reached via a short offshoot from the Long Walk (the Jagududgu Walk). Distance to the lookout from the car park is variously stated as 3 or 5 kilometres.

Lost city
Lost city sandstone outcrop from the lookout.

The rock formation in the Lost City at Caranbirini is sometimes known as "organ pipe" formations. Rock now forming the organ pipes was laid down as sand millions of year ago; in succeeding years rock and sand deposited above that sand by normal processes of weathering and erosion applied enormous pressure converting the sand into sandstone many metres thick. Subsequent upward movement of the earth's crust raised the sandstone block and formed vertical cracks known as joints in the rock. Water entered the joints and began eroding the sandstone; water flowing down into, and along, the joints over millions of years formed the chasms and hollows.

The horizontal lines and apparent boundaries between layers one on top another are lines of weakness formed between layers of sediment (sand or silt) with different particle sizes and hardness

Not all of the sandstone in Caranbirini can form organ pipes. The Lost City is formed from sandstone in the Hodgson Formation; elsewhere in the reserve there are extensive deposits of Crawford Formation sandstone which does not form organ pipes.

Caranbirini Conservation Reserve - page 3
2. Waterhole
The semi-permanent Caranbirini waterhole has a bird hide positioned overlooking the water hole well placed to see many waterbirds known to be shy of people. The hide is about 100 metres from the car park along a level, wide track. Many birds on the waterhole are wary and visiting the hide will only be productive if visitors are careful not to make a noise (including talking).

water lilies
Much of the waterhole is covered by water lilies
green pygmy geese
A pair of Green Pygmy Geese (Nettapus pulchellus) on the waterhole. These birds feed mainly on seeds and buds of water lilies.
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve - page 4
3. Barrawulla Track (The Lost City)
The Barrawulla track is about 2 kilometres long starting near the car park then entering the Lost City proper and winding through the pillars. It leaves the Lost City through several narrow crevices.

Lost city
Sandstone outcrop heavily weathered and eroded into pillars
Lost city
One of many naturally weathered sandstone pillars which could, with a little imagination, be seen as abandoned buildings giving rise the name of Lost City
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve - page 5
sandstone Sandstone outcrop
gaps Gaps between rock
track The track out of the Lost City passes through this cleft.
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve - page 6
ripples Water ripples in the rock formed when the rock was a horizontal bed of sand with shallow water over it. The ripples stayed in place as the sand was transformed into sandstone then lifted up to be almost vertical.
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve - page 7