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The Savannah Way

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Navigate your way across the Top End on this 14-day ultimate adventure journey from Cairns on the east coast to the white sands and blue water of Broome in the far north-west. Experience stunning landscapes carved by nature over millions of years and traditional Aboriginal communities and artworks.

Travel

14 days


Route

Cairns to Broome

3578km


Best Time of the Year

Spring to Summer

Highlights

  • Undara Volcanic National Park
  • Adels Grove
  • Springvale Homestead
  • Purnululu National Park
  • Geikie Gorge National Park
  • Cable Beach

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Day 1
Cairns to Undara

Distance 276km - Driving Time 3hrs 45min

Head to Undara via Atherton Tablelands. The Undara Volcanic National Park is one of Australia’s greatest geological wonders, boasting the best preserved and largest lava tubes system on earth. A Savannah Guide Station, Undara Experience, offers a variety of touring options.

Day 2
Undara Volcanic National Park

The Undara system of volcanoes has some 164 craters. Around 190,000 years ago, the main Undara crater, the highest and most dominant vent, produced a geological phenomenon that is rare and fascinating - The Undara Lava Tubes. The tubes wind through old riverbeds for a distance of 160 km and can be accessed through the Savannah Guide Outstation at the Undara Experience.

Day 3
Undara to Forsayth (Cobbold Gorge)

Distance 172km - Driving Time 2hrs

Cobbold Gorge, 55 minutes from Forsayth, is located on a privately owned family cattle property and can only be accessed on a guided tour. Visitors are taken through the narrow, meandering gorge on electrically driven boats. Sheer cliffs, perhaps a crocodile, birds and fish all add to a geological experience created by earthquakes.

Day 4
Forsayth to Normanton

Distance 346km - Driving Time 4hrs

Around 30km to the south-west of Normanton is Camp 119, Burke and Wills’ most northerly camp. The wetlands between Normanton and nearby Karumba are also excellent for birdwatching, particularly just after the summer `wet season.’

Day 5
Normanton to Hells Gate

Distance 413km - Driving Time 3hrs 30min

The Savannah Way from Normanton to Borroloola is unsealed and suitable only for 4WD vehicles. Just 50 kms inside the Queensland border, Hell’s Gate Roadhouse is the gateway to the Macassan coast and provides accommodation and a campground. Recommended side-trip from Burketown to Lawn Hill National Park (via the township of Gregory). As well as the spectacular scenery and wildlife Lawn Hill also has two areas open to view Aboriginal art. The gorge has a prolific selection of Aboriginal middens and tool factories, which can be viewed, but are definitely not to be collected. Adels Grove, located adjacent to Lawn Hill National Park features a campground, shop, restaurant and service station.

Day 6
Hells Gate to Borroloola

Distance 300km - Driving Time 4hrs 30min

Borroloola is a remote fishing community beside the McArthur River in the gulf region of the Northern Territory. It is famed for unique history, characters and excellent fishing. Many visitors use Borroloola as a base for barramundi fishing expeditions. The town is an ideal location to stock up before exploring the gulf region.

Day 7
Borroloola to Katherine via Roper Bar

Distance 500km - Driving Time 7hrs

On the way to Katherine, make time to visit the small community of Roper Bar, situated on the tidal pandanus-fringed Roper River. About 25km downstream is the wreck of the Young Australian which was used for towing large sailing vessels carrying supplies for the Overland Telegraph Line in 1872. Katherine is a bustling trade town in the heart of the top end. Home to over 10,000 people, highlights include the Springvale Homestead, NT Rare Rocks, the Katherine Museum, Katherine School of the Air and Katherine Springs.

Day 8
Katherine

Take a day’s rest from driving and visit nearby Katherine Gorge, one of the Territory’s most scenic natural attractions. There are 13 gorges in the system carved out of ochre sandstone and separated by rapids. The Gorge can be explored by cruise boats, canoes, fixed wing and helicopter flights, bushwalking and swimming. Walk for 66km along the Jatbula trail to Edith Falls, cruise the Gorges on a 2,4 or 6 hour cruise, or just have lunch at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre. You can finish your top end exploration today by driving north from Katherine to Darwin (316 kilometres, approximately 4 hours drive).

Day 9
Katherine to Timber Creek (Gregory National Park)

Distance 294km - Driving Time 3hrs 15min

Located on the doorstep of Gregory National Park, the township of Timber Creek is a major stopping point between Katherine and Kununurra on the Western Australian border. Local fish are Timber Creek’s biggest drawcard and the magnificent Gregory National Park is its backyard. Covering an area of approximately 13,000 square kilometres, Gregory’s awesome landscape is composed of red rimmed escarpment ranges, plunging gorges and intriguing boab trees.

Day 10
Timber Creek to Kununurra

Distance 230km - Driving Time 2hrs 45min

Kununurra is the eastern gateway to Western Australia’s top end. Nearby Lake Argyle is a massive inland sea that spreads out over an area of 1,000 square kilometres and contains 12 times the water volume of Sydney Harbour.

Day 11
Kununurra to Turkey Creek (Purnululu National Park)

Distance 200km - Driving Time 2hrs 15min

Purnululu National Park, in the East Kimberley Region of Western Australia, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, for its outstanding universal natural heritage values. Twenty million years of weathering has produced the eroded sandstone towers and banded beehive structures of the Bungle Bungle Range, the geographic highlight of this National Park. There are camping facilities at Walardi or Kurrajong Camp with both sites having toilets and water. Petrol and supplies are available at nearby Turkey Creek.

Day 12
Turkey Creek

Spend the day exploring Purnululu National Park. For a breath-taking view of the Bungle Bungles take a scenic flight - available from nearby Hall’s Creek.

Day 13
Turkey Creek to Fitzroy Crossing

Distance 452km - Driving Time 5hrs

Follow the Great North Highway west to Fitzroy Crossing. The town is approximately 114 metres above sea level and is surrounded by vast flood plains of the Fitzroy River. The magnificent Geikie Gorge National Park is 18 kilometres from the town on a sealed road.

Day 14
Fitzroy Crossing to Broome

Distance 395km - Driving Time 4hrs 45min

Broome was once the pearling capital of the world and drew its population from a range of nations whose people came on the promise of pearls and in the hope of making a fortune. Its colourful history has resulted in a multi-cultural feel. Broome is famous for Cable Beach – all 22 kilometres of it. This is undoubtedly one of the world’s most stunning beaches – a white band of sand bordering a brilliant blue ocean.