Cairns to Broome Itinerary
Epic in its scale, Savannah Way is that once-in-a-lifetime journey that you will never, ever forget. Taking you from Cairns to Broome, this 3,700km route allows you to travel through Tropical Queensland, the Northern Territory’s Top End, and Western Australia’s Kimberley region, linking 15 national parks and five World Heritage areas. With a mesmerising world of wonder awaiting you on this trip, it’s time to book that 4WD camper and start planning!
14 - 18 days
Cairns to Broome
Best Time of the Year
Spring to Summer
- Undara NP
- Adels Grove
- Springvale Homestead
- Purnululu NP
- Geikie Gorge NP
- Cable Beach
Atherton Tablelands - Credit Tourism Australia
Cairns to Undara
Distance 300km - Driving Time 3 hours 45 mins
With your campervan fully stocked and supplied, it’s time to say goodbye to Cairns as you start your epic journey on the Savannah Way. While there are various driving routes you can take out of Cairns, consider taking the longer way around, through Kuranda and Atherton. Kuranda is a fun place to stop, and if you have time, take the Scenic Rainforest Cableway or the Scenic Rail to uncover such gems as Barron Falls.
This drive takes you through the stunning Atherton Tablelands. Offering plenty of opportunity to get out of the campervan and explore, this region is worth spending an extra couple of days in if time permits. This will allow you to visit the breathtaking cave systems at Chillagoe-Mungana National Park, cool off at the swimming holes at Lake Barrine or Lake Eacham, and sample some locally grown coffee within the area’s coffee plantations.
Back on the road towards Undara, you can make a stop at Ravenshoe, Queensland’s highest town, at 930m. Home to the state’s largest wind farm, the town also has some great waterfalls and walking trails nearby, with Millstream Falls National Park a must-see. Alternatively, you might like to stop off at Forty Mile Scrub National Park further along the road, before arriving at your overnight stop at Undara.
Safari Landcruiser camp
Undara Volcanic National Park
Home to the world’s longest lava tubes, Undara Volcanic National Park is well worth an extra day of exploration. Within the Undara system of volcanoes, there are some 164 craters, the largest of which erupted with such force 190,000 years ago, that it formed the extensive network of Undara Lava Tubes. These tubes can only be explored by taking a guided tour, available through eco-tourism operators, Undara Experience. Aside from offering tours of the lava tubes, Undara Experience also offers a range of accommodation options – including powered campsites – as well as activities such as bushwalking and mountain biking.
Cobbold Gorge - Credit Tourism Australia
Undara to Forsayth (Cobbold Gorge)
Distance 203km - Driving Time 2 hours 45 mins
Back in the 4WD campervan, today you will drive towards Forsayth and Cobbold Gorge. On the road, consider a stop at Mount Surprise to break up the journey, where you can fossick for topaz at nearby O’Brien’s Creek. However, the drive to Forsayth is not a long one, and once there, you can choose to stay in Forsayth itself, or at Cobbold Gorge.
Tucked away within rugged sandstone formations, Cobbold Gorge itself is a peaceful hidden oasis. Located on private property, the gorge can be accessed by guided tour only. Taking a tour, you can learn more about the geological processes that formed the gorge, while cruising along the river and exploring sandstone escarpments to uncover the wonders of bush tucker. Bushwalking, canoeing and mountain biking offer popular ways to tour the gorge, while stand-up paddle boarding and scenic flights offer a slightly different view.
Forsayth to Normanton
Distance 361km - Driving Time 4 hours 45 mins
After Cobbold Gorge, it’s time to drive onwards toward Normanton. With some time on the road today, you can stop along the way at Georgetown and Croydon. A gold mining hub back in the day, Georgetown is perhaps best known for its fossicking sites and gem-laden landscapes. While in town, a visit to the TerrEstrial Centre to see the impressive Ted Elliot Mineral Collection is a must, where you can see the 4,500 gemstones and minerals that make up avid collector Elliot’s life’s work.
Croydon is another town with a history in gold, offering an interesting self-guided walking tour that allows visitors to relive the gold rush that hit the town in the 1880s. Nearby Lake Belmore offers an awesome spot to park and go for a picnic and a refreshing dip, with some great fishing to be had as well. From Croydon, Normanton is about two hours away.
Home of the historic Gulflander train – and the starting point of one of Australia’s great rail journeys – Normanton offers a fascinating heritage walk, and three pubs that are the social centres of town. On your overnight stop here, consider taking a trip to nearby Mutton Hole Wetlands, an internationally recognised birdwatching site, and don’t miss getting your photo taken with the replica of the biggest crocodile ever caught (8.63m).
Driving to Hells Gate
Normanton to Hells Gate
Distance 413km - Driving Time 3 hours 30 mins
Between Normanton and Borroloola, the Savannah Way is unsealed and suitable for 4WD vehicles only. Today, you will take on this section of the route, stopping overnight at Hell’s Gate Roadhouse. On the road, make a stop at Burketown, especially if you fancy throwing a line in. About 34 km west of Burketown, a worthy detour will take you to Gregory Downs and out to Adel’s Grove for a visit to Boodjamulla National Park. Take time out to hike up to the rocky plateaus to get a feel for the sheer size of the park, or rent a canoe to enjoy a leisurely paddle along the river.
Driving to Borroloola
Hells Gate to Borroloola
Distance 300km - Driving Time 4 hours 30 mins
Driving on to Borroloola today, you will discover the remote fishing community that you will call home for the night. Situated on the McArthur River, Borroloola is one of Australia’s most remote towns, and is best known for its barramundi fishing. If you’re keen to hook a barra, you have the option to fish off the town’s two boat ramps, or take a fishing charter.
Out of town, Caranbirini Conservation Reserve offers a seasonal waterhole and a captivating range of towering sandstone formations. Alternatively, privately-owned Lorella Springs Wilderness Park provides the opportunity to experience Australia’s outback in its most remote form on this 4,000 square kilometre cattle station. Bordered by Limmen National Park, Aboriginal land, and kilometres of Gulf of Carpentaria coastline, Lorella offers a diverse landscape abundant with bird and animal life.
Katherine Hot Springs - Credit Tourism Australia
Borroloola to Katherine via Roper Bar
Distance 500km - Driving Time 7 hours
After taking the opportunity to restock and refuel your campervan at Borroloola, it’s time to hit the – mostly unsealed – road for Katherine. Taking you via Roper Bar, the route travels through Limmen National Park, where you can find a number of amazing fishing spots, including Port Roper, Maria Lagoon, Limmen River Fishing Camp and Rosie Creek Fishing Camp. A stop at Butterfly Springs and its plunge pool, and the Southern Lost City also shouldn’t be missed.
From Roper Bar, the sealed Roper Highway will take you to Mataranka, where you can take advantage of the nearby thermal pool to ease away the aches and pains from your long drive. Mataranka is just over an hour’s drive from Katherine, where you will spend the next two nights.
As the hub of the Top End, Katherine deserves a day or two to uncover all the region’s best bits by campervan. While Katherine certainly has a lot to offer, the main attraction here must be the majestic Nitmiluk National Park, home to 13 spectacular gorges, abundant plant and animal life, and a series of well-preserved Aboriginal Rock Art sites. Leilyn (Edith) Falls, with its walking trail and lush swimming holes, are definitely worth a stop-over. You may also consider taking a guided tour of the park, either on foot, by canoe, or in a helicopter.
Waking up in Katherine
Katherine to Timber Creek (Gregory National Park)
Distance 294km - Driving Time 3 hours 45 mins
With the campervan packed up, you will drive on towards Timber Creek today. This tiny town is another hotspot for fishing, but perhaps what it is best known for is its proximity to Judbarra-Gregory National Park. Broken into two sections, this expansive national park covers an area of 13,000 square kilometres, made up of a diverse landscape that ranges from monsoonal vegetation near the coast, to semi-arid in the south. Dramatically beautiful, the park obviously can’t be explored entirely on foot, but there are a number of walking trails within it, as well as a network of 4WD tracks.
Timber Creek - Credit Getty Images
Timber Creek to Kununurra
Distance 230km - Driving Time 2 hours 45 mins
Back on the road, Kununurra is your destination, where you will reach the gateway to the East Kimberley. Within Kununurra and its surrounds, you will find plenty to explore. Just a five-minute drive from town, Mirima National Park is often referred to as the ‘mini Bungles’, due to its striking similarity in appearance to the Bungle Bungle Range. Here, you can explore the park on your own, or join an Aboriginal tour to uncover the spirituality and history of this ancient place.
Alternatively, you could take a boat trip along the Ord River from Kununurra to the Ord Top Dam at Lake Argyll, keeping an eye out for local wildlife such as sea eagles, kingfishers and crocodiles. As Australia’s largest expanse of fresh water, manmade Lake Argyll is well worth exploring. Home to about 30,000 freshwater crocodiles and an expansive array of birdlife, the lake offers ample opportunity for nature lovers to get their fill on either a lunch or sunset cruise.
Hiking track enroute
Kununurra to Turkey Creek (Purnululu National Park)
Distance 200km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 mins
Kununurra marks the start of the iconic Gibb River Road; however, you will drive just a short section of it today to arrive at Turkey Creek. Sitting on the doorstep of Purnululu National Park, Turkey Creek will be your overnight stop for the next two nights as you explore this awe-inspiring region – but you may also choose from the variety of camping options within the park if you so choose.
Bungle Bungle Range - Credit Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd
Purnululu National Park
Today will be spent uncovering the magic of World Heritage listed Purnululu National Park, home to the magnificent Bungle Bungle Range. As one of the most striking landmarks in Western Australia, the Bungle Bungle Range – also known as the Bungle Bungles – is a maze of orange and black striped karst sandstone domes, which are often likened to giant beehives. There are many ways to explore the park, with two major walks in the northern section, and three main walks in the south. But, while the park should be most definitely explored on foot, you should also seriously consider getting a view from above, taking either a scenic plane or helicopter tour.
Turkey Creek to Fitzroy Crossing
Distance 452km - Driving Time 5 hours
Back on Gibb River Road, you will continue your campervan adventure on towards Fitzroy Crossing. On the way, consider stopping at Halls Creek to break up the journey, where you can get another good look at a gold rush town, with some spectacular sites nearby, such as Wolfe Creek Crater, the world’s second largest meteorite crater, at almost a kilometre wide.
When you arrive at Fitzroy Crossing, you may think about taking an extra day to explore the three National Parks nearby. Tunnel Creek National Park, Windjana Gorge National Park and Geiki Gorge National Park offer a mesmerising network of caves and gorges within an ancient Devonian reef system. Mimbi Caves offer another interesting diversion, with superb cave tours and a campground onsite.
Cable Beach Broome