Savannah Way

An epic road trip adventure across the top of Australia from Cairns to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill Gorge), when you can experience a lush oasis in a sea of savannah grasslands just stone’s throw from the NT border.

Cairns, Undara, Cobbold Gorge, Croydon, Karumba, Burketown, Adels Grove

 

 

Distance  1493 kilometres 
Travel time  6-7 days
Time of year to go  April to September 
Vehicle type  2WD or SUV
Best bakery  Savannah Bakery and Butchery, Burketown
Highlights  Undara Lava Tubes, Cobbold Gorge, Riversleigh fossil site and Lawn Hill Gorge.   
RACQ safety tip  Check Queensland road conditions, bring food, water and fuel supplies. Take a break every two hours. 

Cairns to Undara, 290km

(via National Route 1)

Wind your way west from Cairns through the rainforest up and over the Kuranda Range. Enjoy a cup of locally-grown coffee at Mareeba, visit the last timber and iron Chinese temple still standing at Atherton and see the country’s widest waterfall (Millstream Falls) in Queensland’s highest town (Ravenshoe).  Aim to get to Undara Experience in time to join a sunset tour of some of the longest lava tubes in the world.

Undara to Cobbold Gorge, 230km

(via National Route 1)

A three-hour cruise though the magnificent Cobbold Gorge with its 30-metre-high sandstone walls is a highlight of the trip. Tours depart at 10am and 1.30pm daily, so if you don’t get there in time to make the afternoon cruise splurge with a scenic helicopter flight and do the cruise the following morning.

Cobbold Gorge to Croydon, 230km

(via National Route 1)

The golden savannah stretches horizon to horizon as you continue west to the historic gold rush town of Croydon, so well preserved it feels frozen in time. If you have extra time up your sleeve ride the tin hare – aka the Gulflander train – to Normanton and back.

Croydon to Karumba, 226km

(via National Route 1)

Try your luck catching dinner in Karumba, one of the country’s most celebrated fishing spots, or buy some barramundi ready to eat as you watch the free natural light show at the Sunset Tavern overlooking the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Karumba to Burketown, 281km

(via National Route 1)

Check out the life-sized 8.63-metre-long crocodile in the park at Normanton – and snap a selfie outside the famous Purple Pub – before heading to the other famous fishing spot, Burketown, the self-proclaimed ‘Barramundi Fishing Capital of the World’, although it’s the barra pies at the bakery that are really famous. If you’re here between late September and early November you may even see The Morning Glory, a rare, huge wave-shaped cloud that rolls across the sky.

Burketown to Adels Grove, 236km

(via Wills Developmental Rd/State Route 84 and Gregory - Lawn Hill Rd)

Plan to spend at least a couple of days at Adels Grove, soaking in the swimming holes, cruising or paddling though Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill Gorge) and touring the Riversleigh World Heritage Site. Here your guide will point out the fossilised remains of giant pythons, carnivorous kangaroos and marsupial lions in one of the world’s richest fossil sites.

 

Images by Tourism and Events Queensland and Rowan Bestmann.

 

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